The Sunday after Christmas is always a lightly attended Sunday. Believe me, I understand. This season is very tiring. It can be both financially and emotionally draining. So, it may be surprising that I chose this Sunday to speak about giving.
It makes sense to me for a couple of reasons. First, too many people gloss over the significance of the Magi. Second, we need to consider the importance and power of giving after Christmas has passed.
The Magi are significant because of who they are, what they did, and the gifts they brought. It is safe to say those who came from afar bearing expensive gifts had not spent a lot of time with Jesus before they traveled to see him. They were strangers to the God of Israel. We celebrate Epiphany because, Christ, the Messiah, for whom all Israel had awaited, was revealed to Gentiles. It was Gentile worshippers of foreign gods, who first brought gifts to the King of kings. As I said Sunday, “the focus changed from that of expectation of Advent to honoring the One who has come.”
When the Magi became aware that a king had been born, they set out on a long journey to bring Him expensive gifts of devotion as expressions of their worship. They did not give to Jesus because he was a great preacher. Nor did they give because they were excited about all that Jesus was doing. They gave because of who He is! Once the Magi knew the Messiah had come, they set out to honor Him with their gifts. This is a beautiful expression of godly giving.
As we continue the Christmas season, we realize the importance and power of giving after the celebrated day of gift-giving has passed. Special offerings, charitable giving, and tithes can all be beautiful expressions of godly giving.
Malachi 3:6-12 says we are cursed when we rob God of our “tithes and offerings.” This is strong language. It is important to note that Malachi 3 also bears a promise of blessings to those who tithe. Some have used both the warning and promise ploys to get people to give more. That is not my intent.
My prayer is that you find the joy and power in being obedient to tithe to the church you attend and yes, I am assuming you attend church regularly. Special offerings and charitable giving help fund many ministries and help those without food, clothing, or homes. Your tithes, though, help stabilize your local congregation in its operations and ministries. So, if you are not yet tithing 1/10th of your income to whatever church you attend, I ask that you consider setting a percentage and raising it incrementally until you reach at least the 1/10th mark.
I firmly believe that if people stop giving, God will give church and ministry wisdom to find other means, or to make necessary adjustments in spending. However, I do not want you to miss the blessings released by giving first to God’s church.
God bless, Pastor Don.