How to Stop a Life of Crime

From time to time your IMPACT blog post will feature follow-up thoughts based on a previous sermon. Today’s post is about a message that Bro. Clayton shared entitled, “How to Stop a Life of Crime.”

A preacher once used the following illustration to begin a sermon on giving. He shared about a recent trip to the hospital to donate blood for the purpose of giving platelets for a member of the congregation. Before starting the procedure, the nurses warned him that the needle they had to use was unusually large, and he would experience a considerable amount of pain. Knowing he was a pastor, the nurses promised not to tell if he let out a bad word when he felt the pain. “Are you ready?” asked the nurse. “I’m ready” was his nervous reply. The nurses weren’t kidding; the pain was intense. In his moment of sacrificial pain, he yelled out, “Tithe!”

The story stimulated hearty laughs from the congregation that morning. But the sad truth is, too often people’s reaction to a sermon about tithing seems to indicate the preacher uttered an ugly word from the pulpit.

Bro. Clayton’s impactful sermon on tithing relied upon God’s word in Malachi 3: 8-10:

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Once we’ve earned an income honestly by using our God-given abilities, we need a plan to ensure we don’t rob God of what is rightfully His.

Most money experts recommend a written budget as an essential part of a financial plan.

How can a budget help my family commit to tithing?

For families, a written budget yields the most benefit when it’s developed and agreed upon after prayerful input from the husband and wife. Then, at least two benefits materialize as spending entries are made over time:

  1. The budget forces you to take a close look at spending habits.

  2. The budget makes your spending intentional. You can emphasize the most important things in your life, placing God at the top of the list, followed by needs AND the things that are important to you.

Does the Bible say anything about a budget?

Although the word, “budget” may not be found in the Bible, the principle of managing well the possessions God gives us is a major theme throughout His Word.

Just considering the book of Proverbs, one can clearly surmise God’s message about the benefits of stewardship. As wisdom literature, the book of Proverbs provides readers with instructions for wise living. Proverbs  3:9 instructs us to “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Clearly, God wants us to honor Him with all that we have, no matter if it’s our produce or our money or the things we have in excess.

This idea is extended in Proverbs 27: 23-27: “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?” In order to honor God with all that He grants us, we have to know the condition, or the status, of our worldly goods, including our bank accounts. Our Saviour clearly wants us to pay close attention to these things. We are not to be frivolous or flippant. We are to be intentional, just like He was intentional in His plan to save us through sending His son, Jesus, as our saviour.

By listing ten percent of your income as the number one item in your written budget, you honor God’s instruction by paying close and careful attention to how you spend your money.

Can we out give God?

If you’ve been obedient and faithfully followed His instructions about tithes and offerings, you know the answer is, “No, you cannot out give God.”

Pray and ask God to show you the next step in your walk with Him.

Take action. Give tithes and offerings first place on your budget and follow through by giving faithfully to your local church.

Get ready to see what God will do in your life.

Remember, His response may come through finances, relationships, wisdom, spiritual depth, or some other form. But, prepare your heart to recognize what He will do as a result of your faithfulness to him.