A Fervent Follower... Gives

Jesus expected his disciples to be generous givers (Mt.6:1-4. Lk.6:38). In fact, he saw that the use of one's money was an indication of a person's values and a revelation of their heart's true affections (Mt.6:19-21). If a person's heart is after God, then their finances will flow towards God's work in the earth. Jesus told the rich ruler to sell everything he had and give it to the poor (Mk.10:17-31). Unfortunately, this young man refused eternal life because of the hold that money had on his life. Jesus knew the power that money can wield on a life and he spoke directly to it. He said it straight - you cannot serve God and money (Mt.6:24)!

Your Money Matters 

There are 500 verses in the Bible on the subject of "prayer", less than 500 verses on "faith" but over 2000 verses on "money and possessions". Jesus talked about money and possessions in 16 out of 38 parables and 1 out of every 10 verses in the gospels refer to this topic. Jesus talked more about possessions and money than about heaven and hell combined. Your money matters to God!

On the negative side, money can become like a monster that rules your life if you allow it to. Money can be addictive (Ecc.5:10. 1 Tim.6:9-11), deceptive (Mt.13:22) and destructive, and it's only temporal (Ecc.5:15-16. Lk.12:16-21). Money can be difficult to master and that's why the Bible says that the “love of it is the root of all evil (1 Tim.6:10).” If you don't control your money, it will control you and it has the potential to destroy you.

So, should we all be poor? Not at all. God doesn't mind you having money as long as your money doesn't have you. Money is not the problem; it's our attitude towards it. Money is essential for survival and the expansion of God's kingdom. It depends on our motives, our priorities and our values. If we serve God, money can become a blessing in our life. The Bible shows us that God desires to bless his people. God prospers us for a purpose. Money can meet our basic needs (Dt.8:18), provide for our enjoyment (Ecc.5:19. Dt.8:10-13) and enable us to meet the needs of others (1 Tim. 6:17,18).

God's Financial Program

God has established a very clear and practical financial plan for his people. He gives us our very breath and the power to acquire wealth (Dt.8:18) All that we have comes from him and therefore belongs to him (1 Chron.29:14-16). He simply asks us to honour him with the “first fruits” of all our increase. The first ten percent of all our earnings is to be a “tithe” (which literally means “tenth”) to the Lord. It is holy and not to be used by us (Lev.27:30). It is to be brought to the “storehouse” where we are fed and cared for. God then promises to bless us and watch over our possessions (Mal.3:10-14). In addition, he encourages voluntary offerings to various good causes as our heart moves us (Ex.35:21. 1 Chron.29:1-9).

The tithe belongs to the Lord and when we use it, we are literally robbing God (Mal.3:6-9). In a real sense then, we don't “give tithes”, we “pay tithes”. They are already God's - we're just returning them to him. Keeping or using the tithe brings us under a curse and the judgement of God.

This principle of giving was followed by Abraham before the law and then reinforced under Moses as part of the requirements of the law. In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed the principle of tithing (Mt.23:23) and grace actually brings us to a higher law - a place where we give not because we have to but because we choose to and where we acknowledge that all that we have belongs to God. We willingly give beyond the mere “tithe”. The Old Testament was the early church's only Bible. For us today, everything that was abolished from the Old Covenant is clearly made reference to in the New Testament (Sabbath Days, ceremonial washings, etc). Interestingly, there is no Scripture that says tithing is no longer relevant to New Covenant believers.

A Plan for Financial Freedom

Jesus came to give us “freedom” - spiritually, emotionally, physically and also financially (Lk.4:18. Jn.8:32,36. Rom.8:2. Gal.5:1). When we are in financial bondage the spiritual, emotional and relational aspects of our life are dramatically affected. “Financial freedom” is having our basic needs met with some extra to give away.

Here are some helpful steps to become financially free:

  1. Establish and live by a budget.

    You must take control of your money or it will take control of you and your life. A budget is the most important and effective tool for getting your finances under control. A budget is a plan to spend money. It provides limits and boundaries, which give security.
     
  2. Beware of the major “budget busters“.

    Beware of “impulse buying”, “indulgence buying” and “compulsive spending”. Most financial problems or difficulties occur because of improper spending of money. It's not what you earn that matters - it's how much you spend. If you consistently spend less than you earn, and save or invest the rest, you will gain financial freedom.
     
  3. Say “No” to debt.

    Say “No” to debt because it puts you in bondage (Prov.22:7), it puts you under pressure (Prov.23:4), it can sabotage your joy (Ecc.4:6), it can damage your Christian witness and it hinders you from being able to give (Lk.10:25-37). If you are in debt, make a decision to get out of debt, get a plan, get some help and don't give up.
     
  4. Say “Yes” to savings.

    Prepare for the future by adopting a savings and investment plan (Prov.21:20). Savings creates freedom, reduces pressure, enhances joy, is a powerful witness and enables you to give. Make a decision to become a saver, get a plan (Prov.13:11; 21:5), get some help and don't give up.

  5. Start with something like the 10 10 80 plan,Take the first 10% and give it to God's work (Prov.3:9). Take the second 10% and pay yourself by putting this in a savings or investment account. Then endeavour to live in the remaining 80%.

The Miracle of Giving 

The subject of giving can be approached from two different perspectives - human wisdom or the wisdom of God. The natural mind says, “Giving means I make a loss.” The truth is when you give or invest in the God's work it is not a loss but it is actually a deposit in your heavenly account. God records it and there will be return for you (Mt.6:19-21. Lk.6:38. Phil.4:10-19). Secondly, the natural mind easily says, “I can't afford to give” or “I'll give when I've got some surplus.” However, God challenges us that when we give in faith even when we are in a time of need, his miraculous provision begins to come our way. He only asks us to give of what we already have (not what we don't have) and as we go first, in faith and obedience, we release his blessing into our life (1 Kgs.17. Prov.3:9-10; 11:24-25; 22:9).

Sample Discussion Questions 

  1. If you inherited a million dollars, what would you do with it? This is a fun question to break the ice and get some open sharing happening. Of course, answers will reveal people's hearts and passion.  
  2. What do you believe God thinks about prosperity and poverty? This is a good general question about wealth to get people thinking and sharing,  
  3. Ask for a few testimonies of how God has blessed people as a result of them giving to the work of the church (including the Building Our Future project, missions, etc) or to a needy person. This starts to lift the faith level of the group in regards to giving.  
  4. Discuss the 10/10/80 plan. What's good about it? What don't you like about it? Why is it difficult for many people to manage their finances? This gets the discussion really going by using this plan as a trigger point to discuss things such as tithing, savings and budgeting.  
  5. Why do some Christians struggle with the concept of “tithing”? See where people are at with this core Christian teaching and see if you can answer any of the questions people may have.  
  6. Finish by praying for anyone in financial need and for everyone to be blessed in this area.
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