We were created to overflow kingdom realities into the world around us through gratitude and generosity. In this message we discuss the kingdom realities and the importance of tithing.
Alright. What’s up Valley Creek Church? Yeah, it’s good, good to see you today. I’m so glad that you’re here with us. Whatever campus or location you may be at today, can we just welcome each other together for a moment? We are so glad that you guys are here. Last week we finished up our abnormal series and I thought our teaching team did an amazing job walking us through the book of James and teaching us what life looks like a better way of life and I’m so grateful for them, they pointed our hearts to Jesus. I got a lot out of it personally. I want to remind you that we really believe that we are better together, that this church is not built on the gifts of the few but on the sacrifices of the many and that when you use your gifts and talents and passions to build up and strengthen the people around you, we become whole mature and become everything God has called us and created us to be. There are things we can do together that none of us can do by ourselves.
So at the end of the day, we really believe that we’re better together. Because I didn’t have to spend as much time studying over these past few weeks as our teaching team was teaching us, I got to spend tons of time meeting with amazing Valley Creekers, I spent extra time praying for you and preparing for our future. We are better together. You see I want you to remember that at the end of the day, church is not a weekend gathering, it’s a group of people on a journey with Jesus. We are a family on mission, and we’re better together.
Alright we’re going to start a new series today called Overflow. For the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about living with a spirit of gratitude and generosity. See, you are created to overflow. In Jesus, you’re created to live the adventure of a generous life. In fact, Jesus tells us that within us is springs or rivers of living water not stagnant, dried-up ponds, which means we’re not meant to gather and hold. We’re meant to receive and release
and you have literally been empowered by God Himself to overflow kingdom realities into the world around you.
All gratitude and generosity are, they’re simply a response to receiving God’s grace in your life. When you receive God’s grace, you can’t help but overflow with gratitude and generosity. I think this is going to be an important series for our church because it’s going to let us examine our hearts a little bit. See, if you’ve been with us this year, our theme as a year for a church, for our whole church is to get rooted in Jesus so we can flourish in life. We’re taking an entire year of going back to the basics, a year of moving past identifying with Jesus to actually connecting to Him. One of our theme verses for the year has been Colossians 2 that says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted, and built up in him strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.”
In other words, he says the evidence of a rooted life is overflow. That if you want to know whether or not you actually have been getting rooted this year, the evidence is overflow. It’s overflowing with generosity and gratitude. I mean just this past week at my house, it was the evening, I was walking out to the mailbox and I hadn’t been paying attention to a lot of stuff lately. And as I was walking out, I didn’t have shoes on and I started stepping on all these little things. I was in the grass and I kind of kept stepping on him and I wasn’t sure what it was and I kind of looked down and it was acorns right under my feet. And if you’ve ever stepped on a Lego in your house, that’s kind of what it feels like. If you ever want to know how spiritual you really are, step on an unexpected Lego in the middle of the night and you will quickly figure out how much you really walk with Jesus. That’s all. I’m just saying.
And so I started stepping on all this stuff and I can feel it and I was like, “What is going on?” I stopped it and look, I only have two trees in my front yard and I looked over at this tree and I kid you not, as far as I could see around this tree was literally like a layer of acorns.
I mean thousands and thousands of acorns all around this trail. I’ve looked up in the tree. The tree was full of acorns. They were dropping even as I was standing there. I’ve never seen it like this. Thousands and thousands of acorns, and I thought, “Wow, it’s incredible.” Then I looked over here to see, because this tree is like 10 feet away, and I looked over at this tree and I kid you not, there was not a single acorn. I look on the ground. I walked all the way around it. I looked up in every branch, not a single acorn. Thousands and not one. As I sat there, I felt like the Lord just whispered to me, he said, “That’s a picture of a rooted life.”
Said a rooted life is overflowing with abundance. It can even help itself. There’s so much of the life of Jesus that’s flowing through it that the grace naturally creates generosity and gratitude and it just explodes out of it and this is a picture of someone who’s not rooted in Jesus, dry and weary and barren.
