In January, we spent four weeks looking at what the Bible teaches us about money. If you missed one of those weeks, you can always listen online. The last week (February 2), we looked at the subject of generosity.
If we are going to have a Biblical understanding of money, then we’re going to have to hold some truth in tension with one another. For example, money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away and not hoard it for yourself. God gives you and me money because He is generous, but He is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you. These are principles of how money works in the Kingdom of God.
Imagine an open hand versus a clenched fist. A clenched fist might be able to hold onto what it already has, but it won’t be able to receive anything more. An open hand will be able to receive more than it is holding, and yet also allow what it is holding to go through its fingers. As believers in Jesus, we are called to live with open hands. To receive the blessings of God, to symbolize our surrender to Him and His wisdom and authority. To then not cling to the blessings, but trust Him that as we are generous and give away, He will meet our needs.
The biggest obstacle to generosity is fear. It is the fear of will we have enough if we choose to give God our best? The essence of what is means to follow Jesus is to walk and live by faith, not fear. In fact the number one command in the Bible is ‘fear not,’ and what you will find next to that command for the most part is the promise that God is with you. We are prone to fear when we have a low view of who our God is. But when we have a high view of God, and we understand that He owns it all, and in Christ, we are adopted into His family, then, we have nothing to fear. So we can obey His command to be generous not out of fear, but out of joyful obedience.
So through and through money is an issue of faith. A matter of our hearts. Do we have the faith and believe that doing things God’s way is the best way? Do we believe that if we give money away and are generous, He can and will meet our needs?
When we tithe…when we give over and above 10%…when we give generously, it forces us to live by faith. It teaches us that God is first, and our lives, not just our Sundays, but our entire lives are centered around Him. That we are called to seek first His kingdom, not our own, and store up treasure in Heaven, not here on this earth.
It takes faith to give first. Faith is not required when we simply give the leftovers. And you might say, “well, you don’t understand…if I began to tithe, or give generously off the top, it would require me to have to re-prioritize how I use money.” YES, it would. “It would require me to have to do an overhaul on how we handle money.” YES, it would. “It would cause me to sacrifice.” YES, it would. “It would cause me to walk by faith and trust God.” YES, it would.
That is exactly what the Bible is calling us to. To again, not give out of guilt or begrudging obedience, but give out of joy, out of an open hand that says I trust you Jesus. Not just with my eternity, but my everything. Here is my practical challenge to put our faith into action. Commit to tithe for three months. To honor the Lord by giving the first 10% of your income back to His work in the local church (Malachi 3:8-10). If you’re already tithing, pray about giving more and be encouraged that what you are sowing in the Kingdom of God is reaping a blessing and a harvest of changes lives (2 Corinthians 8-9). Choose to step out in faith and be radically generous with what God has given you. Reinvest the blessings that you’ve received back into God’s Kingdom work. If God says test Him, then test Him.
Here is what I know…it won’t be easy. Something is going to break down. Something is not going to go right. There will be some moments of uncertainty, and those moments will be where you walk by faith. Where you and I practically demonstrate that we trust God with all. All we have is His. And as we allow His blessings to flow through our hands, lives are changed, the Kingdom of God is advanced, and ultimately God is glorified.
Below is an excerpt from a testimony that I received from a Crosspointer following the message on February 2:
The struggle was coming from trying to make sense of something that really can’t be explained or “balanced” in human terms. We were already giving 10% away to missions/individuals, and stepping away from giving to our local church seemed to give us some relief (financially). But over the past couple of years, we have been convicted that our trust in a balanced budget was becoming more important than trusting in a God who says “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.”
This is a Thank You for putting it out there on Sunday. For challenging our hearts to consider giving more than 10% – reminding us that our tithe needs to first be to our local Church before anything else. It doesn’t make sense on paper, with debt overwhelming, BUT we can’t wait to share the rest of the story as we trust God and allow Him to be true to HIS absolute character of Faithful Provider.