GIVING......IT’S A HEART ISSUE
Some years ago, I was sitting in a back pew during the Lord’s Supper at a church I was attending. The custom of that church was to pass the collection after we had participated of the emblems and I often would look up and just randomly watch the collection go by. It was not a spiritual activity but just something I found myself doing. I noticed frequently that one young member of the congregation who had a well paying job would pass the collection by. As time passed I realized how frequent this was but thought he may have had other priorities. I knew he lived at home with his parents and did not spend his own money on his car or his clothing. One day after the service he informed a group of us standing there that he had bought himself a new guitar the day before worth 2000 dollars. I stood there in disbelief as he had passed the collection by once again, and the topic of conversation was where they would be going for lunch (as it frequently is with young adults on Sundays after church). As he was younger than me and I was an elder in the church, I stepped aside with him and mentioned my observation to him. I told him that giving of our wages to God is a principle taught in Scripture and a privilege for all of us. That even if it is just a bit, God is pleased as we give. He was very upset with me that day, but he showed me how selfish we can be. When I was younger, at times I also passed the collection by; sometimes it seems completely justified but we are not here to set rules about when to give or not to God or even how much we should give or under which circumstances.
The Bible says very clear things about tithing-or giving to the Lord- and the attitude that surrounds it. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says; “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” When I first understood this principle it convicted me greatly; now remember giving to God is not only confined to the Church collection, we have many opportunities in which we can give to God. The principle behind giving is about our hearts; a pre-disposition, “what we have decided in our hearts to give” requires a willful thinking out process that is acted upon.
In Genesis 14:20 and in Genesis 28:20-22 we are introduced to what often is referred to as the guideline to giving. In both cases Abraham and Jacob gave 10 percent which was the amount given and often throughout the Old Testament we see that as the standard. That principle has been used down through time and in some places, is mandated. Even though that is a good principle it is not a percentage we should view legalistically. It depends upon where you are financially, if the Lord knows how many hairs you have on your head, He also knows how much money you have.
Many of you that read this are students; you have the cost of tuition and expenses that you incur during the school year. As you work in the summer, it is often with a forward look towards the next year. To young and older people alike, money is necessary for the enjoyment of life, going out with friends, a trip, an item of clothing that you like, or some technological gadget that you enjoy having. In essence there is nothing wrong with those things. The main point for us to understand is that giving to God is a privilege as much as it is a responsibility.
In a church setting, often money is set aside for the sustaining of the ministry everywhere from outreach to wages. For missionaries it is so their ministry will have success and that living expenses are taken care of. I think though, rather than looking at giving to God as just a responsibility, we should approach it as an act of worship.
I read the following explanation and thought I would pass it on to you. “Because our tithing is both an act of our faith and an act of worship, it is not undertaken lightly. Careful discernment, honest reflection, and prayerful consideration on the part of every member must be the basis for our personal or family decision to tithe or not to tithe. The one thing that all members should avoid is being miserly in giving thanks to God or in sharing responsibility with one another to provide for the communal needs of our church and for the needs of the truly impoverished. The practice of tithing as an act of faith immediately contradicts the spirit of consumerism so prevalent in our culture and so corrosive to our faith.”
Worshipping God begins in the outflow from our hearts in gratitude to Him, not only for saving us and giving us hope as we express it privately or publicly. It is also in the way we give of our money and our time to the furtherance of His kingdom and truly an act that affirms sincere faith in God.
By: Pastor David Jones