One of the guiding principles in this difficult season is that we want to launch ministries and programs that are sustainable long after this current plague has passed over us. This is partly because, after this plague is in the past, we will most certainly have future plagues as we see the Day of the Lord approaching. This is to remind us that there will always be needs among us and the church is to remain present in the needs of the people. Therefore, we are using this season of great need to streamline and create ministries that are effective now and will be effective once this season is in our rearview mirror.
Everything we do is worship, and we are always worshiping – it is just a question of who or what you are choosing to worship.
If you have been around HarvestDowntown for any length of time, you have probably heard this statement in various forms. This statement has served us well in this season. We have seen the church engage as the body of Christ serving our neighbors and city, while we have continued to worship in Spirit and Truth. VirtualHarvest has served as a tool to keep us connected with one another, and I hope that my Virtual Office serves as a call to community, worship, and mission.
In previous weeks, this blog has served to call us to community and call us to mission. Today, I want to call us to worship. Everyday can be a day of worship – and should be! Every moment should be offered up as a sacrifice to the King of Glory. In view of His incredible sacrifice for us, our only rational and reasonable response is to offer our very lives to Him in worship. We are called to give Him our fears, worries, concerns, and desires. We are called to obedience and sacrifice – the keys to authentic worship.
One of the most tangible demonstrations of worship is what we do with our money.
What you do with your money reveals what or who you worship. Some spend huge amounts of money on their personal castles – our homes. Others spend most of their money on their children’s education. Some choose to give all their money to pet projects or charities. I know some spend chunks of money on toys or even addictions. Take a moment and look at your spending and saving – what do you worship?
It is readily apparent from our bank account that Terasue and I worship four major things: Our castle, eating with friends and family, the church, and my 403b. I am a little embarrassed to say that we spend more than three times as much on our castle, (decorating it, preserving it, and building it), than we do on our church. I believe in investing in the future, but should I invest more in my retirement than I do in my church? You may believe that this is necessary so that you are able to give generously in your retirement – but some of us believe in retirement so that you can worship ourselves in our latter years.
Before you start making excuses for your spending or saving, let me offer some principles into money and worship.
God owns it all!
God wants to be at the very center of your life and has no interest with being a priority that is checked off your list. If you think that God gets a portion of your money and the rest is yours to do with as you would like, then you need to recalibrate your view of God. Every cent, every moment, every thought is to be taken captive for the purpose of God. This greatly impacts how I use my money, my castle, my retirement savings, and my tools, (or should I say toys!).
The concept that I am just a manager of His resources can be incredibly freeing. For instance, if my home is really His castle, then I have the authority and responsibility to use His money to take care of His castle. This principle also gives me the privilege and responsibility of making decisions and setting priorities concerning His resources as one who bears His signet ring – a son in right-standing with Him. Do you not realize that it is given to you to decide what to do with it?
God loves a cheerful giver
We are not called to give to the church or other projects out of compulsion or obligation. In fact, giving because of a sense of pretention or manipulation is usually why people feel compelled or obligated to give. These values do not please God. Giving and sacrifice out of gratitude and servitude as acts of worship do please God.
I believe in giving to relationship because it makes me a more cheerful and grateful giver. It becomes much easier to make a sacrifice when I know the person or group to whom I am making a gift. This is why most of my giving goes to my local church – they are the people I have chosen to lock arms with for the sake of the kingdom. I also support a few workers serving around the world, one of which is my natural-born brother. I personally do not value robbing from one storehouse to give to another, (This is a personal value, not a biblical one, so I won’t explain that here).
Some would like you to think that you should give where your heart is. I would suggest that you should give where you want your heart to be. “Where your money is, that is where your heart will be also.” – Jesus
The discipline of giving is for your benefit
You should decide in your own heart what you should give – and then do it! Terasue and I have learned the value of the discipline of giving. Much of this credit goes to our parents who taught us about the baseline of the tenth. We have decided in our own hearts that we will always give 1/10 of our gross income to our local church community. There have been seasons where this has been incredibly difficult, but we have never lost the joy of giving in those times and have received incredible blessings because of it.
You may, or may not, know that there is only one place in scripture where we are encouraged to test God’s faithfulness – and that is what we do with our money. The principle is this, practice the discipline of giving and see if you don’t see God throw open the floodgates of His resources so that you can give more. I would suggest that if you are struggling to be generous with the church, then it is probably because you haven’t learned the principle of the tenth.
Not everyone has the gift of giving, but everyone should practice generosity
Don’t compare your gift with someone else’s gift. This is an exercise in shame or arrogance – both are clear problems. We should pursue generosity in all circumstances – never to impress others, God, or ourselves. Just because everyone does not have the gift of hospitality does not excuse those who don’t from being hospitable. In the same way, we all should practice generosity if we have the spiritual gift of giving or not.
I want to challenge you to take this season to consider how your giving demonstrates these principles. I would hope that you will consider your church as a viable recipient of your generosity. If so, you can click on the “GIVE” tab at the top of this email or on our website, set up an automatic payment through your bank’s bill pay system, or mail a check to the church at 411 N. Weber, 80903.
Giving is an act of worship – please determine that you will worship God through your giving.