I’m not sure why, but talking about money has always been somewhat awkward for most pastors. Talking about Christianity in all its counter intuitive depth can also be awkward. So when you are teaching a series on money and Christianity, it can be awkward squared.
That’s because most of us have been trained since childhood to believe that money is personal, private, no one else’s business, and that it’s something polite people don’t talk about. Still, I thought it was important enough to spend some a series on, but not for the reasons you may think.
My goal in the How To Be Rich series is simply to give you some solid biblical principles and verses to consider as you live the life of a follower of Jesus. Our goal, and my desire as your pastor, is that every person that calls Northstar their home church would tithe and develop a culture of generosity. I want you to live with that spiritual discipline, acknowledging God with the first and the best, and experiencing the consistent blessing of God that comes from obedience to His word.
I’m not teaching on this subject to judge your heart or check your giving record, or to put the full-court press on you to give more money, or to condemn anyone that is not giving to the church. The truth is we don’t need the money. God doesn’t either. We shouldn’t be afraid of talking about generosity and giving because Jesus certainly wasn’t afraid to talk about it. You’ll find more than 1,000 references to money in the Bible, second only to love.
“Marty, I understand what you are saying, but, I am the one who will get their electricity cut off if I don’t pay the bill. Yes, I am a little of a control junkie, but my finances can change in a heartbeat. Stop for second and think about all the things outside of my control that could affect my family finances – a fender bender, getting sick and missing work, my wife getting laid off, and my son Joey beating all the odds and making the traveling baseball team. And what about taxes? I pay taxes too and they keep going up. It sometimes feels that God and the government are after my money. Given all that, will I have enough left to meet our expenses?
While I empathize, let me say this. God is in complete control and we should not try so hard to hang on to something that is clearly safer in God’s hands? Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” My prayer is this series will change the perception that generosity as an unfortunate obligation that leads to personal loss into what the Bible sees as an opportunity for gain for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. Take Proverbs 28:27: ”Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.” And don’t forget Malachi 3:10 which 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 there will not be room enough to store it.”
The simple truth is this: Of all the areas of life we try and hang on to, finances are an an area where we need more of God, not less of Him. For those who are just getting started and not sure you can step out and fully tithe, it may be wise to start where your faith is and move up from there. So if you can, in faith, commit to giving say, 5 percent of your income this year with hopes of moving it up to 7 percent next year, I think God will take you up on that. At the same time, I don’t think mature believers who are living under the blessing of God should stop at 10 percent.
Remember this is not a legal requirement, but a starting point for Biblical generosity. I do not think God would condemn anyone who is attempting to bring a consistent percentage of their finances, but I would encourage you to examine your heart, be honest before the Lord, and do your best to increase your giving as God blesses you.
1. If “Money Talks”…what is our money saying about our relationship with God?
2. What is the point of tithing? In other words, what do you think God really wants from us through our tithe?
3. Pray about how you could be generous, either with time or money, during the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas?
4. Start tithing today; Start with a percentage that you are comfortable meeting. Then commit to being consistent as an act of worship and increase that percentage as your faith increases.
5. If you are a regular tither, what are some of the blessings you’ve experienced through your tithing?