Video Clip: The Skit Guys – “The Skinny on Tithing”]
I didn’t know there were so many perspectives on
tithing and giving to the church! We’re going to focus on this very important
topic and how it relates to living transformed lives.
In keeping with our water image, the title of the
message today is “Pennies in the Fountain.” When you throw pennies into a
fountain, you release them and give them away. And that’s really what we are
doing when we offer our gifts to God and the church. We release them and give
Think about how God is a generous giver.
Listen to Psalm 103:
Praise the Lord,
I tell myself,
and never forget the good things he does for
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He ransoms me from death
and surrounds me with love and tender
He fills my life with good things. (vv.2–5)
Our whole concept of giving corresponds to how
God has given to us. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Thank God for his
Son—a gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Cor. 9:15).
Giving is an integral part of the Christian faith
because God is so very generous to us. But it also carries with it an
implication that we are to share these blessings with others. God doesn’t give
to us so that we can keep these gifts to ourselves. God gives to us so that we
can experience the joy of giving.
Jesus commanded: “Give as freely as you have
received!” (Matt. 10:8). In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, we
read: “God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have
everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Cor. 9:8).
Part of the essential nature of our growth in the
Christian faith — and part of receiving all that God wants to give us as we move
on toward perfection — is understanding that giving in freedom is a crucial
aspect of our Christian life. God is very generous to us, and God expects us to
pass it on.
Since giving can be a very touchy and personal
issue for many of us, let’s focus on the question: why should we give? For
today, I’d like to offer three reasons from an exhaustive list of reasons
provided in the Bible on why giving is one of the essential ways that we
experience transformation in our lives.
Number one, giving reminds us that God has given
us everything we have. The idea of stewardship is that we don’t own or earn
anything. Instead, God gives to us and we are called to be good stewards of
what we have received. Deuteronomy, chapter 6, contains this warning: “When
you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the
Lord” (vv. 11–12). Then in
Deuteronomy, chapter 8: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength
of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the
Lord your God, for it is he who
gives you the ability to produce wealth . . . ” (v. 17). May we never begin
to think, “Look what I have accomplished,” but rather remember it is God
who has given us all food, land, property, wealth, prosperity, and more.
1 Chronicles 29:1 says,
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we
could give anything to you? Everything that we have has come from you, and we
give you only what you have given us!”
The key understanding of stewardship is that we
give because God has given us everything.
A second reason for giving is that it reveals
where our priorities lie. The Bible says we are to seek God’s kingdom first. How
do we know that God is first in our lives? By giving. This shows that God has
first place in our priorities.
Deuteronomy 14:23 spells it out for us: “The
purpose of tithing is to teach you always to fear the
Lord your God.” Jesus also
made it clear when he explained one of the bedrock principles of life found in
Matthew 6:21 “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and your thoughts
will also be.”
A great way to see who or what is first in your
life, is to review your check book from last month. Where we spend our money,
time, and energy indicates what is really first in our lives, what we really
worship. “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also
be.” My desire for all of us as people of God is that we demonstrate how God
is our top priority by tithing and giving. That’s what really demonstrates that
we put God first.
There’s a powerful third reason for giving: It
allows God an opportunity to show that God is real. Malachi 3:10 offers these
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that
there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the
Lord Almighty, “I will open the
windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have
enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!”
As we give generously, we are able to see just
how real God is. Positive things happen in our lives and in our church when we
offer to God our very best.
Let’s look at another question: How much should I
give? This is a question that every person has to answer individually, and it’s
the church’s responsibility to help people find the answer through a biblical
point of view.
With that said, the biblical standard for giving
is the tithe, which is 10 percent. A tithe literally means 10 percent.
Leviticus 27:30 states: “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or
fruit, belongs to the Lord and
must be set apart for him as holy.” Multiple passages throughout the Old
Testament are confirmed by Jesus in the New Testament, as seen in Luke 11, which
states that we should tithe. The first 10 percent is to be returned to God.
Remember it’s about stewardship. I’m not giving what I have, because it’s all
Tithing is a means of recognizing that God has
given me everything and is the top priority in my life, and that I’m going to
follow this biblical principle of giving.
