If you prefer to give via check: Bethel Church 19453 408th Ave Yale, SD 37386
One of the most difficult things to do in life is get a handle on our money whether we have a lot of it or not. In a fairly recent article, The Atlantic suggests that most people in the world have no idea how to manage their money. Think about that for a moment. If there are so many people that are just one poor decision away from bankruptcy, as the article suggests, then there is no wonder the Bible has so much to say about financial issues. We have a tendency to mismanage what God has blessed us with. And if this article is at all correct, a lot of us are not very far from losing all that God has given us. This information really isn't new to us. This is why it is so important for us manage our money the way He has directed in His Word. We know that money is important and that is why our tendency is to cling to it - whether we have a lot of it or we think we don't have much of it. For the rich young ruler in Luke 18 this was no different. He was a man of great wealth and wanted to inherit eternal life and Jesus told him that he must give what he had to the poor and then come follow him. And we know the end of the story, the Bible tells us that he went away sad because he didn't want to let go of his wealth. Jesus' message is really counterintuitive, Jesus' followers are to give and not keep, and we see this clearly in Luke 6:27-36. Here Jesus makes a number of statements and then really summarizes his previous teaching in verse 35. Luke 6:35 states, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." Of course this text is about how we treat those who are considered our enemies but it also shows what kind of people we ought to be. We are to be people that love our enemies, we do good, we lend and do not expect something from it. If we look back to verse 30, we are to be people who give to anyone that begs from us. This really turns the way we are inclined to handle our money on its head doesn't it? I want you to notice a couple other statements in verse 35, notice that when we apply God's financial advice here that our reward will be great and we will be the sons of the most high. Now that is incentive to follow the plan God has for our money isn't it? I can't think of anything better in life then to be rewarded by God and to be seen by the world around us as a child of the Most High God. Notice something else in verse 35, we are told that He (God) is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. We are to emulate God in the way we give generously, even to those who are on the bottom of our "generosity list" - our enemies. I am not sure who to credit with this quote but it is very fitting here: "We are never more like God then when we give. And every time we make a decision to be generous, we discover that our God refuses to be out-given." We are to emulate God in our giving. He loved us so much that while we were yet His enemies, He gave His son to die on our behalf - the righteous for the unrighteous. We are to give freely and generously of that which the world deems the most precious commodity, our wealth. And in doing that we will both see God reward us and the world around us will see us to be His children because our value is not earthly treasure but Jesus Christ our Savior. At Bethel Church we recognize the value of living a generous lifestyle and being obedient to the Scriptures when it comes to the area of being a steward of that which God has entrusted us. Therefore giving is an act of worship. Worshiping God through the giving of tithes and offerings is part of our Sunday morning worship service because we take time to recognize that everything we have comes from His hand. God is the owner of all things including all of our income. Whether we work at a job that pays us considerably more then we need or we live paycheck to paycheck - it is the Lord who has blessed us with what we have and we are accountable for how we handle the money we have, not how much we think we ought to have. The actual giving can be done anytime, but it is in the service where we take time and reflect on what our giving means. In 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, Paul really makes several points that should be noted concerning giving as an act of worship. First, Paul says here that those who follow Jesus should excel in the grace of giving. We are good at giving to our children and those we love but what about the Church? The church is God's vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission and for building and training leaders for the next generation. What Paul is talking about here is not only excelling in the area of giving to those it is easy for us to be generous - but to excel in giving to His church which is an act of worship to Him who is the head of the Church. A second thing that we learn here is that giving is an expression of the love that we have for Jesus. Jesus for our sake became poor - he took on human flesh and lived and died that we might know the forgiveness of sin and for this reason our sacrificial giving is an act of worship pleasing to Him. Third, God loves willing and cheerful givers. Here Paul takes pains to say that we ought to give generously but then goes on to stress that each person should give what they have decided on in their heart and that they should not feel compulsion - they should give cheerfully. You see giving isn't nearly about how much ones gives as it is about the heart with which one gives it. It makes sense that the one who makes more money will give more money and in that there is nothing to gloat about for the one who gives more - this is not about how much is given. It is about being a cheerful and generous giver with that which one has because that is how God has treated us. When we give with a cheerful heart we worship Him who has blessed us beyond our need.
At this point one might ask something like: "Well how much should I give?" That is a difficult question in that we are talking about someone else's pocketbook. It is much easier to speak of our own, but perhaps the Bible has some insight into this question. We just saw in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that each person is expected to determine in their heart what they will give. In the Old Testament the principle was 10% of ones income. Even though the word tithe is not mentioned in the New Testament, the principle is. For instance in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul uses the Old Testament understanding of giving or tithing and then applies that in the present situation of the church. When Paul talks about giving what we have decided in our heart there is no justification to start lower then 10% because if that was the principle in the Old Testament and the New Testament principle is to be generous and cheerful, it would be impossible to be generous and cheerful and not give at least what one was required to give in the Old Testament. Therefore, the understanding of giving in the New Testament is giving at least 10% to the Lord. If you would like to determine in your heart what you would like to give then click this link for a simple giving calculator. If you have questions or comments about this article or would like to know more about giving please do not hesitate to click the "CONNECT" tab on the top of this page.