2/11/2014 1:00:00 PM
At one point in my message last Sunday, I asked for someone in the congregation to bring me $100. One of our newest elders, Germaine Brunson, popped up from his seat
on the front row and ran directly to me with the money. Later, I called him back up to ask him some questions about what he did, and the answers revealed the method
to my madness.
You see, I had given Germaine the money before the service and let him know I’d be asking him for it back at some point. It wasn’t hard for him to give up $100, because
it wasn’t his to begin with. My point: since God owns it all, why do we act like we own anything?
Though Germaine had possessed that $100, it wasn’t his. He was its steward for a time. And that’s the way we need to think of our possessions. They belong to God, and
His Word tells us that He expects us to return a tithe, or 10 percent, of it to Him to finance the work of the Kingdom, in addition to offerings.
When we are faithful to God’s commands concerning the tithe and offerings, as I’ve learned time and time again, God will allow you to do more with the 90 percent you
have left than you could possibly do on your own with all of what “you have.”
So giving is a matter of the Word, but in a very real sense it’s also a matter of the heart. How do you feel about giving tithes and offerings? Is it a joy, or is it
a bill that you grudgingly pay? The Bible says that our attitude toward giving matters a great deal:
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your
heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest
there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, 'The seventh year, the year of release is near,' and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and
you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging
when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.”
- Deuteronomy 15:7-10, ESV, emphasis added
There’s another key point in the passage above – that we are to be generous with our neighbor who has fallen upon hard times, and to give him or her that which he or
she needs. But you can’t do that until your own needs are met! It’s like the instructions you are given on an airplane trip – if the oxygen masks come down from the
ceiling, you put your mask on first so you have the ability to help someone else. Likewise, our abundance permits us to bless others, because we aren’t expected to
give to another while leaving pressing needs of our own unmet.
When we give out of our surplus, there is a great joy in giving to another, whether it’s something he or she desperately needs or an extravagance of some sort.
Recently a member of our staff was sought out by one of his students who had given her a ticket to an important high-school basketball game on our campus. She had run
into another student who hadn’t gotten a ticket and didn’t have money for one, and she reasoned that our staff member would be willing to provide one for her friend as
well (he was). I enjoy sending a valued employee on an expenses-paid evening on the town as a reward for service above and beyond the call of duty. It’s fun to bless
people! And, it’s easy to imagine that God feels the same way about blessing us.
Lots of people, unfortunately, don’t understand that feeling because they are fundamentally selfish. What’s theirs is theirs
, and nobody has any business
making a claim on it. Maybe you know someone like that. Maybe you’ve been
someone like that. What’s disappointing is when that attitude shows up in the Church
among people who give solely because they believe God will bless them if they do.
Don’t misunderstand – receiving from God can be one
motivation for giving to Him. But if your motivation to give is only
because you will receive,
you’ve done nothing but perfect the art of selfishness. Make no mistake, God weighs motives when seeking out who to bless:
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.”
- Proverbs 16:2, ESV
And when He’s done weighing the spirit, He blesses us accordingly. And that’s how He finances the Gospel – by blessing people who have realized they are stewards and
A generous spirit motivated by love is what He seeks to bless.