We wrapped up our second message series of the season today. It is always a little sad to come to the end of a series, and close the chapter.
We called this series ‘Counterfeit gods” because we’ve been arguing that pagan worship is alive and well in our culture. Over the course of the series we’ve identified some of these idols of the heart: food & drink, sports, sex, entertainment, control, selfishness and self-righteousness. Last week and this week we’ve looked at the mother of all counterfeit gods, the one Jesus warned us about more than all the others: money.
Greed is the worship of money and Jesus warned us to stand guard against it in our lives. Which turns our to be difficult to do because greed comes in many different forms.
- If I am preoccupied with money, or excessively anxious and worried about it, that is a from of greed.
- If my only motivation to anything is money, that is a form of greed.
- If it only feels good to save, or it only feels good to spend on myself, but it never feels good to give, that is a form of greed.
- If my emotional health and stability is yoked to money, that is a from of greed.
The antidote to greed is giving.
Over the past few years we have been preaching a very simple and consistent message when it comes to giving. Three steps that go like this:
1. Make giving a priority. When you plan your budget, make sure its part of your budget, in fact, try and make it the first thing on your budget. Make it a priority to give to God first of all, and above all in your place of worship and as an act of worship. Your offering is a significant part of the exchange that is suppose to be going on at Mass. Give in your place of worship as an act of worship. Then, you can give to god through other organizations that are working to build God’s kingdom or are caring for the poor. Those are all ways to give to God too.
2. Give a percentage. When deciding how much to give, decide on a percentage of your income, not just an amount. Scripture talks about the tithe, which is 10%. My goal is to give away 10% of my income.
That’s not a ceiling for giving, I can always give more. It’s the Biblical standard for worship giving. It is not meant to limit you, but its not meant to intimidate you either. Whatever you are giving right now, you don’t have to feel sad or mad or bad. The challenge we are making is to evaluate it as a percentage. What percentage are you giving, 8%, 6%, 2%. Start giving a percentage.
3. Then, make the percentage progressive. Start disciplining yourself and pushing yourself toward the tithe.
One of the easiest ways to make sure that plan actually happens is electronic funds transfer, from your bank to your church. We call it automatic worship offering.
Next weekend is Stewardship Sunday, the single weekend of the year when we talk about giving to the local church here at Nativity. We don’t do fundraisers, we don’t nickel and dime people, we don’t even talk about our expenses or our needs. But once a year we do talk about your need to give, through your worship offering as an act of worship, in your place of worship.