Deuteronomy 16:9-12 – What If God’s People Really Gave?: The Math of Spreading the Gospel

Posted: February 11, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 16:9-12

The Festival of Harvest

In its research on the topic of tithing….wait! come back! Where is everybody going….OK. So, let’s start again. In its research on the topic of tithing, I recently read an article, “What Would Happen if The Church Tithed?” by Mike Holmes in the online version of Relevant Magazine. From his research for the article, he learned that tithers often make only 25% or less of the typical congregation. Christians give less, on average, now to their churches (on average 2.5% of their income) than churchgoers gave during the decade of the Great Depression (on average, 3.3% of their income). Holmes pushed the supposition of what could be done by the global church if every post-salvation maturing Christian tithed. He estimates that there would be another $165 Billion (that’s right, billion) annually in the coffers of churches. What could be done with that additional money, he asks. He says that:

 

  • $25 Billion could be directed at world hunger and it could be vanquished within five years.
  • $12 Billion could be directed at global illiteracy and could be a thing of the past in five years.
  • $15 Billion could be directed at solving clean water and sanitation issues globally
  • Only $1 Billion is all it would take to fully fund Christian missionaries the globe over.
  • And then the remaining billions could be invested locally by churches to impact their town, their nation, and their world for Christ.

 

Just imagine that world! Just think about the impact that your local church would have if everyone took seriously the point of putting God first in our finances. Just look at my church. At my church, last year, 485 giving units gave at least one donation during the year which generated our church’s funding for 2016. The average giving unit donation (I say average because the 485 includes a number of people only gave one time all year) for our church was $1,600 annually ($133.33 per month, or approximately $31 per week). If that was tithing it would mean that our church’s average annual income was only $16,000 per year. Further, the 485 giving units means that there is a whole segment of the average 700 attendees to our church that do not give at all.  Just say the statistics show us that the median income in the Lyman-Duncan-Wellford, SC area is approximately $50,000 per year. What if that represented who we are as a church. What if we tithed based on the statistics? Just say that there is always going to be that 10% of your attendees that do not give so that knocks us down to 630 potential givers each Sunday. That 630 represents family giving units so we must divide that number by 2.5 (to account for single people being less than two people but making up a giving unit and to account married with children which on  average is 4.5 people per giving unit). That leaves you with 252 giving units potentially on each Sunday. Then making on average $50,000 per year were giving each Sunday and were tithing on their gross income. That’s $96 per week per giving unit times 252 potential giving units which equals approximately $24,200 per week and that would equal $1,258,400 per year. $96 per week per giving unit would amount to an average giving per year per family of almost $5,000 per year. However, our average per giving unit is 30% of that and our annual budget is about 60% of the potential that I mentioned earlier. What a difference we could make in our community if we gave to our fullest potential. What a difference could make in spreading the gospel message. What if we did not have to choose between paying the light bill and lighting up the community and our world with the loving message of Jesus Christ. It boggles the mind when you think about it.

 

I am not writing this to condemn anyone or guilt anyone into giving more than they do, but rather to give and idea of what could be and how far and deep we could impact our world with the gospel message. As we see in Luke 8, there were those ladies in Jesus’ traveling entourage that helped finance Jesus’ earthly ministry from their own means. So, yes, there is a business side to the gospel message. It costs money to spread the gospel. That is just a fact. As Mike Holmes said in his article, what it all God’s people really grasped the idea of firstfruits. What if we all gave the best of our modern day “crops” to the Lord right off the top. That is what I thought of this morning as I read Deuteronomy 16:9-12. Let’s read it together now:

 

9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. 11 And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

 

The key phrases in this passage are (1) giving in proportion to the blessings given us and (2) remembering that we were once slaves. I think it is important that we remember how richly blessed we are by God each one of us. In the United States, we are blessed beyond measure. Travel abroad and see how some people have to live. You come away realizing just how mightily we are blessed. Things that we take for granted are luxuries in some parts of the world. There is an old saying that you can tell a hungry man about Jesus until you feed him. We are blessed to live in this country and we could have easily been born elsewhere, say, maybe, in a third world country, barely eeking out an existence. We did not earn being born in the United States. We were born here by the grace, the grace only, of God. With great wealth comes great responsibility. Even us middle class folks are part of the richest 2% of people in the world. We did nothing to come by our access to the things that we have in the United States. It is a gift from God that we were born here. Therefore, we should simply be thankful for that when it comes time to give to the churches that we go to. We should be living lives of thankfulness for just being born in this country. Just think if we all acted as if we were thankful to the Lord for this blessing alone rather than thinking that we somehow deserve it all. That might lead us to live lives of generosity. That might lead us to give God the top 10% or more of what we make. That might lead us to change the world through the uncommon love and generosity of Christians rather than being Christians who think like the world and think that whomever has the most toys at the end, wins.

 

The second thing we must remember when we think of being obediently generous to our church is to remember that like the Jews being slaves in Egypt, we too were once slaves to sin that condemned us to hell for eternity. We deserve hell but yet when we gave our life to Christ, He covered our sins and imputed His sinlessness to us. We do not by rights deserve this grace. But we serve a generous God. He gave us what we needed to be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus. He gave this grace to us. We did not and do not earn it. We can’t be good enough to make up for the taint of the sins in our lives. The first sin and all the others after it make us unholy and undeserving to be in the presence of the Lord in eternity. But God is so generous and loving toward us even though we don’t deserve it. He gave us our prize, the perfection of Jesus Christ that we are clothed in when we accept Him as our Savior. So, we should be living lives of complete adoration and thankfulness to our Lord. Our secured eternity should give us this essence of thanksgiving that transcends and permeates everything we do. We should give God our best no matter what it is. We must give Him our best, then, too, in our finances. He should get the best of that too. He should get our best “crops” not our leftovers. It is an act of thanksgiving. It is an act of obedience. It is an act of trust. Trusting God to do reach the world through each of our donations to our church.

 

Just think what an impact, the bride of Christ, the church, could have on a dead and dying world if we all understood the concept of giving God the best of the fruits of our labors. What if we quit trying to keep up with the Joneses and tried to keep up with the ways of God. What if God’s people gave because they saw it as an opportunity to participate in sending the gospel message out into the world. What if we saw it as being able to participate in life change. What if we saw it as an opportunity to contribute to reaching people and their coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 

What if…

 

 

Amen and Amen.

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