What is your first memory of spending money? What did you buy?
This week Gene shared the importance of decisions, particularly in the area of finances. The big idea of this series has been “If you want what typical people have financially, then do what typical people do. But if you want what few people have financially, then do what few people do.”
Have someone read Mark 12:41-44.
Jesus was in the temple treasury area, and He sat on the wall opposite where the offerings were being deposited.
People were giving gifts, and the wealthy people were giving large gifts because it was Passover, the holiday commemorating the time the angel of death had passed over the homes of their ancestors in Egypt.
The word for “watched” means he watched with a “discerning eye.” He was basically telling His disciples who were with him, “Let’s people-watch here for a bit. Let’s watch people give and observe how generous they are.”
Have someone read Matthew 6:1-4.
In Mark 12, we aren't privy to all the details, but perhaps the disciples were watching someone put in a considerable amount, listening to the clang of all the coins. Jesus is looking elsewhere, watching a widow who walks in and gives two tiny coins. In verse 43, Jesus states she has given more than all the others. We can only imagine the disciples doing the math in their head, thinking, How is that possible?
Jesus says the widow gave out of her poverty, all she had to live on. Jesus used this story to teach His disciples something so crucial about finances, one of the most important principles we will ever learn. The a-typical financial principle Jesus is teaching here is that God measures generosity based on a percentage, not an amount.
Whatever you decide to give, God knows what percentage of your income you give. God measures our generosity on percentage, not pure amount.
Why is tithing such a difficult act of obedience to follow?
In his message, Gene explained that the starting place for percentage-giving for all followers of Jesus is the tithe, meaning 10%. Tithing is not really giving; it’s returning to God what is already His. God is looking for sacrifice when we give. King David said, “I will not sacrifice to God that which costs me nothing.”
Does viewing all your own as God’s change how you handle your possessions and finances?
Have someone read Proverbs 3:9-10 and Malachi 3:6-10.
What are the first fruits, and why are we called to give them to God?
How does tithing demonstrate we honor God and trust in Him?
Even now, in your small group discussion, some of you might be saying tithing is an Old Testament thing and is not specifically mentioned or encouraged in the New Testament. Gene laid out several passages to consider.
For instance, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." (NIV)
This weekend we heard Brett and Jacqueline Jackson share a bit of their financial journey. Our stories are powerful. When we share how God is working in our lives, it creates space for God to work in other’s lives.
Tithing is often a difficult topic for us. Money in general and how we handle it is seen as a topic to avoid. When we open up to people we trust and who care about us, we are letting light shine into our circumstances. When we share our struggles and fears, we find encouragement for our journey. In small groups we can cheer each other on, celebrating the steps we take toward following Jesus in every area of life.
If you are comfortable, share what your own journey with tithing has been. Have you had bumps in the road? Have you seen God’s blessing in your life?
We have seen how God has blessed Eastside by bringing many people here to hear the Gospel, yet so many in our communities have yet to hear about Him. We are called as a church to reach our towns and cities for Jesus Christ. Supporting a charitable cause financially is a new step for many of us. Imagine what kind of impact it could make in the world if all of us did this and practiced percentage giving.
It’s typical to assume that if we give, especially if we give first fruits, we might not have enough left over for ourselves. We are tempted to be anxious, scared, and hold on tight to those first fruits. But making the a-typical decision to step out in faith invites God to bless our financial situations, and places us in a position to grow in our relationship with Him. Taking steps of faith regarding things we know are God’s will opens a door to immense personal growth.
It is an exciting time at Eastside. Much of what God wants to do in our church is going to be based on many of us making an a-typical decision to invest in stuff God cares about.
How can you be a-typical in how you steward what God has blessed you with financially?
If you haven’t done this yet, please take time to prayerfully consider the challenge Gene presented:
Acknowledge everything I have belongs to God. It’s all His and I’m just a manager.
Commit to faithfully tithing. This will be a big act of faith.
Some of you already tithe faithfully, you might even have recurring giving set up. You might want to commit to give generously beyond the tithe.
Take the card and put it somewhere you will see and be reminded to pray about each day.
Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that He would help you and others trust Him in this area that’s hard for so many people.