The subjects of money and finance seem at times all-consuming in the way they occupy our attention. Culture and the media celebrate wealth and accumulation and often associate it with intelligence, physical attractiveness and creativity. We cannot make it through the day without being bombarded with advice on personal finance, investments, the most favorable cash-back credit cards on the market and plenty of dubious and entrapping choices like reverse mortgages or the lottery. We live in an economy that is both global and digital, offering countless ways to create, enhance and preserve wealth. The calls for us to borrow and consume are persistent and deafening. These messages create confusion in our lives.
Marriages have failed due to not enough money or too much money. Families have been divided ideologically, emotionally and spiritually over the handling of money. The discussion of wealth is not new. Nine hundred years before Christ’s birth, the great King Solomon had a thing or two to say about the invasive and destructive power of wealth and lives that were dedicated to wealth-building. Salt – not cybercurrency – was the currency of choice in that period, and barter was a big part of the daily lives of people. But in most other respects, the lure of money was no different than it is today.
As believers, what posture should we take with money?
If we genuinely believe scripture is God-breathed, we should take note of what Jesus says as money is mentioned more than 800 times in God’s Word. Clearly, it is important to have a healthy, Christ-like view of money, rather than a sinful view.
The historical framework on tithing is important to understand, as early Jewish law was hard-edged and precise on the subject. The very word “tithe” was rigid and synonymous with words like tax, burden or duty. There was the customary tithe of ten percent. Then, there was also the tithe for the Levites, widows and orphans every three years. And finally, there was the tithe to support the sacred meal. It was this preoccupation by the Pharisees and scribes with the various mandates of tithing that Jesus rebuked, because it missed the bigger picture of freely giving to demonstrate care and compassion for others in need and to promote the spread of the Gospel message. Matthew 23:23 speaks squarely to Jews: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Giving should reflect our free choice to give our first and our best, and to give it with cheerfulness. The path that believers take along the way to Biblical generosity can have many turns and roadblocks. Generosity and giving are not necessarily intuitive for all people. We have probably heard phrases like: “It’s all God’s money.” or “You can’t out-give God.” Yes, those statements convey the truth of Scripture. However, the concept of sacrificial giving and the act of writing the check may collide in the face of harsh financial shortages or other life events.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 says “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need, and plenty left over to share with others.”
So how do we get there?
Prayer: Growth toward Biblical generosity for some people will follow growth in their prayer life. Talk to God and seek His guidance.
Relationship: Growth in generosity may follow a path toward experiencing a deeper relationship with Jesus – worship that is intimate and focused, and free from distraction.
Trust: The journey may become one of passing over spiritual or emotional thresholds like fear or anxiety, that allow us to move forward as we learn to trust the provision of our Creator.
None of us have fully arrived, nor will our gifts come close to the love He has lavished upon us. At some point, we desire that our lives will reflect Biblical generosity that may be characterized as not only cheerful, but as full of thanksgiving, praise and peace.
Explore the rich and diverse perspectives on Biblical giving found in God’s Word. Listed below is just a small sampling. But most of all, trust Him on this exciting journey!
Luke 6:38; Romans 12:12-13; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Hebrews 13:16; James 2:15-17; 1 Timothy 5:17-18 AcceTopics: generosity, giving, tithe