Tithing - Part 4
Post by Jonathan Fox
Principles of Returning and Stewarding
“The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein...” Psalm 24:1
I hope this text is as refreshing to you as it is to me. Why? Because if everything belongs to God, then I don’t have to worry about my life! If we start with this premise then everything else with our money and possessions will fall into place. We must take the approach that we are simply temporarily holding onto our money and our possessions. We are managers or stewards of all that we have. That is not just money, but our entire life.
“...for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
God made us, but after sin became our master, God bought us back through the sacrifice of Jesus. We are completely his. Everything around us is his. You may be asking, “What does this have to do with tithing?” Well, everything. I would like to suggest that you are simply returning 10% and stewarding the other 90%. If everything belongs to God, then we might do well to reconsider what we believe to be ours. Is it your time, your home, your job, your money, your kids, your life? Not really. But here is the thing, God is cool with sharing. In fact, his whole plan has been to share in everything he has. However, we get caught up in what we have and what we consider ours. So I think it is great that we have scriptures that remind us that we are being allowed to handle what God already owns. God asks for us to return 10% as a tithe, but that’s not all He asks. He asks us to be good stewards of the rest. This means that practicing tithing is NOT the only thing God wants from us when it comes to money. He wants our view of money to be WHOLE. Money is not a good god and it’s a terrible place to find life.
What does it look like for us to practice healthy money principals? It means that we give generously, invest wisely, save intentionally and spend structurally. These 4 components make up a healthy financial lifestyle. The reason I brought these 4 components up was to show that tithing is only part of what God desires for your life. If you tithe 10%, you still have 90% of your income that needs to be stewarded well. Consider this parable.
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25:14-29
This parable illustrates our big point from today—God is the one who owns everything and he allows us to temporarily handle resources and money. The parable mentioned above is a simple story of how easy it is to mishandle what other people entrust us with, specifically what God entrusts us with. Notice that the parable said that each person was given an amount of money “according to their ability.” This means that stewarding starts with our heart. The manager, or steward, entrusted with one talent was capable of handling it just like the other two were. The other two may have been given different amounts but their attitude was the main difference. The attitude of your heart is the game changer when it comes to handling the other 90%. If our attitude is bad we will mismanage the resources we have been given.
God’s desire is not to scare us into good practices but to motivate us into them. The servant that was entrusted with one talent said, “I knew you were a hard man…” The master actually uses this same phrase, not to validate the servant’s claim but, to show him how his thinking was flawed. The master replied, “You knew….?” The master was cluing the servant in on his misguided thoughts. Those thoughts were that the master would not treat him fair and was more concerned about his money than anything else and that he used fear and intimidation to get what he wanted. But in reality the opposite was true. The way the master treats the other two servants is proof that this master wasn’t someone threatening him but rather one who rewards those who are faithful. God’s desire is to bless us and for us to steward those blessings with His heart in mind.
Stewarding can be done a million different ways: giving, saving, investing, wise spending. These are the 4 components I mentioned earlier. The master wasn’t particular about the ways the money was managed as much he was about the attitude behind how it was managed. The master came back from his journey and wanted an account from his servants. “What did you do with what I gave you?” Now, this is as much for life as it is for money. God wants us to steward all of life because He is the owner and giver of that life. With money it seems that some people do as they please and may not ever consider God in how they handle their finances. Money shows something that very few areas of life show. It shows what you really care about and what you really want. It’s a great magnifying glass for our heart. I think this is why God asks us to remember who the money really belongs to so our heart and attitude always reflect His.
Take some time to think and pray about the way you manage your money and then ask yourself these two questions.
What is your attitude toward God as the owner of everything and you being allowed to manage it?
What kind of attitude is reflected in the way you manage your money?
Answering these two questions are the steps necessary to being a faithful steward of all that God blesses us with. If your attitude and heart changes, the outgrowth will be a new way of looking at and interact with the 90% you have been entrusted with.
My encouragement, as we close, is to not stop at prayer and self awareness but to make a move. If you need help with establishing a budget, advice on hangups you may have with money or simply want to start the process of managing your money in a more intentional way then make sure to connect with us. At Move Church, we have tons of ways to learn how to practice next steps such as: one-on-one help, financial small groups and of course, sermons throughout the year that give practical and spiritual advice to help you achieve financial health.