I just recently finished reading a book entitled Maximize, which was written to help pastors and church leaders deal with the taboo subject of money within the church. It was a very challenging read for me personally, as within the first few pages I came across the following quote, “It is impossible to become a fully developed follower of Jesus without also becoming a fully developed steward of your resources.” That statement is true is because of a statement that Christ made over in Matthew 6:24, where He said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Christ talked a lot about money and possessions during His time here on this earth. He talked more about them than He did about faith, prayer, heaven and hell. If I were to preach about money as much as Jesus did, I would have to make it our topic every third Sunday. Why did Christ spend so much time talking about money? It wasn’t because He wanted anyone to give it to Him. Instead, He knew the fundamental connection that exists between a person’s spiritual life and their attitude toward money and possessions – which He made clear in his statement in Matthew 6:24. Spiritually, we can’t be a worshiper of God, and therefore a developing follower of Christ, if we are in love with possessions and money. Christ reiterates that point when He says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If a person’s greatest treasure in their life is money and possessions, then that is what is sitting on the throne of their hearts, which leaves no room for God.
Since it is our mission as a church to make more and better disciples, or followers of Christ, the spiritual discipline of stewardship of our resources is one that we must teach and encourage, as much as we teach and encourage the spiritual disciplines of daily time in the Bible and prayer. One way we must teach this is in the area of tithes and offerings. The Bible makes it very clear that God is a giving God – He gives us life and breath, new mercies every morning, and most importantly, His Son. God withholds no needful and therefore good thing from our lives. He is not a God of scarcity. However, as worshippers of a giving God, we can often be very stingy with him in the area of our finances. When that happens, we are demonstrating two things. First, we love money and things more than we love the God who is so giving to us. Second, we are not exemplifying the God who gave so much so that we might be a child of his.
If you find yourself in a place of being stingy with God, and therefore not the follower of Christ you need to be, the place to begin is with the spiritual discipline of tithing – of giving a portion of the income God has graciously given to you, back to Him through the church. At first, your discipline may have to start small, as in 2-3% of your income. But in time, and with proper discipline, that percentage can grow and so will your walk with God. Ultimately, what we give to God is a testament to the ordering of our heart’s priorities. What does your giving to God testify to your heart’s priorities?