One of the most difficult things to do is part with one’s money. This does not matter whether you are poor, comfortable or wealthy. Taking of your cash—be it hard earned, inherited or gifted—and giving it away is not easy. That is a fact of life. The sad truth is that this mindset is a worldly mindset and often transitions from one’s previous life in the world to one’s present and future life in God’s Kingdom.
Not every believer has a sudden mind change from the way of the world to the way of the Kingdom. Some struggle to depart from a Secular Worldview to a Biblical Worldview. Often this is not intentional—it could be because you are not assisted in the transition from unsaved to save. By this, I mean you are not adequately discipled. Having said that and having taken the liberty of making a few “excuses” … allow me to add now, that many Christians even though they are discipled and taught about “The Bible, God and Money”, they still find their pockets too deep to find money to give to the work of God.
1) Whose money is it anyway? In the world people earn money, inherit money, accrue interest or are gifted with money. Most of the world’s people will see the money as their money and because of this they believe they are at liberty to use the money as they please. From a Biblical perspective, money (and possessions) is seen as belonging to God, irrespective how it comes to the Christian.
Ps 24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
See that … “everything in it”? Once a Christian grasps that rather simple Doctrine of Ownership, he or she ought to realize that whether I earn money through my labor, God gifts me with abilities to earn. This includes education. Should I inherit money, it is through God’s kindness that He allowed someone to look with favor upon me. In accruing interest, God has permitted that I have savings or investments and has allowed the markets to favor the investment. When someone sends a gift to me, God is behind that decision.
In other words, God directs and redirects His resources to me for a reason. Firstly it is to sustain me and my family and secondly it is to sustain His Kingdom work. The money is not ours. It is God’s! He allows us usage and for this we shall be accountable. Remember a simple Gospel rule … it is not that you can’t have something, neither is it, do you really need it. Rather the question to ask is “Have I taken care of God’s Interests first?”
2) Another crucial issue is that giving is never to a Church although the Church might be the immediate benefactor. All giving within the Christian World needs to be to God. My tithe might go to a Church or another facet of the Lord’s Work, but the giving is to God. When this is the case, the recipients are working with God’s money not their own. As an example, if you have been giving to your Church, may I suggest that you change your mindset to giving to God, through your Church.
3) Some countries like the USA create tax breaks for people to support charitable organizations which will include tithing to a Church. This might be a reason the Churches in the USA are largely well off financially. However, getting a tax break because I tithe ought not to be an incentive to tithe. Tithing is a command by God:
Mal 3:10 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 you will not have room enough for it.”
The incentive to tithe is obedience to God. The blessing of obedience is God taking care of you making the ninety percent going further than the hundred percent. I believe that if all lovers of Jesus tithed Biblically, no Church will struggle financially!
4) Now we are set for our next reading
Ac 11:28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
You might recall I mentioned recently that I would explain the reason I believe the Holy Spirit used the prophet Agabus to predict a famine throughout the “entire Roman World”. The famine affected the Christians in Judea severely. Because of their faith in Jesus, many were without employment and if they did own farms their produce would not have been purchased by non-Christian Jews. Economically they were destitute. This was common news and the Church in Antioch knew this too, so when Agabus predicted the coming famine, they immediately resorted to what we would call Mission Giving or Mercy Giving today.
5) There were three aspects to their giving. The first was their responsibility towards the Mother Church in Jerusalem. This was the source of where their new life in Jesus came from. They felt responsible to assist in practical ways because this Church had assisted them in spiritual ways. The second was out of compassion for the poor. Note that these were not just “the poor”, these were “poor brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ”! They were family … family in the Lord Jesus. The third and most important was that they loved and obeyed God. This was the true driving force behind their giving. They knew God enabled them financially. They knew God was the owner of all … and so they used God’s resources in their possession to assist their suffering, persecuted family in Christ who were struggling under the famine.
6) Deliverance of the collection was by credible people, Saul and Barnabas to the Mother Church’s elders in Jerusalem. God’s money needs to be cared for by trustworthy servants. As you and I read this note we may review our attitude towards finances. Depending on who we see as the owner of the money, will determine where our heart is! If our hearts are filled with the Gospel, our giving with be too.
Father, help us to understand that what we have is Yours and guide us to use it wisely for Your glory and for Your Kingdom blessing and growth. Amen.