This why in John 15, Jesus says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” He says, “It’s impossible to be rooted in me and not overflow with the abundance of generosity and gratitude.” So here’s my question for you if you have been tracking with us, how you doing? How’s your journey of getting rooted? You can’t say you’re getting rooted based on all the things that you want to say. The evidence he tells us is overflow. We don’t just follow Jesus, we’re called to become like Jesus. If God’s nature is generosity, then we should be growing in generosity. What you have to understand is generosity isn’t what we do generous is who we are. The problem for a lot of us is we don’t have overflow, we have no flow. We just gather and hold instead of receiving and releasing and it is fascinating to me how the people of God often don’t like talking about generosity. It’s amazing to me how churches all over the place, there’s like something about talking about generosity. We just don’t do.
The topic gets brought up and it’s like, “Whoa whoa whoa whoa, bro, I don’t think so.” Can I just tell you some? How sad is that? How sad is it that the people of God don’t like talking about generosity. God who gave us everything, gave us breath and life and His Spirit. There’s something in us that doesn’t want to talk about it. Why? Because we’re convicted by it. You will often be offended by whatever you are convicted by. I want you to think about this for a second. Who gets offended on messages on forgiveness? People whose hearts are full of bitterness. People who are forgiving people love messages on forgiveness. They’re like help me get better at forgiveness. Who gets offended on messages on serving? People who don’t serve. Why? Because there’s this offense that then gets great. People who serve love messages on serving. Who gets offended on messages around generosity? People who are struggling with being generous.
And what happens is the Holy Spirit moves into our life. He starts to shine His light on a dark place. He offers us freedom and what it does is it hits our pride, it makes us confront our fears, we’re forced to respond, we’re invited to repent. What often happens is instead of receiving that we become offended by it, and we push back. Not only is that our pride that it hits. Jesus tells us that the love of money is literally a demonic spirit. Says the love of money is a demonic spirit. It’s called the Spirit of Mammon. So not only are we fighting our pride in this, we often fight this love of money, this demonic spirit. Let’s be honest. The love of money is the prevailing spirit that exists over our region.
If you wanted to say what dark spirit defines this region where we live, it’s the love of money. It’s the Spirit of Mammon. It’s a demonic spirit. Literally, what it is, it’s like a python that is literally strangling us and suffocating some of us, but Jesus wants to set us free.
See, there’s two great stories, in Luke 18 and 19, back to back and they teach us about this topic. One is the story of The Rich Young Ruler. Maybe you remember this guy. He’s rich, he’s young and he’s a ruler. Bad combination. He’s got all kinds of money. He’s young which means he’s probably prideful and naive, and he’s a ruler. He’s got power and authority. This dude is a hipster. He’s probably got a million Instagram followers and one day, he strolls up to Jesus and he says, “Hey, J man!” It’s not directly how it’s quoted but read it, you’ll get the picture. It’s kind of the attitude he shows up with. “Hey J, man! What must I do to inherit eternal life?” If you ask Jesus what you have to do to inherit eternal life, he will answer, “What you have to do.” So Jesus looks at him and says, “You know The Commandments? Do not lie, do not cheat, do not commit adultery, honor your father and mother, do not covet.”
He gives him all the horizontal Commandments, all the commandments that apply to how we treat one another. The guy looks back at Jesus and he says, “Well, good news. I’ve kept all these since I was a boy.” You just lied, so you just broke them right there in front of us. He says, “Jesus, looked at him and loved him.” Those exact words – “Looked at him and loved him. One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have, give it to the poor, you’ll have treasure in heaven, then come follow me.” In other words, Jesus says the one problem in your life is you love money more than you love me. And it says that the man’s face feel sad and he walked away and what I want you to understand is he couldn’t part with even one dollar. He couldn’t part with even one dollar. Why? Because he was trying to live this life of performance and striving and doing it on his own. He didn’t receive the grace of God so it was impossible for him to be grateful or generous. Jesus wasn’t trying to take the man’s money away. What he was trying to do is teach him how to steward it instead of being enslaved to it.
Now, just a few verses later is the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus lived a rough life. He was a rough dude, tax collector, spent his life ripping everybody off and one day Jesus comes walking by in a crowd of people. Out of everybody, he fixes Zacchaeus and says, “Zacchaeus, let’s hang out, man. Let’s go have lunch.” So Zacchaeus bites Jesus over his house. They have lunch. They have this great day, this great conversation, and all on his own, Zacchaeus stands up. He says, “Look, Lord. [claps]” He says, “Here now, if I’ve cheated anybody out of anything I will pay him four times back the amount and I’m going to give half of everything I have to the poor.” Jesus never asked Zacchaeus to give anything and yet all on his own, an abundance of generosity and gratitude begin flowing through his life. Why? Because when you receive the grace of Jesus, you can’t help but respond with gratitude and generosity. It is the only normal response. That’s where we’re going to go in this series. We’re going to talk about how the grace of Jesus shifts and transforms us and we’re going to kind of get our minds around that.
