Giving is a controversial subject amongst 21st century American believers. It seems that many are shy to talk about money. This is ironic, when one considers the prosperity which our country has experienced. By traveling abroad, one quickly learns that the U.S. is an island of plenty in a world of need. Why do so many believers shun sermons on stewardship? Why are preachers afraid to broach the subject?
I believe our reluctance in this area has much to do with the form of idolatry which is most prevalent in our nation — materialism. Many don’t like talk concerning tithing because they have an inordinate affection for money. When mention is made of the matter, they shrink back in resistance because of inward conviction. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they know that cash sits on the throne of their heart. Therefore, they despise any talk concerning giving or generosity.
More than once, I have had Christians secretly rebuke me for talking about money. When I first started preaching, a veteran church member told me, “Son, you shouldn’t talk about giving. Just preach God’s Word!” I respect the man who shared this input, but he failed to see his faulty logic. In preaching the Bible, one will naturally preach about giving, since the Bible is replete with instructions concerning the issue. It has oft been noted that Jesus mentioned the subject more than He mentioned the topics of heaven and hell. Why did Jesus Himself preach on giving so much? Let’s consider two reasons.
Money is a Spiritual Thermometer
First, Jesus knew that one’s entire spiritual life is reflected by the level of his or her generosity. In His quintessential sermon, He admonished His disciples, saying, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19). His words weren’t intended to be taken as an instruction for believers to participate in a vow of poverty. Rather, they were meant as a warning. Christ followers should avoid making money the main thing in life. Jesus gave the rationale behind His command a few verses later. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). According to our Lord, money matters because money is a matter of the heart. One’s disposition towards material wealth says a lot about his or her spiritual state of being. Materialistic people most likely don’t think much about Jesus, and those who are weak in regard to giving probably have spiritual hearts which are unhealthy. For this reason, Jesus wants us to develop the right disposition towards material things.
Money Can Be a Spiritual Thermostat
Your approach towards money doesn’t just reveal the condition of your heart, it can also be a means of directing your heart. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The concept of being “blessed” involves experiencing fulness and contentment from God. Recent surveys indicate that the average church member gives less than 3% to gospel ministry. If those numbers are true, many are missing out on the joy which Jesus promises. Faithful givers know that generosity is a means of great blessing.