t is tax time and so our church decided to have a men’s meeting and discuss taxes and tithing while eating tacos. It was a free time of breaking bread where we talked about what we should do with our bread (money). But before we discussed giving it away, we shared how come money is so important to men in our culture.
In America, money often means status and power. Who has the biggest house or coolest car or truck is very important for many people. For myself money means security. My mother’s family lost everything in the Depression, and so I grew up with a mother who was a fiscal conservative, and a father who was often foolish in financial and business decisions. Money is often symbolic of control – if I have enough, I can do what I want, when I want, and I don’t have to answer to anyone about my conduct.
In the Bible study, we looked at the money messages in the writings of Matthew, Malachi, Romans, Philippians, Leviticus and good ol’ Ecclesiastes. It was a good time of salsa and sharing. We started in Matthew (22:15), because, well, the author was a tax collector. Jesus basically tells us we should pay our taxes. Give to Caesar what is Caesars, or give to the government what is theirs, and give to God what is His. (He just wants our hearts, our hands and our lives!) We all agreed that we appreciate law enforcement, nice roads, health care, education and the list goes on. Of course we don’t like waste, but that doesn’t get us off the hook for paying our taxes. Paul agrees in Romans, saying that the government does work and deserves our pay.
We don’t have to get upset as we say goodbye to our Benjamins. Paul again writes in Philippians 4:6, we don’t need to worry and that God will give us peace. We worry that if we pay we will somehow become paupers. In my work, I have worked with poor people, and those that know God have a peace I never understood, until I too came to know Jesus Christ. Also in Leviticus (27:30) when we get blessed from our productivity, whether from the land or the plant, part of it belongs to God, and so we should tithe. Tithing is giving back to God, that which is His in the first place. This is His creation, so He deserves a cut. He doesn’t need it, but it is a just test of our character.
Are you robbing God? Many are as was the case with the children of Israel. The OT prophet, Malachi (3:7) says you need to tithe because it is being obedient, but he also wants us to know that our obedience will be rewarded. God is no an ATM machine, be He says to “test Him” and He will open the floodgates. He will also protect us from “pests.” Most of us are not farmers, but we all need God’s protection. Your money doesn’t do you much good if you are in a hospital bed or you have lost the love of your life. There are many blessings we take for granted and can lose.
Finally, that wise guy Solomon (Eccl.4:4) tells us that pursuing wealth is like chasing the wind. In the final analysis, money doesn’t amount to much. What is important, is relationships. If you are alone, money won’t fix that, and when you fall, money won’t pick you up. So we say, man-up with your money! God loves a cheerful giver! So give it up, to the government or to your church. Trust me, God is paying attention, and He also pays dividends!