Going from greedy to giving

You will come into a tremendous amount of wealth over the course of your life.

Depending upon the education you obtain and the profession you pursue, when you add together what you will earn over the course of your life, it will range somewhere between $700,000 and $4.8 million dollars.

You don’t have to be a mathematical whiz to know that this is a lot of money.

I imagine there are many things running through your mind right now on what you would like to do with this money: clothes, cars, house, and vacations. There are a lot of cool things you can do with all of your wealth, but are these cool things what God has in mind for you and your wealth?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

Jesus talked about wealth—a lot

Jesus spoke often and frequently about our resources and the stewardship of them. He spoke so frequently about this topic that 25 percent of what he had to say dealt with it, which accounts for 28 passages in the four Gospels. According to Jesus, how we spend our wealth is an indicator as to whether we worship God or wealth and possessions (Matt. 6:21).

Not only did Jesus speak frequently on this topic, it’s regularly addressed throughout the Bible.

If you were to survey the entire Bible, you would discover over 800 verses dealing with a variety of financial topics, including planning and budgeting, saving and investing, and debt and tithing.

Wealth is one means to glorify God

Wealth is a tool and the Bible provides us with directions on how to use it.

The biblical uses of wealth includes loving and honoring God (Prov. 3:9), providing for the needs of your family (1 Tim. 5:8), advancing the gospel, showing tangible love to people, and even having some fun and enjoying God’s grace.

We are stewards, not owners

How do you treat your wealth and possessions? Do you act as if you are the owner and sole possessor of them, or do you treat them as if God is the owner and possessor of them?

According to the Bible, our wealth belongs to God (Deut. 8:17–18; Pss. 50:10; 139:13; Hag. 2:8; James 1:16–18). We are just temporal stewards.

Stewards are people who, by God’s grace, belong to God. Since they belong to God, they recognize that everything they are and have belongs to him and has been given to them as a gift. As stewards, they seek to enjoy the gifts God has given them and to invest those gifts in others and the future by distributing them wisely.

Give on grace, not percentage

A giving church does not enforce tithing as practiced in the Old Testament, but it does support generous, grace-based giving as demonstrated in the New Testament (2 Cor. 8–9).

The word “tithe” literally means a tenth of all one earns as wealth. The total tithe in the Old Testament was not 10 percent; it only began with 10 percent of one’s gross income given to fund the Levite priests’ ministry (Num. 18:21–29; 27:30).

There was an additional 10 percent paid for festivals (Deut. 12:10–11, 17–18; 14:22–27) and 3.3 percent was given to help the poor (Deut. 14:28–29).

There were even crop gleanings for the poor and aliens (Lev. 19:9–10), as well as occasional additional tithes above and beyond regular giving (Neh. 10:32–33).

In total, the “mandatory” Old Testament tithe resulted in over 25 percent of a family’s gross income.

In the New Testament generous, grace-based giving supersedes tithing (2 Cor. 8–9). There we read everything we have belongs to God and is to be stewarded biblically.

Giving to share God’s grace

Giving is a joy and an honor. It should come from our firstfruits, which are the same as our gross income, and should be done regularly, cheerfully, and sacrificially. Grace-based giving means that it is a heart issue, one tied to our proportion of faith, and it is to be an amount settled between God and us.

In a loving, giving church, people not only give generously to their church, but they go beyond that to share God’s grace in the form of giving wealth and possessions to individuals and other organizations.

Yes, you can enjoy the wealth you receive in life, but God’s goal is much bigger than this. God’s goal with the wealth that comes into your life is not to see how much he can stick to you with the things you buy and do, but to see how much he can get through you (2 Cor. 9:10–11).

This post is adapted from Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187.