Now, Concerning the Collection…
I pay attention when themes start coming together. I’ve testified this of myself many times. This time the theme is giving. I think this is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, topics in Christianity to discuss. My old pastor, Dr. Scott, used to say that “giving was a synonym for righteousness.” He said, “You couldn’t be a Christian unless you gave.”
Giving is a big deal to God. Look in the New Testament: the alabaster box, the couple that is struck dead because they lied about the money they had and gave, the widow’s mite. It’s all there. God cares about giving and giving for the right reasons and the right way.
I can teach someone to walk and talk like a Christian, but when you ask for them to start giving, that is when the true colors will come out. I am not picking on new saints that haven’t been taught yet, they have an excuse. Like Paul said, they are eating milk and not yet ready for the hard stuff. I am talking about saints that have walked awhile and should know better. For them, you don’t even have to hit the pocketbook first. Just start with the giving of time. Start listening for the excuses.
Now before you shut me off right here, let me explain what Doc was getting at. You can fake an awful lot and pass yourself off as a child of God, but when it hits you in your wallet the true colors start to emerge.
“God can have everything except my pay check and 401K.”
Friend, your retirement account and your millions aren’t going to count for spit in eternity. The only thing you are going to demonstrate to God is that you took your talents that “HE GAVE” you and have done something with them and not squandered or buried them in the ground.
What’s the Bible say about money?
1 Timothy 6:8-10 (NASB)
8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
How many times have we heard this verse? How many times have I heard the following?
“You just don’t know what it’s like to be poor… God didn’t bless me with tons of money.”
God answers that with, “Aren’t I enough?”
Before you go blaming God for your situation, you have to ask yourself, “Is there a reason you are poor?” Most people won’t ask that question. Have you squandered your resources? Did you stay in school and get something you could use in an occupation to generate wealth? Did you bury your talents? God never said you had to be poor. God charges the church to take care of widows and orphans. It’s kind of hard to take care of them when parts of the body of Christ won’t give their resources to the cause.
What about ripping on rich folk? Have you ever heard people put down wealthy people? Like wealth is something to be despised. They revel in being poor, like it’s some sort of badge to be worn.
“Look at me… woe is me… I am so poor and sacrificing so much.”
You’ve got your reward friend. That’s what this person wants right? They want people to look at them and say how great they are that they have shed this worldly love of money.
“Bob, you are so awesomely pious and great for accepting that position in life.”
Again, God never said you have to be poor. The problem is the “LOVE OF MONEY.” Poor people love it and rich people love it. I think God is looking for people that can see it for what it is, and that is a tool. It’s all about how you use it. He’s looking for people to take what He has blessed them with and use it for the spreading of the gospel. He has also promised you an abundant life here, and wants you to be happy as well, so He may bless you with wealth. Money is not inherently evil, it’s the love of and the lusting after it that is evil.
I think the right attitude is one of thanks for what we have, regardless if it’s a Chevy or Ferrari. God’s the one that blesses or takes away for whatever His reasons. He wants to be recognized as the one that has provided you with your “stuff.” And if it is His “stuff,” then He has a right to tell you what to do with it. We’ve got this message and thought process confused somehow.
What else does the Bible have to say about riches?
Mark 10:24-26 (NASB)
24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”
Now, I am a sinner like the rest of you. I confess I like money. It’s good for buying things that you need and things that you want. See, if you look closely above, verse 26 asks, “Who can be saved?” We all like wealth, and we have to be broken of that love. I will tell you, until our house burnt down, I was still attached to some of my earthly possessions. I am to a point in my walk now that I can and will say to anyone who asks, God can take all I have, I don’t need it anymore. Every last cotton pickin’ thing in my house He can do with what He wants. He’s chosen to give me back better things than I had in the past, and not all “things” He has given me can be purchased. He’s blessed me with a bigger and better “family” than I had. I’ve gained more brothers and sisters than I thought I would ever have. You can’t buy that with a check.
Starting to see what my old pastor was getting at? You want to test someone’s walk with God, hit them with a message about giving and see what you get. Or God can burn up all their possessions and see how they land. Are you just giving lip service to God, or have you given all you own up to Him? Read about the rich young ruler in the New Testament.
My God Tells Me This
Psalms 37:25-26 (NASB)
25I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or His descendants begging bread.
26All day long He is gracious and lends,
And His descendants are a blessing.
