The American church has, in practice, converted some principles away from their original meaning.
Particularly, it seems the ideal of volunteering has replaced true giving.
To make my point, let’s convert a few well-known verses to how they’re being played out in Christendom.
“Where your time is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
‘Serve more at church, so that the church can function. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’
“Honor the Lord with your time and with the best part of your weekend.” Proverbs 3:9
NOT WHAT IT SAID.
Because Believers have failed to give, many pastors have had to operate with free employees called volunteers.
Because pastors have failed to preach the often awkward message on tithing, many Believers have chosen to give of their time instead of their money.
This mistaken priority is significant not just to the state of the church, but to every single person who makes up the church. If pastors are afraid to preach regularly on the tithe, the church and the people suffer…
“Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” Haggai: 1:4-6
It’s a downward cycle helping no one, and certainly not the church.
Is serving an admirable exhortation? Absolutely! When you’re serving, you have less time to focus on yourself. And there’s an endless list of benefits to other-centeredness.
But are we missing something?
Many think the New Testament canceled the tithe. They quote Jesus who chastised the Pharisees who gave right down to the penny in accuracy but missed justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
However, he ended that statement with, “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Jesus knew if we could give of the thing that has incredible potential of controlling us, it meant we’d get to see the Father provide for us… exceedingly and abundantly. And not so we could get and have more, but because our chosen dependency on Him would grow our relationship with Him!
Put simply, God will provide for us so much better than we could ever provide for ourselves.
But if we chose to hang on to it, believing we control our financial destiny, we’d not only prevent intimacy with God, we’d think He was horrible.
The darkness that’s allowed in when we assume everything we have is our own is quite scary. While I don’t believe God curses us, I do believe the enemy gets to have a hay day with us… worse, we’re consumed with fear as our own provision is never enough.
I love my pastor and our local church. It’s amazing what we’ve been through recently. We were in a leased location raising funds to purchase property and build. Little did we know we’d be booted from our lease while trying to get into a building of our own.
We went portable. More opportunity for serving. Again, nothing wrong with that! Definitely a great opportunity for comradery and feeling you’re a part of this particular community. All great stuff.
But if folks are still choosing serving in place of giving, then more serving we’ll have.
Our recent sermon was replaced with a panel of volunteers. They talked about how giving of their time was such a blessing. It was powerful.
But can you imagine if that was a panel of folks talking about how they trusted God with their money? How it enriched their relationship with God as they released their control of their greatest fear of provision and trusted God to meet each and every need for themselves and their families?
The outcome would be amazing:
- Believers stepping into that same faith – releasing fear and trusting God
- This local church getting out of a portable situation requiring so much volunteer work away from family after an already intense week at work
I’ll gladly keep being a part of my portable church. I love my pastor, my small group and the gang I’m serving alongside to make it function practically. But if I’m honest, I wonder if the amount of airtime given to serving was given to faithfulness in giving, if we’d see more of God’s glory.