God shapes us in many ways. We are promised that God’s Spirit lives within us, if we belong to Christ (Romans 8:9-11), and the Holy Spirit does the work of transforming us to be more like Christ. The Spirit can bring about this transformation as we stand strong in the midst of trials, for example. When we choose to trust in God rather than to fear it bring spiritual transformation.
We are also shaped by the way that we submit ourselves to various disciplines. We all know and readily admit the importance of hearing and reading God’s Word, and prayer for example. Yesterday, we saw the importance of the discipline of confession in our spiritual growth. Next week as we look at Nehemiah 10-11, we will see the importance of giving. Giving is one of those subjects that we don’t necessarily like to hear about either, but the Scripture is full of teaching on giving and its importance.
It’s possible to get the reason for giving turned around, though. We often think of our tithes and offering as some necessary obligation. Our giving is another opportunity for spiritual transformation. When we give back to God a portion of what he has blessed us with, we are acknowledging our trust in him for provision rather than trusting in our own ability to provide for ourselves. In North America, we keep our pocketbooks close to our hearts, so giving can have a huge influence on the center of our lives.
I’m going to link to an article I recently came across by Larry Poole which was written for churchleaders.com. The title of the article is “Why I Quit Tithing (and Why You Should Too),” but make sure to read the whole article instead of judging it on its title. The title was clearly intended to generate interest. You can link to the article here. There are several good points in the article, but I especially appreciate the way that Poole closes. He writes, “God doesn’t just want your first 10 percent. He wants your whole heart.” That’s what it comes down to. Giving is a way that we demonstrate that God has authority in our lives and that we trust him no matter what happens. I hope that we can see giving, not as simply an obligation, or something we would rather avoid, but as a discipline that can bring spiritual growth and transformation.
Remember the Mexico trip meeting will be this Sunday after the fellowship time. If you can’t make the meeting, be sure to let me know that you are interested in the trip. We are going to be discussing potential trip dates, and some other beginning logistical details.
Josanne and I were glad to be back with you all yesterday. It was a great blessing. I appreciated Sunday School, the worship service, and the potluck meal afterward. I hope you were blessed by it as well!