Next STEPS on your journey of faith – Step 2 – Tithe or Give
Through this series, we will discuss, in a practical way: what it means to put our faith in action, and what means - in a concrete way - to be a disciple of Christ.
"Love isn’t afraid of giving too much"
It was little Jonnie’s first time at Mass. He watched earnestly as ushers passed around the long-handled baskets as the offertory. When they neared his family’s pew, Jonnie said loudly,: Don’t pay for me, Daddy, I’m under five.”
People get upset when we preach on money. There are 2,350 verses in the scriptures related to the subject of money. 15% of Jesus’ teaching was on the subject of money and possessions. 11 out of 39 parables of Jesus is about money. The bible says more about our money than it does faith and prayer combined. It says more about our money that it does heaven and hell.
The vast majority of priests are reluctant to teach their people about money matters and Christian giving. First I preach on giving because, not do so, is to rob you of the joy of learning why to give. Also, I preach on giving to be faithful to my call as a Pastor, which is to preach the whole truth of God. To ignore the subject of giving, is to fail my responsibility of preaching the Bible.
There’s nothing you can give God that he needs. But when you give him an offering, you’re saying, “God, I love you. I’m thinking of you. I want you first in my life.”
The Bible says, “Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income” (Proverbs 3:9). Giving doesn’t just honor God. It is also an act of worship.But the Bible says that not every kind of giving is an act of worship. So what kind of giving is worship?
Saint Paul sad: “On every Lord’s Day each of you should put aside something from what you have earned during the week, and use it for this offering. The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you earn” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Worship giving is undesignated. That means you don’t control it, you don’t direct it, you don’t tell God what to do with it.
Worship giving is given when and where you worship. You give the first part of your money on the first day of the week and say, “God, you’re first in my life.”
Worship giving is planned. You don’t just give spontaneously. You think it through.
Worship giving is proportional. If you didn’t earn anything this week, you don’t give anything. You earn a little, you give a little. You earn a lot, you give a lot.
God wants your heart more than anything else. He doesn’t want your money. He wants what it represents. The most sensitive nerve in the body is the one that goes from the heart to the wallet.
God doesn’t just want us to give a tithe. He wants us to recognize him as the owner of everything and to diligently embrace our role as stewards of what we have and hold on his behalf.
Fr. Michael in the Rebuilt book says: “If you are just throwing pocket change into the basket on Sunday (some people call it “tipping” God), plan your gift instead; make it a priority as you budget your other expenses. Everyone can do that, regardless of the size of his or her offering. People should give in a planned way that is absolutely a priority and at a progressive percentage. We can easily put our giving on cruise control.” But God deserves our best.
Giving is a testimony: In the book of Geneses (14:20) Abraham gave testimony of God’s ownership. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek over 400 years before the law was established. My question is, who told Abraham to tithe to Melchizedek? There is no mention that anyone told him to do it. There was no law to commend Him to do this. I believe Abraham did this to show honor to God as an act of worship through Melchizedek, who as we have seen was a type of our coming High Priest, Jesus Christ. Abraham worshiped God as an act of his free will. Is important to worshiping God as an act of our free will and not because we are commended to do so. Did Abraham have to tithe, no he did not. Did God bless him because of his honoring Him first? Yes, He absolutely did! God always blesses those who honor Him first. My money is a symbol of me. In giving the prescribe portion we give testimony of having given self. God cannot bless a self-focused person.
Here is my personal testimony; I was at Saint Cecilia church. Church carpet was newly changed a lady came in and sad– “Here, take all my savings for the carpet. It’s everything I have got!” “No, no! That’s too much” I said. “Take it anyway, she said, “Love is not afraid of giving too much.” This reflects on a basic truth; giving meets one of our basic needs. Just like the poor widow in Gospel of Luke (21:1-4); the temple was plated with gold and brass. Obviously her coins were not needed BUT she had a need to give. Sacrifice is a part of a believer’s new nature. If unfulfilled the believer feels guilt. There is an innate need to give.
This week reflect on your giving and make a commitment for the year. Use our Next Steps from the pews to guide you. Your giving is a worship offering.
