Could you imagine if the pastor stood up one Sunday and told the people in the church, “For a few weeks, we need you to stop bringing your tithes and offerings. We have more than we know what to do with right now.” I’m not sure if people would laugh at him, or pass out. The impression many people have is that the church is always asking for money, not telling people to keep it. But this is exactly what Moses announced to the Hebrews. Their willingness to support God’s work had led to such a giving heart, and their gifts exceeded the need.
Usually, just the opposite is true for God’s church. God has chosen to fund His work through the obedience of His people. He has called on every person who knows God to give to the church to support ministry and build God’s church. But every church I have been involved with seemed to be limited on their potential for ministry by the amount of funds that the church received on a weekly basis. On the other hand, the membership of every church I have attended had the resources to do everything God was calling the church to do, and more. If only they choose to be obedient.
In this story, it took the sacrificial giving of God’s people to build the Tabernacle. At Genesis, the tithes and offerings that people give allow us to meet each week in the school, have people on staff, help plant a church in the Bevo neighborhood in St. Louis, do our community service events, and fund missionaries all over the world. Yes, God owns everything, and he could have chosen to fund the work of the Gospel in many other ways. Yet, for the most part, God has chosen to fund the work of the Kingdom through the faithful giving of His people.
I think there are two primary reasons God has chosen this route. First, for us, our giving is tied so closely to issues of the heart and our idols. Keeping money for yourself demonstrates a heart that worships stuff and is far from God. On the other hand, when a person gives to God through the church with a cheerful heart, it shows that we treasure God and his purpose. As Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Second, giving is one of the ways we become participants in the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. Everything God does is through his grace and for his glory. Yet, he has chosen to draw us in to the most incredible adventure, that of living the mission of God. If God found a way to fund his Kingdom detached from us, it would distance us from his mission. Something happens in the heart of a person when he or she gives to something that is bigger than them. They are drawn to the cause in a personal way, and it gives them a greater passion for that issue. For example, a person may pray that God would give them a heart for the AIDS crisis in Africa, a major cultural issue. If that person will find a good missions organization and give to this issue through them, the act of giving will give them a greater partnership in the work of God toward this cause and that act alone will help the person have greater passion for the issue.
God has ordered things so that our heart and passion will follow our giving. The Hebrews discovered this as they gave to the Tabernacle. You will experience this truth as you give to your church and to missions.