Giving and priorities in the New Testament

John Fenn here – I apologize for the delay from the time you wrote on the 14th to today, the 20th. Our oldest son has had some health issues and we took some time to deal with that. But I’m catching up on emails and wanted to get back with you.

Your heart comes through loud and clear – and I’ve taken the liberty of adding your screen name to my Weekly Thoughts email – it sounds like your heart is pure and you need some balanced teaching – you can remove yourself from the list anytime. I think regular teachings will help in the long run.

But to the immediate issue. My hope is it give you information which will help you make long term positive changes to your life, not just the urgent need…

If you want it straight – stop tithing and giving and spend the money on your needs. In Mark 7:10-13 Jesus addressed the Pharisee’s teaching of the day, which said you had to give to God #1 above all else or you won’t be blessed.

Jesus countered that, saying God Himself through Moses said to honor your mother and father, but the leaders of the day said if you had a tithe or offering it was Corban, dedicated to God and none else, and if your mom and dad were in need you had to give to God and not them.

Jesus told them that was wrong, that caring for mom/dad/family was the higher law…but because of their tradition they ‘made the word of God of no effect’…

Sadly that sounds like what you’ve been doing.
Instead of living miracle to miracle, lets talk about living in a divine flow.

In terms of giving, Paul said in II Corinthians 8:7 that giving was a grace. In verse 11-12 he said giving is based on what you have, not what you don’t have. He said in v13-14 that he didn’t want them to be burdened while easing other’s needs – but in v14 that now at the time of their abundance they can help meet a need out of that abundance.

In II Cor 9, he continues his teaching on giving in v6-12 that giving is a grace of the heart as a person decides for themselves, and that if you give out of that heart and out of those priorities, then God will make all grace abound to you…in v10 he says God will provide seed to be sown, and bread for our food.

Our job is to decide what is seed and what is bread.
One time in about 1980 some friends gave us $300 – I had a job and was a part time pastor – we in turn sent that money to some missionary friends. We thought it was seed to be sown.

But later that week I got laid off my part time landscaping job…and we needed that $300 for rent that month. God meant it for bread to be eaten, but we gave it away. Lesson learned.

Giving is a grace. God relates to us through the blood of Jesus, not by what we give. We aren’t under a curse at 9.9% giving and break through into blessings 10.01% giving.

However, giving does set things in motion – give and it shall be given back to you, good measure, pressed down, running over – but that giving has to be right giving – grace, love, and be the seed intended by God, not bread.

Secondly, the Bible does not teach that your income from work will provide the abundance you look for. Actually, it teaches diversity leads to that kind of abundance, not the job.

What I mean is this. Job had 7000 sheep – which meant meat and wool. He had 3000 camels, which were like the long-haul semi-trucks of the day. So he had a trucking company, and again had hides and maybe milk from them. He had 500 female donkeys, which he no doubt bred, but also donkeys were the short-haul delivery trucks of their day – so he had a trucking company for shorter trips.

And what do you think those trips were for? Importing and exporting goods…
Then it says he had 500 yoke, that is 1000 oxen, or cattle. That meant beef, milk, leather.

Job had income from many sources.
Consider also the “Proverbs 31 woman” – she owned a weaving business, had employees, but then it says she diversified: “She considered a field, and bought it, and planted a vineyard.” So she was expanding, bought some farm land, and now had a winery from the profits of her weaving company.

I could go on and on…but the pattern is clearly diversity. You’ve swallowed the prosperity teaching which is singularly focused on giving only as a means of gaining wealth and having needs met.

By the way, if you can get mp3 via your iPod or computer, you might be interested in my free class called “Balanced Biblical Prosperity” which covers this and much more.

No doubt you are familiar with the Malachi 3 passage, which is of course OT, but it really isn’t inconsistent with grace.

In Malachi 3:10 the Lord says if we give He will “open the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing you won’t have room enough to receive.”

What you aren’t told is this, that this is an irrigation term. The ‘windows of heaven’ refer to rain (as in Noah’s day) so the pouring out the blessing is the rain.

But the term ‘windows of heaven’ is actually the ‘floodgates of heaven’, an irrigation term. We used to live in SE Colorado where there is irrigation, and it took me seeing it in action to understand this verse.

In SE Colorado the source of the water is the Arkansas river, which begins in the mountains to the west. A canal was dug years ago to divert the flow of the river to the canal, and from there into smaller canals that go to people’s properties.

From the major canal is a head gate which can be opened or closed to send the water to a piece of land or shut it off.

All this passage is about water…
Now think…whenever pastors or preacher use this passage, they are talking about immediately seeing increase in your life, your ‘crop’ so to speak.

My point is this: God promises the water to water the crop, He doesn’t say He will increase the crop, just that you’ll have more than enough water than you can handle. (In irrigation areas the excess flows off to the neighbor’s field and waters it)

What God promises to bless isn’t your ‘crop’ (job, house, car) but rather the water that gives life to that ‘crop’. That’s what He promises to give in abundance!

This is consistent with Genesis 31 – you remember Jacob’s idea of putting peeled bark by the animals in chapter 30 so they see spotted limbs and so conceive spotted animals?

In chapter 31:11-13 he says he got that divine idea in a dream from the Lord!
What God blessed wasn’t the animals, He provided the ‘water’ to ‘water’ that crop – He gave a divine idea that in turn ‘watered’ the crop which was the animals.

In Matthew 25:14-27 the Lord taught a parable highlighting 3 things to do with money; buying/selling, burying it in the ground, or giving to the bank for interest.

He said in v15 that funds were given to the 3 individuals based on their ability. 2 of the 3 traded with it and increased, but the 3rd buried it in the ground, which the man wasn’t happy with.

Notice money was given based on a person’s ability – that means it is within our means, not God’s, to change our abilities if we want to grow more!

Think of it this way – money is either flowing away from you, or towards you – concentrate on cutting back on the outflow, and rearrange your life to provide diversity of inflow.

My question for you is this, what ‘water’ can God supply for your crops? (your kids, home, bills)
Do you have divine ideas? Do you have the ability to invest (at least) in something that will pay you interest?
Do you have the ability, the extra to buy/sell something – skill, something on hand?

Even under the law it allowed for a person to eat their tithe. Deuteronomy 14:22-29 tells of the Lord’s instructions being to eat the tithe – take the 10% and spend it on yourself…but keep an eye open for those in need and even invite them to your party (of the 10% you are spending on yourself).

That is grace – and that’s what you have to change in your giving.
Consider investing your offering to the Lord on one of his chosen vessels – you.

Blessings,
John

Please send all personal emails or questions to me at cwowi@aol.com

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