No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Why do most of us get out of bed in the morning? Money. We’re required to work so that we may earn money. Why do people work years in a job they no longer find satisfying? Money. People are dependent on the retirement system they’ve spent years paying into. What’s the reason a recent survey determined 21% of marriages end? Money. The more money earned, the higher the percentage that finances caused problems in the marriage, according to MagnifyMoney.com’s 2017 Divorce and Debt Survey. Why have many people gone into debt for student loans? Money. Students seek higher education in hopes they will acquire a higher paying job. How do we get food on our tables, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, and gas in our cars? Money. Money is a fortunate or unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) reality of life. Yet people who attend church get bent out of shape when money or tithing is mentioned from the pulpit. The pastor can preach a hundred sermons on gossip while we whisper to one another, forgiveness as we hold a grudge, and prayer as we ignore God and no one gets upset. However, if money is mentioned, somebody’s gettin’ mad!
Although I can say I haven’t seen this happen at my church, I know it happens. Seriously, the picture above is of the actual sign I, as treasurer, must hold up to my pastor most Sundays to remind him to take up the offering! He forgets! Unlike the reputation many pastors have for only caring about money because they preach a sermon on it once a year, my pastor doesn’t seem to have that problem. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if he reminded folks more often about supporting the finances of the church. (Fortunately, for us all, he is obedient to the Lord’s calling on sermon topics and not mine.) Honestly though, as the treasurer of our church, I can tell you we have a committed group of believers that support the activities of our church in love and in obedience. We have a small church body with a big vision. God’s been very faithful in providing the needs required to be the hands and feet of Christ. But how do we support the mission of making disciples of all men and women if we don’t have funds to support the expenses that mission incurs, if we don’t teach biblically grounded principles on tithing? How do we help the widows and orphans, as the Bible instructed, if we fail to explain that all we have is His? Whether it’s your own household or the house of God, it takes money to function in this world.
I hope you will indulge me to make a few points in regards to money, the church, and God. If money’s important enough to get us out of bed in the morning, cause problems in marriages, and force us into debt, then we need to see what God, through the Bible and ministers of His Word, has to say on the matter. To be a Christian means to submit our lives to Him. We are to submit all we have and all we are to Him. What we are, at times, is a big bundle of nerves and stress over money. God wants our money worries and stresses. It’s not His desire that we live enslaved to money or in fear of not having it. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Don’t get mad at me or your pastor — God said it. He said it because He doesn’t want you to be a house divided. Jesus said this in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Whether it’s your personal home or your church home, by trusting God with our finances, we serve the one and only Master. Our house is strengthened against a dividing assault. He is faithful to provide; therefore, we don’t need to allow money to be the master of our lives.
He sends forth springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains; They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches. He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart. The trees of the LORD drink their fill, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted, Where the birds build their nests, And the stork, whose home is the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
God will see to the details of meeting our needs. They may not be met in the exact way that we desire, but He will take care of us. God sets all the systems of the earth in motion to provide for our needs. This is the reason all we have is His. We give back to Him the first fruits (Numbers 18:13), because He entrusted it to us and it’s His. I remember years ago when I gave God my first fruits (tithe). As I encountered unplanned financial obligations, God said “trust Me.” I did. I gave out of my need, not out of excess. A few weeks later, I received a $500 check in the mail from a lady I had met at a Joyce Meyer conference six months earlier. In her note, she said God had told her she would be blessing me with the money, and He would let her know when. I gave God His money in love and obedience. God multiplied it and returned it to me through another person’s love and obedience to Him. It’s His money. He’ll move it around as needed. Giving back to God also says, “God, I trust you.”
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Some people use exorbitant overhead costs of running the church as a reason to not tithe. The median salary for pastors across the country is around $50,000. It’s unlikely when the pastor speaks to tithing and giving that it’s for his benefit. If you feel your church isn’t using the funds responsibly, then you may be going to the wrong church. You should trust the leadership that you’re sitting under. If you have questions, ask for answers. Trust doesn’t mean no one is held accountable. It should be okay to ask the leadership how funds are used to further the mission of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps you could volunteer in some capacity to keep overhead costs low. It takes monetary and human resources to support weekly services, community outreach activities, youth groups, children’s/men’s/ladies’ ministries, benevolence funds, building maintenance and cleaning, worship team, etc. During the past couple of years, I’ve learned more about the needs required for a church to open each week. You should give with a willing, obedient, expectant, and loving heart or don’t give at all.
Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift].
II Corinthians 9:7
I would much rather see someone withhold funds that would’ve been given begrudgingly than to give money with the wrong heart. Take the time to fully understand why God has asked you to give back to Him and support your local church. Understand why your gift is valuable to God and the church. Take the time to hear from God on His desire for your obedience and trust in the area of your finances. Money means enough to you to get up out of bed in the morning, to go into debt, and to determine the fate of your marriage; therefore, it’s meaningful to God. God hasn’t been silent on the matter nor should we expect Him to be. Don’t choose to stick your head in the sand because giving sounds scary. God loves a cheerful giver. God doesn’t want you to give, then resent Him or the church for the offering. Take the time to discover God’s promises and provisions so that you may be a cheerful giver and enjoy all the wonderful blessings from above!