31 May 2012
Whether we’re living on a very small amount each week or have millions in the bank, God’s ways of using money are the same for us all.
An Adventure That’s Worth My Whole Life
Whether we’re living on a very small amount each week or have millions in the bank, God’s ways of using money are the same for us all. He says to all of us:
Seek first my Kingdom and my righteousness and everything you need will be provided for you.
Following Jesus means giving everything we are and have to Him. This will look very different for each of us. Seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness means prioritising His agenda and trusting Him. George Muller was an ordinary man who believed this and tried it in Bristol in the 1830s. God led him to build homes for orphans. As he did as God led him he received £1.5 million over the years to pay for the building of these homes and for all of the running costs each year. He simply prayed and never asked anyone for a penny. He looked after over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime. He lived the verse above and saw it work. What an adventure! He was no-one special. All followers of Jesus are to put His agenda first, trust Him with their money and see wonderful things as heaven comes on earth.
This may not look all that dramatic each day but over a lifetime our small acts of faith can have a big impact and there will probably be some significant stories along the way too.
So, we put Jesus first with our money and trust Him. Two other things we do with our money are Tithe and Give and we’ll explain these next.
In the Old Testament God told the people of Israel to set aside 10% of their income to pay for the running of the temple and those who worked there. God said he would provide abundantly for everyone if they ‘tithed’ in this way.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “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! Put me to the test!
We no longer have a temple as Israel did. God now lives inside us, His followers, instead. Tithing is not commanded as explicitly in the New Testament as it is in the Old. We do though continue the practice of giving 10% of our income to pay for the running of the church and to provide an income for those who train and equip the church as their full-time occupation (pastors and staff). Many Christians can tell of the blessings they’ve received as they’ve tithed.
Esther, a member of Hope, went to Bible College and was in debt. She realised that God guides us in how to use our money and began to ask Him to help her to manage her finances. She began to tithe. Shortly after doing this someone came up to her and gave her a cheque that was equal to her debt saying that God had told them to give it to her. Esther has continued to tithe and ask God how to use her finances. There have been times when money has been scarcer and times when it’s been more plentiful but He has always provided for her as she’s trusted Him and lived by His principles for using her money.
Generosity is encouraged in the bible, especially to the poor. Jesus treats gifts to those in need as if they are gifts directly to Him.
“Then the King will say to those on his right ‘I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink… I was naked, and you gave me clothing…
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we do these things for you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Matthew 25.34-40 (paraphrased)
Again, generous giving is part of following Jesus. We give from what we have (not from what we don’t have!) as a joy, as an act of worship, out of love and compassion, and because we know Jesus will look after us and provide for us.
George Muller started being generous and carried on for his whole life. He was never able to ‘out give’ God. A life that is fully given to Jesus, listens to His leading and is obedient to it is very safe and very fruitful. It’s great fun too!
“Daring to Live on the Edge” is a book by Loren Cunningham ,the founder of YWAM who has lived this his whole life and again, has seen God do wonderful things. This book is for people who have lots of money and for people who don’t have much. The adventure of faith is open to all.
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6.38
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6.19-21
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6.31-33
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6.17
“But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6.3-4
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6.24
Give in proportion to what you have…. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves, only that there should be some equality. 2 Corinthians 8.11-13
Equivalent to approximately £86 million in today’s money.
Jesus said that the Pharisees should continue in their tithing (Luke 11.42) and we see the church setting aside money from their income in 1 Corinthians 16.2.