Wednesday, January 26, 2011
[2 ] “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. [3 ] But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4 ] so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:2-4 ESV)
Dear church, if you have come to our business meetings over the last few months, then you know that there is a financial concern. You know that we are trending downward when it comes to money coming in (or to use a business term, revenues—although I detest using that word in church world) versus going out. Studies have shown that churches will now start feeling the adverse effects of the Recession of 2008 right about now. While we are not panicking yet, if we continue to trend this way, that may change.
Churches are volunteer, non-profit organizations that, institutionally speaking, rely on its members to contribute in numerous ways—including tithing. So the question remains, Why does God command us to tithe? While all 50 preachers who have occupied the pulpit in the 225+ years of Boone’s Creek’s ministry have preached on giving, this principle needs to become personal. We need to truly meditate on this: why give?
Some say, “To maintain a good cash flow so we can meet our budgets! We need to make sure we can pay the bills.” Don’t get me wrong, I really like paying bills. Lights still work, heat (beautiful heat) still comes on in the sanctuary and in our work spaces—yes, paying bills is a wonderful thing. While giving does help accomplish this, to be sure, is this the extent of it—to meet the budgets we plan out and approve? Yes, we need funds to keep the lights on and to execute the various ministries God leads us in. But we then ask, “What does giving do for me personally?”
Be careful, though, not to reorient the question from “Why does God command us to give?” to “What does giving do for me personally?” While God works all things for our good (we are the beneficiaries of His work and might), He ultimately works for His glory. So the first question needs to be primary, otherwise we begin to take God’s commands and look at it merely from the man-side of the issue.
God commands us to give (wait for it) because it’s already His to command! “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). By holding back what is already His and saying that it’s ultimately yours exposes disobedience and idolatry of the first rank.
Remember, Jesus said, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” (Matthew 25:21). We must be faithful in the clear, day-to-day commands of Scripture, being faithful over little, so we can have the joy of our Master!
So we as preachers must communicate this: giving is about obedience to God. If I lead with, “Church, you must give to help us meet our budgets!—this will only bring a short-term (helpful, but short-term) solution, and thus we risk avoiding a deeper spiritual issue. We don’t give simply when times are rough. To do so means we may cease giving when times get better.
No, we give out of obedience to the One who already owns it all. We do this obediently, discreetly, and the results will honor Him and bless us sweetly!
Read John 17—the true Lord’s Prayer.
Pray for yourself and the three lost people on your heart.
Fast to disconnect from the world.
Journal your journey!
Only four more days to go!