Is The Church Just After My Money?
A biblical basis for generosity
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. // Mark 10:17-31
My husband, Jared, and I had been like many early-married couples, and struggled with some credit card debt. We spent money on things that we believed would bring us comfort -- mostly things for our home and things for ourselves. We paid them off within a year, but would slowly fall back into the same struggle. It wasn’t until we were in a church community, and heard a message about how all of our money is God’s in the first place, that we finally began to get a grasp on our finances. We began to see our money not as something we earned, but something that God gifted. It only felt natural at that point to give God back a portion of what he had given to us to begin with. That’s when we started tithing.
Tithing changed everything for us. We began giving monthly. If we had a month that tithing became more difficult we felt the temptation to skip a month, but inevitably, if we didn’t tithe, we ended the month in a worse spot -- both financially and spiritually. It was as though God was showing us that our priorities were wrong. We realized after a couple years of mostly tithing on a monthly basis that we could not afford NOT to tithe. Our budget and our hearts needed to put God first each and every month. Now we have a mantra of “We can’t afford not to tithe.”
What changed when we began tithing? Our hearts! The story from Mark is not about Jesus wanting the man’s money or even needing it for the poor. It is about the man’s heart. God does not need our money, but he is pursuing our hearts. There are some pretty big questions about whether or not Christians are required to tithe. I can tell you what we live by. Above our monthly budget we have written these verses. I purposely hand write a budget, so these will be on my heart as we step into the new month.
Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Proverbs 3:9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, and with the best part of everything you produce.”
2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
When you hear in church and community to be generous with your wealth (any money or skills you have) it’s because so much of what we do with our money is actually indicative of what is in our hearts. Every Sunday we are encouraged to “worship God through giving.” That is radical to our thought process: that through our giving we are actually worshipping the Creator. When we give we are acknowledging that God is in control, that all we have is his, and that we will trust him with all that we have. Just as Jesus invited the man into relationship with him through giving, so is our church in asking us to give of what we have. Read the story later on in Mark 12 starting in verses 41 to see how it’s not about the quantity of our giving, but of the posture of our hearts in our giving.
If you hear that we should be giving of our time and money, don’t shy away from that. If that’s an uncomfortable topic for you reach out to your City Group, and talk through what that means. In community we can gain clarity over how God wants to use our money, skills, and our hearts. Let Him be glorified in every part of your life.