Can we give our band some love? That was awesome. That was so much fun.
In that song that we all know from the Beatles, it really talks about a simple truth: money can’t buy what’s really important. It can’t be significance. It can’t buy hope. It certainly can’t buy love.
But that’s one of the lies that so many people believe. If I can just get more…if I hold onto more…then I’ll be happy. Then I’ll be fulfilled. It really will buy what I’m looking for.
That’s the lie that our culture sells us, but in God’s economy, the exact opposite is true. In God’s economy, it’s not about what I can get. It’s about what I can give.
In Psalm 37, it says, “…the righteous give generously.” (Psalm 37:21b, NIV)
And Jesus Himself said, “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35b, NIV)
That’s the truth. And that’s who we want to be. People who live with generosity. People who reject the lie that it’s all about what I can get and embrace the truth that it’s about what I can give.
But to get there, we’ve had to cut through some lies that a lot of us have believed when it comes to generosity.
In the first week, we exposed this lie: the church only wants my money. And as we’ve been saying, there may have been some churches and preachers who have been money grubbers, but that’s not who we are at Connect. Our church is all about Jesus. When we talk about giving, it’s because we want to see Jesus do something beautiful in you and through you.
Last week, we talked about the lie that says God doesn’t care about my money. That couldn’t be further from the truth. God cares deeply about your finances because your money is directly linked to your heart. What God wants is your heart. But according to Jesus, your money follows your heart. That’s why God cares about your money.
This week, we’ve got one more lie to debunk…and it’s a big one.
Lie #1 – The church only wants my money.
Lie #2 – God doesn’t care about my money.
This week, Lie #3 – It’s my money.
Let me pray for us, and we’ll start hacking away at this final lie.
Check this out from Psalm 24. “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” (Psalm 24:1, NIV)
The earth is the Lord’s. Everything on the earth is the Lord’s. The world belongs to God. Everyone who lives in the world belongs to God.
The simple and yet profound truth is that our lives are not ours. God has supreme ownership over everything that he has created. He rules with absolute sovereignty over the expanse of the universe and over the details of our lives.
Think about this principle when it comes to your money. All of a sudden, it’s not your money at all, is it? If the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, then the question is can I actually label anything as mine? And the answer is no.
The truth is that it’s all God’s. Everything you are belongs to God. Everything you have belongs to God. Your bank account, your IRA, your investments, your job, your house, your cars, it’s all God’s. You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s all good.” This is the remix. It’s all God’s. All of it.
The earth is God’s. The nations of the world are God’s. This church is God’s. My life is God’s. My family is God’s. And my money is God’s. It’s all God’s.
Say that out loud with me. It’s all God’s. Say it again. It’s all God’s.
“Yeah, but I’m a self-made man. I get up early. I work hard. I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps. I worked long hours. I studied hard. I scrimped and saved to build my wealth. I work hard and I bring home the bacon.”
Yeah, but God made the pig, dude! It’s all God’s. Say that out loud with me one more time. It’s all God’s!
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, God commanded the Israelites to begin construction of the tabernacle. And here’s what happened.
“Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability [Stop right there for a second. Doesn’t this destroy the idea of a self-made man or woman? These people were skilled and knew how to do this work because God gave them the ability! It’s all God’s!] and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary.
And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”
Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.”
And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” (Exodus 36:2-7, NIV)
It’s all God’s. The people of Israel lived that principle. Here in Exodus, it says that the people kept bringing “freewill” offerings to finance the building of God’s tabernacle. Freewill offerings. In other words, offerings that they weren’t commanded to bring.
This wasn’t, “I gotta to give.” This was, “I get to give.” It’s all God’s and I get to partner with him. I get to give to further God’s work.
And they brought these freewill offerings “morning after morning.” Everyday they brought their gifts. In fact, they were such extravagant givers that the guys who were working on the tabernacle had to go to Moses, who was the leader of Israel. They went to him and said, “Moses, you’ve gotta do something about this. These people are bringing too much. We can’t even work because of all this stuff they’re bringing to the construction site.”
