We conclude this five-part series studying Ezekiel 7 with the final element of the antidote to economic idolatry, as taught by John Wesley: “Give all you can.” If you are earning, and if you saving, as we learned in the previous post, you will have the ability to give generously. Living simply and practicing generosity are greatest antidotes to economic idolatry. When we give generously we show in a very practical way that we trust in God, not in money. Are you giving sacrificially?
Often when we have these kinds of passages, the topic of tithing comes to mind. A tithe is the concept of giving 10% of your income back to God. God told Israel to tithe to him, and somehow or another that idea got carried over the Christian Church, as if that is what God wants for Christians too. The problem is that there is no teaching about tithe in the New Testament. Furthermore, God told Israel to give three tithes. Two of them were annual, and one was every third year, so they gave the equivalent of 23% every year. But a portion of that was kind of like the taxes we pay, as they were supporting a nation. So the better question is, what does the New Testament teach? 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 are the best chapters to learn about generosity in the New Testament, and I can sum it up with these principles: Give consistently, joyfully and sacrificially.
For some of you the idea of giving 10% of your income sounds impossible. If so, as an act of trust in God, challenge yourself to take a sacrificial step in the direction of being more generous. For others of you, giving 10% is nothing. What would sacrificial giving look like for you? 20%, 30%, more? 70%, 80%? If a person has a net annual income of $1 milllion per year, they can give 90%, and still have a lot more to live on annually than most everyone in the world.
But what about the wisdom of investing? Yes, investing is wise. But I have to ask, investing toward what? Investing to build up an estate that will do what? Be turned over to your family when you pass away? Are you sure that your family will use the money in your estate, which is God’s money, in a way that is honorable to God? Don’t give your money to your family if you are not absolutely convinced that they will use it according to biblical principles. Create a giving plan so that your estate benefits God’s Kingdom. I think everyone should include their local church in their will. Too often people talk about investing, because they want to be wise stewards of their money, but they don’t end up being as generous as they could be.
Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can. John Wesley himself was an example of this. Take a look at this video:
Examine your heart. What has your heart? Does money? Or does God? When God has our hearts, we will live a life that turns away from economic idolatry by practicing simple living and consistent sacrificial joyful generosity.