Nearly two years ago, my church launched a program called Kingdom Builders. The focus is to build God's Kingdom by being good stewards of what he has given us and blessing those in need. Funds raised have been used for both capital church projects as well external projects within the community. Participants can give once a year or they may give on a monthly or weekly basis. The dollar amount is not important; you only need to have a giving heart.
Every three months, Kingdom Builders has a breakfast. During this time a report is given in regards to how funds have been used and what we feel God would like us to do in the future. We also always have a special speaker.
My husband and I went to the breakfast this morning. I was particularly struck by what the speaker said as it touched on what has been going through my mind lately.
God honors and blesses sacrifice.
During the past year or so since I've been a member of Christianblog.com, I have been grieved to read about how some Christians view giving. I realize that there have been serious abuses by people who claim they are doing what God has told them. There are people masquerading as Followers of Christ when they are not and they seek to rob and try to destroy others. I will not deny that has happened. It was a problem in the early church and it is still a problem today!
However, we must remember that when we give we are making a sacrifice to God. These people are not robbing us, they are robbing God and he will deal with them as he sees fit. To say you will not give because someone did this or that is wrong. You are not giving to that individual. You are giving to God and it needs to always be viewed in that manner. I can assure you God will take care of any gift you give him whether we think he can or not!
Sacrifice (verb): to suffer loss of, give up, renounce, injure, or destroy especially for an ideal, belief, or end (m-w.com)
When we pay tithes, we are giving God what he requires of us. Everything we have is his but he only requires a tenth in return. This is not a sacrifice although sometimes it may feel like it when things are tight. I believe this is an obligation although others may differ with me. I do have to wonder, however, why you are so reluctant to give back to God and I think that is a valid question to consider.
Offerings are different. They are a sacrifice. They should strictly be a gift of the heart. God has blessed you and while everything is his, you still want to try to give back to him in some way. When I was about 10, I wanted to give my mom a gift. I slipped the casserole she'd made earlier that day into the oven when I got home from school. Then, I climbed up and got out her china. I carefully set the table. When she came home, she was delighted with my gift. I had only warmed up dinner. She was the one who had actually made it. The beautiful dishes on the table belonged to her. That did not matter to my mom. What mattered to her was I was trying to give her a gift of love.
A sacrifice requires effort on our part. More often than not, they pinch us at least a little bit. It is not unusual for them to actually hurt. After all, we are losing something we possessed.
Remember the widow's mites? Did you ever notice that Jesus did not attempt to stop her from giving all that she had? Did you ever notice he did not tell her to keep her money and let someone else give? The high priest at the time was extremely corrupt and was hand in glove with an oppressive government and yet Jesus did nothing to stop this woman from giving everything she had. He knew that she was giving her sacrifice to God not man and it was a gift from her heart. He knew that God honored her sacrifice and would bless it.
Our giving must go beyond the walls of our churches. I like how The Message says it:
This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. 1 John 3:16-18 (MSG)
If we would truly walk in obedience to God's Word with all of our hearts, our world would be turned upside down! Just imagine it for a moment and then let's do it!
Thank you for posting this excellent blog. We really must strive to "grow up" spiritually so that we see giving as more than just a tithe. The tithe is only the beginning and as you so wonderfully point out, sacrificial giving is when "giving" starts. I certainly don't object to people tithing, I only wish they could see how much more they could give in so many ways if they were willing to sacrifice a little.
I never understood the whole tithe thing until I got saved. I remember the church I grew up in putting out what we called the Scandel Sheet each year...it had listed what everyone gave!! But once saved and not able to tithe because the ex wouldn't let me it became a thrill to finally be able to once divorced. I taught my kids to tithe and now that they are adults I believe they still are. I know God blesses being faithful and at the same time Satan tries to discourage us from being faithful...that's where I am at now I guess.
Thanks for the good reminder though.