So Moses actually had to command the people to stop giving. “I’m sorry, but please don’t give any more. I know that is going to be tough for you, but please stop giving. We’re fully funded. We’ve got more than enough to do the work of God.”
And Exodus says that the people were “restrained” from giving more. Is that not crazy? They actually had to force the Israelites to stop giving. Because they knew that it’s all God’s. The money was God’s. The mission was God’s. And when people believe those two things, watch out.
The money and the mission are both God’s. When you believe that everything you have is God’s, and when you are sold-out on seeing God’s mission on earth accomplished, watch out…because you’re going to become a giver. You’re going to give God His money to accomplish His mission.
This is why I’m not afraid to preach strong when it comes to money. I used to hate talking about money, but not anymore. I love talking about money, because I love talking about mission.
Our mission is to connect people to Jesus. We are sold-out, 100% committed to this mission. As long as there is one more person who needs the love of Christ, as long as there is one more family we can reach, as long as there are people who need healing and restoration and grace and freedom, we’re not going to quit. We’re not going to back down. We are a church that is 100% on mission because the mission is God’s.
And when you believe that the money is God’s and the mission is God’s, crazy things start to happen. Hilarious giving happens, like we talked about last week. Jars start being broken and beautiful things start to happen. But it all starts with each of us understanding this truth…it’s all God’s.
The church was founded on the principle that it’s all God’s. I already showed you a story from Exodus in the Old Testament. The book of Acts in the New Testament tells us how the church began. And in the book of Acts, Luke tells us that in the church’s earliest days, Christ-followers understood this principle that it’s all God’s.
Check this out from Acts 4. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. [There’s the money. The money was God’s.]
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus [There’s the mission. The mission was God’s]. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.
For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” (Acts 4:32-35, NIV)
Generosity was the engine that drove the early church. Some people mistakenly believe these verses mean that the early Christians lived in some sort of communistic lifestyle. This wasn’t communism because it was all voluntary. They weren’t slaves to communism. They lived with a spirit of contribution. They were fueled with the knowledge that it’s all God’s.
And because of that, there were no needy persons among them. They were fully funded to do God’s work.
“But I always thought that the early church was broke, busted, barefoot, and barely getting by.”
Doesn’t look that way in these verses. The early church lived with a Christ-centered, extravagant generosity. They were fully funded to minister to others and carry out the mission of God. Again, they understood that the money and the mission were both God’s.
The linchpin of this passage is verse 32. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32, NIV)
They were one in heart and mind. There was a unity in the early church…a unity that the contemporary church needs to recapture because it’s beautiful. Division is nasty, but unity among God’s people is a beautiful thing.
And then catch this. “No one clamed that any of their possessions was their own…”
No one claimed that anything was their own because they understood the principle: It’s all God’s.
This wasn’t a, “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours” kind of thing. This was, “What’s yours is God’s. What’s mine is God’s. It’s all God’s.”
Incredible things happen in the church and through the church when we believe that it’s all God’s. Incredible things happen in our lives and through our lives when we believe that it’s all Gods.
And because we want to see those incredible things happen, we’re challenging everyone here at Connect to break their jar and bring the tithe.
In the first week of this series, we saw how Mary broke her jar and gave a beautiful gift to Jesus.
In his gospel, Mark tells us that Mary “came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on [Jesus’] head.” (Mark 14:3b, NIV)
It was an extravagant gift. The perfume would have cost about a year’s wages, but Mary gave it all. She didn’t hold anything back. She broke the jar and poured the whole thing out on Jesus’ head.
In this series, we talked about how the blessings that are in the jar are never fully realized until we break the jar. Until we understand that it’s all God’s. Everything that I have in my jar is God’s. And when we’re willing to break our jar, beautiful things start to happen.
That’s why we’re challenging everyone here at Connect to break your jar. For the next 90 days, we’re challenging everyone here at Connect to break your jar and bring the tithe.
In this series, we learned that the tithe is 10%. It is bringing 10% of your gross income back to God. The tithe is a practice that is 4,000 years old. It dates all the way back to Abraham. For 4,000 years, tithing has been the benchmark of generosity for God’s people.