But before we can get way down the road there, before you can talk about overflow, you have to talk about obedience. In other words, before you can talk about generosity, you have to talk about tithing. Generosity starts when tithing is resolved. And what I want you to understand is you are created to live a generous life. It’s part of the kingdom purpose in your life, it’s part of the adventure God has given to you, and the reality is that worldly income needs kingdom outflow. You were created for a generous life, but you can’t move to generosity until you first resolve the concept of tithing.
I understand that word can feel loaded. You can have expectations, you can have baggage, you can have experiences around it. But here’s the reality. It’s just a basic concept. In our year of going back to the basics, tithing, as a follower of Jesus, is one of the most basic things. Today, to start this series is the super basic message. Here’s what I want to encourage you. Instead of leaning back, why not say, “I’m already here, so Holy Spirit, I’m going to choose to lean in. Why don’t you show me what you have for me and maybe we can cut the head off of that snake that’s strangling some of us?”
Because here’s the deal. Jesus wants you to be free. So all I want to do is show you what Jesus has to say and what I want you to understand is that financial freedom is not how much money is in your bank account. Financial freedom is using what you have God’s way. Tithing is one of the most strategic decisions you will ever make in your life because tithing is an investment into your own life. So couple of thoughts for you. First thing is this. Tithing puts God first in your life. Tithing puts God first in your life. The word tithe, that literally means 10%. To tithe means to give God the first and best 10% portion of our income and he says it belongs to Him which means we don’t give our tithes, we simply return it to him. What you have to understand is that tithing is not an Old Testament or New Testament thing. It’s not a Jew-gentile thing. It’s not a rich-poor thing. It’s a kingdom thing.
It’s all throughout the Bible. Let me just give you some examples. The first time we see the concept of tithing is Genesis Chapter 4. We’re four chapters into the Bible, Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s two sons, it says in the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor unable in his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. What’s happening? Cain is a farmer. He had grew a big crop and he brought it all into his barns and he had all kinds of stuff and he decided to give God some of his leftovers. It says, in the course of time, when he got around to it, he felt like he had enough for himself. Then he decided to give God some leftovers. But God rejected it because God doesn’t want our leftovers.
Abel came with his firstborn. In other words, his first and his best and God received him.
What’s so fascinating is, in Genesis Chapter 4, God never tells Abel to tithe. There’s no command to tithe and yet he does it anyways. What does that teach us? That teaches us that tithing is hardwired within your spirit, because it’s not an Old Testament or New Testament thing, it’s a kingdom thing. When you are in the kingdom of God, it is the natural response to God’s grace in your life.
How about the story of Abraham? Remember Abraham? He goes out. He wins this big battle. He gets all this treasure, all this plunder and he’s heading back home with this newfound treasure. He runs into the priest Melchizedek. Priest Melchizedek is an Old Testament picture of Jesus. It says He has no beginning and no end and He is the king of righteousness and the king of peace. Who has no beginning and no end and as our king of righteousness and peace? Jesus. You’re really on it today with me there people, “Jesus”. If you don’t know the answer, just Jesus. It usually works really well. Just let it fly.
So he runs in this Priest Melchizedek. It says the Priest Melchizedek gives him bread and wine. What does bread and wine represent? The broken body Jesus and the shed blood of Jesus. See? It’s the right answer. It’s the right answer. After Abraham takes a bet, it says, he tithes 10% of Melchizedek without being asked. From the treasure, he just got. Why? Because the only normal response to receiving God’s grace in your life is to choose to tithe, to give back to him what he says belongs to him.
Or how about the Israelites? Four hundred years of slavery, they get set free.Tthey don’t know how to live as free people. God gives them the law to teach them how to live in freedom. Leviticus 27, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether the grain from the soil or the fruit from the trees.” In other words, he says a tithe of all your streams of income, not just your primary job but anything that flows into your life, 10%. The first invest belongs to the Lord, it is holy to the Lord. In other words, holy set apart. The tithe is literally set apart.
