Last weekend we wrapped up #LifeMoneyHope. One of the key takeaways from this series is that money is a window into our souls. It shows us our priorities in a way that nothing else does.
In this final message, Gene tackles the question, “Why do I have so much?”
If you make $45,000/year, you are in the 1%. Your income is higher than 99% of the world. If you have a garage, your car lives in a house larger and nicer than the homes that many entire families live in. And if you are on unemployment or rely on a government assistance program, you are likely still far better off than the 50% of the world that lives on under $2/day
We’ve all made our fair share of financial mistakes, whether it was buying the car that was too expensive, purchasing a house just before the downturn, or investing in a “sure thing,” but most of us have made a wise financial decision or two as well. Maybe you chose to cut spending, picked a good investment, or simply made a purchase that has really paid off.
So share with the group, what is the best financial decision that you have ever made?
Have a volunteer read 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19
As much as we’d like to think Paul isn’t talking about us in this passage, the fact is, he’s talking about almost everyone who attends Eastside.
Right away the apostle Paul takes the veil off what’s at the heart of our financial fears. Our financial fears unveil where we’ve put our hope, where we’ve put our trust, where we’ve put our faith.
He’s says you’re either going to put your hope in wealth/money—which is so uncertain, which is why we are obsessed with the question “how can I get more?” and why our fears soar when we have less.
Principle: Financial fears dissipate when faith in God escalates.
Trusting God with our finances, frankly, is hard. But imagine for a moment that you were able to fully do so. How might your life be different?
In this passage, Paul talked about the impact of the love of money. He says that it’s the root of all kinds of evil and that those who want to get rich fall into temptation.
Deep down most of us want to be generous, we don’t want to love money, but something gets in our way: fear.
We’re plagued with the “what if” questions. What if the economy completely collapses? What if I lose my job? What if I can’t buy groceries? What if there’s an unexpected illness? What if I can’t pay my house payment? What if there’s another major terrorist attack? What if Britain pulls out of the European Union?
What “what if” question causes you financial fear?
It is not natural for us to give away. We always want more. And it’s why we seldom stop to ask that all important question, “Why has God already entrusted me with so much?”
Paul gives us the answer in the passage from Timothy that we read earlier. “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
Gene gave a great illustration of what we often do instead. If you remember, he had two chocolate chip cookies, and Tiago—who had no chocolate chip cookies—came up on stage. And then Gene prayed for God to give Tiago a cookie instead of Gene simply giving Tiago one if his two cookies.
It was absurd. But that’s how ridiculous we look to God when we are financially blessed and we pray for God to take care of the needs of others. It’s like He’s trying to get through to us, “I already have a plan to take care of them…. It’s you!”
Is there a place in your life where you have two chocolate chip cookies, and you need to share with someone else who has none?
Maybe it’s a friend who’s struggling to pay their mortgage. Maybe it’s a sibling who has been out of work. Maybe it’s a homeless person you pass on your way into work. Maybe it’s a co-worker who is a struggling single mom. Maybe it’s a child in Mexico who you need to sponsor. Maybe it’s a well in Africa you need to pay to have dug.
Have a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
The apostle Paul knew that we would struggle with sharing because we so often put our hope in money instead of God. And just like money fears dissipate when faith in God escalates, money fears escalate when faith in God dissipates.
So in 2 Corinthians 9 Paul teaches us a way to view our money that is counter-intuitive for us. When you get this view it’s easier to be generous because you realize when you give something away it’s not just gone, but God promises to bring a return.
So Paul gives this generosity axiom “Whoever sows seeds sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows seeds generously will also reap generously.” You see, God sees everything He has entrusted into your management as seed.
He’s given you some seed to eat. He’s given you some seed to pay the bills. He’s given you some seed to set aside for a rainy day, and He’s given you some seed to share and be generous with.
Now when you plant a seed do you say goodbye to it forever? No you expect it to produce a return. So how do you decide how much of your seed to sow? How much should you give away?
It ultimately depends on how much faith you have.
A faith-filled Jesus follower fully trusts God’s economic promises and faithfully returns the whole tithe into the storehouse.
“Faithfully” means that I do it without fail. Every time I receive some income from whatever source.
“Return” means I recognize that it already belongs to God.
“Whole tithe” means that I return 10% (a tithe) on everything I make, not 10% of remainder that’s left over after my taxes and mortgage and student loans and pizza budget.
“To the storehouse” means that I give it to the local church that I’m a part of.
What do you think about this concept of tithing to the local church?
Note to Leaders: This could be a tough conversation. Your responsibility is to walk the tightrope between having an open and honest debate and pointing back to God’s plan regarding our finances.
At the end of his sermon, Gene challenged all of us to commit to tithing for 90 days. So that’s our challenge for this week. Commit to returning 10% to God for the next 90 days.
It comes with a money back guarantee. If you get to the end of 90 days and you honor God with the tithe and seek Him wholeheartedly and believe that was a mistake, simply contact the church office, and as long as it’s recorded gift we will write you a check for every dollar you gave and return it to you, no questions asked.