Why is it that we hate to talk about money? Why do we hate when other people talk about money? I say, ‘we,’ because I lump myself in there, too. Historically, I have been more critical of financial sermons than I have any other. Judging by the online posts I see from other people, I know I’m not the only one. Why is that?
Money is just a tool, a thing, something that is universally accepted in exchange for goods or services. It can be linen, metal, or digital in nature, but it’s an inanimate object. It has no life or power but what we give it. So, why is the subject so volatile, especially in the church?
A friend of mine said something about money on his Facebook page the other day and people just went nuts! I couldn’t believe the rhetoric that “Christian” people were spewing like venom. Without seeking to understand the nature of the post, they responded as if it was manipulative. In actuality, they were the ones twisting the truth.
I have searched the scriptures, and you know what I found? Jesus neither corrected nor refused anyone who sought for Him to meet their needs. But, we are told that seeking to get our needs met is being materialistic and selfish.
If that’s true, why did Jesus give as much and as often as He did? So commonplace was His generosity that they thought Jesus sent Judas out to give to the poor in the middle of the night when he abruptly left after they learned there was a betrayer in their midst! I don’t know anyone whose reputation for giving could overcome that kind of revelation without so much as a reflective pause. Wow!
Matthew 6:31-34 (NKJV)
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Think about it this way. If you are desperately hungry and you are walking past a field of sweet corn ripe for the picking, should you just pick and eat until you’re full, or go up and talk to the farmer and ask him for help?
The first option is prideful and self-serving. You are not only stealing food from the farmer’s table, but you are also stealing the profit he could have made and the seed he could have sown. In the second option, if you humble yourself, you may find yourself walking away with more than you could have eaten. The farmer would have been given the opportunity to give generously and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with you.
The latter is clearly the kind of interaction Jesus is talking about here. Seek the kingdom and all these things will be added. He isn’t opposed to us being blessed or coming to Him to meet our needs. He wants us to come and ask Him. Not steal from or manipulate Him into giving you what you want.
There is nothing wrong with going to God and expecting Him to generously meet our needs. We are told to come boldly (unapologetically) to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).
It doesn’t say to find help in times of abundance or to come groveling undeservedly. Boldly – that we may obtain.
We aren’t supposed to come bragging about the things we’ve done, either. Nothing we have or will ever do is worthy of earning God’s blessings. There is no price to pay, despite what we’ve heard. Paying a price means we earned it. Earning it means that His blessing is dependent upon our action. Both of those are false teachings and there is no scripture to support it unless it is twisted into something it wasn’t intended to be.
He is gracious to us because He IS gracious, not because we asked Him to take a break from indifference or tricked Him into it. Accordingly, we do what we do because it is a reflection of the One who sent us, not because we are obligated or pressured into it.
John 10:1 tells us that anybody who tries to enter any other way than through the door is a thief. That is true regardless of the situation. If we try and receive God’s blessings any other way than humbly seeking Him who provides it, then we are there to steal.
And I guess that is why a lot of people are upset when it comes to hearing preachers talk about money. They expect us to fill the offering plate at every meeting, then out the other side of their mouths tell us that the prosperity gospel is for itching ears and that it is to be avoided? Excuse me? Good for me, but not for thee?
Of course, the opposite side of that falsehood is that some will proclaim the message of prosperity to encourage people to give to them because the giver can’t be blessed otherwise. This is just another lie of the devil meant to rob people of the harvest of the seeds they’ve sown.
I had a very good friend tell me that when he was asked to get up in front of a church and “receive” the offering one time that he cringed and tried to get out of it. He knew what God wanted him to say and that the pastor wouldn’t like it. After objecting several times, he relented and did as he was asked. When he was given the microphone, he simply said, “Give as the Lord leads you. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
The pastor was incensed, but it wound up being the biggest offering they had ever received because there was no manipulation. No sermon about giving, tithing, or even about receiving God’s blessing. How beautiful is that?
Overcoming the religious idea that giving is good, but receiving is bad is hard. At least for me it is. Even if people borrowed money from me, I always felt bad about getting it back. I liked being the guy who bought everybody dinner and felt embarrassed when I wasn’t. “Next time, I’m buying.” Was always my response to make myself feel better about having received.
I think a lot of people are in the same boat. We love giving! But the thought of receiving a harvest on the seeds we’ve sown in the same manner in which we’ve sown them isn’t an option. But the Bible says that when we give, people will give back to us in the same way we gave to others. Honestly, the thought of that makes me cringe. Not because I gave wrong, but because of the humility that receiving produces. The pride in me needs to die, and humility is the only thing that can kill it. This is today’s cross for me.
My pride is dying as it must in all of us.
As I am bringing this post to a close, it dawns on me that God puts Himself in a position of humility every time we bring Him a gift. He doesn’t ask us to do anything He doesn’t do Himself.
Think about it. We bring our tithes and offerings to an all-powerful God who doesn’t need anything from us to sustain Himself or those under His control. He receives from us, but we shudder at the idea of receiving from each other? God help us!
Please! Please! Please! We must open ourselves up to the opportunity to receive from others without objection, hesitation, or reluctance. There can be no giving unless someone receives it.