“Moving Forward by Faith”
The life of faith is one that takes God at His word. It is one which involves every area of our lives, including how we use the resources which God has entrusted to us. Living by faith involves our time, talents and treasure.
Most of us have no problem giving God our time and our talents, but some draw the line when it comes to their treasure or their material possessions. When they do so, they demonstrate conclusively that they are unfamiliar with the first premise of total stewardship: God owns everything. We are just managers of what God has entrusted to us.
Throughout Scripture, God has given certain commandments and admonitions concerning how we are to use our money and material possessions. For example, we are to glorify God in all that we do, including eating, drinking, and everything else in life. We are to honor God with our “substance,” that is, with our possessions. We are to give sacrificially, joyfully, and in direct proportion to how God has provided for us.
But why should we give to a God we cannot even see? And why should we be willing to trust this God who has chosen to reveal Himself primarily through the Scriptures? It all goes back to faith. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “ . . . for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” So the question is, Do you believe that God exists? If so, do you really believe that He will reward those who earnestly seek Him? Do you really believe that God will keep His promises to you?
If so, then you will follow God’s leading in every area of your life, including your giving. As the little chorus says it so well, when God gives us direction, our response will be one of saying, “‘Yes, Lord, yes,’ to your will and to your way. ‘Yes, Lord, yes,’ I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart, I’ll agree. And my answer will be, ‘Yes, Lord, Yes.’”
In the Old Testament, before the crop was harvested, people would take a sample that represented the best of the crop and offer it by faith in thanksgiving to God for His provision. This “first-fruits” offering was a reminder of God’s ownership of everything and a way of saying, “Lord, we trust you to provide, even before we see what the harvest will really be like.” In a similar manner, God says that we are to set aside part of what He has provided to us in direct proportion to how much He has provided for us.
In one church, a worship leader had a large three-tiered chocolate cake prepared which he placed on a table at the front of the church. Next to the cake was a hand-painted sign which read, “Family Income.” Several individuals walked down the aisle of the church wearing signs such as “House Payment,” “Car Payment,” “Groceries,” “Utilities,” “Medical Bills,” “School Expenses,” and “Clothing.” Each asked for a piece of cake which he gladly gave to them. Another individual wearing a sign that read, “Church,” also approached the table, seeking a piece of cake. “Oh, no,” was the reply, “there’ll be a piece for you, but not just yet.” Several times this was repeated with the same response. Finally, when the man had given out all of the cake, “Church” came around again. “Oh, Church,” said the man, “you know that I had you in mind and that I was thinking of you. Here — take the crumbs that are left.”
As you think of your “cake” of family income, what priority does God have? And as you think of your giving in the coming year, what priority does the Lord’s work here have? Will you give God the first piece of “cake” from all that you have, or will you leave the crumbs on the platter as God’s portion?
You see, giving is the only subject about which God says, “Prove Me. Trust Me. Put Me to the test.” God does not say that regarding salvation, sharing our faith with others, Bible reading, or even prayer. Only about giving. Today, as you consider the offering we are going to receive, and as you consider the commitment God would lead you to make in the coming year here, why not prove God? Why not practice “first-fruits” giving by trusting God to provide all that you need? Put God to the test. Respond to God’s leading in your life concerning your giving by saying, “‘Yes, Lord, yes,’ to your will and to your way. ‘Yes, Lord, yes,’ I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart, I’ll agree. And my answer will be, ‘Yes, Lord, Yes.’”