I was an entrepreneurial and industrious 9-year-old. I remember selling boysenberries that ran alongside our fence and setting up a lemonade stand in my neighborhood. It wasn’t easy money though. I remember many people grabbing lemonade and running away without paying me. But, despite such setbacks, I also learned many great lessons about money, including how to tithe. In fact, when I got my first paycheck – it was $130 for 2 weeks of work at Palomar Community College – I put God first with it.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
– Matthew 6:19-21, 24 KJV
A lot of people have a lot of mistaken beliefs about what the Bible says, usually due to prevailing family wisdom and “what grandma says.” But the truth is what God actually says. Not what grandma said. But what the Bible actually says about things and life. God’s truth will set us free.
We’re going to talk about money. You might have a different name for it. Coinage. Wad. Cabbage. Dough. Bread. Lucre. Cash. Notes. Roll. Moolah. Bread. Call it whatever you’d like to call it. The point we’re going to make tonight is that money can signal our spiritual trajectory.
- 16 of 38 Jesus’ parables refer to money and possessions.
- Over 2,350 Bible verses deal with money and possessions (This twice as many that deal with prayer and faith combined!).
- 15% of everything Jesus said was about money and possessions (This is higher than the percentage of Jesus’ sayings on heaven and hell combined.).
- There are more promises in the Bible about giving that about any other subject.
Really quick, I want to make the disclaimer that I am not preaching this message tonight to improve my lifestyle as the pastor of this church. It’s not about making my life better, but about making yours better.
It’s a sad fact that many saints in churches throughout the world have not invested one penny into the kingdom of God. This is unfortunate since the blessings of God that accompany our tithe and offering are so pertinent, powerful, and wonderful that you should pursue them with all your heart.
Money can’t buy our salvation. But our salvation is dependent on how we use our money.
Billy Graham once said, “A checkbook is a theological document.” Our checkbook reveals what is important to us. It uncovers our priorities.
The transformative principle about money is simply this: If we will give God the first part of our increase, He will bless the rest of it.
And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. – Deuteronomy 14:23 KJV
God automatically gets a tithe or 10% of our income. It’s His, regardless of whether we give it to Him or not. But some people are so enamored with themselves and their abilities that they believe they are self-sufficient. But we must realize that we are so frail and dependent on God for everything we have, including our next breath.
In fact, the purpose of tithing is to teach us to put God first in our life ALWAYS. The first 10% of our increase must go to God. Then we give our offering, which is a tangible expression of our thanks to Him and a blessing for others. Tithe supports the ministry, based on the Biblical example of the Levitical priesthood. Our offering is used to pay for church amenities like lights, AC, and heating, and also support church activities like giving to missionaries, sponsoring youth ministry activities, and more.
I hope you don’t this wrong. While I’m not against church fundraiser and, in fact, we have them here, it’s important for us to realize that God’s plan for the support of His Kingdom has never been tamales, caramel apples, fireworks, or other fundraisers. These aren’t wrong. But these are not God’s ultimate plan. His ultimate plan is to bless His people abundantly so they can give abundantly.
I want to be clear: God doesn’t need our money. But He does want our heart.
Blessings come when we hold to God and trust in Him.
We are never blessed when we hold on to a specific vision of our life or circumstances. If we’re only happy when good circumstances are present, we aren’t truly happy or blessed.
We should want a blessed life, not a “lucky” life or successful life.
The whole theme of the Bible is summed up in two words: `God giving`. When we, as His people, give, we are never more closer to His image. When we give other people forgiveness, mercy, and grace, we are never more like God. Even giving of our money or “treasure,” we are embodying His character and essence.
Think about our hourly wages or salary. We are exchanging our time, the essence of our lives, for a monetary amount. This is why the act of giving our money or our time makes such a powerful statement about what we truly treasure in this world.
Giving isn’t about our wallet. It’s about our heart.
When Jesus told us, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” He linked how we handle what we have to the condition of our heart.
How we manage our time and our money doesn’t just reveal our heart’s condition. It also tells us our trajectory and ultimate destiny.
Let me use the example of gambling, even though we don’t gamble or bet. Just for sake of example…
If you were to bet everything you own on a horse, you would be yelling and cheering the horse on at every step of the race. You definitely would not be a bored bystander, checking the news on your phone or chitchatting with friends. You’d be focused on whether your horse was winning.
Now let’s make this spiritual before someone thinks I’m endorsing horse races and gambling…
Some people don’t care about missions, Sunday School, and other church activities because they haven’t put any money there.
Why do some people not care about missionaries? Because their money isn’t being put into missions. It’s somewhere else.
On the other hand, there are people who care about the church because their treasure is there. These are the people who have invested their “time and dime” into it.
Money can’t save us. But it can keep us from being saved if we mishandle it or put it into the wrong things. We cannot separate our money, our treasure, from our heart.
We often pray “God, take all of me.” But you can’t invest all of your treasure into something else and still say you are fully surrendered to God. It’s like saying, “Here you go, God, take all of me except for this part.”
If we are not following God’s instruction in our tithe and offering, we cannot truly say we are submitted to God because we are giving our heart or treasure to another.
Mammon refers to the Arabic word that means “the spirit that rests upon money.”
Money is not evil. 1 Timothy 6:10 says the “love of money” that is the root of all evil. Money is neither righteous nor evil. Rather, it’s our relationship with it that impacts our salvation or condemnation.
We cannot serve God and mammon. But mammon is not just money. Rather, it’s anything that distracts us from giving our all to God.
So, ask yourself, what can you replace “mammon” with? What is it that would contest God’s Lordship in your life?
Notice that Jesus didn’t say “devil” or “sin.” Rather, He says that His competition for priority and authority in our life is our stuff, our possessions, our riches.
We will end up loving one and hating the other.
God isn’t trying to get your money, but He’s trying to keep your money from “getting” you. If he doesn’t get our money, He can’t get our heart.
When see money as the answer to all of our problems or the source of our happiness, that is when we are starting to love mammon more than God.
“If I can only get this or have that.” “I’d be happy if I had that.” Jesus told us that, if we think like this, we are serving mammon. Money is not the source of our happiness, God is.
We should not say, “I am blessed because I make X per hour.” Rather, it is “God is in my life so I am blessed.” We must trust in God to be our answer to all problems and source of happiness. Not our money.
Do we put God first in our money? It’s either yes or no.
Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all of your needs.”
When we put God first in our finances, we are tangibly saying that we believe God will provide all our needs. Not our brains. Not our skills.
This doesn’t mean we lay in our bed and do nothing. But it does mean that we are acknowledging that God is our Source, our Provider.
Give freely and become more wealthy. Be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper, those that refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
– Proverbs 11:24-25 NLT
We will never be able to keep what is owned by God. It will go to mechanical trouble, to merchants, to somebody else. And it will be theirs, not yours. Remember, though, God doesn’t need anything from us. He owns it all.
The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof;
the world, and they that dwell therein. – Psalm 24:1 – KJV
The principle of giving isn’t just for millionaires or only for the middle-class. It’s for everyone.
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. – Haggai 1:6 KJV
It’s easy to say we trust God for everything then leave Him out of our finances. But the better thing to do is put our treasures where our heart is…
Givers receive blessings that the stingy never experience. This is because, when we are faithful in our giving, God rebukes the devourer.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 3:11 – KJV
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Matthew 6:33 KJV
When we seek first the kingdom of God in our life, He adds everything else to us and pays us dividends upon dividends.