Picture our giving time during corporate worship. Every week, I stand up and I basically say:
This is the part of our service where we worship God through the giving of tithes and offerings. If you’re a member of Seven Mile Road, then you get to give, generously, joyfully, and sacrificially as God has given to you. God has given you all that you need for life and faith. He has given you the Word which we have just heard and His Son Jesus Christ. If you’re a guest or visitor with us, we’re glad you’re here. Please do not feel any compulsion or obligation to give. You can take a moment to read the welcome card and just let the basket pass by you. Let’s worship the Lord now through our giving.
Then there’s silence. Siby or Elvin will strum a little something on the guitar. And then depending on how many people are in the room, the moment can last anywhere from 60 seconds to 2 minutes. And it can be awkward. You’re not sure what to do. You’re just sort of waiting for the baskets to finish circling the room. Might I offer a few suggestions for making the most of our giving time.
1. Come prepared. If the first time during the week that you’re thinking about giving is as the basket is being passed around, there’s a problem. Our giving is not to satisfy a law or to check off a religious box. It’s certainly not to be careless and thoughtless. It’s not to avoid looking bad to the guy sitting next to you. It’s a moment of worship where we respond to and reflect the reality of the gospel. God gave to us far before we ever thought of giving to Him. He gave Jesus to us generously, joyfully, and sacrificially. We long for our giving to be marked by the same words. So sit down at home, look through your finances prayerfully, talk about it with your family and/or community, and come prepared. I promise it will make the whole experience more meaningful.
2. Go to war. You’re not sitting passively waiting for the basket so you can drop in a check or the few bucks you just now remembered to pull out of your wallet. But see the moment for what it is. A fight. A battle. A war for your heart and soul. Everything in your culture preaches that happiness is gained through money, that your worth is determined by the stuff that you buy, that your security lies in what’s in the bank, and that your future rests in retirement accounts. You can never have enough and you always need more.
That’s a lie.
Your happiness is tied to the good news that you have Jesus in this life and Jesus in the life to come. Your worth is given to you by God as someone created in His image and redeemed by Jesus. God has the highest opinion of you in the universe through His Son and it’s not because of the car that you drive. Your security lies in the unshakable, immovable, rock-solid promises of God. You don’t have to worry, not because of what’s in a savings account, but because Jesus promised that God who feeds the ravens and clothes the lilies would take care of you. Your future is life eternal with ever-increasing joy in Jesus. Your debt has been paid and now you have been credited with righteousness of Christ. You are inestimably rich and you have everything you need!
Our culture worships money. We worship Jesus.
And so every week, our giving time is a time of war. We’re fighting the lies we’ve been told and the lies we have believed about money. Every week, we’re declaring war on Mammon and hacking another limb off this false god. This idol we once worshiped no longer has a hold on us and we’re proving it by giving our money away. In that quiet, fight the good fight of faith, throw off the shackles of idolatry, and let your soul scream over the lying whispers of Mammon, Jesus you have my heart!
3. Pray. Take the moment that you have been given to talk with God. Here are some things you might pray:
God, I confess right now that Jesus is my God and not money.
Father, even as I give now, I trust Your promise to provide for all of my needs as you have done in Christ.
Lord, I declare that my joy, worth, security, and future rests not in having money but in having You. Thank you for this opportunity to hack away at the grip that the idol of money has on me.
Jesus, it is my joy to give! Thank you for being generous to me so that I might be generous for the good of others. Do great good with this money for Your glory and the advancement of Your gospel.
I’m not suggesting that you necessarily pray these prayers, but that you pray. Pray all kinds of prayers. Thank God for how He has been generous to you. Ask God for grace to believe that you’ll be okay even as you give away your money. Ask Him to help you treasure Christ above all things and to store treasure in heaven. Ask Him to take not just your money but all of you and use it for His glory and the good of others. Ask Him to bless the work of the church. Ask Him to forgive you if hoard, waste, or worship money. If you’re married, bow your head with your wife and whisper a prayer. If you’re single, the stats say you’re supposed to be the most selfish and least generous people in the room. Ask God to help you break the cultural trends by being generous like Jesus, who incidentally, was also single. There’s all kinds of things that you might pray. But take the moment to pray.
Here’s my hope. Perhaps this Sunday, the giving time might be a little less awkward and a lot more worshipful.