October 8, 2023

We should be generous

I have just one quick, real quick, announcement. Wednesday night at 6:30, we have an academic night. I promise you that the person who’s coming in, Dale Coulter, is one of the smartest guys I know. I mean that sincerely. We went to school together. I believe he's got some great things to talk about. So, if you like academics, intellect, the Word of God, theology, and all of that, you need to be here. If you're not here, I just want you to know that you will not go to heaven if you don't show up here on Wednesday night at 6:30. I'm just kidding.

Anyway, I would love to have you here. I think it would be a great time. So, that being said, I was recently watching some people who were talking about an interview that had happened between some pastors and a missionary. They were talking to the missionary, and talking about all the stuff that he did. The stuff that you would normally think about. How do you reach people? How do you deal with culture? How do you do all these things? It was a great interview. Then to break up the normal interview podcast type of thing, they just asked a question, sort of tongue-in-cheek, sort of fun, saying, “Hey, when you come back from overseas to America…” — you know this as well as I do. If you're in your house, you may have some kids, and they may have some crayons on the wall. There might be some cuts in the carpet or whatever. You just sort of live in your house and don't really pay attention to them, but somebody else comes in, or maybe you're going to put it up for sale, and that next set of eyes comes in and starts seeing all this stuff. You're like, “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. I forgot about it.”

So, they were asking him, “Hey, when you come back over to America, you probably have a different set of eyes than we do. Is there anything that just drives you nuts? Like, when you show up, do you go, ‘These people are not Christians? These people are not living right.’”

They were joking. It was sort of tongue-in-cheek, but they were saying, “Is there anything that just makes you go, ‘How in the world can these people say they're Christians, in America, and live like this?’”

He was like, “Yeah. Absolutely. There’s something that I really see that makes me go, ‘What in the world are they doing?’”

And they were like, “Well, what is it?” and when he said the answer, they were like, “Whew.”

I remember that when I heard the answer, I'm like, “That’s sort of a strange answer,” until he went on. He said, “Yeah. When I come to America, the thing I just don't even get, as Christians — I don't even understand how we do it — is your storage garages.”

He said, “I go over to peoples’ houses who go to church, who love God, and support us, and they can't even get into their garage because all their stuff is in the garage. They can't pull in. Then, because they’ve got more stuff, they take that stuff, and — have you noticed the storage garages? They’re on every corner of every city. You put your storage stuff in there, and half of it's air conditioned. Have you not read scripture where it talks about the guy who had the barns? He had more stuff, so he tore down his barns, and he put more stuff in his barns. That night, the Lord actually called him a fool. He said, ‘You fool. Do you know now that your soul’s going to be required?’”

He goes, “Your life does not consist of the abundance of things that you have. You Americans, you're greedy, and you're selfish.”

It was like, “Whoa.” I was like, “Man, okay.”

He goes, “And I think you might be blind to that.”

I was like, “Man, that's a good story to start off one of the Blind Spot series.”

So, some of you may have storage facilities, and you're going, “Oh, man.”

I'm not trying to — that does not mean you need to go empty it out tonight, like, “Honey, we’ve got to go, right now, and clean.”

What he was saying is, “Can you imagine if every American took all the stuff they had in every storage garage and everything else, and we gave all of that over to the people in the third world countries? How much more they would have, and how much more we could solve problems rather than just storing things up.”

I think there's a message in there. I think there's something in there that maybe we want to explore. Then they asked this question. They said, “So, how do you cure that?”

He goes, “Well, that's not hard at all. Rather than it be all about me, what people need to get ahold of is some generosity. Generosity kills greed. You’ve got to learn to be generous.”

Here’s what you know, here’s what I know, and here’s what we all know. We can talk about generosity at a 30,000-foot level, and it’s like, “Okay. Yeah, okay. That’s fine. I know I’ve got to be kinder. I know I probably should maybe not keep enough stuff or whatever,” but when you get it down to the granular level, and then you start talking about being generous with stuff, maybe having to give up stuff, maybe having to share stuff, or actually talking about Capital One, what's in our wallet, all of a sudden, it becomes this: The elephant walks into the room. Do you know what I'm talking about? You know what I'm talking about. You can talk about it in a sweeping, sweeping way, like, “Be more generous.”


