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Get to Not Got to

• Greg Boyd

There are two fundamental hindrances to living generously as the New Testament teaches. The first is that of the wrong motivation. The common teaching in the church is that we give because we must follow the Old Testament law of the tithe. However, the New Testament provides a different motivation, one that empowers us to give freely. The second hindrance is the modern attachment to possessions. When we address these two hindrances, we will find that sacrificial giving is a “get to not got to” thing, thus finding freedom in giving our time and money for the sake of others.

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In this second sermon in the series on generosity, Greg addresses two reasons why people get stuck when it comes to this topic. Let’s consider each.

The first reason is the wrong motivation. This is related to the common teaching in the church about the Old Testament principle of tithing. The tithe was the Israelite’s Temple Tax, supporting the Temple, priesthood and sacrificial system, which played a crucial role among the 613 laws found in the Old Testament. Since we aren’t ancient Israelites and there is no Temple, priesthood or sacrificial system to support, we must rethink this law in the light of the New Testament.

In the light of the cross and the resurrection, we are no longer under the law. In Galatians 3, Paul wrote that law was given to demonstrate the impossibility of living according to the law or of being rightly related to a law-oriented God. In this way, the law functioned as a guardian to lead us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. The guardian served its purpose, and that purpose is now complete. Therefore, the guardian should retire.

In contrast to a specific percentage that one is required to give, Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 to make up your mind what you will give. We are not to give out of compulsion but out of our heart, because God loves a cheerful giver. What delights the heart of God is seeing one of his children learning how to give out of joy rather than demand. In the New Testament, generosity is never associated with a required percentage. In fact, in the New Testament, sacrificial giving is actually a “get to not got to” thing.

The second hindrance to generosity is the modern attachment to possessions. Jesus taught that we must hate our possessions in comparison to our love and devotion to Christ. This does not mean that the disciples did not have things. It simply means that they are meaningless in comparison to Christ. This teaching confronts perhaps the most foundation idol of western culture – “MINE.” We think we really own the things we legally own. We’re conditioned to think this house, car, job, bank account, body, spouse, children, friend, belong to me. When we think that way, the possession actually becomes part of “me.”

This makes it impossible to find joy in giving. This idol, more than anything else, hinders our generosity. The “mine-mentality” causes us to cling tighter and harder to what we have, which makes it harder to let go. Giving away time and money is not just about time and money. It causes us to feel like part of “me” is being lost. When you belong to Jesus, everything about you belongs to Jesus. Your job, as a disciple, is to make sure things stay that way.

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Topics: Generosity, Greed, Money

Sermon Series: Unstuck

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 14: 25-27, 33

    Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple...
    So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

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