Week 2 of Chasing Light brings us through the issue of GREED. The guest pastor defines greed as, “a preoccupation with possessions,” specifically MONEY. Greed is not measured in possessions, but in infection. Greed is a combination of envy and gluttony. Greed destroys our ability to trust God. The speaker gives the example of the rich man in Luke 12:
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
So we ask the questions, “How much have I given to GOD, and how much have I given to THOSE IN NEED?”
1. Giving to God: the TITHE. The Old Testament teaches that a true tithe is 10%. 10% of what? In the culture, it was 10% of all earned in a year, be it wheat, corn, livestock, or money. We can also tithe our TIME. Sabbath may not be something we observe as a whole day anymore, but choosing to set aside 20-30 minutes a day to worship and praise God is an awesome way to tithe time. Serving at church or in ministry (homeless shelter, food pantry, volunteer work of any kind) is another way to tithe time. Afraid of not having enough money, things, or time to give to God? Then there may be a greed issue. I know I have a greed issue. I am always afraid of going without. Without food, phone, clothes, medical supplies, movies, card-making supplies…I have begun to hoard things. It is hard for me to let go, or hold back from purchasing that which I do not need. I struggle to give my money to church because I am afraid I won’t have money to buy medical supplies (I am Type 1 Diabetic after all!). I am afraid if I donate my money, I won’t be able to buy milk, eggs, and bread. Yes, MY money. Wait a minute…I KNOW that all I have is from the Lord. It is HIS. I am a vessel, a steward, of the gifts and blessings He has given. Who am I to hold it back from Him? So, instead of looking to tithe a month at a time, my husband and I have decided to tithe a paycheck at a time. Looking at smaller chunks gives us better insight into our budgeting. I am learning to let go, and give it all away. We are in the process of decluttering (still, as I have been working on this for about 2 years now…), and have posted a ton on Craigslist and Freecycle. When it comes to tithing, whether it be time or money or both, here is what God has to say about it, from Malachi 3:10: “ Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” This is the only place in scripture where He challenges us to TEST HIM! Amazing, right?
We tithed 2 weeks ago. A week later, we had to find money to pay our electric bill. Would you believe that some wonderful women I met online took care of us? It wasn’t much, but it was enough! One told us to pay it forward, and another gave us a loan. We’ll be repaying shortly. God is good, He is faithful, and He provides! With only one income right now and my husband searching for employment, and us wondering how on earth we are going to afford daycare for our two sons, we are constantly in a need to cling to His promises of provision.
2. Giving to those in NEED: 1 John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” Now, we don’t have much money to give. But neither did the widow who gave her last 2 coins. Neither did the mother and son who took in Elijah. Neither did David before he became King of Israel. God can do MUCH with a LITTLE. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul writes, “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.”
How do we get rid of greed? We have to give it away! Pastor Craig Groeschel calls this irrational giving. We have to give and let go in order for the tentacles of greed to loosen and be released. So I ask, “What is hindering my giving?” Honestly, fear. Uncertainty. The unknown. I hear myself saying the words of the father who falls before Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9) Truly, faith is a spiritual gift that has been confirmed in me many times. And yet, I doubt. Greed is sneaky like that! Margaret Feinberg writes in her book, Fight Back With Joy, “Stripped of my self-sufficiency, I found myself rediscovering God as Sustainer. My next breath depended on him…Though my stubbornness often resisted, joy crept in.” She is able to find joy in the darkest of times, because she recognizes that all she has comes from God alone.
So I challenge you to listen to this message. The link is provided below. Ask yourself what prevents you from giving. Give yourself permission to ask God to break greed away from you, in Jesus’ name! That is my prayer for me: “Lord Jesus, break the spirit of greed from my soul. Loosen the tentacles of greed and selfishness from my heart, by the precious blood of Jesus! Fill that space left, Lord, with your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Chasing Light (Series message #2)