Then you say, “Well, okay. Let’s talk a little bit deeper.”

“No, no, no.”

Because here's what you know, I know, and we all know: Anytime you talk about generosity — specifically if you get into talking about, “Do we have too much stuff? Could we give some of our stuff?” or talking about how we give, how we look at finances, or whatever else, it’s invariably true — you know this, and I know this — that somebody in the sanctuary, and somebody online, at least one person, is going to say, “All churches want is your money.”

Can I push back on that for a minute? We're not a bank. To be honest with you, we never even think about money, really, as people on a church staff. Do you know what we think about? We think about your kids. We’ve got 80 or 90 kids right now on a youth retreat. We're praying for them, that they come back so filled with the Spirit of God. We pray for your marriages. We're worried about how things are going for you. We’ve got prayer chains going on. We’re thinking about ministry. The only time we ever think about this is if we have to say, “Yeah, we can't do that because we can't afford it.”

That would be the only time that we think about this. So, I want to push back on that because what this does is it creates a culture in church — you know this, and I know this because it's just true — where because this goes on, because it's a sensitive issue, pastors don't want to talk about it, you don't want to hear about it, and it becomes this icky situation. But what's interesting is all of you tell me all the time, “Chip, we are so glad we come to a church that teaches and preaches the Word of God. We just love it when you go into the background. We love it when you go deep. We love it when you show us Jesus in the Old Testament, and all of this stuff.”

So, listen to me. If you say you really love me teaching the Bible, then one of the things that's in the Bible, and it's really in there a lot, is how we should be generous. It's all through scripture. So, shouldn't be this icky thing. Just to push back on this, let me just give you some biblical references here. Paul, talking to the Ephesians elders in Acts 20, says, “In all things I've shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak.”

Like, what a different perspective Paul had.

“I'm going to work hard so I can help others.”

Most people think, “I'm going to work hard so I can get more stuff and get a storage garage.”

I'm just kidding. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus. He said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

The psalmist says, “It is well with the man who deals generously, lends, and who conducts his affairs with justice.”

Solomon says, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord.”

The Lord doesn't need anything from you and I. He says, “Whoever lends to the Lord, He will repay him for his deed.”

This is a tough one. John, the beloved disciple, says, “If anyone has a storage garage,” no. That’s not in the Greek either. Anyway, if anyone has this world's goods, sees his brother in need, and closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? He's not saying you’re not a Christian because Christians can be greedy, and we can be selfish from time to time. He's just saying, “Man, it shouldn't be that way. If God's love is really into our heart, we should be generous.”

The writer to the Hebrews says, “Don’t neglect to do good and share what you have.”

Sometimes that's hard. Sometimes it's hard to share what you have because you don't have a whole lot. You go, “I don't know. If I share, am I going to have anything?”

He says, “For such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

In other words, the idea of giving, sharing, and being generous are biblical truths. Jesus says it pretty clear. He says, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So, let me say this at a granular level here because I want to make sure that we hear this. This is so important. We can't let some poor communication and/or bad teaching about giving — and I've had both in my life. I've been made miserable about it. I've been made to feel guilty about it. And I've had bad teaching. I've had people say, “Give here, and all your warts will be gone. Give here, and you won't have hair grow out of your ear. Give here, and you'll be cured of whatever. Give here, and you'll have a big plane,” or whatever.

We can't let some poor communication and/or bad teaching about giving — and maybe you grew up in a church or you knew somebody who didn't steward money well, or it just didn't seem like it was right. We can't let teaching about giving that's poor, or some churches or people who were or are bad stewards, keep us from living out biblical truth. We just can't do it.

It’s so easy to go, “Yeah, but there's this,” — and I agree. I've been in churches. I was at church one time, and I think they took up seven offerings. It was like, “Man, what in the world is going on?”

