Today’s reading: Matthew 25:14-30, Malachi 3:8-12, 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Core Value: God gave so we give
We are children of a wildly generous God. Scripture tells us time and time again that God gives good gifts to his children. One way that we can honor those gifts is by having a generous heart and blessing others. Everything that we “have” belongs to God. We come into this world with nothing, but God ensures that all of our needs are met (Philippians 4:19) through his provision of food, clothing, shelter, relationships, and other resources. No matter if it feels like you have a lot or a little, it all comes from God.
In our reading today in Matthew 25 we learn about stewardship. As we see in this parable, each of the servants had different ideas of what to do with their master’s money. The servants who decided to put that money to work and trust that it would increase were the servants who saw the greatest blessing. The one who hid the money away and did not invest it well was no longer considered trustworthy by his master. This story is representative of what it looks like in our life when we trust that God can multiply our resources far beyond what we can do on our own. The servants with open hands saw the increase and blessing and those with clenched fists saw the opposite. Their desire to protect what they had and hide it ended up hindering them.
In Church you may often hear the word “tithe.” This comes from the Scripture we read today in Malachi 3, and it simply means 10%. God wanted his people to trust his ability to miraculously multiply what they brought into the storehouse. It is interesting to note that this is the only time in scripture we see God ask his people to test him. He wanted to show them that even with such a small portion of their “income” – just 10% of their resources – he could pour out such a massive blessing that they would not be able to even store it anymore. God didn’t need anything from them. Clearly, he could create any amount of resources at any time if he wanted to, but as with everything in this life, God wanted to involve his children. It was an opportunity for the Israelites to learn about trust by having a hand in God’s generosity and seeing him work miracles through what they offered back to him.They were shown firsthand the importance of trusting God as their provider.
Just as the Israelites had the opportunity to partner with God and bless others, we have the same invitation. As followers of Christ it is our mission and responsibility to be his hands and feet in our broken world. Of course, this is best accomplished when we rely on God’s strength instead of our own. When we give back even a small portion of the income and resources God has blessed us with, he can multiply that beyond our wildest comprehension. When we as Christians are known in our communities as the most generous people others encounter, we can make a meaningful impact. If we can joyfully give God his resources back to feed the poor, care for widows, and reach the lost, our communities are poised for revival and an outpouring of God’s love.
Our desire should be to help people experience how fulfilling and joyful it is to follow God’s leading in their life. While it is important to be a part of the Church and participate in helping it function and survive, the ultimate goal of this study is not to shame you into giving. Scripture says we are to give with a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). That is best experienced when you, like the Israelites in Malachi’s time, test God and see his miraculous provision for yourself. He is faithful to provide what you need and bless others through your generosity. When believers live with open hands, the Church will thrive and make the greatest impact on the world around it.
Use the PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) acronym to spend time in prayer.
When you learn about tithing what is your first reaction, a clenched fist or an open hand?
Why do you think it is so hard to be generous with our finances?