It’s not meant to be used for your vacations, for your debt reduction, for the things that you want to buy. It’s the first and best, it belongs to the Lord. How about Jesus? Matthew 23, He says, “What sorrow awaits you, teachers of the law, and you Pharisees, you hypocrites. For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens.” In other words, you get every stream of your income right your tithing on it, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. Ready? This is Jesus. You should tithe, yes. But you do not neglect the more important things. In other words, Jesus says tithing should be so basic on the journey of a follower of Jesus, that we even see, we get that result, we can move on to greater things. How about one more? First Corinthians 16, Paul. He says, “On the first day of every week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income. Paul says, “Hey, you’re a follower of Jesus. On the first day of the week, on your gathering time, give to God what belongs to Him according to what you make. Ten percent, first and best, it’s a kingdom thing.
The tithe is not ours to decide what we do with. God says it belongs to Him, so we don’t give it, you simply return it. Because at the end of the day, you can’t give what doesn’t belong to you.
Hear me. Tithing is not generosity. Tithing is simply obedience. Think about it like this. Let’s say I was going through a season in my life and you decided to let me borrow your car. Hard season, so you came to me and said, “Hey, I just want to let you use this for the month. Here’s the keys, it’s gassed up. Car is brand-new. It’s perfect. There’s nothing wrong with it. Go and enjoy.” Thank you. So I go on. I take it for the month and I use it. Let’s say on the last day of the month, I pull up in front of your house. I parked the car. Grab the keys, come up, knock on the door. You open it up and I say, “Hey, I just woke up this morning and I was feeling really generous. And so I decided that I wanted to give you this car. You see this car out here? It’s low on gas and there’s a few dings in the doors. But you know what? I just decided to be generous, to give it to you.” You look at me, “What are you talking about? That’s my car.”
I just really, I feel really generous. I just want to give you this car. You would look at me. You would say, “Bro, that’s my car and if you didn’t return it to me, I would call the police.”
Because you can’t give what doesn’t belong to you. You don’t give your tithe and tithing doesn’t make you generous. It just makes you obedient. Are you with me on that? Now, listen to this Malachi Chapter 3, it’s one of the most insightful passages on tithing in the Bible. It says, “Ever since the time of your forefathers, you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them.” Pause, that should give your heart so much freedom, because that means you and I are not the only ones to struggle with this. What it means is that the broken nature of humanity struggles with this. Our flesh wants to pull away but our spirit wants to lean in. He says, “Return to me and I will return to you,” says the Lord. But you ask, “How are we to return?” Well, a man robbed God? Yeah, you robbed me.” But you asked, How do we rob you?”
In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse, a whole nation of you because you are robbing me. 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. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines in your fields will not catch their fruit,” says the Lord. “Then all the nations will call you blessed for yours will be a delightful land.” As profound. See if you can catch this. The Israelites decide to stop tithing. They decide to keep what God says belongs to Him. All kinds of darkness moves into their life. They’re oppressed. There’s all kinds of things that are happening and God shows up graciously and says, “Hey, I want you to come back. I want you to come back because I want to be in business with you. I want us to be business partners. In fact, I want to empower you to rule and reign with me.”
And this is how it works. So here’s what I want to do. I want to try to explain this to you in a way that I heard recently. They’re just clicked some things from me in a different dimension. It’s just an analogy maybe it’ll help it work for you. But here’s what I think you can think about. You can think about like tithing is like making a franchise payment. Tithing is like making a franchise payment. Think of a franchise – McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, whatever it is. You’ve got these franchises. There’s a corporate headquarters, their central that decides how everything works, then you have these little franchises that pop up all over the place. What happens is a franchise owner works really hard during the week or during the month. They go and they do business. If it’s McDonald’s or selling burgers, if it’s Dunkin’, they’re doing coffee and donuts, Subway, you’re making sandwiches. You do this thing and at the end of the month or the end of the week, however it works in that franchise, you send back a percent of what you made. You send a percentage of what you made that month back to central or back to the franchise headquarters.
And in return for the franchise payment you make, you get the franchise’s marketing department, research and development department, you get their legal team, their operations team, their protection, their security, their safety, their systems, their structures, their research and development, their innovation. You get their secrets. That’s how you get the McDonald’s secret sauce recipe.