Saint Paul to the 2nd letter to the Corinthians is saying our giving demonstrates that God’s grace is active in our lives. Generosity and financial faithfulness is a hallmark of a maturing disciples. One of the reasons we struggle with it is because we fail to realize that.
We need to know that giving is a matter of the heart and not our bank account. We wrongly assume that our ability to give is tied to how much money we have. But great givers are not necessarily are the ones who write the largest cheques, great givers according to the Bible are those who: 1) Give willingly and joyfully, 2) Give generously and sacrificially.
According to Paul Powell, retired dean of the Baptist Seminary; there are 3 types of givers: 1. Tearful givers- they are reluctant to give; 2) Fearful givers- they give from a sense of duty and fear of what God might do; 3) Cheerful givers- they give to the Lord, His church and others out of heart of joy because they have determined their treasure is not in their wealth or this world but in God. They give out of love for God and a heart of worship.
So giving is not an emotional response, it is an act of the will, a deliberate decision. Remember your money follows your heart and your heart follows your money.
In the 2nd letter of the Corinthians, the Macedonian Christians were able to give because their hearts belonged to God first. They gave because they had first given themselves to the Lord. Our giving speaks volumes about what we believe about God.
It’s not just that we give or how much we give that matters, but how we give and the attitude in which we give. The spirit and attitude we hold toward giving makes it an act of worship. Remember it is a sign of God’s grace at work in our lives when we give. It is an act of worship to Him and a demonstration of our love for God. I want you to know that God is interested in you. He wants you to give yourself to him. When that happens, the rest follows.
Until we appropriately understand that everything we have belongs to God, He has ownership over everything. We will always be asking how much of my money do I give God instead of asking, how much of God’s money do I spend on my own lifestyle. NOTHING WE HAVE BELONGS TO US. We are stewards of time, strength, ability as well as our money.
Our giving is a spiritual matter that involves the heart, our spiritual knowledge of scriptures and our spiritual capacity for faith in God and His invisible powers. Giving reflects our value system, our life priorities and our life discipline.
Giving is the acknowledgement that all we have belongs to the Lord. All we have, all we are, all we possess, all we earn are equally the gifts of God. We are to acknowledge God as giver of all good things. God is the creator, owner and giver of everything we have. We are just stewards of these possessions.
God always blesses those who honour Him first. Placing God first in our lives is our choice we each have to make and it is one that He is encouraging us to make. But He will not force us in this. Trusting Him by faith is an act of our will.
Our chequebooks indicate who and what we worship. You cannot fake stewardship, your chequebook reveals all you believe about this principle. A life story could be written from a chequebook. It reflects your goals, priorities, convictions, relationships and even the use of your time. A person who has been a Christian for even a short time can fake prayer, bible study, discipleship and going to church. But you cannot fake what the chequebook reveals. We give the best gifts to those we love. Jesus said in Gospel of John 14:15: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” What we really believe, we act on it. The rest is merely a religious talk.
The whole motivation behind giving is not getting from God but trusting God. We give in a spirit of love, not in the spirit of greed. Our motivation for giving is thankfulness to what God already blessed. Therefore, we give out of gratitude. It is vital to give with gratitude or we are not touching the heart of God. If I am not thankful and giving from the heart, I am not showing my love for God and gratefulness for what God has provided me. To give out of guilt is not giving, but making a payment we think we owe. In reality we owe God every penny. It is thankfulness that draws us to give. The ultimate goal to give is to make an eternal impact. Money is not the focus, eternity is. Money is just one of the tools that we use. Our attitude toward giving is a reflection of our spiritual condition. Someone who is living in thanksgiving will be generous and trust God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Part of becoming a growing disciples of Christ is learning to walk by faith, trusting God in every area of our lives.
Giving is a way of putting God first. It is a way of saying “we give of our first and best to you, our Lord, because we recognize all good comes from you.” God has given you a challenge.
- “The poor need the rich to draw them out of poverty. The rich need the poor to keep them out of hell,” said Cardinal Francis George. What is your reaction to that statement?
- What is the role money plays in your life? How much time do you spend worrying about it? How painful is it to let go of money?
- How generous are you with your time, talent, and treasure?