A young man who was attending my Coffee Bar Bible studies tossed a $20 bill on the table between us. He said something like "I haven't been sowing anywhere lately" and added that he felt my eMail ministry was as valid as any. Something to that effect.
A few years back, my own son handed me some crumpled bills and told me he had grown convicted about regularly supporting my ministry. He's seen the fruit of his dad's labor and wants to "link up" with me. I cannot deny him the blessings of such action.
Ah, the power of partnership!
These two situations remind me of the importance of addressing the subject of God's Kingdom and our Finances. There's such a blessing in store for those who comprehend this matter. Just last week, two people asked me if anyone supported my ministry and another individual promised to do so. In all honesty, I do NOT want to be lumped in with anyone's concept of money-grubbing ministers. I don't "need" anybody's money to do the things I do for Jesus. Good thing because, frankly, very little Kingdom Cash tends to make its way in this direction. Perhaps making donations to an on-line ministry is still too foreign a concept for most people.
Frankly, that's too bad. The soil of this ministry is VERY fertile and I can't help but feel that anyone would be very blessed to jump on board and sow their seeds in this direction. I realize the sensitive nature of this subject. Any time I even so much as hinted at this in any of my previous broadcasts, I've received more than a few accusations pertaining to greed, scams, etc., and I've lost a few subscribers.
This is a chance I'm willing to take because, fact is, God's people MUST know the truth about giving. So, despite the potential negative outcome, here it is.
GOD WANTS YOU!
For starters, God doesn't want our money. He wants US! And since our hearts are so inextricably tied to our wallets, we must learn the Kingdom principles regarding finances.
The giving of finances is about the closest any of us will ever come to a human sacrifice. Think about it. We give our blood, sweat and tears to earn every dime. It is society's way of measuring what we're worth. Ever wonder why it's so hard to give to a ministry? You can't tell ME there's no devil! And he'll do everything within his power to keep our money steadily slipping away like water from our cupped hands, going every direction except toward God's work. His deceptions and distractions are the reason it's so hard for us to sow our finances as we should.
A young man selling magazines door to door came to my house one day. He said he was trying to win a trip. I didn't buy any but I couldn't help but notice on his order form that my financially strapped neighbor had just purchased $26 worth. How easy it is to part with our hard-earned cash on an excursion through a shopping center or to impress another person with our generosity or our "stuff," but when it comes to sowing into the Kingdom, well ... that's quite another matter.
It's tough to contribute to an invisible cause the likes of God's Kingdom! To many of us, being a good steward of what God has provided us with is best defined as finding a good deal on something we really didn't need anyway. I know a lady who told her husband she had saved them $200 one day. "How?" he asked. "I bought this pretty $400 comforter for half off," she responded with pride.
Yes, we give willingly, cheerfully, to the "causes" of drive-thru restaurants and to check-out counter gadgets and magazines. In America, the average kid spends about $40 per trip to the mall. Their parents, about $80. And our closets and attics are filled with old and broken junk. In contrast, Jesus said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy...," Matthew 6:19, 20. A baby will play with a stack of shiney, jingling pennies and ignore a crumpled old $100 bill.
The BLING stikes again.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TITHING
God doesn't need our money any more than He needed the fruit on the tree in the Garden of Eden. The issue is this: it's called recognized rights. Five-hundred years before the Mosaic Law, Abraham was tithing; Jacob, 250 years before the Law. Once the tithe was implemented, God's people were bound under the Law.
Now, under the New Covenant, we should willingly give all we can to build God's Kingdom as His co-laborers. After all, we're citizens in this Kingdom, too, y'know. To build it is only to build into what is now ours anyway! We must become intimately joined to the Kingdom enough for that to ring true to each of us.
To those who teach a mandatory 10% AFTER the cross, sorry, but there's no Scriptural evidence that the "storehouse" is an expensive, usually-empty building, property, equipment, musical instruments, or salaries (64% of western church workers are administrative and janitorial - NOT ministerial). No, the storehouse is the Kingdom of God. But there's so little teaching on the Kingdom. The Word of Faith movement of the late 70's and 80's was the cause of many a shipwrecked faith as people developed a "give-to-get" mentality. Name-it-and-claim-it theology certainly had elements of truth within it, but too few ever asked the 'why' questions ... like, why wasn't the preacher in the $400 suit and the fancy Italian shoes teaching this stuff in 3rd world nations?
