Generous Living – Sense and Non-sense
It would be easy to dismiss this past weekend’s message as another church money talk especially in a culture where seemingly, money “talks” and talks loudly. Wrapping our minds around the idea of the Tithe where we would take the first 10% of our earnings and give it to the church is a stretch. We think of the demands of modern life and its cost; we think of the “good life” and how to pay for it; and some think of the future and how we can financially secure it. A 10% assessment in this light makes little common sense. Yet we learn from Pastor Ed’s explanation of the Book of Malachi this makes great and abundant spiritual sense. What we are going through in Biblical teaching in the Generous Living series is not simply about money, it is about relationship and trust with gratitude.
Our currency is imprinted with the words, “In God We Trust.” I think for a long time it is in the currency itself that we trust as American peoples. When we consider the 10% off the top of all our production as gift back to God we have difficulty envisioning how this all fits into His plan for living because it certainly does not fit the culture. As Christ-followers we are called to give in response to His giving to us first and foremost. Malachi calls us to trust God even to test Him on this particular point. This isn’t God’s fiscal plan to fund the church or because He needs the money. If God is who He says He is, a.k.a. the Creator of the Universe and all that is in it, I submit that He does not need our 10% because His resources or bank account is limitless. This is God’s plan to allow us to live out our purpose of bringing glory to Him and enjoying our relationship with Him. Bring in the tithe as your grateful response and enjoy that we have an awesome God. Part of the enjoyment will be benefiting from His promise of abundant life.
This is also not an investment plan as made quite clear by Pastor Ed. We don’t give our 10% looking for a return on investment of 100%, 200% or more. Those who give their tithe on this basis miss the mark totally. The tithe is a relationship action and the motive is worship, gratitude, and bringing honor to God. We may not see a monetary return on investment but His response will bring fullness of joy in all its glory and satisfaction in our lives.
So why is it appropriate to give money for our tithes? It is appropriate in our society as this symbolizes the giving of our life. Most of us earn a wage by giving our time in a paid for activity. Whether you labor in a business, own a business, work in factory, serve in a governmental entity or any context where you are paid for your time and effort you have given your life in exchange for monetary value. Thus, when you gratefully give 10% of your earnings you are giving to God part of your life as symbolized by the cash value of your time. When you do this right off the top of your earnings you are giving your “first fruits” before the taxes, the bills and the discretionary spending have taken their bite. Jesus gave us allof His life. In response and gratefulness we can give 10% of our lives. The wondrous thing about this is that it is not the end of the story. God promises to come back and provide abundance. The one thing He has provided me in abundance is true peace of mind and heart. In our world this is priceless. Many millionaires and billionaires still are searching for this.