We live in a culture that “promotes” the message that riches will make you happy. TV commercials end with someone saying, “living the dream.” This culture of easy wealth is nurtured and sold to the unsuspecting masses. One case in point is the casinos, lotteries, horse tracks and other gambling outlets we have in Indiana. The Hoosier Lottery runs TV commercials that say, “GAMBLING IS FUN!” STOP! Have you ever contemplated what keeps the gambling industry alive? Behind all the casino’s glimmering lights, excitement, food, entertainment and so forth remains the disquieting fact that the “deck is stacked against you!” For every one-million dollar winner, there are millions of LOSERS! Without losers the gambling industry would fold up and disappear.
In the 1980s the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago saw a fifty-percent drop in their offerings. The Archdiocese commissioned a study to find the cause; they discovered the decrease was a direct result of the Illinois State Lottery. Money that was once given to the church was now given to the Illinois State Lottery to purchase lottery tickets. Since then study after study has confirmed that most Lottery players are from a socioeconomic class (i.e. poor) that can least afford to gamble.
Jesus had a great deal to say about money. Jesus told the multitudes that a person could be rich in this life and appear to be blessed yet be bankrupt before God (and eternally lost). For example, Jesus’ parable of the “Rich man and Lazarus,” is most disturbing in that it illustrates how earthly possessions can blind a person from seeing the poverty of their own soul (Luke 16:19-31). A person doesn’t need a lot of money to be in spiritual poverty and darkness. John Wesley is quoted as saying save all you can and give all you can; this may appear to be a paradox, but a close examination of scripture explains it.
Churches such as Brookville have yearly budgets of $150,000.00 or more. A church is like a home in that it has expenses and upkeep. The Brookville UMC’s annual heating bill last year (2017) was $6,333, electric $4,130, water $1,050; salaries, insurance, taxes and related expenses $108,748; worship expenses such as VBS, choir, flowers, Sunday School and related expenses $9,724; and parsonage related expenses were $3,307 and a few more miscellaneous expenses which total $148,000! Where do we get the money to make church happen here? From you.
Each week we publish in the bulletin last weeks offering. Along with it we state our weekly budget needs ($150,000 budget divided by 52 weeks is approximately $2888 a week or $12,500 a month). Some weeks we receive in offerings more than our weekly budget and other weeks less. Do you see where this is going? Without your continued generous support your church (and all churches) would close.
Have you ever heard of tithing to God? Tithing did not originate in the Law of Moses, but with Abraham—the friend of God. Abraham voluntarily gave God 10% of what he had (Gen 14:20). Tithing is a trust relationship with God. Giving God 10-percent of our income is faith, good stewardship and worship!
Tithing (10%) of your income is not only the Bible way of giving, it is God’s fair way for everyone to give equally; proportionally everyone gives the same. The widow who gave two copper coins gave of her income. The impoverished widow gave two copper coins (not gold, silver or other precious valuables) to the temple treasury (God). Being coins made of copper tells us she was very poor. She could have easily kept her two copper coins, and no one would have been the wiser. But she knew something many people do not know—she knew she was rich in God. Hear the words of Jesus: Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Her two copper coins was her daily wage—that is all she had! She was going to do without! You will feel tithing (she did) and there is joy and blessings in store for those who give (Mark 12:41-44). I tithe and give generously yet I do not believe that I have ever come close to this woman’s love of giving to the Lord!
We do not purchase God’s favor with our offerings. Giving to the Lord is worship and spiritual. It speaks to our soul as in—is it well with your soul. Tithing tells me that I am not in bondage or servitude to this world’s goods, it says I am not greedy, and like Jesus said: freely I have received and freely I give. I heard a missionary say that, “many people spend more money on their pets than they give God!” I heard another say, “many people spend more to entertain themselves than they give to God!” These observations cause me pause and reminds me to ask myself where are my priorities?
Ask yourself this question: IF everyone gave like me—where would the church be? I am not speaking to the amount you give, I am speaking of the proportion of your giving. And remember, the scripture tells us that the Lord loves a “cheerful giver.” Vance Havner said, “God called us to play the game, not keep the score.” If we are faithful stewards, God will reward us generously, and that reward will bring glory to His name. Be a winner in Christ!