Monday, November 23, 2015

Why God Needs Our Money (Part 1)

Giving money is hard. Really hard. We are daily submersed into a world of excess and face the challenge of protecting our wallets from degradation. But is giving toward God’s purposes on the forefront of our minds? Scripture has a lot to say about using our money to glorify him.

Before moving forward we need to ask the Lord to take the burdens of guilt and anxiety from our shoulders. No one leads a life of perfect giving, but the remarkable thing is God will use our lives to reach others if we will simply trust his plan. Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Let’s grasp this promise of God’s provision by believing and living his word.

1. God needs our money so others will know Christ.

Colossians 3:1 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” We know by evaluating Jesus’ life that his entire purpose was to bring people into a right relationship with God, as proved by his death on the cross. His heart was motivated by eternity and not by earthly conditions. When we become believers we identify with Jesus’ purpose. So, when our hearts are truly convinced of leading others to him, our money will not be excluded from our sacrifices. Do we desire for others to receive salvation and escape eternal separation from God? Then we will be willing to share our money.

Treasures on earth mean nothing in comparison to eternal treasures. The desire to use money on earthly things directly competes with God’s desire to save the lost. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When we lack the zeal for others to know Christ then it’s certainly time to start making sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. Where our money goes, our hearts will go. I have personally experienced this phenomenon, and it brings more joy and pleasure than any possession ever could. The Lord will take care of us, friends.

Later in the book of Matthew we find Jesus speaking about the end times. Matthew 24:12-14 says, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” It doesn’t take much looking in today’s world to see “the love of most [growing] cold,” but Jesus told us our obedience in sharing the gospel across the entire earth will result in deliverance and his second coming. What an investment! When we use our money to equip those who serve around the world as ministers of Jesus Christ then we are a vital part of God’s plan to fully redeem mankind from sin and restore us to him. What an amazing privilege to join our finances with other believers to give testimony of the Lord.

When we become members of a local body of believers it is our responsibility to provide the means for the church to reach the lost. This means we will not be takers but givers for the gospel. When we enjoy the perks of being God’s elect but fail to return our affections then we are literally keeping others from knowing Christ. And that should scare us all.

2. Giving money teaches us to trust God.

If we want to see where we put our trust then all we have to do is look at our bank accounts, so failing to dedicate money to God shows that we don’t trust him. In Malachi 3 the Israelites were robbing God by withholding their tithes and offerings, so he put a curse on them. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse , that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.” Our Lord is waiting to bless those who choose obedience. Whereas we may think our deficiencies are from God, scripture tells us they are more often a result of our own disobedience. If we will simply test him and give what he asks then he promises to open the floodgates of blessings!

It’s important to understand that tithes and offerings are different. We find from the Old Testament that the word “tithe” literally means a tenth of something, such as a tenth of a crop, possession, or monetary amount (see Deuteronomy 14:22). It wasn’t necessarily defined as a monetary gift, but the tithe was always given from the proceeds of one’s labor. Some try to argue that tithing was only an Old Testament command, but we know that Jesus came as the superior sacrifice when compared to the law. Therefore, in view of his superiority, shouldn’t we at least give ten percent according to scripture’s example? Absolutely. The Israelites’ tithes took care of the tabernacle and the Levites who served as ministers and caretakers. Similarly, our tithes are meant to support the ministries of our churches.

Offerings are a result of a “heart’s prompting” in addition to the tithe. We find in Exodus 25:1-2 that the Lord told Moses to request an offering from the Israelites to provide for the furnishings of the tabernacle. It was an extra gift given through deliberate, amplified sacrifice. Offerings look like a variety of things in today’s church, from sponsoring needy children in other countries to personally supporting missionaries. While offerings are viewed more as voluntary, scripture is still clear that believers are to participate when the Spirit prompts us to act.

No one is exempt from giving. The recollection of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44 shows us that God expects everyone, regardless of financial status, to give. The widow graciously gave all she had and showed us that God honors our sacrifice the most when we give from our scarcity. The important thing is to start by giving something. Psalm 4:5 says, “Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord,” so that means we can’t experience full trust in Christ if we don’t start prioritizing our finances to first and foremost glorify him. When we chose to trust God with our money our hearts will be transformed.

3. Choosing to routinely give teaches us discipline and maturity.

I am daily reminded by my children that I must consistently provide discipline or they will quickly return to disobedience, and our relationships with the Lord are no different. Discipline takes a long time to breed maturity, so it’s important to acknowledge that an arbitrary giving relationship with the Lord will not establish true spiritual maturity.

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:18-19 that generosity and sharing with others leads to “a firm foundation for the coming age, so that [we] may take hold of the life that is truly life.” And Titus 3:14 tells us that “doing what is good” will provide for needs and lead to a productive life. Therefore, we simply cannot expect to fully mature as believers when we withhold our money from God, whether temporarily or permanently.

The humanistic idea that we can flourish as believers by giving everything except money to God is a lie straight from Satan. The love of money makes us want to hide it and keep it secure, while the love of God makes us more generous. Proverbs 11:24 says, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Gaining maturity means accepting God’s word as truth instead of reasoning through our own faulty intellect that we don’t have enough money to give. Throughout scripture the Lord promises rewards to those who completely submit under his authority. Proverbs 3:10 tells us “[our] barns will be filled to overflowing, and [our] vats will brim over with new wine” when we chose to first honor God with our money. Furthermore, verses 11-14 say we should “not despise the Lord’s discipline…Blessed are those who find wisdom…for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” These verses announce the direct correlation between obedience through finances, God’s love through discipline, and rewards gained through wisdom. Nothing on earth compares with being in a right relationship with Christ. But would we rather have a few extra dollars? Scripture tell us to repent of such evil, immature thinking and allow our hearts to be changed by God. Yes, it takes time, but our Lord is willing to help us if we will call out his name.

Dear ones, we are never alone in this struggle. While daily, routine actions certainly strengthen our convictions, the temptation to withhold money from God will always be present. Yet when we fully lean on the Lord without exception he will graciously give us victory over temptation and equip us to give.

“Why God Needs Our Money” (Part 2) coming soon!

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