By Jason Deshayes
This week, Work in Progress touches on a topic that many Christians would prefer stayed about 100 miles from the church – financial resources. Talking about money in church tends to put Christians on edge as if someone were questioning every financial decision they have ever made and whether it was appropriate or not. It’s very easy to get protective of our finances. Money is an important part of life. In fact, it is so important there are over 2300 verses on money in the Bible!
When my wife and I got married, I was not a believer. Tithing was about the last thing on my mind. I remember as a newlywed having a heated “discussion” about whether the tithe was based on net income (after taxes) or gross income (before taxes). Seriously, how could ANYONE possibly get by on only 90% of what you earn before Uncle Sam and Aunt Susana get their cut? I barely gave $25 a year to UNM in order to say I was a proud alum. I reluctantly went along with tithing on our gross paycheck in order to fulfill the second Golden Rule – “Happy wife, happy life.”
Part of adopting a tithe is taking on a viewpoint that “our” financial resources are not ours – they belong to God.
In Sunday’s message Pastor Cook focused on 1 Corinthians 16. This passage speaks about the collection as being on the first day of the week as a portion of what was earned. Giving this portion back to God first is an act of obedience AND an act of worship.
The first thing I recognized after starting our personal tithing was that all of my earthly concerns about how we were going to pay for everything just disappeared. God was blessing our obedience with His money by lifting the burden of worry from our hearts. I also noticed clarity in my overall spending habits. Did I really need that DVD or video game? Wasn’t the food we already had in the fridge good enough to not go out to eat? All of that money wasn’t mine anymore – I was taking care of those resources for God, who gave it to me in the first place.
If I were to simplify the priorities the world places on our money, it might look something like this:
- Pay the mortgage/rent
- Feed the family
- Fully fund all “fun” activities
- Cover the (new) car payment
- Think about donating funds somewhere
Proverbs 3:9 tell us, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops”, in describing the order of how money should be spent. I would challenge you to flip the above order and put God’s resources into the Kingdom first…not last.
Imagine what the Church would be like if all of us got on board with God’s financial plan. I see huge potential for the spiritual impact within our church, the community, and the world – if we all choose to honor God by returning to Him what is already His. Our possessions and finances may seem to control us, but it is only because we are clinging to money as if it was ours. By releasing that stranglehold on money, we become open to God working in our lives and redirecting us where He sees fit.