Pastor's Blog

Giving with Gratitude

Since 1863, and thanks to the insightful leadership of President Lincoln, we have been blessed to have a national holiday set aside for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” In the midst of rampant consumerism and materialism, and the hectic pace of life required to maintain our often over extended lifestyles, we have a least one day set aside that encourages us to stop, take a breath, count our blessing and consider their source.

Until Black Friday, that is.

Jesus had a lot to say about money, and specifically how our spending is connected to and reveals the affections of our hearts. As a part of what we call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had this to say about our relationship to money: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” At the end of this passage, Jesus states bluntly: “You cannot serve both God and money,” (Matt. 6:19-24).

One way to loosen the grip of greed on our hearts is to make thanksgiving a lifestyle, not just a holiday. Recognizing God’s grace and provision in our lives on a daily basis is an important Christian discipline.

In addition to an attitude of thanksgiving though, is the actual act of giving with a grateful heart. In both the Old and New Testaments, we read of God’s command to give his tithe and our offerings. The tithe (literally a tenth) of one’s income and goods was required by God of the Israelites for the provision of the temple and the priests, and as a reminder that God is our ultimate source and supply, (e.g. Lev.27:30-34;Duet.14:22-29; Malachi 3:6-12). Jesus affirms this principle in the New Testament when he chides the Pharisees that they should have continued to tithe on their spices (a valuable commodity in their day) while also pursuing justice, mercy and faithfulness, (Matt. 23:23). And in conjunction with tithing, the giving of voluntary offerings is encouraged throughout scripture as a way to bless others, support the work of the Lord and, again, to free ourselves from making money an idol in our lives, (2 Cor.9:15).

God doesn’t need our money, but he has invited us to participate in his kingdom work in this world through the consistent, thankful giving of his tithe and our offerings. In the process of our obedience and generosity, the affections of our hearts are directed to God’s un-surpassing grace and supply rather than on our own fears and wants.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day and head into the holiday season, allow me to encourage you to be faithful in your giving of the Lord’s tithe and your offerings, as together we support the work of the Lord through this expression of his body we call Central Congregational Church. As my grandfather Archer used to say, “You can’t outgive God.” Let’s try, and see what God does in us and through us in our community and around the world.

 

Thankfully yours,

 

Pastor Scott