You know? I mean, it was crazy. You don't want to do that. I don't want to do that. We don't do that here. We don't even take up an offering. We don't even pass anything. We're just like, “Well, if you want to give, give,” so it's not like we're some oppressive regime here. But what we don't want to do is let the ideas of biblical generosity. steal from us the things that God has for you and I. God doesn't need it. It's not what He wants from us. It's what He wants for us because generous people are happier. Generous people have bigger smiles. Generous people realize it's better to give than it is to receive.

So, as a church, we've just decided we're going to be generous in everything that we do. We do things like this. If you support the local church here, this is stuff that you're supporting, whether you know it or not. We do Serve Day. We do hugs and smiles. Back to school. We give age-appropriate school supplies to kids who would probably not be able to get them because of where they live or because they don't have the money to do it. We support these things. We do things on Main Street. Waterside. Farmer's market. We do stuff at Resurrection House and feed the poor. We do all kinds of stuff around here. We spend a ton of money doing that, but we're not done. We don't just do these things that are good intentional neighbor things, but we support various organizations that do what they do really good, and they would tell you that if Grace didn't support them, they would know it. In fact, we've been given plaques for many, many years. We get plaques from different groups that say, “You were the best partner we had last year.”

We support things like Youth for Christ. Let me just say this too. People all around here will be like, “Chip, you need to speak up on issues. You need to say more.”

Can I tell you something? I'm tired of listening to people talk about things and do nothing about it. Do you know what we do? We don't talk about it. We do it. We do it. You want to know what this church believes? Look at what we support. We support Youth for Christ. We support Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center. Women who have children that they maybe didn't expect or don't know what do with, we support them and pour into them. We support maternity homes so these women can have these children, and they have support groups and whatever.

This is what we support. We don't have to talk about it. We do it. Okay? Better Together and Bridge of Life, we take care of foster kids, help them take care of these foster kids, and pour into this. Selah Freedom, where people have been abused sexually, we pour into that. Needles to Nails, drug addicts who have been saved and set free by Jesus. CarePortal.

This is what we do. This is who we are. We're not going to not be a generous church because somebody back in my life or in somebody else's life did it wrong, because the fact of the matter is being generous is biblical. It’s just biblical. Not only that, but here are some of the missionaries that we support, and here's where they're at. We support these people. Anything. If they need something, we get it for them. We have a missions department, and we take care of these people. When you give here, we're generous. We take care of people, and we support. We’ve got people in counseling who we take care of. I mean, the things that we do around here, there are so many things that go on here that I can't even keep up with. Just a few hours ago, we had about 80 women who have lost children in pregnancy who came in here, met for the whole day, wrote names of their children down that they've lost, and were ministered to. Right before that, just a couple of days before that, the Lakewood Ranch Business Association was in here, and we were helping them do things and whatever. I mean, it's just amazing what goes on because, as Christians, we should just be people who are generous. It should just be who we are, and it shouldn't be icky. It shouldn't be something, like, “Oh, man. The giving message,” or whatever. It’s not icky.

So, I want to share from my heart to you — because you all say, “Hey, we love it when we teach the Bible, “— I mean, you say that, and then if I teach it something a way you don't like it, then you're like, “Oh, I don't know about this guy.”

Anyway, here's the thing. I always say this: You don't have to agree with me. I'm fine with that. I'm totally, totally settled in where I'm at with the Lord in what I do, and the one I’ve got to please is Him. So, I'm just going to be faithful to what I know, I’m going to be faithful to scripture, and tell you what I've learned over the years, what I've seen over the years, and what I believe scripture says about these things. I just ask you to lean in. If you go, “Okay, yeah. Some of that was okay,” great. If you go, “Wow, that was really cool,” great. And I'll know because the ones who walked past me at the door like this, I’ll know I didn't do something good. I'm just kidding. It's all good.

So, let me tell you what I've learned along the way. First of all, being generous is a part of following Jesus. We shouldn't be people who are not known as generous. Do you know what’s sad? It's sad. You go to restaurants, and you say, “So, who are the worst tippers?”

They say, “Well, the Sunday afternoon crowd that comes from church.”

