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Thursday, February 09, 2012

On giving... time? talent? money!

This morning, during men's Bible study, I heard a disturbing suggestion several times... an unBiblical but Scriptural-sounding, churchy-sounding notion... on the topic of giving.

We read the Scripture from Paul:
"6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NIV

The unBiblical and unScriptural (but sounding very Biblical and sounding very Scriptural) idea that I heard was this:
  • "When Jesus and the Bible talks about money, giving to the church is important... but you can also give time and talent instead of money... and giving of yourself (your time and your talents and ability) that's more important.

Where did we pick up this notion? 
As I thought about that after the Bible study (and please note... this idea wasn't coming from the materials we were studying or the leaders of the study or the Scriptures... but from the participants... unfortunately, this isn't the first time that I've heard this idea), I believe that we have picked up this selfish notion from the culture that we live in.  Obviously, living in America, we live in an extremely selfish and self-centered society.  That goes without too much explanation.  That is the case if your salary is four figures or seven figures... whether you make an hourly wage or are paid a flat salary. 

Here's what our culture has taught us... and unfortunately, we have believed it... our time and our talents are more important to God than our money and we should give them instead of our money because God really doesn't need our money.  What a lie!!! The enemy has completely tricked the church with this notion. 

Now... this isn't about to head in the direction of the "health and wealth" gospel (that if you give to God financially... sow your financial "seed"... God will make you wealthy and healthy).  That notion is completely unBiblical (cough, cough Joel Osteen, cough, cough).  Unfortunately that idea heads in the polar opposite direction of the above notion.

What I am advocating is that God has given us financial resources.  Maybe we don't have as much as we would like, honestly because we are selfish.  But we still have some incredible financial resources.  If you had a hot shower this morning, ate breakfast (or had the option to), rode in a car and put on different clothes than you wore yesterday, and are reading this on the Internet, you are richer than 95% of the rest of the world.  You have those resources because God has given them to you to be a manager of them.  Your responsibility is to take care of what he has given you. 

Part of taking care of those resources is returning a portion of what God has given to you. 

Because God's needs your money... no!  Because God wants your money... no (again)!

God wants your heart.  

Consider the words of Jesus:
    19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
   22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
   24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:19-24, NIV.

Unfortunately, because we are selfish, we have taken those above verses and applied it in a different direction than what Jesus intended.  We say: "Jesus wants my heart... so I'll give him my heart.  And what is closer than my heart? My time and talent are closer to my heart than my money.  So I'll give that."  

I would contend, again, we do that because we are selfish and we have found a churchy sounding loophole.  Since we are selfish and would rather spend our money on ourselves and what we "need" (which we don't really need... but would really like to have called "want"), we try to get around giving our money to God.

God wants your money... why? Because He wants your heart.  
And if you give Him your money, He has your heart.  


I haven't always made the best decisions myself in this area.  I haven't always been as generous toward God with my financial resources as I should be.  But do my best to honor God first and foremost... with my time! with my talents! 


And with my money as well!

Just something to think about this morning. 


JC

 


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