Thursday, July 3, 2014

Giving to give.

As I sit here with a massive (to me anyway) amount of bills: student loans (i.e., stupid loans), taxes, car payment, you know - the usual, I ask myself “Why are you tithing? Doesn't God want you to be honest and pay off your creditors?” Truth is, no one is bothering me, I make my payments, so it isn't like I am derelict, I am just over-extended.  Every day, I am hounded by that negative voice of the bill collector in my head to do the "right" thing and get my bills paid off and then I can tithe.  By the end of the year I could have the IRS paid off and then there would be no sweat tithing.  My practical side tells me this is what I should do...yet I am haunted by an Old Testament prophet, Malachi, who asks me "Would you rob God?"  

I am encouraged by a lifetime of hearing (faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God) that I cannot out give God.  I don't think I ever saw that in the Bible, just parables about giving.  Part of me has to ask is that really about money?  I, personally, think that stories like the one of the talents is about souls more than cash.  The Bible tells me that my only job to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and the job of the church is to the harvest souls and to encourage the believer.  Yes, I know all the arguments about the church needing the money to bring in the souls, which is a fine argument...when the church is doing that...  

It is also my interpretation that we are to live a life of worship, that everything we do should be worshipful to our Master.  And that the washing of the water of the Word and a light shining on a hilltop means that we are to use the Word to expose sin that hides in the hearts of humanity. (Sin is a dirty word in some churches I have observed.)  However, the prosperity gospel, though lighter than it was in the 80s, still resides in the church, big or small.  No matter when the message of giving and tithing is preached, it seems it is always preached with the promise of monetary or material bounty in return. Really? Are you really going to get your hundred-fold return when you haven't won a soul to Christ 
on your own, ever?  Is the Bible really telling you to ask, seek, knock for things?  Isn't that really about salvation?  Isn't salvation the bounty that we should be seeking and, once found, sharing?  

Missionaries are living sometimes meager existences, returning to this country going from church to church asking for sponsorship.  They come into our churches and see how affluent we are living.  They are tithing their lives, sacrificially giving up their American lifestyle to go back to the hard-life of third-world countries, sometimes risking their very lives.  How do they do that? How do they make it without a flat screen TV or a Tempur-pedic mattress?  They are driving some rattle-trap vehicle or riding on the back of a donkey, while we are over-extended on car payments. Where is their ten-fold return? Surely, the missionary who is doing God’s work where many of us would never venture should be rolling in material blessings?  Surely…

Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life for his friend.  Go… 

Aren't we giving to help spread the gospel? If we had a true heart for souls would getting a ten-fold returnof cash even be a consideration.  Shouldn't our heart be giving to get a ten-fold return of people won to Jesus, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over?   Not $10 for every $1, but ten people for every $1.  Holy canoli, if that happened and everyone tithed how the churches coffers would grow and imagine the good that could be done with all those tithes?  What if you never got anything material in return?  Why is that even a consideration?  Is it because our eyes are always on our master?  Want to know who your master is…search your heart regarding giving…is it to advance the Kingdom or to get a blessing?

Yes, I want to be blessed like all of you, but more than that I want to go to Heaven, I want my loved ones to go to Heaven and I want everyone I ever knew or will know to go to Heaven. For those I will never meet, I want someone to reach them so they can go to Heaven too.  This is where God opens my eyes to the true identity of the pesty "voice of reason" that lives inside each of us...He shows me that giving to get is a first world kind of idea.  We should be giving to give.  

The blessing isn't in giving in three-levels to see a financial miracle in your life, it is giving in three-levels to see VICTORY in your spiritual life. The loud voice screaming in your head “YOU NEED THAT MONEY” isn’t the Holy Spirit.  The still small voice that says “Feed my sheep” is the voice of Christ. 

This is what I know, if there is no Heaven, if God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit are just fantasies that help me make it through life, then fine.  They are no bigger fantasy that the horoscope, tarot and all the other stuff that I used to use to cope in the past.  If the Trinity is a fantasy, it is for the good of the world, and its people.  Everything else is for the good of self.  Christ came for the good of the world.  I know this much, having Jesus in my life has not made things harder for me. A life of partying, drinking, being promiscuous, etc. only brought me worry and sorrow.  I don’t miss the old music that played with my emotions, I don’t miss the TV shows and movies that brought broken ungodly ideas into my mind, I don’t miss reading books that are sour on life, and I don’t miss old “friends” who drug me down into the spiritual abyss.  Almost everything I hear, read, or see now is edification for my soul, not putrification.  So I haven’t lost anything, as Toby Mac says, what good is it if I gain the whole world and lose my soul?

Practicality, Condemnation, and Reason, those evil spirits, as they speak to me daily, I counter them with the Truth. I am not “throwing my money away” giving it to the church, like I am when I give it to or Target or restaurants, really anywhere that I spend money on things I have no need for,the truth is I am giving that money to bring in the Sheaves, for the Harvest.  So I just speak at them with my God given authority – “Get thee behind me Satan! Will a man rob God?” And then let the hope of a financially prosperous return leak out of my heart and mind like a sieve, because I am not giving to get, I am giving to give.