Yesterday, we spent some extended time thinking about the excellencies and beauty of Christ in His gospel.
Read Philippians 4:10-20
This final section addresses finances and stewardship.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot about tithing, giving, and praying about sacrificially committing to God with our “Advancing the Gospel…Trusting His Provision” debt reduction campaign.
Over the past 8 years as your pastor, I haven’t spoken much about giving and tithing with the exception of maybe 4 or 5 targeted messages or when the issue comes up in whatever passage we I may be preaching through.
Yet when we look at the Scriptures and especially the teachings of Jesus, we find that almost 1/3 of what He spoke about concerned money, finances, and stewardship.
What is stewardship?
Here’s the ultimate reality: God owns everything!
Read James 1:16-18
God owns everything we have and is in control of everything. The great myth in this world is that we own anything, that we deserve anything, and that we can do anything good apart from God.
Read Haggai 2:8 (You may need to look this one up since Haggai is one of those huge books we tend to always studyJ)
Read Psalm 50:10
Read Deuteronomy 8:17-18
Our ability to get wealth or make money comes directly from God’s blessing on our lives in which He alone gives us the talents, opportunities, and intelligence to do so. Everything we have (even our jobs) comes as a gift from God.
In the Old Testament, God’s people were to give a tithe, or the first tenth, of their income to God (Leviticus 27:30-32)
In the New Testament, giving to support the work of the church remained an expectation of believers.
The Issue of Tithing:
I saw a bumper sticker once that said this: “Tithe if you love Jesus, any idiot can honk!”
Read Malachi 3:8-10
Many will argue that the concept of tithing is an Old Testament practice that has no bearing on us as New Testament people. Jesus didn’t explicitly mention it nor did Paul.
Why is the Old Testament command to tithe not used by Paul in the New Testament to enforce his efforts to raise money from the churches?
A few things that are not the answer:
- It is not because Jesus abolished the tithe.
Read Luke 11:42
Jesus doesn’t come right out and say we are required to tithe, but He doesn’t abolish it either saying that is no longer binding upon us as New Testament believers.
- The reason Paul doesn’t use the command to tithe is NOT because proportionate giving has ceased to be the rule.
Read 1 Corinthians 16:2
If you prosper more, give more. If you prosper less, give less. And this is exactly what tithing is—it is proportionate giving. Is tithing Scripturally binding on us? I will not be dogmatic on this, but I personally believe that it is. Tithing should be the bare minimum of how much we give to God through the church. The issue is how to unleash the maximum generosity.
Read Proverbs 3:9
This passage really is the bottom line.
Over the next few days and in preparation for making our 3-year commitments this Sunday, we will be exploring from these closing passages in Philippians the spiritual importance of financial stewardship.
This is probably that last thing you wanted to hear today, but we cannot compartmentalize our Christian life. We need to obey the totality of Scripture and even those passages that “hurt” especially when it comes to giving.
Spend some time today asking the Lord to prepare your heart to receive the Scripture’s truth about financial stewardship. Also, continue to ask Him for direction in how you will personally commit to Him through the “Advancing the Gospel…Trusting His Provision” campaign over the next three years.
It has been a little difficult reading these Scriptures about finances and tithing. And yet, You call me to honor you with my wealth. Please work deeply in my heart to show me the importance of obedience in the area of financial stewardship. Please lead me to how You would have me commit over the next 3 years to paying down the debt on our building. I want to please You in everything—especially including my finances. Please show me the joy of giving!
For Your Glory,