Points to Ponder: For God or Money

Points to Ponder
For God or Money

As our state government ponders the slot issue (for the third consecutive year) we need to reaffirm our commitment. Remember, all we have is His, let us review the facts.
There's a knee-jerk defensiveness in some people when the pastor talks about money. I actually enjoy preaching on the topic because I have this sadistic streak that likes to watch people's faces as I deal with the topic of money. Some churches and pastors avoid directly addressing the biblical teaching of tithing because some will get offended; visitors might walk out, etc. Yet everyone I've ever talked to who practices tithing, praises God for His (sometimes amazing) provision. Putting God first, especially in the area of finances, makes sense. Plus, God blesses the other 90% when you give Him that first tenth.
"Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10 NKJV)
Let's be clear. Don't give in order to be blessed. Give because you've already been blessed. Our tithe is not an investment from which we expect God, like a stockbroker, to give us a return. It is a faithful and thankful response for what He's given us. We trust Him. That trust is not measured and extended toward God (or withheld from Him) based on how well He has blessed our portfolios.
In 2004, the Barna Group surveyed 10,000 people. Here's an interesting finding:
* A mere 7% of born-again adults tithed in 2004.
* Born-again Christians and adults who attend Christian churches are more likely than atheists, agnostics, and adherents to non-Christian faiths to buy lottery tickets.
It reveals an interesting point to ponder about people's attitudes toward money. Tithing is a response of thankfulness and trust toward God, in full recognition that He is our provider. It's an act of love toward God.
"Gambling is driven by a love for money. Scripture says the love of money is the root of all evil--that which opposes God." (I Timothy 6:10) The source of blessing to the tither is God. The source of "blessing" to a gambler is the accumulated losses of others. Yet, Barna says, those who claim belief in God are more likely to seek blessings through the love of money than are those who don't profess faith in God at all.
Why? I ponder why tithing is an offensive idea, an area into which angels fear to tread. Yet, many professing Christians are advocating gambling, or apathetically shrug their shoulders over it.
It's an interesting study...a study of ourselves. What are we thinking?
"A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him. (Proverbs 28:22 NKJV)
"An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning will not be blessed at the end." (Proverbs 20:21)
Do you ever notice that overindulged children don't appreciate what they have or those from whom they received it? Parents who spoil their children are often despised by their children.
Maybe that's our problem in the Church. We are so blessed that we've come to despise our Father in Heaven. Like spoiled brats, we tend to want what we don't have, or more of what we do. What misery awaits us if we don't soon wake up and repent of our covetous spirit?
"Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure with trouble." (Proverbs 15:16 NKJV)
"The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it." (Proverbs 10:22 NKJV)
Isn't it interesting? Most, if not all, faithful tithers will say it is the best way to manage one's money. A tither recognizes he/she is a steward of things which are not their own. And they'll tell you, God always provides what is needed.
On the other hand, most (the VAST majority) of those who put their money in lotteries, Keno, slots, etc. LOSE their money.
So, why is this obviously poor investment option so popular, even among people who profess faith in Christ? Greed is an enticing thing; the magnetic attraction of another god. We worship its potential rewards, which are never realized. And each time we turn toward its altar, the saying of Jesus is proven true:
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24 NKJV)
And in our own self-deception we justify our right to keep playing the fool for a lesser god who thrives on the destruction of other fools just like us.

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.