So when you make your franchise payment, you get all of the favor, the influence and the power of the entire franchise. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Tithing, it’s like making a franchise payment to God. See, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Psalm 24:1 tells us it all belongs to Him and yet he has chosen to franchise it to you. God wants you to have a kingdom of God franchise on earth. In other words, He says for 10 cents, He wants to be your business partner. For 10 cents, the God of the universe says, “Hey, you. Yeah, you. I want to be your business partner. I want you to have a kingdom of God franchise on this earth. I want to franchise my kingdom to you on the earth that I own so it’s a good deal for you both ways, but I’m going to give you a kingdom of God franchise for 10 cents. I want to be your business partner.”
Let’s see if you can catch this with me, okay. I got a bowl of dimes here. Now, if you ever come to Valley Creek regularly, you know, I never preach with props. So this should be a big deal for you. You should understand how significant this is. Okay. Here’s what I want you to think. Ten cents. Ten cents. Most of us wouldn’t stop in a Walmart parking lot to pick up 10 cents if we saw it on the ground. Ten cents. You can’t buy much for 10 cents. Ten cents. If I ask every person in this room, “Would you give 10 cents to God?” Almost every single person in this room would say yes. For 10 cents, God is saying, “I want you to have a kingdom of God franchise.” For 10 cents, God be saying, “I want to be in business with you.”
For 10 cents, when we make our kingdom of God tithe, our franchise payment, what God is saying is He’s saying, “Hey, now, guess what? You make that to me, guess what you get? You get my marketing department. You get my research and development department. You get my legal team. You get my protection team. You get my security team. You get my systems, my structures, my strategies, my operations department, you get all of my secrets for 10 cents. You would be crazy not to make that deal. Are you with me on that? About five of us are. I’ll reap reach this point if you’re not tracking with me. Don’t make me do this again. Ten cents, are you kidding me? Kingdom of God franchise on earth for 10 cents. Ten cents on every dollar. Here’s what we think. Ten cents? No big deal. A dollar? Ten bucks? A hundred bucks? A thousand bucks? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? A million? That’s where we think about it wrong. It’s a ten-cents partnership.
I know some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but all that 10 cents, all those 10 cents added up, that’s a lot.” Okay. Then think of how much the 90% is that you get to keep.” I’m just saying. That’s where we get it wrong. We wait so long and then we look at it, and we think, “I can’t write a fifty-dollar, a five hundred dollar, or a five thousand, or a fifty thousand dollar check to God. That’s crazy.” You’re right. It’s crazy because you’ve been thinking about it wrong. You’ve been late wait until it all adds up and then it’s this big balloon payment. No, no, no. It’s ten cents. It’s ten cents. And for ten cents, you can be a partner with the God of the universe. See, when you choose to keep your 10 cents, what you’re saying? You’re saying, “I don’t want to be a franchise. I want to be a mom-and-pop shop and I’ll do it myself.” When you choose to keep your 10 cents, you’re saying, “I’m opting out of the mission of God. I’m going to choose to do this my way. I don’t want God’s research development. I don’t want his marketing department. I don’t want his legal team. I’ll go ahead and I’ll take care of it for myself.” You really don’t want that.
What you need to understand is that this isn’t about franchise, this is about a family business. Your Father is the King. And he says, “Guess what? I want you to operate the family business wherever you are.” If you’re a babysitter, an entrepreneur, a businessperson, it doesn’t matter. He wants you to have the family business, a kingdom of God franchise. Wherever you are, doing whatever you do, and he gets to set the rules on how the family business functions. We’re not selling burgers. We’re giving out hope. So it’s a totally different reality. You have to change your mindset about this whole thing because when you can make your franchise payment, or you give, all of the sudden, now you’re tied into the mission of God. You’re like, “I’m a part of this man for 10 cents.” He says, “I will throw up in the floodgates of heaven,” so that the world around you comes and says, “What is up with your life?” And you could just say, “Bro, I’m in business with God.”
I’m in business with God. It’s a family business. My family business isn’t about loading up my pockets with money, our family business is about offering the world hope. And I want you to notice in verse 10, it says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” The whole tithe, that means 10 cents. Not one cent, not three cents, not eight cents, not nine cents. Ten on all streams of income. Your regular check, your bonuses, your dividends, your retirement income, that’s why Leviticus, it says, “All the streams of income,” and I want you to realize that a lot of us sit here and say outside, “After whatever I have left after taxes.” Just hear me. Don’t give the government of man more authority than the kingdom of God. Ten cents belongs to him first. You pay your taxes, you pay your bills, you do everything else after that.
