A-One… A-Two… A-Three… A-CCOUNTING!

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21

We recently discussed the topic of how to handle money biblically in our couples’ bible study. Some of the points made were the following:

  1. Putting God first in our life includes putting HIM in charge of our finances.
  2. Tithing — It is not 10% for God and 90% for us. Instead. ALL of it is God’s. When you offer the 10%, ask God for wisdom for the 90%.
  3. Tithing is not the same as offering. The verse “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” from 2 Corinthian 9:6 was referring to “offerings.” Tithes were a given in the New Testament; there was no question about it’s validity or anything like that.
  4. We are blessed to be a blessing. “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”- 2 Corinthians 9:8
  5. “One FLESH” = “One WALLET.” Husband and wife must talk and agree on financial goals, decisions and budget. We are to help each other and support one another in this area.

One of the suggestions made to help in financial management was to make a family budget and follow it with a clear and detailed accounting of one’s expenses. This is one point that I agree is a good idea, but I personally don’t do because I find it is too much work for somebody like me who doesn’t like numbers very much.  But this morning, I felt God give me a clarification on this matter.

Making a detailed budget and accounting ledger will only be helpful if it allows you to GIVE MORE for the kingdom of God and with much more cheerfulness in your heart as you do so. But if writing it down makes you realize how much you plan to give away and how little you have left  and it takes away the joy of giving, then something is not right. If you tend to look at your balance sheet as a means to make yourself feel justified that you can’t afford to tithe regularly… hmmm… that doesn’t seem very balanced at all. If seeing all those numbers on paper (or on your computer) makes you look at the amount you’ve already decided to give and wish you could use it for your own needs and wants; then it might breed the wrong kind of spirit (a covetous spirit) within you. In other words, if counting your money all the time makes you GIVE LESS, or give with a HEAVY HEART, then it might be time to do a “heart check.”

BUT, if putting down all your expenses neatly and in an organized manner gives you more freedom to GIVE MORE, then good for you! If after comparing your budget and the current month’s expenses, you find yourself excited because you realize you can actually allot a bigger amount for charity, then that’s great! If your balance sheet complete with bar graphs show you God’s faithfulness in providing all your needs and giving you with even more to share, then that’s wonderful! And if seeing all those numbers and counting all your blessings allows you to GIVE MORE with MORE JOY in your heart, then by all means, count it all!

Our family does it this way; we’ve decided on our financial faith goals and vision and with that in mind, we have a budget for all the major stuff (tithes, rent, housing loan, monthly internet fee, etc) and a working budget for our groceries and other expenses. As soon as the salary comes in, we settle all the major stuff, then just spend the rest according to our means (making decisions based on past experience as to what we can actually afford). What works for us may not work for you, but I’m just sharing just in case it does help you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, it all boils down to how “ACCOUNTING” affects your heart. That is what really matters. For where you put your treasure in (whether you like to count it or not), there your heart will be. 🙂

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Are we robbing the Lord?

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Do we take our portion from what belongs to the Lord? Malachi 3:8 tells us, “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.” 

Read: 1 Samuel 2: 12-17

12Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord. 13Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled 14and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”

16If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”

17This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for theyb were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.

For Eli’s sons, the judgment was death. Hophni and Phinehas thought they had the right to take their portion of the meat sacrifice since they are in fact entitled to some of it as per the law. But they took their portion BEFORE the meat was boiled, and BEFORE the fat was burned — thus, got their share before the meat was offered to God.  God said, “Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (1 Samuel 2:30). Ananias and Sapphira also died when they kept back money for themselves but made it appear to the apostles as though they have offered to them everything they had (Acts 5). The Lord has shown repeatedly that what He desires is obedience, not sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22)

Isaiah 1:11
“The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

Jeremiah 6:20
What do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me.”

Amos 5:22
“Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.”

Therefore, do not think it is alright to take our tithe and give it to the poor ourselves, or spend it in some form of ministry or charity, or maybe even give it to help our elderly parents,  thinking that we are still honoring God with our wealth in such acts anyway.

Instead, we must offer our tithe to the Lord faithfully, and if we really wanted to help others, then we are do so after the Lord’s tithe. The tithe shows our faithfulness to the Lord, and to me, it does not seem proper to have an “offering” but not a “tithe.” We are to honor God first and love our neighbors too, as this is part of honoring God. It cannot be the other way around, that we think as we do good to others by sharing our wealth to help instead of tithing, we are in fact, putting God first in our lives. It really doesn’t make any sense, does it? Honoring God first means exactly that — HONOR GOD FIRST!

Jesus further clarifies this in Mark 7:8-13. We cannot mock God and say to our parents (whom God also commands us to honor) that we have nothing left to help them because we chose to honor God first. Tithing does not give anybody the excuse to refuse to help others through offering because we feel we have already done our obligation to the Lord and the rest of our money is already meant for our own personal needs. The commandments go hand-in-hand — (1) love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and (2) love our neighbors as ourselves. God did not mean for us to choose the one that is most convenient and follow that only.

The Lord does not delight in us putting the matter of our tithes and offering into our own hands. It is obedience out of love He requires; it is the right standing of our heart to God; a full surrender and acceptance that what He says is true and it is good; a mind that seeks to follow as best as we possibly can (as far as it depends on us) as the Lord commands because of a true “fear and awe of God;” — that is what makes our offering a pleasing sacrifice, a “sweet-smelling aroma” that rises up to the throne of God.