That's a shame. That's sad. Can we just have a moment here? Can I just sit down and say that's sad? I mean, that's sad. Love on the waitress at Chili's, man. Goodness gracious. That's where I found my wife, Mindy. It was at Chili's. She was a server. I'm telling you, if you're generous, you don't know what you're going to come up with. I mean, just be generous. You might find your wife over some nachos and cheese and a tip. Just to be generous, okay? It’s a part of following Jesus.

You see it here. Paul says, “Jesus says that it's more blessed to give than receive.”

There should never be an icky moment for a pastor to get up and say, “Hey, we ought be generous. We ought to be more generous than the world. We ought to be more generous than other people. They should know, ‘Hey, man. Those people go above and beyond.’”

The second thing I can tell you, biblically, and that I've learned throughout my life, is that generosity is one of the easiest ways to determine our commitment to the Lord. People don't usually like this one. They don't like this thing. If you want to know what's going on, if want to know where your commitment is, pull out your checkbook and look where you give. You'll figure it out real quickly. You go, “I don't agree with that.”

Okay. Well, John asks the question, “If we have this world's goods and we're not generous, how does God's love abide in us?”

In other words, to John, it's a big deal. If you're unwilling to be generous, it's a sign that something is not right. It doesn’t mean you're not a Christian, and nobody's trying to give you any guilt. The name of the church is not “Guilt Community Church, it’s Grace Community Church. Alright? Nobody's trying to give anybody a hard time. We’re just trying to talk about biblical things. Jesus says something that's really fascinating. He says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I think most of us think that where our heart is, that's where we will treasure. That's not what Jesus says. Jesus says, “Our heart follows our treasure.”

Look at what you treasure. Look at what you give time to, and that's what your heart goes to. Do you want to know how you know that that's where your heart goes to? If somebody messes with it, you're upset because it has your heart. I say to people all the time, “If you're in a marriage, treasure your spouse, and your heart will follow. Don't watch the Bachelor. Don't watch those programs on TV because they try to tell you what's in your heart first, and then — that's not the way it works. Sometimes you’ve got to pour into somebody else, and then those feelings will come. People go, “Oh, it's not the way it was when you first started dating.”

I'm like, “Dating is half a joke anyway, because you’re putting on a show for the person, you get married, and then the real person comes out.”

You know? I mean, it’s crazy that we’re like, “Oh, they changed.”

No. But what I'm saying is that what we treasure is what gets our heart. A great way to look at where our heart is is to just look at what we're committed to in our giving. It's a great place to look. I'm not saying it's the only place. I'm just saying it's a great place to look.

The third thing that I've learned — and I think this is true — is there are different levels to our generosity. I've seen this across the board, and I probably could pull some scriptures and support all this in some way or fashion. I'm not going to try to get into just doing some topical message and pulling stuff together, but this is just true. Christians come to the Lord, they get saved, and then they just sort of know, “Well, I probably should be different in some way.”

Maybe if you're newer Christian, you sort of don't know what to do, and when it comes to giving, normally, we’re going to hold onto everything that we can get, so it's sort of strange. What I've learned is just to watch the walk. We call it the journey of generosity around here. You want to join in and walk because it’s not something where you just step in and you're all-in right away. I mean, it's usually something that people learn along the way, they learn to trust God, and they wade in a little bit more. Here’s the way I found. I mean, typically, you start off and you're not really much of a giver. Now, some people come to Christ and they're already givers, so that's a whole other story, but most people sort of hold that. That's pretty sacred, their income, and so on and so forth. Whatever it may be. So, the first level I find in almost anybody who starts to maybe, maybe, maybe give — and not even just at church, but just being generous in nature — is tipping. It's sort of like, “Yeah, maybe I got something from that, so I’ll do whatever. Yeah. I've been coming to the church for six months. I’ve probably drank like 400 gallons of their coffee. They probably deserve two bucks. I'll put it in the box or whatever.”

