The trail of our money and how we steward it always reveals a lot about the condition of our hearts. That’s why Jesus said so much about money. In Matthew 19, Jesus told a rich man to go and give his possessions to the poor and follow Him. The Bible says, “the young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” This man was a moral man. He professed that he had even kept all the commands necessary. But Jesus wasn’t so much after this man’s possessions, or even his ethics. He was after His heart. Jesus knew that if He had this young man’s heart, everything else would fall into place. Sadly, as moral as the young man was, this was one area of his life that he had trouble surrendering fully to Jesus. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, it’s one of our most difficult areas of surrender and trust as well.
In 2 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul commended a group of churches in Macedonia for their self-sacrificial attitude toward their money and generosity. Of these churches he said, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.”
In other words, they gave to the point where it sacrificially hurt, out of their own free will and compulsion. They were poor, and yet, they weren’t begging for money, they were actually begging for the opportunity to give the little they had away to others in need, even if it hurt. Wow. Lord, give me that kind of heart.
Recently, the Charities Aid Foundation noted in multiple studies, that historically speaking, from its inception, Americans give more to charity than most other nations on the planet. From the beginning, our forefathers believed that government must be small so that individuals can use their time and finances in order to help and serve others. They learned this from churches like the Macedonian churches in Scripture. They believed that the larger the state’s role in solving the problem, the less responsibility its citizens will feel toward personal sacrifice.
This is probably why I wrestle with the notion of government stimulus money in the COVID era. Perhaps the short-term effects are much needed, but I’m leery of the long-term effect. I struggle with the abdication of personal responsibility and sacrifice in financial problem solving for the future, particularly without leaning on a government that is already trillions of dollars in debt. I am hesitant about laying a foundation for normalizing debt and relying on universal welfare, health, and income. I am concerned it will also have a negative impact in an area of our lives and finances where we already struggle…self-sacrificial living.
What makes this even more troubling is that here in America, our Churches today aren’t necessarily modeling the scripturally sound “Macedonian” way of sacrificial approach to finances. More than 80% of believers who profess Jesus as Lord, give less than 2% of their income in sacrificial giving. Add to that, statistically speaking, 80% of Americans are currently in debt, in a nation that is over $20 trillion dollars in debt.
The Church is the one entity that the Lord God put on planet earth to model the principles of how we manage and steward money in relation to self-sacrificial living and giving. But according to these statistics, we aren’t exactly doing a stellar job. What does this say about our hearts and the God we proclaim as sovereign over everything in our lives?
Next month, we will be offering Financial Peace University at He’s Alive Church. I want to strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider taking this class. I believe we must get these Scriptural principles rooted in our lives now more than ever, particularly in these pressing times. If you can’t do that one, then sign up for the “Thinking Biblically” class we are offering. (Learn more about these classes: hesalivechurch.churchcenter.com/registrations/events.)
In Malachi 3, God gives us His version of a stimulus package. He challenges us to bring everything into His storehouse through self-sacrificial living and giving. “Bring the whole tithe” He says, not just part of it. Sadly, some don’t bring any of it. In other words, what God is saying is don’t hold back. Live and give sacrificially. He says that if we do this, He promises to “pour out a blessing so great we won’t have room enough for it.” Whether the blessing is physical, spiritual, financial, or even the blessing of growing through trials, this is one stimulus we need now more than ever. If you really want a stimulus, take God up on His challenge. Seems like as good a time in history as any to do it.