In review of LHH culture, we will be a church who:
And as I shared last Sunday, we don’t look at these God-given purposes as separate entities, but rather as cyclical, meaning they intertwine together and are an integral part of you and me as we bring God’s light into a dark world.
Today we’re going to look at the 5tharea of purpose that God envisions for this church.
But before we jump into what God’s Word has to say about it, I need to say that this is one of those “touchy” subjects that many pastors are afraid to preach on and that some in the church feel the pastor should never mention.
Yet it involves the one subject that Jesus spoke of more than any other, except the Kingdom of God. He spoke of it more than heaven and hell combined. Of His 39 parables, 11 of them speak of this subject. And in the Gospel of Luke, 1 out of every 7 verses mentions the subject.
So, I think you’ve guessed the subject is money. And in particular we’re going to be looking at tithing and how God desires it to be taught, as well as its importance for the people of LHH.
In Luke 21: 1-4, Jesus is looking and watching people as they come into the area of the temple court where offering boxes were set up and women were allowed to be. He watches as they bring their gifts, their tithes, their offerings to put into the temple treasury.
As He is watching, He notices that a widow has come in and dropped 2 small copper coins into one of the collection boxes. And so He takes some time to teach His disciples on what He has just seen.
What’s neat to me about the words Luke recorded in his gospel is that he merely recorded a casual conversation that Jesus shared with His disciples. And Jesus did this often – took the time to teach based upon what He was observing.
What He sees and hears during this observation are coins being deposited – deposited into inverted megaphone shape openings that funnel the coins into the boxes.
So can you hear it? Can you hear the coins clanging through the funnel onto the coins already collected? I can. I hear that lots of coins will make lots of noise, and a couple coins of the smallest currency will make little noise as they are dropped into the box.
And so does Jesus and His disciples. And Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, this poor (literally) widow has put in more than all the others.”
Now His disciples, if they were really paying attention, are probably wondering, “What do you mean? All the others put in large sums of coins and she only put in two of minimal value.”
But Jesus’ point then and for us now is this: Quality over Quantity.
Jesus is not looking at how much a person gives, but rather the MOTIVATIONbehind the gift.
Many of the people who were putting their tithes in the boxes that day, were giving 10%, or maybe more, but it was being done out of ritual and vain conceit. It was done with no thought of the importance and value that comes from giving. They were giving because they were supposed to give. They were giving because it was commanded of them in their religion. They were giving because they wanted people to notice how righteous they were by giving.
But the people of His day just weren’t getting it; and sad to say, neither do we.
· Jesus wants people to give out of GRATITUDEas they remember the gift of forgiveness offered to them through His sacrifice.
· Jesus wants those who have been blessed with more to give GENEROUSLY to God rather than keep it for themselves.
· Jesus wants people to give out of RELATIONSHIPand LOVE, not out of commandment.
This is a true story by Brian Kluth, radio host of Give With Joy.
A number of years ago, I was teaching a seminar on what the Bible teaches about finances to Christians in Eastern Europe. After the seminar, one of the people came and told me how much the teaching helped everyone. He said during the 70 years communism was in their country, people were told the Communist government owned everything and the government would provide for everyone. He went on to say that communism fell, and people came from America and said that capitalism was the way to go–where people own everything and they have to provide for themselves. He then said, today I learned the best news of all. God is the owner of everything and He is our provider. He learned people must be faithful and generous with whatever God gives them.
Here’s another true example by Brian Kluth that illustrates how God uses tithe given with the right intent – the right motivation.
I heard a missionary tell an amazing story of a child’s generosity. John Bechtel, a missionary in Hong Kong, wanted to start a Christian camp to reach people for Christ. A bankrupt multimillion-dollar hotel and conference center became available for sale. He made an offer to purchase the property and then traveled around the world to raise the millions he would need. But no one was willing to help and he returned to Hong Kong discouraged. Then one day he got a letter from a young girl that included $1 and a note saying she wanted him to use this to buy the camp. John Bechtel prayed and took the girl’s $1 to the real estate closing and the corporation decided to accept the $1 as full payment! Since the camp first opened, over a million people have come and over 100,000 have accepted Christ.
So God wants quality over quantity. Quantity means nothing if being given for invalid intentions. He wants our gifts to be given with the right spirit. Jesus was telling His disciples, my paraphrase, “A little given out of SACRIFICEis far greater than a lot given out of conceit, pride, or indifference.”
