Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't Bury that Treasure!

So, I finished Randy Alcorn's classic book entitled The Treasure Principle. I couldn't recommend the book more - it is absolutely spot on. I have recapped the Six Treasure Principle Keys that Alcorn shares in the book in previous blog entries. I hope you will read through them and allow them to sink in.

But, before I move on to another subject to blog about, I feel like I need to talk to those folks who are not currently giving to the Lord, or have never given selflessly and sacrificially to the church or to others in need.

As Alcorn points out in his book, giving isn't celebrated nearly enough. Perhaps because it comes across as showy or disingenuous - who knows. But, we need to talk about it more than we do. I think churches are so worried that they are going to offend people by talking about money that they rarely, if ever, challenge people to do what God asks us to do - give to Him, give and share with others, and help the poor.

Maybe you aren't quite sure where or how to start. To borrow Nike's slogan, you need to "just do it." Thinking about it, talking about it, and praying about it are fine. But, at some point, you've got to DO it. Even if we're scared, even if we're not "joyful" initially, we have got to get over the hump and pass on financial blessings to others.

I've always felt that if someone has never given to God (to the church), they need to start somewhere. If they have never given a red cent, they should start by giving two or three percent of their income, and watch God bless it. For someone who has never given, two or three percent seems substantial.

But, Alcorn paints a different picture entirely. The tithe (ten percent of our gross income) is not the ceiling of giving, claims Alcorn. It's the floor. In the Old Testament, the tithe was the standard. Some people argue that when Jesus came on the scene, the tithe became irrelevant. It was no longer the standard. Well, that is partially true. Jesus did make mention of the tithe when referring to the religious leaders of the day, primarily pointing out that they were all about the "rules," but were not truly after God's heart.

Also, when we read about the first Church, there's no evidence of a "tithe." But, there is evidence of giving and sharing everything with everyone. So, once again, the tithe seems to have been exceeded in order to provide for everyone in need. As Alcorn comments, the bar was always raised after Jesus came on the scene; it was never lowered. So, the bar for giving would have been raised as well.

I'm going to include an excerpt from the book to illustrate how Alcorn views giving less than the Biblical standard (tithe):

"Some say, 'We'll take this gradually. We're starting with 5 percent.' But that's like saying, 'I used to rob six convenience stores per year. This year, by His grace, I'm going to rob only three.' The point is not to rob God less - it's not to rob God at all."

I can definitely see Alcorn's point of view. The bottom line is that God is going to bless you back to the degree you are willing to be a blessing to someone else. If you give 1 or 2 percent, God will still bless that. But, if you give 10 or 15 percent, He'll bless you monumentally more. And, what you need to know is that God LOVES to pour out His blessing!

So, don't wait until it "feels right" to give. Give, and watch God work in and through you. And, like anything else in life, the more you do it, the better you'll get at it!

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