Summary: Why should people give to the church when their money is tight?
Why Do I Give?
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Lately, I've been humming the lyrics to the "Three Dog Night song" that goes, "prices are rising, and the Devil's to blame." Well, I'm not so sure the Devil's to blame, but it sure seems to cost a lot to live these days. Two month's rent today would pay an entire year's rent in our first apartment we rented as newlyweds.
A couple of weeks ago I was listening as my Dad talked about what it is like to live on a fixed income, now that he is retired. "Fixed income," I said, "I'd love for my income to be fixed, lately I've been thinking it was broken."
Personally, we've never made more money than we are making now. The Church pays me very well, I make a good income writing and Susan has a great job. But you can't tell it by our bank balance. I've come to the conclusion that living on the Monterey Peninsula is something like launching out to sea in a luxury yacht only to discover it has a hole drilled in the side and it won't be long until it begins to sink. Is it just me, or does everybody's paycheck seem to run out long before the month does?
I know that some in our congregation are just starting out and are struggling to put enough money together to buy some decent furniture, while others feel the pinch of kids in private school and the need to help their parents some. Whether you are a single person trying to make ends meet or whether you have newborns, or your kids are college bound, we all can say with equal conviction, "I don't have enough."
Then I have a question for you. If you don't have enough for yourself and your family, what business do you have giving your hard earned money to the church? Shouldn't you take care of yourself first, before you worry about others?
I took some time this week to think about that question. Why do I give?
The first thing that popped into my head was that I don't want to be a free loader. I know that it costs money to run a church. On average it takes 40 square foot of building space per person that attends church. Multiply that times $100.00 to $150.00 a foot to build and it doesn't take me long to figure out that someone had to pay $16,000.00 to $20,000.00 just to provide a place for my family to worship today. The church pays commercial rates for utilities and high interest on our building loans. Literature costs money, landscaping costs money, salaries cost money--everything costs money. I'm just not the kind of person that wants to get something for nothing. I want to pay my way.
But really, can I ever pay my way? Oh, I might be able to reimburse the church for my share of the expenses, but that doesn't even start to repay what the Lord does for me through the church. How can I ever repay the church that loves my family unconditionally? How can I repay those who guided my children into Salvation? Or the people who encourage me when I'm disappointed? I can never repay the Church for what she does for me. How can I ever repay God? He is the great giver, anything I give back to Him is dwarfed by what He's given to me. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 KJV )
The second reason I thought of for why I give is because I want His blessing. Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
The phrase "that there may be meat in mine house," kind of goes along with my first thought, you know, the bills have to be paid. But I like the last part of that verse the most, "prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."