Don’t Spend God’s Money on Yourself

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Devotion: My first experience with tithing was not a positive experience  My Church Parents – a Christian couple assigned to nurture me in the faith because my parents where not believers – decided to teach me the practice of tithing. Marge asked me to bring my first paychecks to the church, after I cashed them, so I could learn to “tithe.” Joyfully, I brought a small wad of cash on a Sunday morning. She counted and stacked three piles of money: one for tithing, savings, and spending. “You need to put this ten-percent in the offering plate for the Lord,” she said. It looked huge but the Bible told me this was the right thing to do as a believer. “This ten-percent is for your savings account,” she continued. “And this stack you can buy clothes for school.”

Two weeks later, I decided to out-smart her. I cashed my paycheck and spent the money. “Where is your paycheck?” Marge asked. “I spent it,” I replied with a smile. “So, there is no money for God this week.” “Oh, is that right?” Marge asked. “Show me the things you bought with God’s money.” She drove me home where I showed her the toys I had purchased with the money. “Thank you for buying these for the Lord,” she said as she took the items from me. “You don’t get to spend God’s money on yourself. God will give these to kids who need them.” I was shocked and amazed! I learned the lesson. It was the last time I kept God’s money for myself.

The Old Testament command to tithe is no longer a legal requirement for believers in Christ. It is a Christian practice that helps us to learn to give, but it is not a requirement for church membership. Jesus’ command to Love God and Love Others exceeds strict limitations (only giving 10%) to the greater act of “generous.” Giving is a spiritual discipline: things Christian people do together over time in response to and in light of God’s active presence for the life of the world. Give, and you will learn gratitude.

Prayer:  Gracious God, you have given your creation everything – life, breathe, healing, help, sustenance, a Savior, and the Spirit.   You have opened your heart and hands to us in Jesus Christ.  Help us to give as you give – graciously, generously, and with gratitude.  We pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

About Dr. Ivan E. Greuter

A native of Nebraska, Ivan accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and experienced a call to the ministry at a young age. He graduated from Kearney Senior High before attending Ottawa University (Kansas) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He attended Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL to earn a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care and Counseling (1999) and a Master of Arts in Philosophical Theology (2002). In 2014, Ivan earned a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Spirituality from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. His dissertation: “Searching For God When You Have Lost Your Dogma: The Promise of New Life for an American Baptist Congregation by Increasing Passionate Spirituality through Devotional Consideration of the Doctrine of the Trinity and Natural Church Development.” He served as the senior minister at First Baptist Church of Wood River, Illinois (1999-2006), and Central Baptist Church of Quincy, Illinois (2006-2016) prior to joining the staff at West Side Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Ivan enjoys French cooking, fly fishing, gardening, and playing games with family and friends. Ivan and his wife, Rexanne, live in Topeka with their three children – two daughters and a son.
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