What a chapter. And that is said with an amount of disappointment and a larger dose of discovery. Prior to reading the chapter, several thought that it would be a sort of guilt-trip about not giving enough money to church – a guilt trip directed at those who don’t tithe. The study guide did not help in this regard as the first set of Evaluation Questions focused entirely on giving money, income, etc. Randy Frazee made a great statement in the video that resources include not only money, but also time and talents. We talked about that and how important it was that not only money, gold and silver were needed to build the first temple, but the talents of many woodworkers, stone masons, laborers, etc. were also required. We shared the view that the giving of our resources does not necessarily imply that such giving must be done through the church. Giving money to the Salvation Army, local food pantries, and more, is helping forward God’s work. The same can be said that the giving of time and talents for charities such as Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, and such also helps forward God’s work. By focusing our discussion outside of the study guide, we actually accomplished much more in our group and personal understanding of what is meant and expected by “giving of one’s resources”. We also reminded ourselves that God loves a cheerful giver of resources – any and all resources – every resource. And finally, Believe is an action verb. One who believes will, indeed, be a cheerful giver of resources.
We discussed what we learned about money and finances from our parents’ generation. We considered the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 5, such as Whoever loves money never has enough,” and “how wealth can be hoarded “to the harm of its owners”. We considered Jesus’ urging “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6). We also noted debt (in no small measure contributed to by the temptation encouraged by credit cards) presents a real problem to individuals – and the government, today! God is the ultimate owner — we’re to be the stewards.
“Giving My Resources” sparked a lot of good conversation. The “Three T’s” (Time, Talents and Treasures) are always a difficult conversation but are very important in our walk with Christ. Some of the statistic given in the yellow book were surprising to us. “Over two thousand Bible verses (in the Gospels) talk about our personal resources, compared with approximately five hundred on prayer and fewer than five hundred on faith.” This showed us how important sharing our spiritual gifts is. It brought out many personal stories and discussions on the practices of tithing our first fruits as not just money, but also our time and talents.
In the 19th chapter of Matthew, Jesus says, “Again, I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24). We have a tendency to think, “that doesn’t pertain to me….I’m not rich”. But wealth is really relative. Many of us struggle to part with enough of our resources to “make it hurt”. Because we work hard to earn a living, we find it very difficult to embrace the fact that the money and resources we receive in exchange for that work are actually God’s. The topic of giving can be difficult to discuss, but it is an integral part of being a Christian.