And so Jesus says to His disciples to clarify His prior statement, “All these people gave gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus’ point in this statement is: Tithing = Trust
This is critical. He wants us to see in this woman someone who was willing to give everything she had because she trusted that God would meet her needs.
God wants to see in our giving that we are giving out of TRUST, and how much to give varies per individual and family. But it is a very, very important component in our faith journey.
The widow that Jesus saw wasn’t looking for anyone to notice. She put it in because she wanted to. Jesus said she gave everything she had to live on into that offering box. And basically, we can say that her 2 small coins were kind of like today’s penny – not much to live off of.
But yet, she did it knowing that she didn’t have a husband to provide a living for her. She did it because she trusted that God would provide for her needs.
I think she really understood what Jesus taught His disciples in Luke 12: 27-31.
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon, in all his splendor, was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows you need them. But seek His Kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
Tithing equals trust. In order to give – to give of my first fruits and not what is left over (the Biblical definition of tithing) – I must trust God to expand the income I have left. My mind says this is not possible, but FAITHproves that it is true – that God truly provides for my daily needs when I’m willing to trust Him.
Brian Kluth shared another story on trust in giving.
Steve owned a small business and had an annual salary of $50,000. He went to a conference where Dr. Bill Bright challenged people to give a million dollars to the LORD’s work. Steve told Dr. Bright it would be impossible for his family to give a million dollars. Dr. Bright asked, “How much money did you make last year, and how much did you give?” Steve said, “My salary is $50,000 and we gave $15,000.” Dr. Bright said, “Next year, trust God to help you give $50,000.” But Steve said, “That’s my entire salary!” Dr. Bright said, “Trust God and see how He provides.” With God’s help, Steve’s business did well and his family joyfully gave $50,000. The following year, God helped them give $100,000. Each year, his family lived on his $50,000 salary and gave all their extra income to the LORD’s work. Within several years, they gave over a million dollars!
I share this story, not to guilt anyone, which would include me, but rather to show how it takes trust in order to see God work through our giving. Giving takes extreme faith because we see the bills and we know how much income we have – it seems impossible to give. Yet for some reason, living on 90%, with 10% going to God’s Kingdom, goes further than living on 100%. Can’t explain it, other than it is God’s way of proving to us that He can be trusted in what He says.
At LHH, we will be a community of givers. Though we pressure no one to give, we understand that in order for God’s ministry to occur – to reach-in to the people of His Church and to reach-out to the spiritually lost – we must give.
I preach on tithing as a purpose – a vision – from God for this church because we want to be a church that invests into the people of this church. I believe that tithe is meant to be used for ministering to others, not for paying large amounts for buildings and large salaries.
So we want to use tithe as a PEOPLE INVESTMENT. I believe that when people are struggling within the church we want to reach out to them to get them back on their feet. In response, they will be encouraged to give in their future so that the investment can be used to benefit others who are facing financial struggles like they did.
And so tithe is not merely a command to do, but rather a way to invest into the lives of people – a way to look like and be the community of believers as we read about in the Bible.
· We want to use tithe to support the missional efforts of our COMMON UNITY GROUPS. We believe that the people of the church can use the money more effectively to reach out to the spiritually lost and hurting in their communities. We believe that by tithing back to the groups we are giving them an opportunity to share the love and truth about Jesus. It’s called opportunistic evangelism.
· We want to use tithe to participate in GLOBAL MISSIONS. We want to help fulfill the command to the church to go into all nations and make disciples.
· We want to use tithe to increase the QUALITY OF THE MINISTRIES we offer.
· We want to use tithe to reach out to the PEOPLE OF HEDGESVILLE so as to build bridges to them rather than isolate ourselves on an island waiting for Jesus’ return.
Remember, tithe is an investment for the future – the eternal – yet it has its benefits for today. When we tithe we are building up treasures in heaven that will never run dry. But also, we get to see God work today when He miraculously sees that our needs are met.
Jesus said in Luke 12: 33b, “Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
It’s often hard for us to do because we only see the temporary – the finite. We see the trouble we’re facing right now and are just trying to survive in the instant. But Jesus’ plan for us on earth is to prepare ourselves for the future. So in order for you and me to effectively do this with our money, we have to learn to tithe. And in tithing, God is looking for QUALITY AND TRUST.
Will you invest for the future? Will you invest so that the Kingdom of God can expand through souls coming into a saving relationship with Him? Will you invest so that your retirement is eternal and will be lavish and extravagant because you invested into the Kingdom of God?
Know this: This investment is not like the ones we have on earth who gain one day and lose the next. No, this is the one investment that never loses. It is guaranteed for life – eternal life.