Yesterday we looked at the similarity between North American attitudes toward the Syrian refugee crisis and Jonah’s attitude toward Nineveh. (If you have sensitivities toward the Syrian situation, please note that not all Christians feel this way; we’d like to think it’s just a minority, but the challenge of opening our communities is stretching us and steepening our learning curve!)
André Turcotte is a Christian & Missionary Alliance pastor and church planter, and a Canadian Armed Forces chaplain. What follows is adapted from his notes, and not word-for-word.
• • • by André Turcotte
So what does all in look like when it comes to giving to projects such as this one?
On one extreme end, some could say it means giving all we have to those in need, but practically that would just leave us in that same place (and in some cases diminish our ability to help when future causes arise.)
On the other extreme end, some would just take money they are currently giving to “A” and simply redirect it to “B.”
Obviously we need a new perspective: What it means is realizing that all we have is given to us from the Lord and stewarding all of it for Kingdom purposes is our duty.
To repeat, all in does not mean giving every last cent to others, but rather stewarding every last cent in a way that makes room for the needs of others.
So what do we mean by stewarding everything we have?
‘Everything we have’ can be categorized in 3 ways: First fruits, Middle fruits and margin/leftovers.
Picture in your mind a vast field of wheat. Today not many of us are farmers, so we don’t practice our giving in terms of grain or sheep, but picture a wheat field divided into the following categories:
Several times God calls his people to give the first fruits to him — this is constant even at times there were other needs around them.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
This is important: Note that taking the tithe or first fruits and redirecting them to the needy is a violation of God’s directive.
Many reading this will say, what about people in need right here in the United States or Canada? It would be an epic fail on the part of God’s people if we
- redirected what would normally be our tithes to engage this need, or
- stopped giving to other local or regional projects to help those who will arrive (or, the current ‘flavor of the month’ charity; the one making the headlines).
On the other hand, saying that we can’t do anything to help those in need because we are ‘tapped out’ or because we have given all our charity money to God is not acceptable either.
This reminds us of the passage where Jesus deals with what were called the Corban rules (which we can cover here as a separate study sometime*) described in Mark 7:
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.
Rather, our giving should come out of our middle fruits and out of our margins.
This money is a blessing. It’s the fund that most of us live on. Our family operating budget after we’ve first taken care of giving first fruits to God’s work.
The principle here is to enjoy and wisely use God’s blessings.
Ecc. 5:19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.
This is a scriptural principle that I haven’t heard as much teaching on but a principle that is clearly taught in scripture. It’s really the meat of the sermon that attracted me to sharing these notes with you.
But for that one, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow!
* In September, 2015, Clarke Dixon looked at an aspect of the Corban laws in this article: The Conflict Between Tradition and Jesus.