Summary: Objective: To learn that tithes and offerings are an indicator, the disciple’s spiritual thermometer and an expression of worship that acknowledges God’s sovereignty over our lives
God is not a vending machine
The difference between a financial vs. a spiritual transaction
By Victor Castillo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Objective: To learn that tithes and offerings are an indicator, the disciple’s spiritual thermometer and an expression of worship that acknowledges God’s sovereignty over our lives
Introduction: If you insert the right amount of money into a vending machine, and press the right buttons, you will get whatever you’re hungry for when you want it. Many times, consciously or maybe not, we do the same thing with God. We assume if we comply with attending church and putting something in the offering plate we would get whatever we desire and in the moment we think we need it.
But the Word of God says He expects a spiritual transaction from our hearts, a spiritual investment that will serve His purposes not ours. Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:17 to not set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
It is only with this perspective along with godliness and contentment that there is great gain, according with 1 Timothy 6:6. With this biblical focus our tithes and offerings are not an obligation, they are an expression of worship acknowledging God’s sovereignty over our lives and our church.
Financial Transaction (Treasures on Earth)
God is not a bank or the stock market with whom we do financial transactions in order to get a “return on investment”. The biggest mistake we make is when we look at our tithes and offerings as our own resources and then we try to do a “financial transaction” in church, as if pressing some “magical spiritual buttons or codes” would make God answer our prayers or solve our problems.
First, we need to understand that God is not a vending machine to provide us in exchange of our tithes and offerings, nor He is a financial institution to carry our “contract terms”, and God is not a genie in a bottle that will grant us every wish to get us out of our financial struggles.
The Gospel of Matthew helps us understand, from a different perspective, the difference between a financial vs. a spiritual transaction: Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
There are two ways to invest our resources: 1) to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth where things are temporary and will end or disappear at any moment of our life, or instead, 2) to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, spiritual transactions for His glory now and for eternity.
If we were honest with ourselves, and look into our hearts, we would ask us these questions: What is and where is my treasure? Is our treasure preventing us to perform spiritual transactions? Are we limiting the glory of God in our lives and in the lives of others by limiting what we put in the offering plate? How is our heart when we make our tithes and offerings?
It is important to note that God sees the condition of heart when we deposit our offerings. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Spiritual Transaction (Treasures in Heaven)
A spiritual transaction is based in the understanding that all our resources, whether it’d be money, time, family, real estate, a business, etc., all come from and belong to God. James 1:7 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
He’s placed resources in our hands, and expects us to be good administrators or stewards of His varied grace, so that 1) He and our Lord Jesus be glorified and honored, 2) our hearts be transformed and we become more like Christ, 3) for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another, 4) and so the world would know how to become citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
The big question is: Where’s our treasure, on earth or in heaven? Are we making “financial transactions” on earth, or are we making spiritual transactions in heaven? This is another reminder of Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Encouragement to give generously
One of the best examples of spiritual transactions or encouragement to give generously is found in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, we learn about the grace of God that was given among the churches of Macedonia.