Jesus didn't do it, folks. Neither did Paul. Think of how stress-less ministry would be without all that "stuff" anyway ... and how much more effective we'd be in Kingdom work if we weren't so consumed with running these "spiritual corporations."
BETTER TO GIVE!
Ephesians 4:28 tells us: "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to give to those in need."
Something to give? The thief must work SO THAT he will be able to give? YES! And if that's expected of the thief, it must certainly apply to the rest of us, eh? That's the Kingdom principle of giving: work so you'll have MORE TO GIVE! Work so you'll have something to sow because, in sowing, you advance the Kingdom.
The "making-a-living" mindset is a perversion of truth. It's based upon "self" and encourages humanistic, "all-about-me" thinking. If all we're waking up for each morning is to get back to the grindstone so we can make money so we can buy more stuff so we can impress people we don't know or don't like, getting ourselves into debt requiring that we work even more, even harder... folks, this is a merry-go-round we need to get off of right away! A newscast on Dallas television this week reported that people are building million dollar homes in record numbers in Big D these days. With so many millionaires being created, surely some of them must be Chrsitians, yes? Surely, they must be giving into God's work and the Church in Dallas must be far better off than it ever has been....right?
God is our Provider. He wants us to trust Him to be so. Satan wants to "bless" you with all kinds of worldly stuff, too, just as he attempted to "bless" Jesus, so we MUST be careful not to fall into his traps. He knows that giving is a spiritual principle of God's Kingdom and he desires to make it more and more difficult, even unreasonable, to give.
"For God so loved the world that He GAVE...," John 3:16. God's a giver and so should His children be.
STORING UP TREASURES
Christians, make a note: we can NOT satisfy a spiritual need by using natural means. We cannot SPEND ourselves into feeling joyful. There is nothing more than temporal satisfaction in that. All the supposed "needs" that we have to accumulate more of this world's treasures, all of which "moth and rust destroy," are a perversion of the Scriptural truth that we should store our treasures in Heaven. We can't take it with us, but we CAN send some treasures on ahead. Think of it, folks ... the streets of Heaven are paved with gold!
Resist busy-ness. In our frenzied fervor to earn more, we're spending less and less of today's gift of God on that which matters; it's called The Present. And where others are concerned, "love" is spelled T-I-M-E.
Where time is concerned, let's spend a little more of ours in prayer and in God's Word, shall we? Talk about gifts, time is a gift and the enemy makes sure ours is wasted away.
Nothing to give anyone else? Search the cushions of your couch. Remember the widow's mites? In my poorest moment, penniless as I could have ever imagined being, I found I was not above cleaning a church parking lot under a blazing sun and helping an old church janitor move chairs for a few bucks. Mowing lawns, mending fences, pulling weeds... I've learned that it just doesn't matter, as long as it gets me around people so that I might have an opportunity to advance the Kingdom by sharing my faith. When I've taken people out on weekend "discipleship" missions, no longer do we pass out tracts or ask people if they'd go to Heaven if they died tonight. Not that these are bad things. No, instead, we work. Mow lawns, move furniture, take out trash, rake leaves. These acts of kindness, performed by Christians working together who don't even attend the same church, disarm people and inevitably lead to opportunities to pray and minister in other ways.
We live a seed-time-to-harvest existence. Are you sowing? Remember, as you go about "making a giving" each day, Jesus said, "Give and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap," (Luke 6:38). Thankfully, I'm married to a woman who joins me in this "giver" mentality. We are actively looking for fertile kingdom fields in which to cast our seed. My personal goal is to one day give away 90% of my income. Don't laugh! I know of people who are doing so. Why not me? Why not YOU?
How will the blessings come? You may be allowed to keep your job. You may be awarded an inheritance. You may get more hours at work. You may get a pay raise (my spouse, the RN, just had her pay increased, was promised another raise in 5 months, and had her hours reduced). You may never get sick or have a fender-bender. Be content with your wages, Jesus taught. Trust in God for He knows your needs well in advance.
Give to others in every way you can. You can't out-give God (but you can sure out-SPEND Him). Practice self-control (for example, wait 24-hrs before making any purchase on an item over a pre-determined amount), and make your bread-winning efforts a means of making a GIVING, not merely a living.