Grow7: Reconciling Finances and Relationship with God

Tithes and Offerings are one of the most difficult areas that many Christians struggle with.

God knows that finances and material possessions, while necessary in this mortal life, compete for our love and relationship with Him. Jesus spoke about money and finances more than he did about heaven and hell combined. This was not because he wants our money. He already possesses everything anyway. We only have temporary custody of everything that we seem to possess. He spoke more about money because it above all else reveals our motivations and where we place value. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus states “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. He encouraged us to store up treasure in Heaven and not on earth.

So what about tithes? If God already possesses everything, why does he want us to give him the first and best ten percent of our income (increase)? Simply put, it is a test. One that we have to retake constantly, because we are at constant risk of valuing other things above our God.

It is a test of our obedience, and a test of our faith in God. In John 14:23 Jesus said “if you love me, keep my commandments “. It is easy to obey when things are going well and you have plenty. When finances get tight, the temptation to forego tithing becomes strong. Often we have to deny what appears to be the common sense solution, and trust God to provide.

God’s chosen people Israel failed the test. In Malachi, they were rebuked for their behavior and told how they should act, along with a promise of blessing if they obey:

Malachi 3:7-12
Can a person rob God? You indeed are robbing me, but you say, ʻHow are we robbing you?ʼ In tithes and contributions! You are bound for judgment because you are robbing me – this whole nation is guilty.
“Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the Lord who rules over all, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all. Then I will stop the plague from ruining your crops, and the vine will not lose its fruit before harvest,” says the Lord who rules over all. “All nations will call you happy, for you indeed will live in a delightful land,” says the Lord who rules over all.

Our Lord Jesus Christ repeated this concept:

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

The promise is that if you faithfully give, with a loving heart, you will not be found wanting because of your generosity.

Giving with the right heart:
Be careful though, there are some who use these passages as a enticement to give solely because they want more things. God wants you to give out of love, not compulsion.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9
The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work

Giving in secret:
Our giving, done out of love and obedience, is between us and our Lord.

Matthew 6
​ “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

As I said at the beginning of this article, this is perhaps one of the most significant to ongoing tests of our faith. I urge to you to pray and read the many passages in the bible that give guidance on this topic.

[Composed by DJW]