Listen, can I say something to you? I want you to hear this from me. I love anybody who does anything that's generous. You have my heart. This is one of those sermons where if I were to preach on patience, I would go, “Yeah, I'm really a bad, bad example of patience. I'm a very impatient person. I'm always like, ‘Go, go, go. We can do it.’”

But when it comes to giving, that's something that I excel at. I love to give. I'm a generous person, so this is an easy sermon for me to preach. But for some people, it's tough. I get it. So, you start off tipping. If you sort of get into the tipping thing, the next thing you do is you find that people will start to give a little bit more occasionally. There's a little bit more than just the tip. They just start to think about it as more occasional. Maybe they see somebody at the gas station, and maybe they go, “Ah, you know, maybe I'll help them out,” or whatever. Or in church you might go, “Ah, I probably ought to give something along the way.”

The next step moves into intentional. This is probably where most seasoned Christians in church actually are. They’re sort of intentional in their giving. They may say, “I'm going to give the church $10 every week, $50 every week, or $100 every week,” or whatever it may be. Trust me, we're so delighted that you join us in being generous. And then, maybe, on the outside, you’ve got a compassion kid that you have or whatever. A charitable thing that you do at the end of the year, but you start to become more intentional in your giving. It starts to be like, “Yeah, that's important.”

Now, this next one is one that gets everybody all spooked out and everything. I'm going to come back around to it. I’ve got two slides. I want to really talk about this. I want to make sure that you understand what this is, where it's coming from, and what the Bible has to say. But I find the next step after somebody's intentional is, somewhere along the way, they decide to be someone who is a tither. We’ll explain this in a minute. If you've never heard that word, that word gets everybody bent out of shape in church, by the way. It's crazy. You say “tithe,” and they go, “Ahh!” like a horror film. It's like, “What did I say?”

What I find is that people who become tithers very quickly go into above and beyond. In other words, they give their 10%, but they're so quick to move on to other things. It seems like moving from intentional to tithing to above and beyond is a very, very quick movement once people understand the journey of generosity. And then where you really want to get to in life is to be a lifestyle giver. That’s just who you are. You're like Paul. You go, “I work so that I can be a blessing.”

That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy life. If you have a storage garage, I'm not giving you a hard time. I'm just saying that these are the things. So, now, this tithing thing, let's talk about this because — and you don't have to agree with me. It’s fine. I'm just going to tell you where I'm coming from, what I think, what Mindy and I practice, what our family practices, and how we do what we do. I think Christians should be tithers. You go, “Oh, no. I don't believe in that. I'm not…”

Okay, that’s fine. First of all, let me explain what it is, and then we'll talk about some biblical rationale because that’s what we do here. We teach the Bible, not just what Chip believes. It’s what scripture teaches. So, I'll tell you where I get there, how I get there, and all that stuff. If you do go, “I don't agree,” it's fine. It's fine. I just want to teach to you on giving because I think giving is something to teach about. Just so you know, tithing is where the first 10% of our income should go to the local church. You go, “Hold on. How do you figure that out? How do you…”

We’re going to talk about this. I'm going to show you how this works in the New Testament, and how we get that. In the Old Testament, what they would do is, with the first 10%, trust God. I mean, just think about this. Many of you, when you go to a restaurant, tip 15-20%. Some of you do more than that. So, 10% is not a big number. It’s just not a big number. For whatever reason, it's this big number when it comes to church. We’ll pay 6% sales tax and not think a thing about it, but if somebody mentions something — “Oh, no, don't talk about it.”

So, 10% of our income should go to the local church because, in the Old Testament, they would give 10%, it would go to the temple, and it would allow the priest to do the things that they needed to do. In the New Testament — you can read Cyprian, Tertullian, and all these early Church people. You can go back and read that they believed in tithing. That's what they did. The church was given 10%, so you’re sort of trusting God with your finances just like you trust God with your family, and you trust God with your marriage. It’s just like if you talk about marriage. You go, “Hey, marriage is not about you getting your needs met, but it’s about you meeting the other person's needs,” and people go, “I don't want to do that. I don't believe in 1 Corinthians 7. I watch TV programs, and they teach me something different.”

