A note from Bishop Wood…
Some of the clearest statements in Scripture concern giving. The first murder in the Bible was rooted in God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering and His rejection of Cain’s offering. Genesis 4 tells us that Abel brought both the first and the best to the Lord while Cain brought neither. The worshipper and his/her offerings are inseparable; a reflection of their heart and what they hold most dear. We see this again and again throughout the biblical record.
400 years before the Law was given Abraham, by faith, set the pattern of giving when he gave a 10th – a tithe – of all that he had to the priest, Melchizedek.
The Lord, through the prophet Malachi (3.6-12), said to the people of Israel – and to people of faith through the ages, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 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. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”
That’s an extraordinary statement – and an even more extraordinary promise – the Lord says, “test me in this and see if I am faithful.”
And the pattern is the same in the New Testament. Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than He did Heaven and Hell combined?
Jesus talked about money more than anything else except the Kingdom of God.
11 of 39 parables talk about money.
1 of every 7 verses in the Gospel of Luke talk about money.
In one of his more well-known parables in Luke (16) Jesus says this: “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust thetrue riches?”
What’s he saying? Well, what is mammon? What are “true riches?”
Quite simply mammon is money, yes, but it’s more. It’s everything – it’s our wealth, it’s our investments, it’s our possessions. It’s what so many strive for, give themselves for, sacrifice their families for. And note this, elsewhere in this same parable Jesus calls all of this that we value so much “little,” insignificant, temporal, passing.
And then Jesus speaks of true riches. What are true riches? True riches are spiritual treasure given to us by the Holy Spirit – spiritual stewardship and responsibility in God’s kingdom.
So, what’s Jesus saying? He’s saying if you – if I’m not faithful with something as temporal and insignificant as earthy treasure and possessions with which I am entrusted to steward for His purposes during my lifetime, why would I ever expect the Holy Spirit to entrust to me real treasure, with spiritual treasure, with eternal treasure?
So if the Bible is so consistent and clear – so encouraging in its teaching on how we handle our money – why are we so hesitant?
Let me tell you what I see in my life and in the lives of folks I’ve spoken with over the years: fear. We’re afraid. We think to ourselves, “It’s unreasonable to live like this. It doesn’t make sense. If I live like this, if I give like this, will I have enough?” And behind these questions lies the deepest question revealing our deepest fear: “Is God faithful? Will God really come through?” And in this sense, mammon, money, possessions are a wonderful diagnostic test. How so? Well, Jesus again. In Matthew 6 (21), He says, “where your treasure is, there will be your what? There will your heart be also . . . Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Friends, where’s your treasure? There’s your heart.