Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
May 24, 2015
When pastors stop preaching and start meddling
When the pastor brings up the subject of money in his sermon, some are quick to say, “He has stopped preaching and started meddling!” Well money is my subject today. More specifically, giving money to the church. Now don’t run; stay with me. Like Castor Oil, this may be helpful. Give me five minutes.
Here is the big idea: giving is a privilege. Consider it a duty and you spoil it. Giving gladly pleases God. God does not like obligatory giving. Am I sure this is true? Yes, because Saint Paul says it plainly: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Cheerful giving – that’s what God likes.
What about the tithe? Is that not an obligation? Well, tithing is God’s plan, introduced in the Old Testament as the biblical standard of giving. Then God expects me to tithe, right? Yes, but he is mainly concerned about the spirit in which you give. The Bible does teach that “the tithe belongs to the Lord.” But give a tithe of your income to God because you “have to,” and you might as well not give at all.
Our motivation is the key. Once
Jesus came into the world, grace entered the picture. So the grace of God moves
us to give generously, not out of duty but out of gratitude for what Christ has
done for us. Grace moved the churches of
Paul uses the beautiful word “sharing.” Genuine happiness comes not from what we receive, but from what we share. Sharing takes happiness to another level, the level called joy. The Macedonian Christians were not wealthy; they were extremely poor. Yet the awareness of God’s grace filled them with such “abundant joy” that they freely shared what they had.
Sharing what we have is giving at its best. Some Christians, having “paid the tithe,” are quick to say, “Don’t ask me for more; my tithe is all the church is going to get.” But they deny themselves the “abundant joy” that comes from giving “beyond the tithe.” Christ can move us to share out of the abundance of what we have to meet the needs of others who are suffering.
When we learn to share freely, because “freely we have received” from the hand of God, we discover that we cannot out-give God! The more we give, the more we receive from God, though not necessarily money. God has better gifts than money!
My wife has the gift of giving. She loves to give things away – not only money but clothes, furniture, pictures and other items among her “stuff.” The amazing thing is that the more she gives away, the more she receives from God. Her giving has done so much for her that I am beginning to try it myself!
Sharing generously is a sign that you are living in the kingdom of God. The rewards of such giving are joy and laughter. You give two suits away and before you know it, someone gives you a new suit! You find yourself laughing out loud because you realize that God is at work. And you realize that God is giving you more and more because he knows you will not hoard it but pass it on to his needy children.
A precious widow in our church said to me, “My heart was touched by the needs of orphan children in Zambia. I want to give enough to care for one of them for a year.” She has done that now for ten years – and gladly. She did not wait for a committee to act. She opened her purse, and her heart, and acted on her own. And this gift for missions has been beyond her tithe to her church.
Each of us must decide if life is a warehouse or a journey. If it is a warehouse, then we need more and more stuff. But if life is a journey, then traveling light is the best plan. Clinging to our stuff hinders our progress on the journey to the Father’s House.
Think about your stuff – your possessions. Everything you have has come to you by the hand of God. You can hoard and treasure your stuff – or you can give it to God. When you give it all to him, then you can have the joy of using it to help others in need. The more you share what you have to help the poor, the more joy God will pour into your heart.
One day soon all your stuff will belong to someone else. You will no longer need it. While you have it, you can use it to make a difference in the world. There is danger in supposing that “one day” you will share your stuff. You may never get to that day. So you will be wise to do something right now, today.
Write a check to your church for missions – to save a child in Africa from malaria or to aid earthquake victims in Nepal. Give half your clothes to the poor. For God’s sake, do something that feels like “giving generously”! You may not stop laughing for a week! Giving generously, and gladly, can affect you like that!
Well, so much for the subject of money. Hopefully what you have read was better than a dose of Castor Oil! + + +