No. This is what the Bible says. You serve your spouse. You’re the first one to wash feet. You go, “I don't want to do that,” but that's just the way God says to do it. I don't know why. To me, personally, when God says 10%, I'm like, “Man, He gave me 90%. That's a deal. That's awesome.”

Okay? Just to show you how badly this is done, 5% of Christians tithe. Five percent. So, we either don't believe it, which I think is probably the number one deal, or we just don't do it, which is also there. Just to give you an idea so that everybody's aware, if that number were more, the churches in America would be able to kill it, but it's not. Let me give you this stat here. Christians give 2.5% of their income. That’s 2.5% not to the local church, but 2.5% total. Like, some of it to the church, some of it here, some of it there. Okay? Just to give you some perspective, Christians gave 3.3% of their income during the Great Depression. So, we've changed. We've slid into some more stuff. So, whenever you get here and you talk about this, here it is. We’ve done this for so long. Here's what happens. People say, “Chip, tithing isn't a New Testament thing because we aren't under the law.”

Yeah. We're not under the law. We've never said that here. It's not Law Community Church. It's not. It’s Grace. We believe that 100%. The problem, though, with this thinking — because this is what people say: “It’s not a New Testament thing. It’s just not there.”

The problem is that tithing predates the law. See, this is the problem, biblically. I'm not trying to give anybody a hard time for maybe not knowing the scriptures the way that we should. We don't realize this, that tithing is before Charlton Heston took them across — I mean, Moses took them across — to the promised land, okay? Because we know that Abraham tithed in Genesis 14:20. We know that Jacob tithed in Genesis 28:2. Tithing is something that people were doing before the law. So, it's not like when you say, “Well, it’s part of…”

It is in the law, but it was before the law. It’s like saying loving your neighbors in the law, but to love people was before the law. So, when you use that as an excuse — and I'm going to say this. I'm going to be blunt. You can get mad at me or whatever. I've never met anybody who says, “Well, tithing’s not in the New Testament. We shouldn't be tithing,” — I've never met anybody who also says, “But I give 30%.”

No. It's always a justification to give less. That’s just the bottom line. I've never met anybody who says, “I don't believe tithing is in the New Testament, but we give way more than that. And I would love to meet that person because that would be great. I think you will agree with me that we don't sing, “I surrender 10%,” right? It’s “I surrender all.” Right?

We say, “It’s not in the New Testament,” or we say, “Well, Jesus didn't teach tithing. Jesus didn't teach it. I'm going to go with the words of red.”

The problem is, though, that He did. He did teach tithing. You go, “Oh, He did?”

Yeah. I'm going to read it to you. Do you think I'm going to make it up? I've been your pastor this long, and you think, “Oh, Chip’s going to just make up the Bible?”

No. I'm going to read it to you. Okay? Matthew 23.

Talking to the religious people, He says, “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These…’”

The tithing of your mint, your dill, and your cumin. Even the smallest little things in your garden. You all are meticulous in your giving. Good job. He goes, “You should have done those things. No problem with that, but you shouldn't have neglected the others.”

The NLT, the New Living Translation, says it this way: “‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.’”

So, you say, “Oh, okay. Alright. So, Jesus taught it, but that was before He went to the cross though. So, when He went to the cross, after He went to the cross, all that's gone.”

Okay. Well, the problem is that in the book of Hebrews, Hebrews 7, tithing is taught again. What’s interesting in the book of Hebrews, when it mentions tithing, is that the book of Hebrews is about how Jesus is better than all the things in the Old Testament. He's better than the angels, in Hebrews 1. he’s better than Moses, in Hebrews 2-3. He’s better than Melchizedek. He’s better than the Aaronic priesthood. He's better than the old covenant. But in Hebrews 7, when it talks about tithing, that would've been the great place for the writer of Hebrews go, “By the way, that's superseded, and here's the new deal,” but he doesn't, which is striking. Then you start looking at the early Church, and the early Church talks about it. In all of the early Church writings that we have — not biblical, but just early Church history — the Christians tithe. They supported the local church. This is what they did. Then, at about this point, somebody goes, “Well, I just don't believe in tithing.”