Notice it says the storehouse. That’s the local church. Your $0.10, your tithe, your franchise payment doesn’t go to ministries. It doesn’t go to a pair of churches. It doesn’t go to non-profits. It doesn’t go to good causes, that’s what you should do with your 90 cents.
Your 10 cents goes to the local church, the storehouse, so you and other people can be fed spiritually. Think of how good God is. Even what he says belongs to Him, he uses on you. That’s amazing. See Colleen and I have been married for 13 years and we’ve been in this church for 13 years. One of the first decisions we made was that we were going to choose to tithe. It hasn’t always been easy, but because we’ve made that as a decision, we’ve never compromised it. For 13 years, we’ve given our 10 cents on every stream of income that we’ve ever had to this storehouse, because we want to be business partners with God and we want to put them first in our life. Ten cents. Ten cents. Be business partners with God. You with me on that? Come on. All right. I got to keep going.
Second thing is this. Tithing is tangible trust. Tithing is tangible trust. I think this is going to give you some freedom here. We talk all the time about how we trust God. We’re really good at it. We trust God, trust God, rather trust God, sister. We here trust in the Lord verses and we’re like, “Yeah, that one, that’s awesome. We have little plaques in our house. Proverbs 3:5 and 6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” We put it on Instagram, we send it to our kids when they’re having a bad day. Trust in God, trust in God, we say it all the time. Here’s the question, do you really believe it? I mean have you ever heard the term put your money where your mouth is. I mean I remember being in high school in college, you always have those guys, “Okay, man, I can swim across that river. I can run faster than that car. I can call my beverage. Jump off of it and not even hurt myself.” And what would somebody say? They would say, “Not Jesus.” They would say — Someone would say, “Put your money where your mouth is, man. Let’s see it. Tithing is putting your money where your mouth is. Tithing is not only declaring, it’s demonstrating you trust in God.
At the end of the day, your behaviors reveal what you really believe. You can say what you want to say all day long. But your behaviors reveal what you really believe. What tithing is it saying, guess what? I believe 90 cents with God is better than a hundred cents without God. Tithing is choosing to say, “I declare and demonstrate that my trust in Him.” Here’s what we say, we say things like this. “I can’t afford to tithe.” Hear me. You can’t afford not to tithe because you need God’s marketing department in your life. For 10 cents, I’m just telling you what? For 10 cents, I want God’s protection department, his legal team, his operations team, his strategies, his structures. Ten cents ain’t worthy. That he maybe think, “No, no. You know what? I can’t afford not to do that.” Or we say things like this, “When I make more money, then I’ll tithe.” Some of you sit here and you already got a number in your mind. You’re like, “If I made that, I would give on that.” No, you wouldn’t. You’re like, “Yeah, I got it even written down in a journal.” No, you wouldn’t. Some of you actually do that and that’s okay.
But you wouldn’t. Why? Because here’s what Jesus says, Luke 16, he says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little, can also be trusted with much. And whoever is dishonest with little will also be dishonest with much.” In other words, Jesus flat-out says, whatever you do is a little bit is exactly what you would do it much. So until you get it figured out where you are, it doesn’t matter how much you got, it’s not going to change. Why? Because tithing is not about money, it’s about trust. And at the end of the day, tithing is simply an open-book test that God gives us. It’s an open-book test. He tells us what the answer is. He tells us we can use the key, and he’s telling us he’s testing us. I mean our just recently my son came home with an uncharacteristically bad grade for him. I said, “Hey, buddy.” I said, “What happened here?” And he said, “Uh, Dad. It was an open book test and I didn’t use the book.” What?
“Those are the easy ones, man. You got to be preparing for the ones that you aren’t expected that are coming.” Hear me, as a leader that’s responsible to steward a lot of stuff, I test people all the time. I give them little things to see what are they going to do with it to see if I can entrust them with greater things. Ten cents, it’s a test. It’s God saying, “I want to see what you’re going to do.” It’s an open book test, you can use the answer key, he tells you exactly how it’s going to be graded.
See I think God is looking for people who don’t trust in the world so he can entrust them with the world. I think he’s looking for people who don’t love the world so he can entrust the world to them. And I’m convinced that so many of us live so below the destiny that God has called on our lives because we keep failing the same test for 10 cents. So he can’t give us that promotion or that authority or that opportunity that he really asks for us, because we’re failing the open book test. We think of how crazy this is. We trust Jesus with our salvation but not our tithe. We will trust Jesus with our soul but not our dime.
