Dream word – COUNT
“Then the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.” NKJV
The real road show
An examination of the Old Testament use of the received Tithe, that fictitious 10% the church is always so focused upon, reveals that it was used essentially in three major areas, that is, for the support of personnel, the purchase and upkeep of premises and the financing of various people keeping, money spinning programs. Local churches of today and I suppose every Christian para-church organisation uses the larger percentage of its collected finances for exactly the same three Ps in the same old pod.
Now do not get wrong here! The workman is worthy of his hire, though often some Pastors just are not as worthy as much as we pay them and more often than not, many Pastors are worthy of so much more. Yes, the workman is worthy of his hire, and premises should be warm inviting and attractive, though not necessarily plushy, lushy and cushy, and correctly funded programs are not only justifiers of our existence but they sometimes actually do some good. Sometimes.
OK, so now we are clear on that, let me say six things tonight in closing.
First, that 10% of giving is far too much for some people. Giving 10%of nothing, when you have less than nothing coming in and more than nothing going out, is just stupidity. Either that, or faith. I hope it is faith, because that alone will please God, and that alone will unite your family in the cost of such sacrificial giving.
Secondly, that 10% is just not enough for some people. Ten percent of “loadsamoney” is an accounting line item that your accountant needs to use to ensure tax relief at the end of the fiscal year. There is no sacrifice here. No really, there is no sacrifice here.
Thirdly, that tithing though a Biblical principle is not a New Testament practice. The practice of the New Testament is the hilariously happy and regular giving of that which we have decided in our hearts. It might be a whole lot less than 10% and then again it might be a whole lot more. It may vary from gift to gift and giver to giver and that’s OK.
Fourhtly, that if you have committed to regular giving to the three Ps in that oh so pesky pod, then give and give regularly! Other people are relying on your regular committed giving.
Fifthly, that there is another principle to be applied to giving that precedes the hilarity of the task. Giving that honours God, giving that incites belief, giving that is astonishing and giving that will be utilized by the receiver in the most holiest and astute of ways, is giving that is sacrificial. Giving that can most easily have the largess of hilarity affixed to it is giving that has cost you something.
Lastly a confession. It’s a double edged confession really, in that on the cutting edge I tell you that I have given my all to God. Many times I have regretted it and often I have wanted to take it back and much of the time it has not been done with gay abandon. I am sorry to God for this sometimes, very reluctant gift. On the back edge of the gift I have to tell you as well that regarding the basic material stuff of life, in the form of food, clothing, transport and tools, it has cost me nothing to give myself away as a bond servant of Jesus Christ. That’s a little scary eh? The feeling, that it has cost me nothing to give myself away.
I do not know what kind of accounting software package the Lord has but I do know that He has got one and that it is open access, there for all to see. One day, we shall all know the true cost of our sacrificial works in terms of the gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble in the right hand column of God’s great balance sheet. I must tell you, that this is one of the great things that I am most looking forward to finding out about at the great Antiques Road Show in the sky. That is, finding out what is the real value of all our goofy looking investments! Imagine all those disappoint faces at the sad evaluations of treasures both touted and shouted about, and all the other wide eyed intakes of breath that shall be seen and heard, when what some considered to be a piece of old junk, releases untold millions to the tips of their of well worn, tired and torn little fingers, that might be later spent at their leisure, in every angelic outlet shop, spread across the universe anew. Oh yes, even angels engage in trading and therefore engage in manufacturer. However, let us stop there at this flight of fancy….
Tonight, I dare not and I will not set myself up as anything but a reluctant disciple and a reluctant giver to boot, but I do find it interesting when considering these things, that on some counts I feel the cost of giving, yet on many counts I simply feel both the need to give and the pull of greed not to give. What about you tonight? In all your giving of self and stuff, what do you think shall be the real price tag placed upon all your giving to Jesus?
Listen: “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.” John 12:26b NKJV
Pray: Thank you Lord for the great cost you paid for me. Thank you Lord for others that count the cost for me, of me, with me. I am willing Lord to pay the price of pleasing You right now! Help the hilarity of the gift become then that much more insane to my head and helplessly funny to my heart, to my soul and spirit and my body. Yes, help me laugh like a lion, in Jesus name I pray amen.
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