That's fine. It's not like it's a heaven or hell issue here. I mean, you're not going to get saved or not saved by whether you do. My question would be, and I mean this sincerely, what do you believe about generosity? What do you believe, as a Christian, about generosity? Because I can tell you this: Grace always does more. If you read through the New Testament and you talk about the Old Testament, Jesus says, “Oh, no, no, no. It said that but let me tell you what's really going on. It says eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth? Yeah, don't resist the evil person.”

You go, “Whoa. That's more.”

Yeah. Grace always says more. So, if you're going to say, “I don't believe in tithing,” and you don't believe in that at all, then my question is what do you believe in, as a believer? Do you believe that you should just not give and not be generous? I don't think that we can agree with that. I think we know better than that.

So, the next thing I want to say, and this is important too, is that biblical tithing is not the same thing as charitable giving. I think we've made it this way. This is super important. Please hear me here. Please hear me. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that we give a tithe. Do you know what Malachi says? Bring. Do you know why you can't give it? It's not yours. It's not mine. It’s the Lord's. He doesn't say to give it, He says to bring it.

“Bring me the tithe so that there may be food in my house. Bring the tithe so that there can be ministry done.”

Then He says this. I know this has been butchered — butchered — but it's still biblical and true. People have made it into something that it's not. But He says, “Put me to the test.”

Isn't that what God says about everything?

“Do you want to pray? Pray. Watch what I can do. Do you want to share your faith? Watch how I use you to lead people to the Lord.”

Everything is a step of faith. God says, “Trust me with what I'm telling you to do. Give me the 10%, and watch what I do. Watch what I do. Look at how I'll take care of you.”

I'm telling you — although I know people take this, abuse it, and they're like, “Put $100 in here and you're going to get $15,000 back,” which is crazy, not true, and not biblical. What I can tell you is — and hear your pastor here — that you cannot out-give God. Period, end of story, no matter what we believe about this. I'll also tell you that we should be givers above and beyond tithing. So, the early Church tithe, in 1 Corinthians 16:1, they’re going to take up an offering for another project, they’re going to take up an offering for the saints that are suffering in Jerusalem, and here's how Paul writes.

He says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints…”

“I'm going to collect money here in Corinth, and I'm going to take it to Jerusalem.”

“…as I directed to the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.”

I just love it. Paul's like, “This is what you do.”

He doesn't even go, “Hey, can we get together? Let me try to explain.”

He's just like, “No. This is who we are, man. We give. this is what you do.”

Here’s what he tells him to do: “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside…”

This is after you've given 10%.

“…each of you is to put something aside and store it up,”

Put it in a jar. Do whatever.

“…as you may prosper,”

You can't give something that you haven’t got. But every week, see if God's blessed you, and put a little aside. He says, “The reason is so that I don't have to get up and give a speech when I show up. There’ll just be money because that’s what we do. We're Christians. We go above and beyond.”

So, when it comes to generosity, I think that we need to chill on being upset, frustrated, or whatever else. I just think we need to go, “Yeah. Do you know what? That’s true. The Bible is true.”

Whether you believe exactly the way that I believe or not, that's okay. You don’t have to be me. I'm just telling you, though, there's no way in the world that we can be Christians and believe that being generous is something we shouldn't be. So, people ask me all the time, “How can we help?”

We do this. We’ll preach messages and say we need golf cart drivers, or we’ll say, “We need help doing this,” or, “We need help doing this.” So, if you ask me, “Chip, what can we do? How can we respond to this message?” first of all, be a consistent tither or be consistent in your generosity as a percentage giver. You say, “Well, I don't like that tithe thing. I'm going to set my own percentage between me and God.”

Great. Set your percentage between you and God, but just be consistent because, I'm telling you, you don't know how God will bless you. I'm not talking about just being here. Be consistent here but be a giver outside of this church. Be a giver. You say, “How can we help?”

I'm teaching you the best I can about generosity. You need to go home, you need to pray about it, and you need to think about it, but maybe trust God a little bit more with your finances. In every way, being generous.