You got to admit there’s some paradox in there, and what it does is it shows you what you really love. It shows you where your trust really is. See, at the end of the day tithing is like saying, “I’m a beloved son or daughter. I have no idea how he’s going to do this. It scares me to death. I don’t understand it but I don’t have to understand it to obey.” It doesn’t have to make sense to have faith. If he is good than what he asked me to do is good for me, see, at the end of the day, tithing is God asking, “Do you trust me? Do you really trust me?” He then says put your money where your mouth is. Okay? And the last thing is simply this tithing is about spiritual growth. Tithing is about spiritual growth. Tithing is not about money, it’s not about religion, it’s not about law, it’s not about Church. It’s about spiritual growth. It’s an investment into your life. There are a handful of things that God asks us to do that if we don’t get resolved, they become like lids or caps in our lives that we can’t move past to grow.
Baptism would be one. You say you believe in Jesus but you never get baptized, it’s a lid or a cap on your spiritual journey. You won’t be able to go past it until you resolve it. Engaging the Scriptures is one. You can only go so far until you’re willing to engage the Scriptures yourself. When you get it resolved, now you can move. Tithing is one. There is a lid or limit on how far your spiritual growth will go until you get it resolved and do it God’s way. He said, “Where are you getting that from?” Here’s where I’m getting it from. Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Fascinating. He says your money leads your heart. You say, “No.” Whatever my heart’s excited about that’s what I spend money on. Now Jesus tells us where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Your money leads your heart and you know it’s true. Because think about the last thing you bought. That’s big thing. Maybe there’s a jacket, a phone, a car, a house, some stocks. I don’t know. Think the last thing you bought. Before you bought that thing, you didn’t think anything about it.
You didn’t know where it was, you didn’t care about it, but the moment you bought it, your heart followed and attached itself to that thing. Now all of a sudden, you care who’s using it, how people are treating it, what’s happened to it, where it’s at. Why? Because your money led your heart and now your heart is attached to that thing. And so what God is telling us is that when we tithe, our heart follows our money and attaches itself to God and the crazy part is as we walk in here and we say things like this, we’re like, “Man, I wish I wanted Jesus more. I wish my heart had more interest in the things of God, but it doesn’t.” Why? Jesus tells us why. Because if a hundred percent of your income is going to the things of this world, then your heart has followed and attached itself to the things of the world. So we shouldn’t be surprised about it. He says the solution is tithe. “Give me back what belongs to me and now your heart is attached to me.” Now add one more verse to that, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart for it’s the wellspring of life.”
In other words, the condition of your heart will determine the quality of your life. One of the greatest ways to guard your heart is to tithe. So add it together. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Your money leads your heart, your heart determines the quality of your life. In a very real sense, how you use your money determines the quality of your life. God does not need your money. He wants your heart. He knows if you tithe, your heart just got attached to Him and you will flourish in life. Or how about this Luke 16, Jesus says, “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own” He flat-out says your spiritual revelation is directly connected to how you use your money. If you’re not faithful with worldly wealth, he can’t give you riches of heaven, spiritual revelation. And he says, if you’re not faithful with someone else’s, with the ten cents that belongs to him, how is he going to give you things that belong to you?
I mean think about how crazy this is. We spend money on things all the time to make us look good, feel good, appear good, and live good. But we won’t invest money on what he says is good for our soul.
He says tithing is good for your soul. Take anyone and everything else out. This is good for your soul tithing is one of the ways we access deeper levels of spiritual revelation and live in freedom. One more to pull this whole thing together, Exodus 13, the Israelites have just been set free from Pharaoh, but they’re not even out of Egypt yet. They haven’t even crossed the Red Sea and God starts talking to him about tithing. That’s how basic this is in our journey. Exodus 13, He says, “You are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every wound, all the male born, all the firstborn males and the livestock belong to the Lord.” What is that? That was their income. They had animals and fruit. We have cash.
So it’s same thought. In the days to come, when your son asks you, what does this mean, say to him, “With Almighty hand of the Lord brought us out of Egypt and out of slavery. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord, the firstborn. This is why I tithe. On my fruit and my animals, and it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.” Catch this. Two things are so profound. Two pulls all together. He says, “When you tithe, what you’re doing is you’re reminding yourself of what Jesus has done for you. He’s saying it’s literally a declaration to say, “This is who I was, God’s grace showed up in my life. This is who I now am. So tithing in a very real way, keeps your salvation fresh. This is why maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago, you were so excited about Jesus and all of a sudden it becomes stale. Why? Because tithing reminds us, that’s who I was and without him, I would be nothing. If you think that one’s good, wait till this one. You’re like, “I didn’t think that was good.” That’s fine. This one’s even better. He says tithing has a direct impact on the faith of the next generation.
