In response to the Bishop’s December 2 sermon on “Giving out of Gratitude”, last week I wrote about the Biblical principles of why we offer our financial first fruits to the Lord. This week I am going to give a few practical tips about how to begin to tithe. Next week we will look at the benefits of honoring the Lord with our wealth. So how do we begin to obey God and honor Him with our financial tithes and offerings?
Last Sunday Bishop John preached on responding to God’s grace with an “attitude of gratitude.” His main application was that one way we show gratitude to God is through the tithing of our finances to the Lord. I imagine that for some, the concept of money, church, and tithing brings to mind guilt inducing fundraising techniques, fear of giving up what you already have, or sincere questions about the motives of church leadership. Believe me, I understand and have felt all three on many occasions. As we all seek to grow in this area of giving out of gratitude, I want to remind us of the gospel and of our values as Christians in regards to money and giving.
First, Gospel giving is the fruit of Gospel receiving. We give as a response to what we already have received rather than as a way to satisfy our guilt or mollify a demanding God. 2 Corinthians 8: 9 says, “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for our sakes He became poor, so that through his poverty we might become rich.” For those who have received the gospel, giving of our finances is just another way to respond joyfully and gratefully after experiencing His sacrificial, unmerited love.
Second, giving financially to the church should never be obligatory. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us that the call from God is for us “to be willing and joyful givers.” Tithes are not dues to appease God or meet the needs of the church. As one clergyman once said, “we don’t tip God with our loose change in hopes we will receive the best He has for us – He doesn’t need our money and He gives us His best anyway!” Simply, let us not give unless we give willingly and joyfully to the Lord as a response to the gospel. If you are not willing or joyful in your giving, talk to God and others about why. Ask other believers how they became such joyful and sacrificial givers. Tell God you are willing to grow.
Third, each of us is called to “give [ourselves] first to the Lord and then to [one another].” (2 Cor. 8:5) In other words, we don’t commit financially to others unless we have first committed our lives to the Lord. This year you might ask yourself if it is easier to write a check than commit to the Lord. If so, pray about why one or both is so difficult. Perhaps you might ask yourself (before you give another dime), ‘Have I committed my life to Christ?’ If yes, rejoice and give thanks for His faithfulness and ask Him to give you His heart for giving. If not, may I suggest figuring out the barriers that cause you to resist committing your life to Christ. Perhaps it is time to find a quiet spot, get on your knees, ask Jesus to forgive your sins and pride, and open your heart and receive Him as your Savior and Lord. You will be amazed how easy giving will become once you give yourself first to the Lord and receive His amazing grace.
Willingly and Cheerfully Giving More and More with You Because of Christ,
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Members of staff and Vestry will be posting on the ResBlog to help us think through who we are in light of the gospel so that we might “spur one another on to love and good deeds.”