In the Book of James, he says you have not because you ask not. I am (and forgive the colorful metaphor) so damn sick and tired of supposed saints of God sitting around whining to everyone about how crappy their lives are, when the Bible says you win. The Bible gives you promises of God to camp out on and if you don’t use them then it is your fault. The Bible says, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes;…” Do you believe what the Bible says or not? When are we going to stop being so scared to hang our bodies on what God says?
“Well, I’m just not sure that the Bible is 100% accurate. God used men and men are flawed and…blah, blah, blah.”
Can I get another excuse to do what I want to do and not do what I am supposed to do? Isn’t it funny how you can convince yourself that what you think about something is right. Then we take it a step further and surround ourselves with like minded people that we have either convinced that we are right or that will think like us. So we stand around and agree with each other, and pat each other on the back and tell ourselves how right we are because we all agree with one another and therefore we are right. We need to quit making excuses for bad behavior and convincing ourselves that wrong is right and what’s right is wrong and do what we are supposed to do.
“So why does that church need that money anyway? And aren’t preachers supposed to be poor?”
In my opinion, I think preachers should be some of the richest, most respected people in this nation. When is the last time you have heard kids say something about growing up to be a man of God? Back in the 1700’s or 1800’s? We have lost something folks. Satan has done a really epic job of trashing the position of pastor. It’s been degenerated into a “What can you do for me?” position. From what I have seen, if they don’t tickle the congregation under the chin enough then they get ousted.
I say, if you can’t trust them with your money, the congregation’s money, then what the hell did you hire them for? These people are to shepherd after your souls, for crying out loud. Here’s their job description.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NASB)
11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Pretty high cotton if you ask me. The burden and responsibility laid out here bears looking at: equipping saints for work and service, building up the body, providing knowledge, maturing a Christian fully. But wait, what if you really want to give to the pastor but can’t give directly to them because your church rules forbid it. Give to the church but, for crying out loud, give.
“But I can’t trust them with money, the church or the pastor!”
What a thought and lie from the pit of hell.
My Bible tells me that I don’t worry about that. I will give to that church or that pastor and have faith that God’s shepherding influence will take charge. He hurls worlds into existence and placed everything in the universe, but can’t handle a church budget. Please!
What and How to Give?
This is spelled out in the scriptures, but before I get into this part, I want to tell you up front that I am not a ‘tithing’ person. I have looked at this subject for years. My sister and I have rolled this around, and she finally did the research and she and I have talked it over and I believe that it was part of the law and no longer has to be kept. Now I am not going into why I think this right now. I will write on this later, or see if she has written anything on her blog site about this and share it with you.
Now, lest I get stoned, let me say that if you want to give 10% then do it. I am not condemning you or saying it will send you to hell, I just don’t think that it can forced on someone as a matter of “you have to do this.” However, don’t think that I am soft on giving or letting you off the hook when it comes to giving. I am very big on giving, but I follow the following two scriptures.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NASB)
6Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Galatians 6:6-7 (NASB)
6The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
There are times when I have given over 10% for a cause, and there times when I have given less. I don’t believe that there has to be a cap on giving. The New Testament Christians gave everything they owned and lived communally. I’m not advocating that either. What I want to do is look at what these two chapters say.
First, give with cheer in your heart. Second, don’t cheat the man of God who teaches you with a chintzy offering. See saints, God will not be mocked. God knows the heart; if we are cheerfully giving or if He has had to pry it out of our fingers. Isn’t that what it says? We are not to give grudgingly or because of guilt, and He says for us to share in “all good things” with the one who teaches us about the word of God.
Currently, I am attending Kinmundy Christian Church. So Pastor Josh is one of the main beneficiaries of the sharing in all my good things. I was just sharing some examples tonight of what Doc Scott used to receive: parcels of land, cars (new and old), antiques, Bibles, stamps, money, houses, etc… Give what your heart tells you to.
The last point that I want to raise are tax breaks for giving. If you are a tither, then are you giving another 10% back from that which comes off your taxes? Also, whether you are tithing or not, why is it any of the governments business what I am giving? I always have viewed Matthew 6 as a charge to do your giving in secret, and it really hits giving to the poor in secret. Again, are you writing that off your taxes as well? I don’t think this is going to send you to hell, but might knock your rewards in heaven down. If Jesus brought it up, I think it is worth contemplating and studying.
So, to sum up, we need to give. But we need to be giving cheerfully with joy in our hearts. That is good and the right mindset to have. We need to start sharing materialistically with the teacher(s) or pastor(s) that are teaching us the word. If we don’t give what we owe; we will reap what we sow. Remember, all things we have are from God and it is because of His good pleasure we have them. Let us use what God has given us to further His message to this dying world.
Grace and Peace,
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