trust issues

September 22, 2015

Treasure after

Giving establishes our humility before God.


What does the IRS call the money that we can deduct from our income because we gave it away? It’s called “charitable giving.” How is charitable giving defined by our world? It’s giving some of what we have to help out people who are needy or suffering. That’s a good thing to be sure, but in the world’s way of thinking, we are benefactors if we give. Those to whom we give are recipients. There is a certain superiority in that concept. Benefactors are put on the pedestal because they gave something away. Recipients feel small because they are in need of someone else’s generosity.


If that’s what giving is to us, it is not biblical giving. Giving does not make one superior at all. God of course is not in need of my gift. Giving is about me expressing to God that He is my superior. Giving is about me putting myself into a rightful humble relationship with God because He is the Owner and I am the steward. I am simply giving something to Him to express that I understand His ownership.


Deuteronomy 26:8-10 describes how giving expresses humble dependence, “So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. {9} He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; {10} and now I bring the Firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him.”


The steward who gives to God is not superior at all. He is to bow before God the recipient! Giving here is how Israel expressed their humble gratitude to God for what He let them enjoy. You gave it to me, Lord. You are really the owner, the benefactor. Biblical givers are not superior because they are stewards. Obviously owners are superior to stewards.


On a human level, giving doesn’t elevate us over others either. In fact giving is not a people thing at all; it’s always a “God and me” thing. That’s where the world’s view and the biblical view of giving are going in totally different directions. When we give we are recognizing our relationship to God as a manager of his money. It places us in our proper position under God.


If we give financially to other people with a smug attitude of superiority and condescension, we have tipped our hand that we are not really a steward of God at all. Or if we give to have our name in print or placed on a bronze plaque, we better enjoy it, because that’s all that we will ever get. Jesus said of people like that, They have their reward in full (Matthew 6:2).


What Moses was saying in Deuteronomy 26:8-10 is that God gave them their land and God gave them their blessings. His point is that our gifts are really just recognition of who God is. By giving, the Israelites were saying back to God, You have placed me in charge temporarily of this little bit of real estate. I am bringing my gift to you not because I’m big or wonderful, but because you are. That’s the attitude God is seeking in us.

2. Giving is worship


The computer program, Google Earth, allows you to zoom down from a picture of the globe to the level your house – via satellite photo. When I zoom down to a picture of our church property, I can see my car parked out front on the day the satellite took the picture. When I zoomed down to my house, I could even see my grill on the patio. But what strikes me as the computer is zooming down is how very, very, very tiny my place is – in the perspective of the earth. Even if I owned 10 square miles of land and houses, or owned the Taj Mahal, I would still own very little.


But God owns the earth (Ps. 24:1)! So what posture should a person have as they bring their gift? Bow down. Bow down! God is great. The Israelite had in his hand a tiny portion of a single crop, but it served to acknowledge the greatness of the God who made all the crops throughout the world in all ages. Our gift might be big to us because it’s a sacrifice, but to God it’s big only because it acknowledges His infinite ownership. This little bit I call “giving” is actually just my way of saying, You own it all.


Giving is literally worship. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”


The Hebrew word “honor” means to “glorify” or to acknowledge the importance of something. Its root meaning is that something is heavy or weighty and thus significant or important. When applied to God, honoring Him means that we ascribe to Him the significance that He deserves as God.


When we bring our “first fruits” – our gift to some ministry from our income – we should write that check to express how important God is. He is the “heavyweight” – the priority – in my life. The needs I meet are secondary. My primary need is to worship.


And when we give to acknowledge that God is the owner, and when we give to express our worship and honor, there will arise within us an expectation and confidence that God is so powerful and faithful that He will not only use our gifts for His larger eternal purposes, but also that God will meet our needs as well.


You see, financial giving trains our heart in another crucial part of our relationship with God. Do we really trust God – about everything?


3. Giving expresses our trust in God.


Do we trust what God is doing in our human relationships, our careers, and our health? Do we really trust God? How do we develop trust in God? Financial giving is actually one of God’s key training grounds to produce a trust connection between us and Him.


Giving is test. (Malachi 3:10) “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 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.”


Giving really is about trusting God. giving means that we have less. It’s simple math. 10-1=9. I have less if I tithe.


There is nothing more relational than trust. If we trust our wife or our husband it means that we don’t have to check on them. If we trust your teammate, we know they’ll be there where we need them to be. If we trust our friend, we know they’ll keep their promise.


Trust is always based on a relationship. Once we have gotten to know someone’s character we can predict much of what they will do. But even in the times when we don’t know for sure what they will do, we don’t sweat it, because we know their character well enough to trust them to do what is in our best interest.


Do we know and trust God? Do we know His character? God wants us to know and trust Him so that even when we can’t see for sure what He is doing, we don’t doubt Him. Financial concerns seem to be an area that tests the trust of all people no matter what economic level they are. God wants to use this constant tangible area of life to draw us closer to Him. As we give back to God in sacrificial worship, we are telling God that we really do trust Him. As a result He is honored and we are come to know the peace of trusting God with our financial situation.

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