Giving financially changes us and brings God glory

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)

“Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation. Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income. Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while during the Great Depression they gave at a 3.3 percent rate.

But if believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let’s say, 10 percent. There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute.” (1)

An additional $165 billion is huge! Global hunger could be relieved. We could eliminate deaths from starvation and preventable diseases. Illiteracy could be erased. Water and sanitation issues would be solved. Overseas missions work could be fully funded. There would still be an additional 100 billion left for ministry expansion. (1)

We could accomplish a lot if we were to give.

I don’t present these statistics to compel you to give beyond your hearts desire. Instead, I present them to show you what you could accomplish if you were to purpose in your heart to give faithfully.

But in order for us to be cheerful givers, we have to understand why and what our giving can accomplish, hence the numbers above. We also have to understand that the Lord is the one who cares for us. Verse 8 reads:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8)

Why don’t we give? We don’t give because we don’t trust the Lord. We don’t believe He will continue to provide for us nor do we believe we can make it on 90%. But He can and we will. The Lord is the One who actually provides us with 100% of our income (2 Cor 9:10). He can provide what we need to care for ourselves and our families, we just need to trust that He will provide. One way we show our trust is by giving.

But we aren’t to give reluctantly just so we will get from the Lord. That is what the prosperity gospel teaches. Instead, we are to give out of a cheerful heart because we are thankful for how God has provided. As well as we give to bring God glory. When we exercise our trust through giving, we bring God glory by proclaiming to others we believe God is able to provide for our needs and care for us with our 90% instead of our 100%.

When we see God care for us as we give away a portion of our income, our trust in Him will grow and our heart for giving will grow too. Not only will we experience change as we give, but we will also change the world with our giving.

Will you begin giving in 2021 for your own heart and the world’s needs?


(1) http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/what-would-happen-if-church-tithed

Respectable Sins: Self-Control | Part 3

This week, I am focusing on the Respectable Sin of Self-Control. In my last post, I dealt with self-control with our temper. In this post, personal finances will be the main subject.

Personal Finances

Christians, along with the rest of the nation, are in financial debt. One statistic said that on average Americans are in 7,000 dollars worth of credit card debt [1]. That tells us that as a nation, we are not exercising self-control when it comes to our finances. Instead, we are indulging our desires with new clothes, the latest electronic gadgets, expensive vacations, etc. By buying these things, we are going into more debt.

Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Consumers consume hoping it will satisfy, but it doesn’t. Instead it leaves us empty, and wanting more to fill that void, so we buy more. We do so under the false notion that our next purchase will be what we need to fill us up, but it doesn’t either. Instead massive debt piles up as we try and fill a void only Christ can fill.

Why is it important we exercise self-control?

If we do not exercise self-control, then our desires end up controlling us rather than us controlling our desires. As well as Scripture commands us to exercise self-control. Here are a few verses:

  • Proverbs 25:28
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 2 Timothy 3:3
  • Titus 2:2,5,6
  • Titus 2:11-12
  • 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8
  • 2 Peter 1:5

For those reasons, it is important we exercise self-control.

Is debt the only sign that a person lacks self-control? 

No, those who are affluent also fall into this category. A lack of self-control does not necessarily correlate with our bank accounts.

How do we know that we lack self-control in our finances?

We know we lack self-control in our finances when we indulge ourselves in whatever our hearts desire.

How do we rid ourselves of this sin?

The writer of Ecclesiastes helps when he says,

“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ec 2:1–11)

The writer of Ecclesiastes teaches us that indulging ourselves is vanity. It will not provide us with the joy we are seeking. The only thing that will provide us with true joy and satisfaction is Christ.

How can we exercise self-control?

Jerry Bridges wisely says,

“Biblical self-control is not a product of one’s own natural will power”[2].

That is because it requires us to exercise self-control in all areas of life. While we may be able to exercise self-control in certain areas in order to gain something, it is impossible for us to do so in our own power in every area of our lives. For example, an athlete exercises self-control with their diet in order to perform better, but they may not exercise self-control in their spending habits.

So then, how do we exercise self-control in every area of our lives? Only through the power of the Holy Spirit and a continual exposure to the Word of God are we able to exercise self-control in every area of our lives. You see, self-control “requires an unceasing conflict with the passions of the flesh that wage war against our souls (see 1 Peter 2:11)”[3]. The only way we can consistently exercise that level of self-control is by the influence and enablement of the Holy Spirit. This lead Jerry Bridges to say,

“Continual exposure of our mind to the Word of God and continual prayer for the Holy Spirit to give us both the desire and power to exercise self-control [is required]. We might say that self-control is not control by oneself through one’s own willpower but rather control of oneself through the power of the Holy Spirit”[4].

Questions for Reflection

  1. What do you believe Americans buy that get themselves into such massive debt? Why do they buy these things?
  2. Does your shopping habits reveal a lack of self-control when it comes to your finances?
  3. What do you hope excessive spending will provide for you?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 113.
[2] Ibid., 110.
[3] Ibid., 111.
[4] Ibid.

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Defeating Materialism


I want, I want, I want!! This is the mantra of our consumeristic society. We all want a shiny new car, celebrity status, designer clothes, and a brand new house. We disregard our families and sell our souls to attain these worldly possessions. But for what reason?  This life will end one day, and we will not be able to take these possessions with us.

If this is true, then how do we defeat the power of materialism?

Yesterday, I led a discussion over Luke 20:27-40, during which we talked about how to rid ourself of the power of materialism, while still having possessions.

Four ways were given, which I would like to share with you.

  1. View your material possessions as provisions God has given you, in order to complete your journey in this life.
  2. Find your significance in your relationship with Jesus, rather than in material possessions.
  3. Find your satisfaction in Jesus, rather than in your possessions.
  4. Be willing to give sacrificially because you don’t find your security in your wealth, but in Christ.

The trend in all four is to stay focused on God, not man. Find your significance, security, and satisfaction in Him alone. All your material possessions will disappoint you, but Christ will not.