Spiritual Disciplines Ep. 6: Giving

Show Notes:

Matt: J.D., today we’ll cover our next spiritual discipline, and this week, we’re talking about giving. Everyone loves talking about money, right?


  • Let’s start with the assumption that God doesn’t need our money. In Psalm 50, God says, “I don’t have needs… and if I did have one, I wouldn’t come to you.” God owns the cattle on a thousand hills… The question of money is what it shows about where your heart is.
  • First of all, money reveals, more than anything, what we treasure and trust most. Our mouth can talk a big spiritual game all day long, but it’s what we do with our money that shows where our heart actually is
  • Which is why Jesus talked about money all the time. It was his most frequently addressed subject. 16 of his 38 parables were about money. He talked about handling money more than he did about relationships; talked about money than he did about heaven and hell. 500 verses in the Bible are about prayer; less than 500 are about faith. More than 2000 are about money. An astounding 1 out of 10 verses in the Gospels talk about money! 
  • Jesus didn’t talk about money because he needed it–I mean, he could multiply bread loaves and fish or pull gold coins out of fishes’ mouths whenever he wanted–no, he talked about money because he knew money was the most reliable indicator of where our heart actually was.
  • In Matthew 6, Jesus warned that money ends up serving as the PRIMARY substitute in our hearts for God. He said, in no uncertain terms, that we couldn’t serve God and money. (That’s the only thing he ever spoke like that about! He never said that about power or sex or anything.) Money is the one thing, he said, that if you love it, you won’t care about God; and if you love God, you won’t care that much about it.

MATT: That brings up a comment from a listener named Rita, who said one of the things she’s been learning regarding the spiritual discipline of giving is how “James urges us to consider why God gave us our money in the first place.”

  • JD: Yeah, that’s right. And also in Matthew 6, Jesus talked about two different personality types and different ways they have problems with money.
  • For some, money is their security. It’s their safeguard against tragedy or a rainy day. And so, when they get an extra $1000 in their paycheck, they want to save it. For others, money is their significance, their means of a happy and pleasurable life. So, when they get an extra $1000 in their paycheck, they want to spend it. New TV. New drapes. Go on vacation. Btw, in God’s providence, these two different personality types always marry each other! And here’s the irony—each think the other has a problem with money. But Jesus said they actually have the same problem—in that both look to money to provide something only God can provide. 
    • To those who think of money as security, Jesus says, “Consider the ravens…” To those who think of money as significance, he says, “Consider the lilies…” 
    • To both of them he says, “Seek first the KoG…” “All these things” means all the security or the significance we crave.
  • So one of the reasons Jesus talked about money all the time is that it reveals the truth about what we treasure and trust most. Where your money is, Jesus said, that’s where your heart will be, also. 
  • The second reason Jesus talked about money so much is that what we do with our money shows whether or not we see ourselves as owners of our lives or stewards. At our church, we often talk about the “Five Identities of a Disciple.” One of them is steward. And that’s very different than owner. An owner believes his resources belong to him. A steward sees all his resources as belonging to God—he’s merely the caretaker. When you become a disciple, you cease to see yourself as an owner of anything in your life, only a steward. How you approach your money shows whether you’ve made that shift.)

So when we talk about money, we talk about something that centers on the most basic questions of discipleship—What does your money show about what your idols are? What does it reveal about your understanding of who owns what in your life?

  • I will often tell our congregation, in fact, “If you feel this is manipulative—like my preaching on this is all an attempt to get money out of your pocket and into mine, and that’s all you can think about when I’m up here saying this and you can’t get over this, maybe you’ve seen this really abused somewhere—I’d ask you to apply this teaching by giving somewhere else. It’s more important to me that you become an actual disciple than that you let a bad experience keep you from fully following Jesus. God doesn’t need your money and we don’t either. We’ll be fine. God will provide for us. But the only way you can become an actual disciple of Jesus is by giving sacrificially, and it’s more important to me that you learn to give to him than it is that you give here. So, if suspicion that this is about us getting wealthy off of you is an issue for you, I urge you to obey this teaching by giving somewhere else.” 
  • We always make clear in any giving initiative that our goal is not some financial metric, but 100% of our people responding faithfully to God in their finances.

  • Matt: Next week, we’ll continue our series on the spiritual disciplines by discussing the discipline of giving. Don’t miss it next week!
  • We’re now on YouTube; subscribe to @J.D.Greear.


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