Money

Evil money?

1 Tim 6:10 The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil

Money is not evil.  The love of money can lead us into evil.  Money is a “power” and Jesus triumphed over the powers and made them subject to him (1 Peter 3:22, Colossians 2:15).  We live in a society where money is central to everything.  Money is arguably the most influential God in our culture and it is crucial that we, as followers of Jesus, have an understanding and control of money that it Biblical and that will enable us to be freed from its power.  God wants us to be free and not to be servants to something that will lead us into bondage.

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it

It all belongs to him.  We are called to be stewards.  We are called to look after what is his on his behalf.  It is not ours to do with as we want, but His, to further his kingdom and his work.

Giving

We need to learn to give back to God what is his.  A crucial part of breaking the power of money is to give.  To see what God thinks about giving, we need to have an overall view of scripture.

Giving in the Old Testament– tithing

The people of God lived in a “theocratic” state – a nation ruled by God – and there were clear laws regarding how much was given and to whom the money was then distributed.  The system was known as tithing.

The overall principles that we see in the Old Testament are as follows:

  • Giving (23.33)% annually.

Most often this is taught as 10% giving but most scholars agree that there were three separate tithes for the people of Israel – 10% every year went to the annual celebration at the temple (Deut 14:22ff); a further 10% went every year to the Levites (Priests) as their support (Num 18:21ff); and once every three years there was a further 10% that was given for supporting the poor and the priests (Deut 26:12ff).  That averages out at 23.33 % every year.

  • Giving to God was a celebration of and an act of faith in His provision for His people. (2 Chronicles 31:10)
  • The money was to look after the priests. (Num 18:21ff, Deut 26:12ff)
  • The money was to look after the poor, the outcast and the marginalized. (Deut 26:22ff)
  • To not give was to steal from God. (Mal 3:8-10)

Giving in the New Testament – radical giving

We see a different development within the New Testament.  Tithing is only mentioned four times throughout the New Testament and never is it taught or encouraged and mostly it appears in negative light.  We see something different here.  We see far more radical approach to giving.

  • Looking after those in need (Luke 3:11)
  • No needy among us (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-35)
  • Sacrificial and radical (Luke 21:1-4)
  • Giving to God before anything else has claim on our money (1 Cor 16:2)
  • Give generously and God will be generous with you (2 Cor 9:6-8)

Giving as a response to God

We only have three things with which to offer our lives as living sacrifices as our act of worship (Rom 12:1)

  • Our Time
  • Our Energy
  • Our Money

Actually, these things all belong to him anyway, but He has given us control over them and how we use these things is our worship.  So giving should be an act of worship as a response to God for who he is and what he has done for us regardless of anything else.  Should we choose to worship lavishly (2 Cor 9:6-8), like the prostitute at Jesus’ feet (Luke 7, John 12) or should we give grudgingly and sparingly?  The NT would say that we will reap what we sow and that our giving should be cheerful and generous as an act of worship.

If we live in community; if this is your church; if we are a body together; if we are working out our faith together, it is my understanding that this offering should be given to the church as your giving to God.  It is part of recognizing that God has put you here and that these are the people he has called you to live this out with and he has called to serve you.  If you do not feel able to do so perhaps this should raise questions as to whether you are in the right church?

Giving as a response to need

There are two pieces of teaching in the New Testament about this:

  • There should be no needy among us (Acts 2, Acts 4)
  • We should give to alleviate poverty wherever we are able. (Luke 3:11)

GIVING – SO WHAT?

We should be giving radically to God.

The New Testament never talks in terms of percentages but rather in terms of you deciding in proportion to your income.  This needs to be done before anything else and needs to be done with a view to being radical and sacrificial.  For someone, that may mean £1 a month, for another, that may mean £1000 a month.  The principle is one of generosity and sacrifice as an act of worship to Him.

We should give to those in need.

Above and beyond an act of worship, where we have plenty and someone else has nothing, we are bound to give.  John puts it even stronger in his letter.  He asks how we can even say we know Christ if we don’t (1 John3:17).  We are also bound to look after those both within and outside the church if we are able.

It is all his anyway.

