Mar 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mar 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
It’s amazing how little solid teaching is done on the idea of giving and tithing. When I speak of solid teaching, I mean teaching that includes all the principles of the entire Bible, not just part of it. At fault seems to be a focus on me, myself and I. What am I going to get out of it?
Well, what are you going to get if you tithe? Some would say more than you give. In fact, if you give 10%, the Lord will repay you 20% or more… If you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly, and if you sow generously, you will reap generously. So says I Corinthians 9:6, and it’s even better in the book of Malachi. There the Bible says,
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” – Malachi 3:10
How can you argue with that?
And so our entire argument for tithing has been that God will give back more than you give to Him. Certain evangelists and television personalities have made a living promising health and wealth for everyone who sends them a check. Others have flat-out played on these beliefs and swindled people out of their money, promising their diseases, sicknesses and infirmaries will be healed if they will give to the Lord. ie… give the evangelist or the healer a large sum of money.
In this sort of environment, giving becomes a means to an end, and our motives become centered around ourselves instead of around the Lord. Why do we give? Because the Lord promises to bless us, haven’t you read Malachi 3:10? More and more, this type of preaching has resulted in the people of the Body of Christ looking for what Christ can offer them in terms of money, material possessions, personal happiness, advancement, and recognition.
While the Paul and Barnabas preached “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22, we preach quite the opposite these days. Just trust the Lord and he’ll take care of you, but is there a call to for us to be more responsible with our own money? Is there ever a call for us to sacrifice some of those worldly pleasures? Is God required to always give us more than we give Him, or might He ask us someday to possibly think about not spending so much on ourselves instead?
Ask any personal financial consultant worth his or her salt these days, and they’ll tell you the same thing. Most Americans don’t have an income problem, they have a spending problem. The first order of business on getting on top of your finances is to get control of your spending.
And the first order of business, when talking about tithing or giving, is to not only get a handle on what exactly we are doing with our finances, but to also get a handle on what the Bible teaches. It’s not my goal to finish this sermon by seeing an increase in giving. God has blessed us considerably and I trust Him with His church. I’m not going to preach to you anything that I continue to be uncertain about. And I must confess, I don’t understand, or quite get, every single thing in this Bible. I’m a student of it, not just a teacher. God is still teaching me, and helping me grow in this. I can’t come to you as a financial expert. To the contrary, I am prone to impulse buying. I’ve purchased things on credit cards because I still had credit left on them. More than once I’ve written a check just hoping I had enough to cover it. And once I got talked into a 2-year commitment on a vacuum cleaner…
Nevertheless, along the way, God has helped me grow up in regards to this issue, and although there’s a lot of voices preaching this doctrine or that one about giving, the Bible as it turns out, has a lot of good things to tell us. Practical things. Real advice. Real teaching.
And as we come to the Lord today and tell Him once again that we love Him, that we want to follow Him… As we worship and lift our voices in praise and identify ourselves publicly as believers in Christ, we who have been baptized and made the commitment to live for Him, are we trusting God with our finances and seeking His guidance and instructions or are we managing our own account?
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.-Galatians 2:20
If someone wanted to investigate whether or not we were truly followers of Jesus, and they had no other evidence but our financial records, would they conclude that we live for Christ, or live for ourselves?
The Bible seems to be very clear about the idea of giving to the Lord. It’s comes from a heart that worships God, not a heart that’s looking for something in return.
GIVE IN RETURN, NOT JUST SEEKING A RETURN
Why? Because giving is then an act of worship and thanksgiving, not just a business proposition.
Nation of Israel began to tithe, part of that was to bring their firstfruits…
So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me.”
When you give to God, whether it be in the regular offering or a special offering, or just a gift to help someone who is in need, you can give hoping to see a return, but then it’s just a business proposition. If you’re not careful, your motives might start and end on “me, myself and I.”
Or you can give because God has blessed you, giving out of thanks, recognizing that it came from the Lord in the first place…. NOT requiring a return.
Psalms 24:1 declares, “The earth is the Lord”s, and all it contains,” and in 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul asks, “And what do you have that you did not receive?”
When you give as a way of telling God thank you, recognizing how He has blessed you,
Then it’s worship
Considering a special offering, Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church:
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves,
men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
-II Corinthians 9:12-13
It doesn’t do the body of Christ any good when evangelists and church leaders beg for money and spend it on themselves and a lavish lifestyle. Because the focus is on them, not God.
It doesn’t do the body of Christ any good when Christians give money for the loudly stated purpose of seeing even more in return. Even if God kept it, and gave us nothing in return, don’t we owe Him our very lives?
However, when people see real generosity that doesn’t expect to be repaid
When they see giving that recognizes God,
Then the world sees not only our confession of the gospel, but our obedience too.
So when it comes to your finances, and your giving, this is where the rubber meets the road
Where our real priorities and real faithfulness comes to light.
As we bring our finances under obedience to God
GIVE IN THE RIGHT WAY, NOT NECESSARILY RIGHT AWAY
There are a lot of folks caught in trap of debt & obligations
For them, honoring God with their finances starts, not necessarily by giving more, but by being a better steward.
Don’t forget what ELSE the Bible says about finances:
Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
Do you have debt? Credit cards? Do you owe someone? God wants you to pay that back.
We should look at the bigger picture, not just the one that promises us a bigger return.
Too many times, hear message on giving, feel guilty and we give without even looking
Then suddenly, we run out of money and we quit… we wonder why God didn’t come through
Maybe God wanted to teach us MORE lessons than simply giving 10%?
Crown Financial is a small group we have here at the church
I once purchased “Transforming Debt Into Wealth System”
Those tools Teach you to manage your money, take care of your obligations, and
many of us need to learn those lessons,
get control of our spending
so we can be MORE generous and honor God with good stewardship.
And we should do it not only because it makes business sense
But because we care about God enough to take the time to do it, for Him
Now someone might be saying: “Ok, I’ll pay my debt, so can I skip tithing for awhile?”
I don’t know. Where are you spending your money?
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
She made a sacrifice. She was trusting God, sure, but she was sacrificing her next meal as well.
We need to be careful we don’t tell the Lord: “Sorry, I can’t afford to give you anything!”
And then continue to purchase premium channels on satellite television…
Or continue to spend hundreds each month on a hobby
What’s God going to think? He sees everything. He knows if we’re giving only out of our wealth
Or giving out of real sacrifice. Which one do we think He will bless more?
That’s the bottom line…
GIVE, TRUSTING IN THE LORD, NOT TRUSTING IN WEALTH
Everything about life in this world teaches us how temporary it is, how impossible to keep it is
what we buy wears out
New technology becomes old
Our income doesn’t go as far as it used to
Jobs can end
The economy can slow down
the stock market crashes occasionally
Tomorrow you might strike it rich, or you may have to go to the Dentist again…
When you think about it, it can scare you to death, and make you want to hold on to your wealth
Giving, not only worships God, but it trusts God as well… not only to take care of the future
But in looking forward to an eternal reward that is not temporary, or subject to taxes…
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
-I Timothy 6:17-19
What’s the Bible saying here? It’s encouraging us to start investing in our eternal future, not just our earthly retirement.
This is really more than just giving, this is about you and God, right now
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. -Galatians 5:24
Will you trust Him with it?