Summary: the second of a three part series on giving. What is in your heart wil demonstrate what you believe.
KEYS TO UNLOCKING GOD’S BLESSING, P.2
GIVING WITH A BELIEVING HEART
By Rev. Ralph Juthman
INTRODUCTION: We have been studying the Keys to Unlocking God’s Blessing in your life. The first key we discovered last week is GIVING WITH AN OPEN HAND.
The second key is a GIVING WITH A BELIEVING HEART. What is in your heart will demonstrate what you believe.
For instance, I read the story of A mother who wanted to teach her daughter a spiritual lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church. “Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself,” she told the girl.
When they were leaving church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given.
“Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter… so I did.”
The mother may not have agreed with her daughter’s reasoning, but at the heart of the matter is this fact – the daughter gave in the way she believed.
AND IT’S TRUE OF ALL CHRISTIANS – we give as we believe.
In the Bible, we are given the acid test of whether or not we believe that God is trustworthy. It is called TITHE. It is the only practice where God commends His people to TEST Him. Furthermore, it is the only test that ends in the promise of abundant blessing. If you have your Bible’s, let’s turn to a familiar passage in Malachi 3:8-12. (Read)
I was listening to a speaker this week who shared some information which I found unbelievable. Rather than ignore what I heard, I searched out for myself to find out if what I heard was true. I found an article in Christianity Today entitled,’ Scrooge Lives: Why we’re not putting more in the offering plate. And what we can do about it.
IN this article, the author Rob Moll writes, ‘Over the next few months or years, as our economy travels down a long road of recovery, our neighbors may need much more assistance than we’ve grown accustomed to providing. And like skyrocketing home prices, the lack of generosity among American Christians is a trend that cannot continue without doing serious harm.
More than one out of four American Protestants give away no money at all—"not even a token $5 per year," say sociologists Christian Smith, Michael Emerson, and Patricia Snell in a new study on Christian giving, Passing the Plate (Oxford University Press).
Of all Christian groups, evangelical Protestants score best: only 10 percent give nothing away. Evangelicals tend to be the most generous, but they do not outperform their peers enough to wear a badge of honor. Thirty-six percent report that they give away less than two percent of their income. Only about 27 percent tithe.
American Christians’ lack of generosity might not be as shocking if it didn’t contrast so starkly with their astounding wealth. Passing the Plate’s researchers say committed American Christians—those who say their faith is very important to them and those who attend church at least twice a month—earn more than $2.5 trillion dollars every year. On their own, these Christians could be admitted to the G7, the group of the world’s seven largest economies. Smith and his coauthors estimate that if these Christians gave away 10 percent of their after-tax earnings, they would add another $46 billion to ministry around the world.
Wow, before you get all smug and ignore these findings by saying, “Well, that’s the United States, we are Canadian.” Similar surveys done in Canada reveal that while we fair a little better, there is not a whole lot of difference in our giving practices.
In fact not long ago, I heard a pastor of one of our larger city churches, testify that in his church only about 6% actually tithe a full ten percent of their income. Of that number one individual gives 40% of the total. Can you spell, SCARY!
So why would people who are committed followers of Jesus Christ, and have a strong belief in the Word of God, not tithe?
I know from experience that in this room there are at least three common attitudes when it comes to tithing..
1. ‘Tithing is OT, Pastor I believe in grace giving’. As spiritual as that sounds, what they are really saying is, they don’t give anything at all.
2. It’s all mine/I worked/earned it/deserve it/can do what I want to…and when offering plate goes by, they say, I can give if I want to, but I don’t have to. If I feel led to give a dollar, I will/$20…but it’s all mine, I can do what I want with it.