I want you to meet an everyday saint named Travis Bishop. He is a Christian business owner from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Brother Travis saw the devastation brought on by the floods that are ravishing his neighbors in nearby Clendenin. Travis decided to do something about it. Brother Travis has been leading a rescue operation for the past seven days, closing up his business and spearheading an effort to meet the needs of people. You can listen to an interview he did on my friend Tom Roten’s radio show here:
The true value of a gift is not in its price tag; it is in the cost to the giver. If your child saves part of his or her allowance to buy you a special birthday gift, would you not treasure that more than a gift given out of abundance?
We too often place value in things that on the surface may seem expensive or rare, yet they are superficial when we closely examine them. Even in the gift described above, the value is not in the gift itself but in the sacrifice of your child. Jesus explains it this way:
Outside of Islam, the greatest threat to America is our national debt. The amount of money our government spends on trivial and unconstitutional entitlements is the product of a deep-seated malady. Americans have a stuff problem, otherwise known as materialism.
Of course, material goods on their own are not bad. Goods and services produced and provided for are needed for a society to flourish. It is the engine to a free economy. So I am not talking about the private sector when looking at our nation’s woes. I am talking about when government tries to pick winners and losers in a free market economy.
A stingy Christian is an oxymoron; or at least it should be. If Christians merely obeyed God’s command to tithe, it would radically change the world. Statistics I found online in a Relevant Magazine article show that only ten to twenty-five percent of a normal congregation is made up of tithers. Furthermore, only 1 out of 20 Americans tithe, with 80 percent of them giving only 2 percent. Finally, Christians tithe 2.5 percent in these abundant times, whereas during the Great Depression they gave 3.3 percent.
In his article, Mr. Holmes goes onto to described the impact the church would have if we were to tithed as commanded. He further states that giving is not a money issue; it is a heart issue. When I finally began to tithe as I knew that Lord wanted of me, it changed my heart. However, it didn’t change it about money; it changed my heart about materialism.
Yesterday in Sunday School we studied Acts 21 on how to know the will of God. I shared that if we were totally honest with ourselves, most Christians would admit that they really don’t want to know God’s will. Why? If we know God’s will, then we are without excuse for not obeying it. It is so much easier to deceive ourselves into believing we cannot know God’s will. The Bible teaches us quite differently:
“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.” (Psalm 143:10)
With the two percent increase in my Social Insecurity taxes, my annual take home pay is down around $1300 annually. That’s a big chunk of change for any family. That covers the annual maintenance we budget for both cars. Karen and I are going to have to be a little more cautious where we spend money. We love to go out and eat and just hang out and so perhaps that will have to be curtailed. Nevertheless, I can tell you where I won’t be cutting back. I won’t be cutting back on my tithing.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.” (Malachi 3:8-9)
Did you know that? You say, “Of course I know that!” So did I…so do I. Had you forgotten that until you read the subject line? I had up until yesterday morning during our offering time at church. Our Minister of Discipleship and Evangelism Bro Pete Belmain had to remind me of that. Not sure if anyone else needed to be reminded of that, but I needed it. Sad thing is, just less than an hour before I had filled out the tithe check. Bro Pete referred to the teaching of the tithe in Leviticus:
“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30)
I do not think it a stretch to say our nation has become overall weaker than it once was. Whether it be economically, militarily, morally, or socially, the United States of America is not as strong as it used to be. How has this happen? Without a doubt the last three or so years under the Obama Administration has done much to weaken our nation. But that is the symptom, not the sickness. Electing and appointing unrighteous men and women to serve in the halls of government will always end up with a most destructive and despotic leader/ruler. But the issue is even deeper than that.
Our pulpits have been too silent for too long. Pulpits long ago stopped preaching against sin and a reliance of King Jesus and have preached a prosperity gospel that displays the Savior as some motivational coach to live your best life now. WE the People long ago, as a society, left the path of righteousness for a way of individualism, paved with self-esteem and lined with the poison of political correctness. King Solomon reminds us:
In case you forgot, today is Tax Day and your taxes are due today. Karen and I paid ours Sunday night through the convenience of the internet. There are among some fringe “Christian” movements the idea that we do not have to pay our taxes because the federal government has moved beyond the original intent our Constitution and individual liberty. While the latter may be true, the former is counterintuitive to the argument. We get the government we deserve; we have the right to choose our rulers. So what about paying our taxes? You already know the answer because Jesus provides it:
“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.” (Matthew 22:15-22)
Did you know that as a believer in Jesus Christ God has entrusted you with something so valuable that it is priceless? Its value is beyond measure and it is not for sale. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3, Paul describes his ministry to the Gentiles as containing “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul so loved the gospel that he would not receive money for preaching it. His reward was in knowing that he was faithful in his stewardship to preaching the gospel:
“But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:15-18)
There is an old urban legend (meaning I don’t know if it is true or not) about Lee Trevino being approached by a woman who told the famed golfer that her little baby needed an operation or the baby would die. Lee gave the woman a few thousand dollars for the operation and later it was discovered the woman was a scam artist. When “The Merry Mex” Trevino was told of the scam, he reportedly replied, “Oh so you mean the baby isn’t going to die, that’s wonderful!”
That is what you call being generous to a fault!
One of The Beatles first hits was “Can’t Buy Me Love” and the third stanza goes like this:
Why do you give to God? Because you don’t want to be a thief? That’s at least a minimally good reason to give.