STUDY FIVE: SPIRITUALITY AND MONEY
© Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2014
Two foundational principles undergird Christian spirituality in the context of money and possessions [though these principles do have broader application than this].
A. THE PRINCIPLE OF INTEGRITY – Psalm 51:6a ‘you desire truth in the inner parts’.
Integrity is to do with honesty – with a life and mindset free from deception. With trustworthiness. As such it reflects the very nature of God: he is truth. In him there is no deception. He is not two-faced. On the other hand, when we look at the opposite of integrity, we find that it reflects the nature of the enemy, the devil, whose name is the Deceiver. He is the one whom Jesus identified as the father of lies, whose native language is lies [John 8:44].
When we choose dishonesty, when we choose deceitfulness, when we choose underhandedness, when we employ deviousness or duplicity of any kind we are rejecting God and affirming Satan, we are rebelling against the rule of God and submitting to the will of Satan, all of which are utterly inappropriate and incongruous in the children of God, and doubly incongruous in those who have committed themselves to the service of God. To claim to serve God and to choose dishonesty is a blatant contradiction.
Complete Section #1 on the Study Five Worksheet now.
In addition to these issues of truthfulness and honesty in the day to day choices and actions of our lives, the Bible sets a standard of integrity and sincerity for particularly spiritual and/or ministry oriented choices and actions.
Look at the Bible passages and the comments below. Identify their implications and challenges for you as a Christian.
In Matthew 6:2-18 Jesus warned us not to engage in spiritual and pious acts simply to be seen and praised by men. He called people who do so ‘hypocrites’, which really means ‘stage actors’. By use of this term he pointed out their insincerity and lack of integrity.
Paul set an example of ‘holiness and sincerity’ as he went about preaching the Gospel [2Corinthians 1:12] and did so from sincere motives, unlike some who preached for personal gain or glory [2Corinthians 2:17; Philippians 1:16-18]
B. THE PRINCIPLE OF CONTENTMENT – 1Timothy 6:6: ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’.
We do not read much about contentment in the Bible. However we do read about the opposite of contentment and of God’s hatred of this opposite: discontentment, which expresses itself in grumbling and complaining.
The choice between contentment and discontentment runs right through the Bible and has its underlying source in the choice between faith and unbelief, between obedience and disobedience, between trust and doubt, between submission to God and rebellion against God.
Complete Sections #2 and #3 in the Study Five Worksheet now.
C. MONEY AND OUR RERLATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The Bible has much to say about our attitudes to money or the lack of money, and about the way we handle money. While money or wealth or poverty in themselves are neither good nor bad, our attitudes to them are a reflection of our relationship with God. Jesus Christ said a great deal about money, with many of his parables focused on wealth or poverty.
Complete Tasks #4 and #5 on the Study Five Worksheet now.
D. BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES OF GIVING
D.1 Biblical perspectives on giving
The following passages speak about giving.
Go to the Study Five Worksheet now. Section #6 asks you some questions about these passages.
In a sermon on giving based on 2Corinthians 8 [found at http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/47-58/a-biblical-model-for-giving-part-4?term=giving ] John MacArthur makes the following ten points about the Macedonians’ giving:
- Their giving was initiated by God’s grace [2Corinthians 8:1]
- Their giving transcended difficult circumstances [verse 2]
- Their giving was a thing of joy [verse 2]
- Their giving was not hindered by poverty [verse 2]
- Their giving was generous [verse2]
- Their giving was proportionate [verse 3]
- Their giving was sacrificial [verse 3]
- Their giving was voluntary [verse 3-4]
[All of the above are about free-will giving, which parallels the free-will offerings of the Old Testament. Free will offerings were in addition to mandatory tithes. The tithe parallels government taxes. The New Testament teaches that we should pay government taxes -Matthew 17:24-27; 15:15-22; Romans 13:1-7; 1Peter 2:13]
- Their giving was a privilege [2Cor 8:4]
- Their giving was an act of worship [verse 5]
D.2 Is tithing the way to go?
The Old Testament tithe related to a range of things [e.g. livestock, produce] and provided the necessities of life to those who had no income – the Levites, the foreigners, the orphans and the widows. In addition to the tithe there were a number of different offerings which also contributed to the necessities of life for the Levites. Thus the tithe covered both the equivalent of contemporary government social services [caring for the poor and needy] and the equivalent of contemporary giving towards the upkeep of those involved in full time Christian ministry.
[One interesting and rarely mentioned aspect of tithing is identified in Deuteronomy 14:22-27 and 15:19-23. The particular tithe mentioned here was actually eaten by the giver in what seems like a huge party! They were to eat the tithe of their agricultural or pastoral produce, or the money gained from the sale of that tithe, in the presence of the Lord and rejoice!]
Tithing is not commanded in the New Testament. It is, however, obvious that Christians gave generously, and were encouraged to give extra generously when there was a specific urgent need. A great deal of New Testament teaching about giving is about giving to the poor and needy. Giving to support those serving the Lord is mentioned only a few times [for example: Luke 8:2-3; Philippians 4:10,14-18; 1 Timothy 5:17-18].
There is a study on tithing here - http://www.godswordforyou.com/answers/364-should-christians-tithe