Proper Perspective Required Before Tithing
- Monday, March 04, 2002
Why? Because the Scriptures make clear there is a fundamental connection between a person's spiritual life and his attitudes and actions concerning money and possessions. Though we often divorce the two, Christ sees them as essentially related to one another.
In Luke 19:1-10, Zaccheus the tax collector tells Jesus he will pay back four times and give half to the poor. Jesus replied, Today salvation has come to this house. How does Jesus judge this fundamental change in Zaccheus heart? By the fundamental change in his attitudes and actions concerning money and possessions. (Change didn't earn his salvation, but demonstrated it).
In Matthew 19:16-26, we read of the rich young ruler, a counterpart to Zaccheus. Jesus knows what's keeping him away from God is his attachment to his money and possessions. So Jesus reveals, Give away to poor, come follow me and you'll have riches in heaven. The man regretfully says no. Jesus talks about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He knows this man is not saved; he has not changed. On what basis does he conclude this? His attitude and actions concerning money and possessions have not changed.
There are two streamlined descriptions of the early church in Acts 2:44-45 & Acts 4:32-35 which also offer insight on the proper perspective a believer, should have regarding possessions. These passage feature only the churchs most essential spiritual core, including Bible teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer. We read, They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).
And, All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need (Acts 4:32-35).
Only a profound work of God could account for the radical change in attitude and actions concerning money and possessions. Generous sharing, the giving of money and possessions, and liquidating assets for the good of others are not only signs of individuals with a proper perspective on giving, but is food for thought for church growth experts. Its worth nothing the church growth recorded here.
Elsewhere in Acts (19:18-20), we read of the Ephesian occultists who came to faith in Christ. Even though they had magic books that were rare and extremely valuable, they burned them. Proof, again, of the change that occurs in the heart when a person develops a proper view of giving (because of a life-changing decision to believe in and trust Jesus).
There are others stories as well. In Mark, we read of the poor widow who gave everything. What demonstrated her devotion to God and trust in God and hence, her true spiritual condition, was her attitude and actions concerning money and possessions.
Contrast that with the rich fool we read of in Luke 12. He built his own kingdom. He saved up everything for retirement, but he spent on himself. Scripture refers to him as a fool for he died that night. The evidence of spiritual condition was that he was rich toward himself, but not rich toward God. What revealed his true spiritual condition was his attitude and actions concerning money and possessions.
Matthew 6:19-25 is the key passage in understanding the challenge facing us. We cannot have two treasuries one in heaven and one on hearth. For we read, Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Whenever we put our money into something we develop vested interests in that thing. Ideally our treasures will go where our heart is, so if our heart is changed, it will change where we put our treasures. But it works the other way also; where we put our treasures our heart will follow.
If your treasure is in house and lands and cars and boats and electronic equipment, where will your heart be? Your heart is wherever you put your treasures.
You want your heart to be in the things of God? There is a simple solution; put your treasures in the things of God. Develop vested interests in God's kingdom. You want to feel more a part of your church? Then be more a part of it. Invest yourself in what this church is all about. That's how you gain vested interests in what's going on. You want to have a heart for missions? Put your money in missions.
As a pastor many years ago I felt I didn't have a heart for missions. So I started giving more and more money to missions. And guess what? Jesus was right. (Surprise!) My heart followed my treasure. The same way a person gains a deep interest in IBM or Apple or General Motors by putting his money there, a person gains a deep interest in the kingdom of God by putting his money there.
Two treasuries, two perspectives, two masters. Choose yours.
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