Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Getting ready for Sunday

Since we're going to be looking at the question, What's the wise thing to do with money?, this Sunday I thought that Vince's post would be good to read and think about so that we can be ready:
One of the wild things about the Bible is how often it talks about money. Over and over, it's about money. Today's reading (1 Timothy 6) is obviously no exception. We're warned of the dangers of wanting to get rich, told that loving money leads to evil, and that being eager for money tends to lead people away from faith in God. We're commanded to put our hope in God, not money, and to be generous in giving away our money.

When people hear talks about money from their own pastor there can be questions in the back of their mind, "Is he saying this because the church needs money? Is he focusing on this because it helps his salary?"

Well, I'm not your pastor, so let me give it to you straight, and you don't have to wonder about my motives:
  • If you live in America, you are rich. If you're living in poverty in America, you are wealthy on the global scale, and that's what God sees. If you live in America, you are rich.
  • If you live in America, whether you realize it or not, one of your greatest temptations is wanting to be rich, loving money, and putting your hope in wealth.
  • In the Old Testament we're told to give a bare minimum of 10% of our income. In the New Testament we're commanded to give generously. There's no way that God views less than 10% as generous.
  • If you live in America, and are therefore rich, giving only 10% just seems really greedy. Honestly, doesn't it? So give 10% (or more) to your church, but then find some other things to give to, to help those who have less than you.


At 12:59 PM, October 07, 2009 , Blogger Jaimee Holmes said...

`In the Old Testament we're told to give a bare minimum of 10% of our income. In the New Testament we're commanded to give generously. There's no way that God views less than 10% as generous.
`If you live in America, and are therefore rich, giving only 10% just seems really greedy. Honestly, doesn't it? So give 10% (or more) to your church, but then find some other things to give to, to help those who have less than you.

I've said it before, and I don't like to beat a dead horse. BUT (said with a weary smile) I heartily disagree with these 2 points.

I think it is rather presumptuous to say that God cannot see less than 10% as generous. In fact, I know for 100% certain that that is indeed completely false, though it may be hard for people who have never been in true need to see it as such.

There are situations in which 10% (or less) is definitely not greedy, and in fact can be quite a faith stretch. And to assume that that amount is easily doable for everyone in America does a disservice to an often overlooked population within our churches and community. Comments like that (which presume to know everyone's circumstances and then blindly judge them as the voice of God) are a reason some are not part of our churches in the first place.

I don't think it's wrong to use Old Testament principles as guides, however it's ridiculous and short sighted to pretend to know the situation of every American. I think in doing so we lose the ability to reach an entire population which is really disgraceful.

At 11:33 PM, October 07, 2009 , Blogger Michelle said...

Jessica, Chris, and I were thinking...tagging onto Jaimee's comments,tithes are not only in regard to money for all Americans. Serving with our time, providing our talents to help others in need, and providing food for the needy, etc. There are many biblical stories of people offering animals, fruits and vegetables among other things. One of your most valuable resources is time, which you spend to make your money. In essence your time is just as valuable as your money and God knows each and every situation. Bottom line, money and how you serve with your time are both important to God.

At 7:12 AM, October 08, 2009 , Blogger Jaimee Holmes said...

That's an important point guys.

I do see myself as wealthy. I think we could definitely reorder our priorities and doing so would encourage us to pay extra attention to what we did with the rest for sure.

But I know from experience that poor people don't always "look" poor and you never know who is sitting listening to a sermon. And I'm just thinking... You know what if the couple that was just released from the Haven on their own now... what if they were listening to a message like this? How accepted would they feel? How loved would they feel? And since people obviously don't understand them and their situation, would they feel able to connect in a meaningful way? What if they needed help at some point? Would they be ok with putting that need out there?

I just think we've come to expect a certain "type" of people as "church people." Like I can totally see a congregation of middle aged white people with perfect hair and teeth, double income and 2.5 kids listening to something like this. And I think that's part of the reason why a large number of people remain unchurched. If we don't plan for them, they're not going to come. And if we can say one thing on a Sunday to our church family that cannot apply to them... will they perceive our hypocrisy when we try to reach out to them in the world? Because then what do you do with them when they're brought in? You realize... Woah. These truths we've been preaching... they aren't true anymore. What now? Well they're not true now. There's a lot more to finances than crunching numbers. I think we need to be more concerned with the heart. If our hearts are right...and we're hearing God and doing what he says, making disciples who make disciples, asking what is the wise thing to do?... If we're living like that... Then we're going to be generous. We're going to want to give. We will still need wisdom and guidance in matters of money and we still need to be encouraged to keep our priorities straight, to ask what is worth dying for, what can we live without... those are good healthy necessary questions to ask ourselves. But I really don't believe there is some one size fits all, magic Biblical formula that is the key to Christian financial fitness. We want a formula or a set of rules for anything we don't want to put forth the effort of listening to the Spirit about. Cause chances are, what God will ask you to give, speaking to your heart, will be way more than what some man made set of rules will be. We shortchange ourselves and others and close off our hearts to the spirit of God when we think we are doing well to follow a system that is effortless for some and impossible for others.

WoW! I really need to stop thinking about this! lol.

At 10:31 AM, October 10, 2009 , Blogger Melanie said...

First of all, I applaud Vince and Jonathan for talking about a subject that is really touchy. I think Jaime is right in disagreeing with Vince about 10% being somewhat greedy, but on the other hand, I do think it's only the starting point for Christians.

The Bible talks about 10%, so whether you like the formula or not, I think it's there for all of us:) Jesus applauded the women who gave 2 cents to the Temple.. definitely not because it was a lot by most people's standards, but because it was all she had. I think the New Testament demands we give everything to God... which I fail at miserably and is a lot harder than the 10% tithe the Old Testament puts forth. If Jesus made the laws even stricter (adultery and hatred) why would he leave money out, right?

When the church of Acts was formed, it talks about the people selling everything they had and giving to the church and even talks about two people who didn't give everything they had (but saying they did) dying for it.

What does all that mean? I think God does want our money.. Why? Because it's SO HARD for us to let go of. If we can't give him a little bit back (even when it seems like a lot), then what does that say about our heart? But I also think God speaks to us in stages... and the place I am right now, I may not be able to hear you need to give more than 10% because I'm not giving anything... maybe for me, I just need to start giving something. But I do think we need a starting place and I truthfully think that's what the 10% was.

In OT and even NT biblical times, they didn't deal with money like we do now. They bartered and I think that's why we see God talking about giving of the first fruits.... I don't grow fruit, so I don't have that to give (lol).

I know that times are hard... for most everyone, but I also know that God is faithful and he has provided for my needs when I was faithful to him in this.

I do agree with Chris, Michelle, and Jessica and Jaimee's agreeing with them... that we do need to give more than just what we have money wise, but at the same time, I don't think we can rationalize that to God... well, I didn't give you the tithe this week because I donated 2.4 hours a day...

Anyway, just my opinion :) I really think that God deals with us where we are and it doesn't matter where you are, so long as you are moving closer to him no matter what the subject is... I think God loves it when we are "working out" our faith. And I definitely think that this is one subject we can spend all year on and still never agree!


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