Luke 18:11 – 14; Matthew 6; Mark 12:38 – 44
Pastor Chris Tweitmann
Over the last several centuries, the modern advancement of human society has resulted in an increasing trend towards compartmentalizing life. Instead of living a life of integrated relationships, the various spheres in which we daily operate remain isolated from each other. We have our work. We have our friends. We have our family. We have our hobbies – which we refer to as “our outside interests”. These circles of relationship rarely, if ever, overlap.
Not surprisingly, following this trend, most followers of Jesus also have compartmentalized their relationship with God. The Lord’s day is Sunday. We are mindful of Jesus, we talk to, engage with, and praise Christ on Sunday. But every other day, our relationship with Jesus tends to be regulated to prayers we say in the morning and in the evening – before we start our day and after our day has ended. We have our “church friends” and our “non-church friends.” We profess Christ to be the center of our universe but functionally, practically, Jesus has His designated circle of influence like everyone else in our lives.
Perhaps nowhere is this more visible than in how our relationship with Jesus impacts the way in which we spend our money and engage our resources. If Christ is involved in these considerations at all, our aim is nothing more than to give back to Jesus his due. For many of us, this is what the tithe, the biblical practice of giving ten percent of whatever we have back to the Lord, is all about. Doing what we’re supposed to do in order to honor God. Paying our fair share as a part of the community of Christ.
Even if we don’t actually tithe, we appreciate the benchmark of tithing. After all, it offers us the standard. It defines the minimum we have to meet. However, this Sunday, as we turn to the Gospels and listen to Jesus speak about money, giving, and tithing, we are going to discover, while ten percent may be where God starts in terms of giving back to Him, it is definitely not the ending point. Not by a long shot.
Perhaps this declaration intimidates or frightens us. It need not do so. For as Christ will broaden the horizon of our giving beyond the tithe, what we learned last week still applies. Giving back to God isn’t about something God wants FROM us as much as it is something God wants FOR us. In giving us more than we could ever earn, more than we rightly deserve, our Creator’s ultimate desire is to make us into people who are more than generous like He is.
So, join us this Sunday as Christ turns what we can only perceive as Law into Gospel – more than a minimum to get by with but the gift of everything in order to set us free. Some people have called Jesus’ teaching on this topic, sacrificial giving. However, together as we look at someone whom Jesus points to as an example of being more than generous, we’ll discover what Christ is really calling us towards is sacramental living.
What Jesus calls us to is not so much about giving something up, as it is giving ourselves completely to God. Beloved, the Lord doesn’t merely want to be one of many priorities, nor even just the first priority in our lives. No, we are relentlessly, lovingly, graciously pursued by the God who longs to infiltrate and thus transform all of life – including ours.
Grace to you!