"Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what you have earned" (1 Corinthians 16:2, TEV).

It may surprise you to learn that Jesus taught more about money and possessions than He did about heaven or hell. The word "give" is used more than 1,500 times in the Bible, more than the words faith, hope, love or pray.

Why? Obviously, God doesn't need our money. He's not poor. But God does want us  to become like Him and that will only happen if we learn to be generous. God is a giver -- the most generous giver in the universe. Everything you have is a gift from God!

In many churches, the giving of offerings is the low point of the service. It's ignored, tolerated or openly resented by many. But the Bible teaches that God wants our giving to be a deeply meaningful expression of worship in three dimensions -- past, present and future.

First, my giving expresses my gratitude to God for the past.

"Thanks" and "giving" go together. When we give back to God, we express our appreciation to Him for all the ways He has blessed us. We're saying, "God, we're grateful for all You've done in our lives, and we love You."

That's why you should never give under pressure. God wants your giving to be motivated by gratitude. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (NIV). A few verses later it says, "... your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God" (2 Corinthians 9:11).

Second, my giving expresses my priorities in the present.

Deuteronomy 14:23 says, "... The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives" (Living). If you want to know what a person really values, just look at their calendar and their checkbook. The way people spend their time and money reveals what is really important to them. It's one thing to claim we love God, but the Bible says our giving "tests the sincerity of our love" (2 Corinthians 8:8, NIV). When we give the first part of our income to God, on the first day of the week, it is evidence that God holds first place in our hearts. Jesus said, "For wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be

also" (Matthew 6:21, NIV).

Third, my giving expresses my faith in God for the future.

God sees your giving as a test of your faith. In Malachi 3:10, He says, "Bring your whole tithe into my storehouse (Temple) ... Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (NIV). God challenges us, saying, "I dare you to trust My promise to take care of you as you put Me first in your finances. Will you trust me?" It has always amazed me that many people are willing to trust God for their eternal salvation but won't trust Him enough to tithe.

In 1 Corinthians 16:2 (above), the Apostle Paul gives us the three characteristics of worshipful giving:

It is to be weekly: "On the first day of every week...." God wants our giving to be systematic, not spasmodic. Why Sunday? Giving is an act of worship, to be given at the place of worship when you worship.

It is to be planned: "... you must put aside some money...." That requires some thought. God doesn't want your giving to be hasty, thoughtless or impulsive. He wants you to think about what you are giving.

It is to be proportional: "... in proportion to what you have earned." Tithing is giving 10 percent of what God has helped you earn. God does not look at the amount you give. He looks at how much you have and the attitude with which you give it.

Ask yourself, "What does my giving say about the direction and condition of my heart?" And consider this -- as you approach Thanksgiving Day, consider bringing an offering of thanksgiving to God for all He's done in your life. This giving back to God is the heart of worship.

"For wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21, NIV).


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