The problem with much teaching on giving is that we are left with the impression that after we have given our set percentage then it is all ours to do whatever we want with.  This is simply not Biblical.  It is ALL his.  First, we give to him as an act of worship, then we ask him how we can worship and serve him by best using what he has given us.  He wants to bless us but I do not think that he is interested in making us wealthy but rather blessing us in order to bless others!  We are just looking after it.

LIVING

How are we to practically work out being stewards of his resources.  What are the issue that we need to work through.

Wealth

  • Wealth does not equate to God’s favour.

In the story of the rich young ruler (Matt 19:20-24), Jesus totally undermines the prevailing idea that the rich are favoured by God and thus guaranteed a place in his kingdom.  He makes it clear that, just like everyone else, they can only enter his kingdom because of His grace.  He also states in the “sermon on the mount” that the poor are blessed (Matt 5:3, Luke 6:20).  This totally undermined the cultural view that the poor were poor precisely because they were not blessed or favoured by God.

  • Use the resources with which you have been entrusted, to serve (Acts 16:14,15 – Lydia,  the church met in her house; 1 John 3:17)
  • Give to those in need (Luke 3:11, 1 John 3:17)
  • Do not allow money to be your God (1 Tim 6:17-19)
  • Remember –  it is all his anyway (Psalm 24:1)

Poverty Mindset

  • Poverty does not mean you are not favoured by God (Matt 5:3, Luke 6:20)
  • Pride in poverty is not the same as rejoicing in poverty (James 1:9-11). We must beware of thinking that being poor in some way makes us more godly.  Being wealthy or poor is not the issue.  The issue is knowing Jesus.
  • Judging others who are wealthy is wrong (Matt 7:1-3)
  • Do not allow money to be your God (1 Tim 6:10).  We can be just as guilty of worshipping money because we are poor as rich.  Do not allow it to fill us with jealousy or greed.  Be content.
  • Remember – it is all his anyway (Psalm 24:1).  Be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself.  Trust him.  He can give or take way as he pleases.  Trust him.  Do not run after money or dreams of wealth.  Just be content.

Debt

  • To be indebted to someone is to be subject to them (Proverbs 22:7)
  • Borrowing is not wrong (Matt5:42)
  • Avoid being in a situation where you cannot pay (Rom 13:8).  To be caught in debt that you cannot repay leave you a slave to it.  God does not want us to be slaves but to be free.
  • Remember – it is all his anyway (Psalm 24:1).  If you need to borrow ask why.  Ask how much you can realistically afford to borrow and whether it will enslave you.  If it will then borrow less; live in a smaller house; get a cheaper car; manage without whatever it is.  How will he feel if you are to end up as a slave to money?

MATERIALISM

  • God hates greed and materialism. (Deuteronomy 5:21, Matthew 6:24)
  • You don’t need to have wealthy to be materialistic.
  • We cannot love wealth and love God. (1 John 2:15-17)
  • The lure of wealth prevents us from growing in Him. (Matthew 13:22)
  • Remember – it is all his anyway. (Psalm 24:1).

MATERIAL POSSESSIONS

  • It is not wrong to have possessions
  • It is not wrong to have nice possessions
  • It is not wrong to enjoy having nice possessions
  • It is wrong to give ourselves to them and to “love” them.
  • It is wrong to hold onto them to the exclusion of God or others
  • Remember, it is all his anyway! (Psalm 24:1)

ACCOUNTABILITY

  • We are not meant to do this alone (Romans 12:5)
  • We belong to one another (Romans 12:5)
  • Money is a responsibility and we need help with it
  • Secrecy over money can give it power over us
  • Remember – it is all his anyway (Psalm 24:1)

LIVING – SO WHAT?

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.

Matthew 6:19-21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

Gift aid and standing order forms

If you are part of this community and wish to give to the church as part of this then the best way for you to do so is by standing order. If you are a tax-payer then you are in a position to give by “gift aid”. This costs you nothing but means that the church can claim back the tax that you have paid on that money, which helps!

If you wish to have a form for this then please click here.

Matthew 13:22 … the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke [the word], making it unfruitful.

Romans 12:5 And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

©2018 Southampton Vineyard Church