Once we realize that all we have belongs to God then any form of giving becomes an accountable stewardship to Jesus who actually is the most worthy of all givers.
Let me teach out of my own life.
When I took my relationship with God seriously I realised that there was a portion of my money that did not belong to me and that I needed to give that to God. Once I gave of my income to God then that became the responsibility of the leadership to do what they deemed fit with that for the Kingdom of God. My task was over.
Today giving, tithing and ‘special offerings’ have been misused by religious hucksters, both on TV as well as in churches. Because of such abuse from the pulpit many Pastors are afraid to deal with this subject of giving. I have always believed and taught that only giving a tenth falls too short; rather, God wants us to give generously ‘as He has prospered us.’
Let me reiterate what stewardship means. This simply means that as believers we are each entrusted with different amounts of material things to manage for God. Now this really is a test from God. But because material things do have our name on them, it does create tension in our hearts…
Who really determines where our money goes?
Will I really use my financial and material things exactly how God wants me to?
Let me share about the ‘heart’. God first revealed His heart to me. This is where God began His journey in my life. First within me, then later using me to touch the lives of others.
The heart, in Biblical understanding, is often a metaphor of our will. It is where we make up our mind so that we do what God wants us to be done. We can only understand what God says about financial giving if we align our hearts with His.
Somebody actually said, “Our attitude toward material things is a window to the actual condition of our heart.”
Listen to God’s heart when Jesus says…Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)
The real issue is that where our treasure is, our heart is. Period.
This passage is not explicitly talking about giving money to God or ministry, but it is teaching us something vital about a decision we must make prior to any giving. Where is our heart? Which do we value – earthly or eternal treasure?
Giving or tithing is going to be meaningless if we think like so many who teach that giving is a way to have financial success. Or even giving is a way to impress God, or impress people. Sometimes we desire to feel good about ourselves, so we give. Hey! We are missing the point here! If we do this then our goal – or our heart – is still on ourselves and not on eternity.
Jesus’ main point was to ask us which do we want. And even more…which one do we value – earth’s treasure or heaven’s? I want it all, we might say. But we can’t. Jesus makes sure we understand that you can have only one!
Let me close with a story I have so often told when I preach about giving.
One day a beggar saw a magi and his entourage approaching from a distance. He was quite poor, owning only the bowl of rice in his hands. As the magi drew near, the beggar cried out “Oh magi, if you would please share with me out of the bounty that God has placed into your hands, I might live another day.” The magi stepped down from his carriage and said to the beggar, “I am so very hungry today. Would you give me your bowl of rice?” The beggar was astonished and a bit irritated that such a rich man would be asking him for anything when he was the one in need. So he ran his fingers through the rice in his bowl and finally brought two grains to give to the magi. The magi thanked him, mounted his carriage and rode off down the road. By then, the beggar was fuming and ran his fingers through the rice once again, suddenly noticing a piece of gold the size and shape of a grain of rice. He frantically scrounged around some more and found a second grain of gold, but no more. Looking up as the magi began to fade from sight in the distance, he cried, “Magi—if I had only known, I would have given you the entire bowl!”
The weight of this story suggests that God desires to do the same thing with our money and goods as the rest of our life.
So here is the true heart of giving…God takes what we offer and makes it so much more than we ever could. The only parts of our life untouched by blessing are those we withhold from God. Giving involves permitting God to expand our hearts toward Him and others. He stretches us according to the measure of faith we place in Him.
Have a blessed month of giving!