“So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” – 2 Corinthians 9:5
I love the story of a six-year-old boy who after listening to a what seemed an interminable sermon at church asked his father what the pastor did the rest of the week. “Bobby, the pastor is a very busy man,” the father replied. “He takes care of church business, studies and prays, works on his sermon, counsels people…and then he has to have time to rest up because preaching the word is not easy.” The boy thought for a moment and then said, “Well, listening ain’t easy, either!”
It is not easy to listen to a sermon about giving. It can seem like a self-serving topic that often prompts the pastor to launch into a roundabout apology for speaking on money. But it is impossible to ignore the subject when you look through the lens of Jesus, his teaching, and that of His followers. It becomes clear that giving and generosity are important subjects.
In the first Multiply series message I talked about a gift of first fruits. I also made mention of “tithes” and “a tenth” in the message. My conclusion is that all those are basically talking about the same thing. Acts 20:35 tells is, “…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Since I want everyone that attends Northstar to be blessed, it makes sense that we talk about it. But there’s another reason. We all want to honor God with our life. We want to do what pleases God. That includes honoring God with our actions, with how we spend our time, how we go about doing our job, how we interact with our neighbors, how we treat our spouse, how we raise our kids, and so on.
But perhaps you’ve spent less time, or have less clarity, on how to honor God with our first fruits and our money. The focus of the Multiply series is that generosity truly begins with the realization that God is a God who blesses and so He blesses those who bless others. The starting point in our journey toward generosity is to recognize the most fundamental giving principle in the Bible: 10 percent tithing.
Leviticus 27:30 tells us: “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD.” So here is the bottom line: 10 percent of the income belongs to God. Tithing is not giving to God because it is His already. Tithing is merely redirecting God’s money, through my employer’s bank account, through my bank account, and into the church’s account so that God can use the church to continue his chain of blessings.
As God said to Abraham, He would also say to us as individuals and to us as a church: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)
“I will bless you, and you will be a blessing.”
I’m sure God is blessing you. How much of that blessing are you giving back?
- What fears do you have about tithing? In your experience what are the benefits of tithing?
- Ecclesiastes 5:10: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” Do you believe this is true? How do you go about determining how much money is enough?
- Read Philippians 4: 19: Is it easy or difficult for you to believe God will supply your needs? Have you ever felt that God has failed to provide for your needs?
- Are you willing to put God to the test by taking the Tithe Challenge?