Bring Ye All The Tithes
23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25
Woody Allen once said that 85% of life is just showing up. Wow! Woody Allen? What a quote! I would never have expected something so profound to come from someone so profane. But you know, even a broken clock is right twice a day! We live in a world where few people do “show up”… at least consistently. If you want to stand above others around you just consistently show up.
On the evening of September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. played in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s thought to be unbreakable record. Ripken ended The Streak on September 20, 1998 when he voluntarily removed himself from the Orioles lineup after 2,632 straight games. Can you imagine that? He “showed up” 2,632 times in row.
However, we’ve all watched in horror as our team takes the floor to engage the rival only to lose a game they should have won. It never ceases to amaze me that we pay men millions of dollars a year. All we ask them to do is put a ball in a basket. They can do it at practice, at the pre-game warm up… But during the game… It’s like the team arrived, but they never really showed up.
Showing up is more than simply arriving. “Not staying away” is more than simply coming to church.
John MacArthur, in his book, The Master Plan for the Church, says,
We’ve heard other people say that America needs to get back to church. However, America never found out what it was supposed to do when it went, so it left. Now we want people to come back, but we’re still not telling them what to do when they get there!
Why do we go to church?
We don’t attend church just to listen. We should be encouraging one another to do good. Every Christian ought to be like a battery that joins with other believers and corporately increases the church’s output.
Being concerned about one another is an important theme in Scripture:
- James 5:16—We are to confess our sins one to another.
- Colossians 3:13—We are to forgive one another.
- Galatians 6:2—We are to bear one another’s burdens.
- Titus 1:13—We are to rebuke one another.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:18—We are to comfort one another.
- Hebrews 10:25—We are to exhort one another.
- Romans 14:19—We are to edify one another.
- Romans 15:14—We are to admonish one another, which refers to counseling with a view toward changing behavior.
- James 5:16—We are to pray for one another.
All of those one anothers clearly indicate the responsibilities that Christians have toward each other throughout their lives.
Showing up is investing in one another.
On the day you surrendered to Christ you became part of the most incredible group in history – the Church. Another name for the church is the Body of Christ. God capitalizes on this picture of a body in many places in Scripture. Ephesians 4:16 is a great example of this. It says that “the whole body is fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, [that Christ] promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”
Amazingly, we are the “ligaments” and each individual part must work properly for the body to be healthy. The emphasis here is on the individual. You may not think of yourself as significant; but, clearly, you are. You are a valuable part of the body and your investment inthe body invaluable. God has chosen to need you and me. I know He is God; I know He doesn’t “need” anything. But He has chosen to need you. He has chosen to need to me. You and I are very important to Kingdom right here… right now!
Showing up is investing in one another. Your investment is invaluable to the Body.
- Just to make sure we get the “so what” of this, look at Ephesians chapter 2.
19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets [God’s Word], with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building is being fitted together in Him and is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
Individually, we are being built together. The “you” in verse 22 is better translated by a Texas term: Ya’ll. He is saying that individually we are valuable but we are designed to remain “individual”. We are to be built together. God’s will for us is corporate. The “good ole boy” who says he can worship God under a tree or in a deer blind, or fishing… is just wrong. We are individuals. Yet, we are to be built together. I need you to “show up”. Showing up is investing in one another.
Why do we go to church? (we get ripped-off when we only think of church in relation to getting our needs met.) -We come together to invest in each other.
We invest through using our gifts
Gifts – Where passion and talent collide.
So many times I’ve listened to frustrated people who believe they simply have nothing to offer the church. They see no talents… no gifts in their lives that could possibly be of value to the church. I really believe that most of these frustrations find their origin in one of two places.
Many people never discover their gifts because they look at “talented” people involved in the church and decide they could “never do that”. We tend to compare ourselves to the most visible. I could never be that preacher… I can’t sing… teach Sunday school? Oh no, I could never do that!
Others are sent packing because some pastor or deacon… or someone else decided that your gift has to be mine. I’m passionate about this… so you better be too.
- Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:4-5
- And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-12
- But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each one as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11
16He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. -NLT
God alone puts the Body together. He decides what gifts you receive; you don’t decide and I don’t decide. There are tools that can help you come to an understanding of your giftedness. Others may recognize them before you do. I believe using your gifts will not cause you to burn out – but it will set you on fire. There is no greater joy than being used by God in a way that excites and invigorates you. People who get burned out are usually doing someone else’s job. They’re trying to force someone else’s gifts into their lives. It’s OK to say “no” to some of the jobs in the church. But it’s more important to discover what to say “Yes!” to.
Here’s a rule of thumb that we are implementing at Mayfield: Your area of giftedness will likely blossom in the area where Godly passion and personal talent collide!
There are many people who are talented at certain things but don’t have a passion for it. For example, I am pretty good at doing graphic, artsy stuff on the computer – I really am. I can’t draw with my hand; but, I have to admit, I can do pretty incredible things with a computer. There are people who are better at it than I am – a couple of them are in this church. But I am talented. However, I have limited passion for it. I honestly get bored pretty quick with that sort of thing. If that was the area I pursued to invest in the church I could really impress people. But it would not take very long for me to get burned out, frustrated, before long I might throw in the towel. You would be tempted to say, “Oh, but you are so gifted.”
Others are passionate about very godly things. Youth ministry is possibly the best example. Many people have a passion to see teenagers reached for Jesus Christ. They believe that it is a very important part of church life; not to mention, a desperate need in our community. Yet, unless you possess the talent to relate to a teenager in a way that is genuine… unless you can really love them right through some of the most difficult years of their lives, you are better off praying or the right person and supporting this passion through someone else.
But, where godly passion and personal talent collide, your gifts will come to life. It may be something that everyone sees: preaching, teaching Sunday school, music, etc. Or, it might be something a little more behind the scenes. My mother’s gifts are exposed where her passion for young people come together with her raw talent for… baking cookies. What? You’ve never heard of the spiritual gift of cookie baking?
We invest through tithing and sacrificial giving.
Tithe: a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution.
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!” You ask: “How do we rob You?” “[By not making the payments] of 10 percent and the contributions. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are [still] robbing Me. 10 Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the Lord of Hosts. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren,” says the Lord of Hosts. 12 “Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of Hosts.
This Old Testament passage encourages us to bring 10% of our income into the “store house”. His subsequent promise is to bless what remains in our possession. We make a mistake when we assume that 10% belongs to God and the rest is ours. It all belongs to Him. Yet, when we are faithful in trusting God with this difficult area He blesses all of it. The gift you give becomes a blessing and He “opens the floodgates of heaven” to bless you beyond what you can imagine. The message from this Old Testament passage is clear: “Honor Me in this area and will honor you.”
Oh, but you say, that’s the Old Testament. We don’t live under that any more. The rainbow is an Old Testament promise. Is its worth gone as well? Of course not. I know this is a difficult area. It’s the hardest area if trust in my Christian life. It really is. But I’ve seen God bless me through it – during this New Testament period!
Really, it’s not an abandoned concept - tithing. In Luke 11: 37-42, Jesus tore up the Pharisees for leaving love and mercy in the dust. These where guys who tithed EVERYTHING! They even tithed from their garden – all for show. Jesus nailed them! “But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God.” But He wasn’t rebuking them for tithing. He didn’t say they were foolish in doing that. In fact, the only remotely good thing he had to say to them was related to this. “These things you should have done without neglecting the others.”
Jerry’s paraphrase: “Tithing is elementary; of course you should do that. But you present yourselves as mature. Don’t neglect tithing; add to it the Kingdom values of love and mercy.”
Will God curse you if fail to tithe? No. And there is no place in Scripture for “tithing police”. Your giving is between you and God. But He will bless you when you trust Him with this. In fact, listen to Paul’s words in the ESV:
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:6-8)
Showing up is investing in one another. We invest through tithing and sacrificial giving.
Showing up is investing in one another
Are you investing? Or just coming to church?