A couple of weeks ago, while being inundated with an onslaught of political commercials spouting angry allegations, echoing the divisiveness in our state and nation, I paid my taxes.
I mailed in my estimated State and Federal vouchers along with a check. I do so every quarter as an obligation and a duty as a United States citizen. Simply put, I pay my taxes so that our local, state, and federal governments can go about doing the business of the country, providing services and protection for the community as a whole.
There are many items that my taxes go toward that fund things I disagree with, but as a citizen, I have entrusted the spending of my tax dollars to the representatives that have been voted into office, whether I voted for them or not. As a citizen I do not have the option to withhold my tax payments because I do not like the way things are going.
I will be honest with you I am not generally a cheerful giver when I write those checks, but I do so willingly because again, as a citizen it is my civic duty and responsibility. By contrast, when we give our tithes and offerings to the church it is a totally different deal.
Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”
In the Old Testament, believers came to the temple to worship with an offering to give God. Indeed, their offerings were integral, essential, to their worship of God. While we do not make sacrifices in the temple and are no longer required to offer sheep, doves, or grain, we should still regard sacrificial giving of what is precious to us as one of the essential ways we worship God.
Generous giving flows from the heart of those dedicated to God. We humbly appreciate the grace God has shown to us through the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through his life, death, and resurrection, he has changed us and given us a new, abundant, and everlasting life. When I think of all that the Lord has given me, I find that giving back to him is so much more than a duty or an obligation but rather my privilege and my pleasure.
Among the many the ways we can give back to God, one of them is through our finances. Giving financially to sustain and advance God’s work in the world, is a satisfying opportunity for us to serve him through serving others. We can honor God through our financial contributions to missionary organizations and para church ministries but primarily through the body of believers that God has called us into fellowship with, the local church.
Think about it, not only did God breathe new life into us through the Holy Spirit, God gave us a place and a people with whom to live our lives and live out our faith in Jesus Christ, the church.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
As faithful, Christ following, church going people, we would never think of withholding our offerings to God as an expression of disagreement with how the church is being managed or as a strategy to try to advance our own agendas. As I would sometimes say to the folks in the congregations I have served. “Grow up people.” Your tithes and offerings are not a tax you pay the government and then grumble about the way it is spent. Our financial giving to the church is a sacred offering of gratitude to God, as well as being an investment in the expansion of God’s plan and purpose here on earth.
The church is the conduit God has ordained to accomplish his purposes on this earth. In Ephesians 3:10-11 we read, ‘that the Lord’s purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known… according to his eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To paraphrase, the church’s purpose is that through sharing the Good News of Christ, the Gospel, we attract non-believers. We then connect them with other church members in fellowship, so that they can grow in spiritual maturity and develop their giftedness to serve in ministry. We then send them out into their own communities to in turn share the Good News, the Gospel making new disciples. All along we are worshipping our gracious God together with other believers. This is the Great Commission that Christ gave the church. This is the eternal mission and the everyday business of the church. Changed lives!
I hope you will join me by sharing with the people you minister to, the difference between paying your taxes and giving to your church.
I’m Kyle Ermoian and I joyfully approve this message.