Giving: Worship, Warfare and Mission
Confluence March 27, 2018
It’s shocking to note that the Bible devotes twice as many verses to money as to faith and prayer combined! Jesus says more about money than both heaven and hell. It is clear that our view of money is of the utmost importance.
To understand what our relationship with money needs to be, we must first understand what money really is. In Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, Jesus very shockingly personifies money: “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and money.” Jesus draws a parallel between God and money in how we relate to them. He uses phrases like “servant and master”, “love”, “devoted to”, and “you can’t serve God and money”. At the core, it’s about whom we will worship; it’s either-or. In our fallen world, money becomes an object of desire and worship. Money becomes a false god as we give it the attributes of omnipotence and sovereignty: “I serve it and it serves me.” In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul tells Timothy “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith…”
One act disarms money’s seductive power…giving! Giving is an act of worship to God. The centurion, Cornelius, was described as “devout and God-fearing” and one who “gave generously” (Acts 10:1-2). An angel of God told Cornelius, “your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a remembrance before God” (vs. 3-4). Cornelius was a worshiper; an integral part of his worship was giving. In reality, giving money is giving of oneself. When we give, we are expressing the consecration of our entire life to God and his purpose. When we gather as a community to worship God and enjoy his presence, a tangible expression and integral part of our worship is giving our money. We approach the offering neither as a debt to be paid, nor to incur God’s favor. This would be the opposite of grace, which can’t be purchased. Giving becomes an act of love, gratitude, joy and freedom: “freely you have received and freely you give” (Matt. 10:8). By giving, we enter into the grace of Christ. Our giving is first to God, as an expression of faith, demonstrating our trust in his provision and expressing our worship to him.
Giving also becomes an act of showing God’s grace to a world so in need of grace. This grace penetrates into a world of selling and competition. For recipients of God’s lavish grace, the purpose of money is giving. We give so the gospel can penetrate the unreached world. Giving introduces the one who receives the gift to God’s world of grace: God’s action, freely willed and given. The church is God’s primary instrument of mission, and therefore we give so the gospel may be preached. The apostle Paul commended the Philippian believers because they helped advance the gospel through giving: “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:5 – see also Phil 4:10-19)
Giving is a sign and a prophetic act! It announces the last days. The consecration of money to God reveals the Kingdom of God now present in the midst of us. We have embraced Father’s reign and rule; having received his grace, we give. The future, in which every knee will bow and declare Jesus as Lord, even the god of money, has invaded the present. It’s a day when all powers are subjected to his lordship. Haggai the prophet saw this (2:7-9): “‘And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace.’”