Last week, I gave a message at our church titled “Entrusted to Give.” The big idea of the message was simple and straightforward: We serve a generous God who longs for us to live generously.
I have come to realize that whenever you bring up the subject of giving, people (for very legitimate reasons) feel uncomfortable. It’s amazing the amount of imaginary phone calls, sudden flu like symptoms, and heads that turn looking for an early exit strategy.
I understand the tension. For several years, I completely avoided this subject out of insecurity and fear. I am not proud of it, but it’s true. I didn’t want to offend anyone or making them feel uncomfortable in anyway. Looking back, I was more concerned with comfort than I was with people experiencing greater growth, greater joy and greater freedom. It took me a long time to discover that you cannot lead and love well unless you are willing to unashamedly fight for joy. It is one my greatest regrets as a young pastor. Now, I come to this subject with genuine excitement and firm conviction. I have a renewed faith that when we practice healthy biblical stewardship, it impacts our life, our family, our church family and our world.
I surrendered my life to God in high school. Several years later I surrendered my finances to God and started to learn what it means to listen, love and trust him in this area.
At that time, I started the spiritual practice of tithing. The practice is to return the first ten percent of what God has entrusted to you back to His Kingdom work on earth. It was either given to the local synagogue in the Old Testament or the local church in the New Testament. While tithing is a practice, it is also a principle. The principle behind the practice is to make trusting God a first priority as an expression of faith, love and obedience.
At first the practice of consistently giving was intimidating to me!
What if God doesn’t come through and meet my needs?
What if I don’t have enough at the end of the day?
Should I wait until I have more to give more?
The truth is the journey toward trusting God in this area of my life has not come easy, but it has been completely worth it. Over and over again, I have trusted God and found God trustworthy. I look back on over twenty years of practicing generosity and I can say with great sincerity, “I have no regrets.”
I get asked from time to time an interesting and very personal question. The question is “why do I give?”
Do I give because I am a pastor and if I didn’t it would be hypocrisy and malpractice?
Do I give because I feel obligated to do my part at our church?
Do I give because I believe it secures my standing before God?
Well, I thought I would take a moment and answer this question for you. Here are three reasons why I give and practice generosity as a follower of Jesus.
#1 – I GIVE BECAUSE I AM GRATEFUL FOR GOD’S GENEROSITY.
The writer of John’s Gospel account said it best: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16) The longer I live, the more aware I become of God’s grace and generosity in both my life and in our world. Giving has become a way for me to express gratitude.
#2 – I GIVE BECAUSE IT TRAINS MY HEART TO TREASURE AND TRUST GOD.
Jesus said: “Where your treasures are your heart will be also…” (Matt 6:21). Giving teaches me to put God first, to trust Him fully and to treasure Him rightly. It’s the only area that I am aware of in scripture that we are invited to test His trustworthiness. God is not only trustworthy, He is also a loving Heavenly Father who cares deeply for our lives. If anyone knows the best way to handle finances, it’s God.
#3 – I GIVE BECAUSE I WANT TO INVEST INTO KINGDOM WORK.
I believe the single greatest financial investment we can make is an investment into the Kingdom of God. It’s so exciting to partner with God in extending His Kingdom here on earth. For me, giving is not a reluctant obligation. It is a rich opportunity! I believe we are blessed to bless, given to give, and loved to love!
Let me finish by inviting you to slow down and consider your own journey with God in this area of your life. Giving is a deeply personal practice that involves honesty, vulnerability, and faith. What we do with the finances God has entrusted to us always reveals who and what we value, and who and what we trust to care for our lives. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take that step of faith and discover what it means to trust God and find God trustworthy!
If you missed last week Wes and Mikala JVR shared their story with us. It was powerful, challenging, inspiring and encouraging! Take a moment to watch it: CLICK HERE.
If you are looking for some more books to read around the subject of stewardship and generosity consider the following:
+ The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
+ How to Be Rich by Andy Stanley
+ The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard
+ The Blessed Life by Robert Morris