Testing

One step that’s difficult for many Christians

By Zach Garrett, Growth Pastor

Do you know why Jesus called Peter out onto the water?  Honestly, I can't say for sure that I know, but I believe it has something to do with Peter’s request just seconds before.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” NIV

We often forget that part of the story, but Peter’s request to be called by Jesus to do something utterly defiant of the laws of nature details for us a heart that is dangerous with faith.  A heart that desires to see what is possible when God gives us direction.  A heart that is set on following God with what little we have to offer in hopes of discovering something far more.

Instead of giving our tithe with a heart that seeks to be content in the amount we give, what could happen when we give with a heart that desires to see God do the impossible?
Reading this part of Peter’s story reminds me of God's unique challenge to His people, the Israelites, in Malachi 3.  God had distanced himself from the Israelites because of their unfaithfulness in giving him the tithe that the law required.  In fact, God says that they were robbing Him.  But in His mercy, God offers to return to the people if they return to Him by giving their full tithe.

In Malachi 3:10, God says something you read of nowhere else in the Bible, “Test me in this.”
God challenges the Israelites to test him, through their giving of the whole tithe, to see if God is faithful to His word that He will “…throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” NIV

What if we begin to look at our finances with the audacity of Peter while also taking up the challenge of Malachi 3?  What if we start to pray, “God, if you are true to your promise, then call all of me out onto the waters, including my money, so that I may see how this has never been about what you want FROM me, but what you want FOR me.”

Let’s make this all super practical!  Week 1 focused on getting a budget established.  Week 2 was taking a 30,000 ft look at your non-essential expenditures and asking the question, what do my finances say about my faith?  Here in week 3, I believe it's time that we talk about the tithe challenge, the most straightforward and truest way to take the first step in testing God's generosity through our tithing.
 
Whether you are single or a combined income household, take the gross amount of each check you and/or your spouse brings in (meaning before anything is taken out of the check, such as insurance, benefits, and taxes) and calculate what is 10% of that gross amount.  That 10% is what you give to God, and the other 90% is what you live off of.  That is the simplest and truest way to begin to give God your first fruits. However, it is an act of faith that MANY Christians find difficult to take.

If this is you, do not allow yourself to feel guilt or shame, that isn’t the point.  Instead, pray for the faith of Peter, for the confidence to test God at His word, and the trust that God will take you beyond what you ever thought to be possible!
 
Posted in