Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What does the Bible teach on stewardship?

Question from Sherri:

My dad was in church ... made some strong points on tithing... Would you be willing to share some points with me/him on tithing...? My dad leads their parish for the Bishop's Annual Appeal each year. He was very impressed with so many things you brought to his attention.

Answer from Pastor Bob:

Thanks! I appreciate your encouraging words. I don't remember which message your father heard, but here are several points that I made that month as a part of our stewardship emphasis, which he is welcome to use:
Malachi 3:8-10 teaches that the tithe belongs to God, and if we don't give it, we are robbing God. It also teaches to bring the tithe into the "storehouse," which referred to the storage warehouses at the temple itself. This means they did not have the option of giving the tithe to whatever they wanted, but they were to bring it to God's house. The application is that the tithe should come to the local church where we worship. If a person gives to another charity, that's fine, but he or she should give the tithe to the local church.
2 Corinthians 9:7 teaches that God loves a cheerful giver. The Greek word is hilarion, from which we get the word "hilarious." Imagine the offering plate coming by and the husband saying to the wife, "Go ahead honey, put it in!" as he laughs out loud for joy. God loves that attitude. If we think about all of the wonderful ministries the church is doing because of our giving, we should give cheerfully.
2 Corinthians 9:15 says, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" This is a reminder that whatever money we give to God's work can never equal what God has already given to us through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ. So we can never outgive God.
1 Corinthians 16:2 teaches two principles of giving. This text comes from when the apostle Paul was taking a love offering from the Gentile churches to send to the Jerusalem church, which was suffering. He tells them to give regularly and proportionally. He says to set aside money on the first day of the week. That's regular giving. He says to do it "to the extend that you prosper." That's proportional. The great thing about tithing is that it is proportional. If you earn $100 a week, then a tithe is $10, and if you earn $1000 a week, then a tithe is $100. God does not ask for equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.
1 Chronicles 21:24 teaches sacrificial giving. When King David wanted to buy property from Ornan the Jebusite, to build an altar to the Lord at the place where the plague ended, Ornan told him to take it for free. David replied that he insisted on paying full price, "for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing." Wow! What a statement. He's not going to make an offering to God that cost him nothing. He wants to make a gift to God that actually involves sacrifice. A similar point is made in Malachi 1:13 when God rejects the offering of those who bring stolen, lame or sick animals to the Lord. It is an insult to God to give Him our leftovers. God deserves our very best.
1 Chronicles 29:3 says that David gladly gave "over and above." There is nothing wrong with giving beyond the tithe, as God has prospered you. Notice in verse 9 that the people rejoiced because their leaders were willing to give. When the leaders of the church set the pace, others in the church will give more faithfully

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