The second thing you can do — and this is huge — is we have a current need that we would like for you to help us with. When you leave here, you're going to get one of these. Please don't take this and throw it in the trash can. Please. Don’t do that. Inside, you're going to have a letter that I have written. Don’t start and go, “Thank you,” — don't do that. Don’t do it in the car when you're at the stoplight. Don’t do that. Don't even open this up until you go home. Sit down and say, “God, I'm going to open this up. I'm going to read this.”

You're going to read this letter, and it's going to tell you about some things that you could help us with. There's going to be a nice little thing because we're going to start a campaign. It's going to be called the Lighthouse Campaign. We're building out this area over here. We're closing on this property. We're getting ready to put parking spots here. Let me tell you something: We don't need one penny from anybody to do it. We’ve already got the money. We can do it. But what we'd like to do is not use that capital so that when we get all these things done, we can go back and start doing other things that we desperately need to do as we continue to grow. So, you're going to have a letter. The letter has a nice, little QR code. The QR code’s right here. You can take it with your phone and scan it. There’s a video where I talk about a lot of things. I'd like for you to listen to that. And then we've given you a little card here. We’re just saying, “Hey, you can fill it out, you can drop it in, you can email it, you can scan it,” or you can throw it away if that's what you want to do. But just ask the Lord if this is something that you could help us with, and it would be incredible if you would.

We’re going to do this over the next 52 days. The reason for 52 days is because that's how long it took Nehemiah to build the wall. We may not raise everything that we want to raise. We may not. Who knows? But we're going to trust. God, and we're just asking you to help us. So, do you want to know how you can help us? We don't do this very much. C.S. Lewis says it best: “I don't believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I'm afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

That's what C.S. Lewis says, and I agree with C.S. Lewis when it comes to giving.

The last thing I would tell you is this: Let us all agree to never lose sight of why we do what we do. We called this the Lighthouse Campaign, and that room's going to be called The Lighthouse because, at least once a year, I read you a story. I'm going to read you the story again, this weekend. If you've been here, you've heard it. If you have never been here, it'll be the first time that you hear it. But we can't forget why we do what we do because this is not about the church wanting your money. This is about how we want to reach more people, we want to do more events, and we want to do more ministry. That's what we want to do. We want to reach more people. So, here's the thing. We’ll read this, I'm going to pray, they’re going to come out and sing a great song about how doing it God's way is better than our way, and then you can just turn your head at me on the way out, come back next weekend, I'll have a great message that you'll love, and the elephant won't be in the room.

“On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat. But the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money, and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought, and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So, they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.  Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully, and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as sort of a club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty, sick, and had different colored skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So, the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before they came inside.  At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose, and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit the seacoast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.”

We cannot forget what we're doing here. We are here to reach people. What we want to do is reach people. All I'm asking you is, in the same way that I teach every single weekend about things that you love, things that you walk out, saying, “Man, that was awesome,” or whatever, you should walk out and go, “Do you know what? Thank God that our pastor taught us about giving because that's a biblical thing. We should be appreciative that he cares enough to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God.”

Because what happens is if you don't learn about generosity, you're robbed. Not us. You're robbed. I just want you to hear me that the more generous that we can be, the more we can be into what we're doing, the more we'll watch God continue to do the things that He does. Just so you know, over like 70-80 people in the last six or seven weeks were baptized. The average church in America is 70 people. We baptized a whole church because of what God is doing in this place. Hear me: When you give here, you're supporting all of that. God knows that, whether it's a dollar or whether whatever it is. So, I would ask you, humbly, to think about this, take those things home, pray about it, and pray about this. The good thing is you can go, “Alright! He ain't going talk about that for a long time again.”

And I won't. Every once in a while, I’m like, “Yeah, I need to talk about this. This needs to be talked about.”

In this series

Keep learning

Learn about our Discover Classes and Grace University. Browse through topical short video series, view interviews with Christian thought leaders, or take an in-depth systematic theology video class with Pastor Chip.