We have made it to chapter six of Thom Rainer’s book called, “I Will.” I hope you’ve been reading and discussing the information and the implications of this book. The information found in these pages can be easily embraced or dismissed… a difficult and honest question we all must ask is, “Where do i fit in this larger story?”
He opens the chapter with a story about his Uncle Jess, who was described as a most generous man who took great joy in giving. That is a powerful statement, and people’s lives were changed because of his life and generosity.
When Jesus preached the Sermon of the Mount, little would the gospel writer have known how powerfully it would impact generations of Christians over the next 2000 years. How often do we hear an audience at church talk about the morning’s sermon being astonishing? They pointed out the fact that Jesus taught as one having authority, not like the religious leaders of the day. And this message was not just about salvation.
Jesus tells the hearers to not collect treasures for themselves here on earth, but rather to invest in the things of heaven that will not be stolen or destroyed (Matthew 6:19-21). In this passage one might think Jesus is against having a savings account (storing up treasure on earth) but Jesus is focusing on the real issue of the heart; “Wherever your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”
They say you can tell more about a person’s heart by looking at his checkbook and his calendar than by anything else. These two personal items are filled with records of our priorities.
Since Jesus spent so much time talking about our relationship with money, why has the subject of finances become a taboo in the church? Some say, perhaps discussing money will drive guests away, or critics might point out the extravagant lifestyles of some high-profile preachers. But Rainer hits us in the forehead with this…
In the American church, there are members who have embraced an improper attitude toward their possessions. He mentions the scenario of members withholding funds when they don’t like something happening in the church. Or maybe they give only to the ministries that fit their definition of what the church should be doing. Rainer says, this is evidence of a consumer mind-set.
So, what are we to do? First, we must not think of the funds we give as “our funds.” Remember that the act of giving is essentially an act of letting go, that which God already owns.
Next, giving ought to be done cheerfully, not under compulsion. The apostle Paul also writes about a person’s spiritual growth being in direct relationship with their generous giving. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – sowing and reaping). Paul certainly addresses our motive in giving; it should not be done out of a legal obligation or reluctantly.
How can one become a more generous giver? Make your giving a matter of prayer. Recognize that God is not a God of limitations; remember he has the resources and is owner of everything. Then Rainer challenges us to Just do it… give. Our obedience to God is directly related to our giving.
Discuss with your small group why some members have developed a consumer mind-set of the church. How does that affect giving to the church?
Maybe read through the Sermon on the Mount to discover all the verses that relate to money, wealth, or generosity.
Evaluate your giving. Is it from the heart? Do you prepare your giving on Saturday, or look in your wallet when the offertory starts?
Is it done joyfully? Do you see giving as an act of worship to a God who gave his only begotten Son?
Is it done sacrificially? Do you drop a $20 in the plate or serious aim toward a tithe of your income?
Is it under compulsion? Do you give because it is expected or because it is a reflection of your gratitude to God?
Is it done regularly? Do you give only when you are present, or does your money ship church when you do? Online giving is a great way to give regularly.
Does your giving come with strings attached? I hope you will not have the attitude of the consumer driven members Rainer mentions in his book.
How can you develop a proper attitude toward money and giving?