Sacrificial Giving

What do you believe about giving and worship? For the past few weeks, I have been talking about different perspectives on worship. No discussion of worship is complete without also approaching the topic of tithes and offerings.

In 2 Samuel 24 King David followed God’s command to set up an alter on the property of a man named Araunah. When he arrived the man offered to give David everything necessary for the act of worship, in response to this offer David said “I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

This statement helps to illustrate that worship should include some personal cost. In Old Testament worship that would likely include sacrificing some of the best of the worshipper’s produce and flocks. In our world the sacrifice of worship is most often in the form of our tithes and offerings. Many people have a hard time with the concept of tithing because they find it easy to associate the idea with funding the church, rather than as an act of worshipping God. It is true that the given money will be used in this manner, but this doesn’t detract from its worshipfulness.

As I have discussed worship over the past few weeks, I have defined worship as the expression of our relationship with God. The primary component of this relationship is our trust in God, this trust is more commonly called faith. Sacrifice expresses trust because we are giving up what we would trust in, instead of God. In the Old Testament they were tempted to trust in their own abilities to raise herds and grow crops. In the church age we are tempted to trust in our own ability to make a paycheck.

In both cases it is noteworthy how the guidelines on what we give is just enough that we cannot follow through unless we trust His provision. A lot of people don’t tithe, dismissing the idea with the statement, I can’t afford to. What they are saying is they don’t believe they can meet their financial obligations without that money. It is clear evidence they are not trusting God’s provision but instead are looking only to themselves to meet their financial needs. But the person who does tithe often says they cannot afford to stop tithing. This person will look at it that God’s provision is empowered by their giving. It is often phrased this way, God stretches the 90% so that it covers more of the bills than the 100% did.

When the worshipper experiences God’s provision, the relationship is strengthened. Every act of obedience strengthens this relationship, and every act of obedience is worshipful in this sense. Tithing is an important ingredient in the individual’s obedience to God, their spiritual growth and their worship.

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Doctrine of Dollars

Today my mind is on money. This is because later today I need to meet with the budget committee for next year and as of yet I have not had time to prepare.

Money trips up a lot of people and Christians especially have a wide range of opinions about it. Some think it is evil, and that any person who has money must have made some kind of ‘deal with the devil.’ On the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, some people believe that God wants every faithful Christian to be rich. The majority of us are somewhere in between.

So let’s see if we can come up with a theological stance on money. Pardon me if this comes across a little bit like bullet points.

Money, like everything else on this earth, ultimately belongs to God. He allows people to have stewardship over it, but we should always view it as taking care of something for God and therefore should use it in a manner He would approve of.

Christians should consider tithing, which is giving the first 10% of their money to the church they are a member of, as a sacred responsibility. The tithe is God’s method of funding the local church, but it also serves as a reminder to the believer that he’s merely a steward of God’s money, not the boss of it.

Money itself is neither good nor evil, but like all other inanimate objects, it can be used for either good or evil purposes. It is not evil in and of itself. Yes there is a verse in Timothy which indicates ‘the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.’  But notice in this passage it doesn’t say money is evil, it says the love of money is the source of many evils.

Believers should trust God to determine how much money they have. However, as is true with other things, this works best with our cooperation. Things like working for a living, budgeting, wise investing, tithing, and wise spending are all ways we cooperate financially with God.