It’s worked for 4,000 years. Our challenge is only for 90 days. For the next 90 days, we’re challenging everyone to break your jar and bring the tithe. We’re giving God 90 days to prove Himself faithful, just like He’s done for 4,000 years when people tithe.
Remember what God said through the prophet Malachi. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10, NIV)
For the next 90 days, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to test God. We’re going to see if He will deliver on His promise. His promise is that if we trust Him enough to break our jar and bring the tithe, that we won’t even have room to store all the blessings that He’ll pour out on us.
Does that mean that we’ll automatically be millionaires? No. Does it mean that God will bless us in all kinds of ways…financially, spiritually, emotionally…you bet it does.
You can sign up today on our website, connect.cc, to take this 90 day challenge with us. Lots of people already have. They have said, “Yes, I’m breaking my jar. I’m going to bring the tithe. And I can’t wait to see what God does in my life.”
If you haven’t signed up yet, do it today. In fact, pull out your phone and do it right now. It’s one of the very few times when it’s okay to play with your phone during the sermon. Sign up and start breaking your jar today.
Now, when we issued this challenge, we realized that there are a million reasons why people don’t tithe. “The economy is bad. Everything is just so crazy. And we’re not doing very well financially in our family, so how in the world could we tithe?”
Think about it this way. If I’m not tithing, then the best I can do is the best I can do. “Well, I’m just doing the best I can.” If you’re not tithing, then that’s true. The best I can do is the best I can do. That’s small. That’s boring. That’s sad.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
When I take a step of financial faith…when I break my jar and I bring the tithe…God promises to pour out blessings on me. So many blessings that I won’t even have room for them all.
So when I tithe, the best I can do is the best God can do.
That’s why we’re challenging everyone to break their jar, because we don’t want anyone to live the small, limited life of, “the best that I can do.”
We want everyone to live the exceedingly blessed life of, “the best God can do.” That’s what happens when we break our jars and bring the tithe.
Mark Batterson said, “In my personal experience, tithing makes finances fun. It infuses me with economic optimism because I’m walking in obedience. I live in holy anticipation to see the way God is going to provide!”
He said, “We need a paradigm shift. So many people perceive the tithe as an obligation. It’s an opportunity! Yes, Malachi 3 says you are “under a curse” if you are not giving a tenth. But what a promise! God wants to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on you that you cannot contain.”
There are very few financial advisers who would tell you that tithing is a good financial plan for you. But God says differently. God, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills…who owns the earth and everything in it…who is wealthy beyond our wildest imagine…God says that tithing is the best financial plan that has ever existed.
We’ve said this throughout this series: God can do more with 90% than I can do with 100%. When I have 100%, then the best I can do is the best I can do. But when I tithe, when I give 10% to God, then the best I can do is the best God do. And the best God can do is WAY better than the best I can do.
Think about it this way. If I’m not tithing, then I’m not under God’s financial umbrella. I am my own advocate. I have to deal with all the storms that come on my own because I haven’t been obedient to God. So the best I can do is the best I can do.
But when I’m tithing, I have confidence that I’m not on my own. God has my back. When the storms come, God steps in. God acts as my advocate. I’m under His protection and His provision. When I tithe, the best I can do is the best God can do.
During this 90 day challenge, storms will come. They will. There will be times when it seems like quitting will be the best option. Money gets tight. Life just happens. But if I stay faithful and keep bringing the tithe, my financial problems become God’s problems. And He’s way more equipped to handle them than I am.
It doesn’t mean that there won’t be tough times. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when our faith is tested and stretched. But it does mean that I’m not on my own. It does mean that I’m under God’s protection and provision, and God will prove Himself faithful.
Check this out from the book of Proverbs. “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:24-25, NIV)
When we are generous, we are placing ourselves under God’s protection and God’s provision. The best I can do is the best God can do.
But when we withhold, we are on our own. The best I can do is the best I can do.
The bottom line is that I can’t outgive God. God is way more resourced than me. He is way more generous than me. I simply can’t outgive Him.
That’s why years ago, Nicki and I decided to break our jar and bring the tithe. Now, just so you know, we didn’t always tithe. If you think it’s just impossible to start tithing, we completely understand. During the early years of our marriage, we didn’t tithe. And I was a pastor! It was just so hard to take God at His Word. We were barely getting by on 100%, and it was so hard to trust God and give him 10%.