In the future when your sons ask you, “Why are you tithing? Tell them, “This is who I was. I was lost in the world and broken chasing the things of this world and the grace of God showed up in my life. Jesus came and he saved me, and he set me free and this is who I now am. He says tithing is an investment into the spirit of your children. Your children get a generational blessing because of your willingness to just simply obey. It is a declaration and a demonstration that God is first in your life. Tithing is telling your children, “I am in business with God, the family business called the kingdom of God, and I want you to have that too. And guess what? This is who I was. This is what he did for me. This is who I now am and that’s what I believe he wants to do for you. And all of a sudden, you’re now leading your family’s heart to attach to the things of God.”
Now, catch me. Hang on. Tithing is one of the ways God tells us we pass on faith to the next generation. So what that passage says? So could it just be that we have a whole generation that wants nothing to do with God because their parents don’t tithe? Could it be that we have a whole generation wandering from their faith because their parents aren’t investing into their spirits? See, I think there’s a whole generation right now. They’re waiting. They see their parents declare trust in God but they never see it demonstrated. I think we have a whole generation of students waiting for their parents to put their money where their mouth is. Hear me, this generation don’t want to hear it, they want to see it. If you say, “Why are you so passionate about this?” Because I’m so passionate about the faith of the next generation, and I believe you are too.
So dads, what’s it going to take for you to take this seriously? Because it’s really hard for the mom in the family to lead the whole family in this direction by herself. For 10 cents, are you going to say by faith? I don’t even know how it works but I’m going to invest in the spirits of my children, because I want them to walk with Jesus all the days of their life. I want them in the family business. I’m not just declaring it. I’m demonstrating it. So, Lord, I don’t understand but for 10 cents I want to invest into my children. I get this isn’t easy. Some of you, your flesh is screaming, talking, but your spirit craves this. Because tithing is a kingdom thing and your spirit was made for the kingdom. Your spirit longs to align you with the fullness of the kingdom of God. So, yes, our flesh resists it. Yes, the world tells us it can’t happen. Yes, the people around us say you’re crazy.
But the Spirit of the Living God within you is trying to align you. Hear me, at the end of the day, I know this is tough stuff, but you don’t want me as your pastor if I don’t share this with you. You might sit here and say, “I don’t like this message.” That’s okay. But you shouldn’t like me as your pastor if I’m not willing to preach it to you. Because this is what Jesus has to say about one of the most demonic things in our area and the freedom he wants to bring you. Jesus says love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, hear me. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving. That’s why John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave Jesus.” In a very real sense, the father tithed, gave his first and best to you and me, so his heart is forever attached to you, that’s why he we’ll never leave you no matter what. And he now invites us to do the same.
Generosity is part of the kingdom purpose and adventure for your life. But until tithing is resolved, you can’t move on to generosity because you can’t give what doesn’t belong to you. And there are a thousand, maybe 10,000 reasons not to tithe. It only takes one to tithe because he says so. It’s the grace of God that not only saves us, it changes us and empowers us to obey so we start overflowing with abundance. God will lead you face on into your fears so he can make you fearless in His love. And for a lot of us, that’s the freedom this offers.
Close your eyes on me. Let me just ask you, man. What do you feel God just wants to say to you today? It’s the Holy Spirit whispering in your life, in your mind, in your heart. I think some of you just need to hear the words don’t be afraid. “Fry him with you,” says the Lord. God doesn’t want your money and he doesn’t want to make your life hard. He wants your heart and he wants to set you free. So wherever you are on this journey, that’s okay. Start there, but move forward. Tithing is not this antiquated Old Testament religious church funding thing. Tithing is worship. Tithing is freedom. Tithing is trust. Tithing is relationship. Tithing is life. You were made for the kingdom of God. This is one of the ways we live free within it and live differently from the world. Jesus, thank you that by your grace we have been saved and set free, and thank you that that grace flows through our lives and leads us to desire, to overflow, with abundant gratitude and generosity. We love you, Jesus. In your name we pray, Amen.