After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. – Matthew 17:24-25
Yesterday after early church I Facebook posted a link to Rebekah’s message, with the following description: Rebekah Maul – still hurting, but back in the saddle again. Live stream from this morning… #WhyiTithe
My point in sharing the sermon (which begins at around seven minutes twenty-five seconds into the video), is twofold. 1) A lot of readers have asked me to share Rebekah’s messages when they are available, and 2) The topic she covers is – in my estimation – a critical element in discipleship that often receives scant attention because talking about our money makes us nervous.
For her text, Rebekah picked the quirky “Go Fish” story from Matthew 17. The religious leaders wanted to know if Jesus contributed financially to help support the temple? Jesus said, “Don’t have to, but I do.” He then told Peter to pull the money out of the first fish he caught.
Rebekah then explained why in our family we have always used the biblical principle of the tithe as the starting place for our giving (You can click on this link – Why I Tithe – to hear the entire message – she is interesting, entertaining, and disarmingly inspirational).
What we believe about a disciplined generosity is that the practice is foundational to our commitment to serve God, to support the work of the local church, and to live as intentional disciples of Jesus – trusting God with our finances just as much as with every other part of our lives.
Interestingly – and this was not a staged event – Sunday morning I couldn’t find my checkbook anywhere. You know where it was? My checkbook was zipped into my Bible cover (I must have left it there when I paid for our church supper). When I picked up my Bible to leave for church I felt something inside, and there it was.
So I drove to church with my checkbook and God’s good word pressed up against one another. For me it was an obvious reminder to follow Jesus more faithfully, and to trust God more when it comes to money.
You see, money is absolutely worthless if we are not using it on behalf of God’s initiatives of love, grace, mercy, and mission. The word “salvation” means to participate in the work that God is up to in this world, and if we are not applying our resources to facilitate such work, then we are not using them in the way God intended; and – in consequence – we deprive ourselves of the kind of rich, full, meaningful experience that is ours if only we follow Jesus more deliberately.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this principle stated so clearly as this passage in 1 Timothy:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
In love, and because of love – DEREK