But as we grew in our faith, we made a commitment to bring the tithe. There were times when it was really hard, but I can honestly say that after we made that commitment, we have never wavered from it. And we are incredibly, incredibly blessed. We’re not millionaires, but I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone. And one of the reasons is that we have learned to trust God with our money.
We have really seen the truth of Psalm 84:11 in our lives. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11, NIV)
The Lord God is a sun and shield. The sun gives life. Without sunlight, nothing would grow. Nothing would flourish. Everything would be cold, lifeless, dead.
Shields are defensive. They fend off attackers. They keep you safe.
God is our sun and our shield. When we tithe, we are banking on Him to be our sun…our source of blessing. And our shield…our defender when tough times come.
And we are banking on this truth…“no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
God isn’t about withholding. He’s about giving. He’s about blessing. When we tithe, we are investing in this truth. We believe that God can do more with 90% than we can do with 100%. We believe that God cannot be outgiven, so that’s where we place our hope. That’s where we place our trust.
And let’s bring this back full circle…it’s not our money anyway, is it? It’s all who’s? It’s all God’s.
So when God calls me to tithe, He’s simply asking for me to give Him 10% of what’s already His. Essentially, when I tithe I’m not giving. I’m returning. I’m returning to God 10% of what He has blessed me with. I’m giving God 1/10th of what is already His.
And watch what happens when I tithe, when I bring a tenth to the Lord. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. My hands are completely open. I can’t grab and hold on for myself. My hands are open, because it’s all God’s. The tithe. The tenth. It is a representative of the whole because it’s all God’s.
Ultimately, it comes down to your heart. We started this series with these words of Jesus, and we’re going to wrap up with them, too. In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NIV)
This is ultimately a heart issue. I’m sure there is somebody here who has just kind of endured the last three weeks. You’ve kind of felt a little convicted, but not enough to really do anything about it. You’re just waiting for us to move on to a new series so you can forget about this whole tithing thing.
And that’s fine. That’s totally your choice. Next week, we are starting a new series. But that doesn’t mean the truth of the past three weeks changes. It doesn’t go away.
The truth is that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. When we don’t live lives of generosity, it’s a clear sign that something is wrong in our heart. When we refuse to give back to God in gratitude for everything He’s given us, that is a clear sign that we have serious heart issues.
But over the next 90 days, we are opening ourselves up for God to work in our hearts. To change us from the inside out. To move our hearts from fear to faith. To move us from tightfisted to openhanded.
So the only question that’s left is are you in? Are you ready to start a journey of discovering what God wants to do in you and through you? Are you ready to say, “The best I can do is the best God can do?” Are you ready to place yourself under His protection and provision? Are you ready to make sacrifices and lifestyle adjustments, only to realize later that you received back more than you gave away? Are you ready to live the life of generosity that God so desperately wants you to live?
Psalm 37 says it all. “…the righteous give generously.” (Psalm 37:21b, NIV)
Is that who you want to be? A person with an open heart and open hands? A person who believes that God cannot be outgiven? A person who is so in love with God, who is so thankful for Jesus that you just can’t be stopped from giving back to Him in thanksgiving and worship?
We give generously because God has given so generously to us. God is a generous, gracious, extravagant giver. In fact, He simply will not be outgiven. And you don’t have to look any further than the cross to understand that truth.
Look at what Paul wrote in Ephesians 1. Look at all the giving language he used. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In him we have redemption [redemption means to buy back, to pay a ransom] through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:3-8a, NIV)
God is a giver. And He gave us His very best gift when He gave us Jesus. In Christ, receive the riches of God’s grace. Riches that aren’t given sparingly or cautiously. When we are in Christ, the riches of grace are lavished on us. It’s generous. It’s extravagant. It’s way, way, way over-the-top.
That’s the kind of giver that God is. And that’s why we want you to know Him. That’s why we want you to walk in a relationship with Him. That’s why we want you to serve Him and worship Him. And that’s why each week, we give you a chance to respond to Him.