For some of us, it might be difficult to imagine
tithing or even getting close to tithing. Well, a pastor shares the story of a
single mom who was in that situation. She hadn’t grown up with tithing or even
with giving sacrificially. Her parents had given a token offering to the church
each week, and that was it. Well, she heard a sermon on tithing. She felt God
was telling her to tithe. So even though she had very little left over after
paying her expenses each month, she began to tithe. Regardless of what other
bills she had or other things she might want to do with her money, she wrote
that check each week.
After a few months, however, she noticed something
strange. Even though her income hadn’t increased and she hadn’t reduced any of
her expenses, she always had money in her checking account. Whereas before,
sometimes things were so close that she’d bounce checks, now there was always
enough. She said she didn’t know if God had supernaturally changed her spending
habits so she wasn’t spending as much as before or if God was supernaturally
depositing money into her checking account, but things had changed for her.
I can tell you that one of the most freeing and
liberating things that’s happened in the lives of so many people is when they
came to the point that they said “God, I want you to be first place in
everything that I do.” A good place to start is with finances. Now don’t
just take my word for it, or even do it just because the Bible says so. I
suggest you find people who tithe and ask them about God’s faithfulness. I
guarantee that they will enthusiastically tell you about the freedom and the
joys they’ve personally experienced because they tithe.
One of the keys in experiencing a transformed
life is through our giving. And it’s through tithing, that we are reminded that
God has given us everything that we have, it shows that God has first place in
our lives, and God becomes more real in our lives.
As a pastor, I think one of the things that shuts
most people down from experiencing true transformation is that we want to do a
lot of things, but we’re not willing to let go of our money. Where we put our
money indicates where our values and our priorities really are.
Tithing to God and the church leads to
transformation. This is just a short story, but it’s a typical one. A teenager
felt led to make a $110 gift to one of the church’s ministries. He had saved
that same amount for an MP3 player. But instead he wrote a check for $110 to the
ministry, and thought he’d go without the MP3 player.
Well, at the end of the month, he took the time to
balance his checkbook and he discovered that he had made a mistake. Somewhere
along the line, he’d subtracted wrong, and there was exactly $110 more in his
checking account than he’d thought. Now, I don’t know how to explain that
exactly but I do know that it just goes to show how God is faithful.
Now, the last question: how should we give? We
talked about why we should give and how much we should give. But let’s think
about how we should give. The Bible speaks very clearly about the connection
between our attitudes and our giving. Here are three things about how our
attitude is connected with our giving.
First thing is…we should give willingly. We’re
not to do it because the church is going to make us feel guilty. We’re not to do
it because we want to impress somebody. We’re to do it willingly. Joyfully. The
Bible says, “You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should
give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the
person who gives cheerfully” (2 Cor. 9:7).
Secondly, we should give sacrificially. It’s not
just enough that I want to do it willingly, but I do it sacrificially. I’m
reminded of a C. S. Lewis quote. He was quoted as saying “The only safe rule
is to give more than we can spare.” Consider the beautiful story in Luke
about sacrificial giving:
Jesus went over to the collection box in the
Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich
people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies.
He called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you, this poor widow has
given more than all the others have given. For all of them have contributed out
of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live
Now I expect the disciples looked at him in
amazement. They probably said something like, “You don’t really understand
much about economics, do you? She didn’t give the most; she gave the least.”
Then Jesus would’ve explained, “You might understand economics, but you don’t
understand people. This woman gave all that she had. Others just gave a token
out of their surplus.”
Second Corinthians 8:3 says, “For I can
testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they
did it of their own free will.” When we give more than we think we can
afford, and we do it of our own free will, we open ourselves to all that God
wants to do in and through us, blessing us both as individuals and as a church.
So, in what spirit should we give? We should give
willingly and sacrificially. We should also give expectantly.
In Luke chapter 6 we are told, that if you give,
you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down,
shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you
use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to
Now that’s a powerful concept.
Like prayer and worship, giving is how God waters
and refreshes our souls.
It’s how we experience transformed living.