Recently, someone told me that they “cannot afford to tithe.” I remember those days—the days when I thought I could not part with the money or the bills wouldn’t get paid. But I also remember the moment I got my finances in order, when I started to take a serious look at where the money was going. The Bible speaks about where the treasure is located, that’s where your heart will also be found (see Matthew 6:21). Take a look at your checking account register. Review it and you will see what has value to you. Recognize that if God is first place in your life, He shouldn’t be getting the leftovers.
You might be included in the likely 90% + readers who know I am a pastor. Perhaps you are saying, “Oh here’s a pastor asking for money again.” Please understand, I am NOT asking you for money. God does NOT need your money. He is the God of the universe. He is our Creator. But He has blessed us with what we have in our possession. It’s HIS! ALL OF IT!! Maybe you worked for it, but He blessed you with that job. Behind it all, before it all, you will find God. He is the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, the End. He is in all, above all, through all. Bottom line (see 1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, Colossians 1:17, Revelation 22:13). And tithing is a BLESSING to you! Yes, you read that right. Giving some of the money that God blessed you with to your local church to continue God’s kingdom building is an amazing opportunity you are blessed to be able to take part in. It’s a blessing to be a steward, and we are to be generous givers (see 1 Timothy 6:18). Tithing is not an obligation; it’s a loving response, a willing response to the grace of God.
God doesn’t want you trapped. He wants you free. Sometimes we are trapped by lies. Sometimes we are trapped by sin. Sometimes we are trapped by possessions. When you are trapped by your possessions, you cling to them so tightly that your possessions actually possess you. Today, look at your budget. Jot down different categories. Look to see where your money goes. Then pray about your finances. Consider what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NLT). You do this and you will learn to be a better steward. You will start to loosen your grip on what God has blessed you with, and be the generous, cheerful giver you were meant to be.
“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.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
ctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
Abraham was blessed to be a blessing. Oftentimes I find myself remembering this truth. We too are blessed to be a blessing. When we realize that we have been blessed by God, and that nothing is ours, but rather everything is His, then naturally this blessing should flow through our fingers and bless others. This is not simply a nice idea—it is the way life was meant to be lived.
Jesus makes it clear that we are not to build our kingdom here on earth, because the earth is our temporary residence. Rather, our treasures are heavenly treasures. The world tells us otherwise—the world desires that we max out credit cards to compete with our neighbors for the newest of things, the biggest of houses, the fanciest of cars. The world tells us we should look out for ourselves and water our own flower bed. This verse tells us the “one who waters will himself be watered.”
When we open our hands to another person, we open up the doors for the blessing to be multiplied in a few ways. As we bless someone, this blessing may be paid forward. As we bless someone, this blessing will turn around and bless us. We feel joy when we give to others. We feel joy when we are able to act in lovingkindness. When we don’t cling tightly to the blessings God has bestowed upon us, He continues to rain down blessings so we are enriched, so we are well-watered. Who shall you water today?
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:25 [ESV]
One phrase that is hurtful to anyone is “I hate you.” This morning I saw a little boy shopping with his mother. She was looking for cough medicine and after finding the bottle she wanted, her son said, “That’s mine.” She said “no” to him and then his response was loud. He yelled, “I hate you.” It hurt me hearing it and it was not even directed my way.
The boy was asking for adult cough medicine which was not his and could have actually killed him if consumed. Kids go through the “it’s mine” phase. Perhaps the kid just wanted to hold the bottle and it was simply a matter of having something to claim. But we see this every day. We see this same scenario played over and over again, not in a grocery store and not over a bottle of cough syrup. We say to God, “that’s mine.” That can be seen as an “I hate you” to a degree. Some people even go as far as to say that as well.
Today’s culture is all about having everything. We are taught that we deserve everything. We are entitled to everything. We can have whatever we want. If it isn’t given to us, we can take it. We are owed it. We even go as far as to think that God owes us. Why should we give our lives to Him? He should just fulfill my long grocery list prayer and be the God I want Him to be because I am entitled. It is sad. I thought of all of this when I saw this mother getting yelled at by her son. The mother said to the boy, “well I love you.” We may feel entitled. We may live for ourselves. We may even turn our backs on our loving Father. But still, He loves us. We are not entitled. But we are loved and we are shown grace that we surely do not deserve. Thank God today. Thank Him for His love and His forgiveness. Remember, you are not entitled to anything and nothing belongs to you.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:1-8 [ESV]