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The Joy of Giving 与えることの喜び

Today I would like to talk about the joy of financial giving and explain why these words – ‘joy’ and ‘financial giving’ are not incompatible but are rather completely complementary!
Something that God has laid on my heart lately (and something I will be talking about more over Christmas) is how much God loves us. I don’t mean this as a trite cliche. We all know that God loves us. But I believe that God wants us to really know deep down in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls, in our experiences, just how enormous His love for us is. This is important because it will help us to understand God’s teachings – including financial giving – which are all rooted in love.

A. The Tithe 献金
How much, exactly, should we be giving to God? 正確にはいくらくらい神にささげるべきでしょうか?
The answer is very clear throughout the Bible: 10%.

This is a horrendous figure for those who are unaccustomed to tithing and have grown up without a culture of godly giving.

Let me start with this. Tithing is not for salvation. God doesn’t need your money. He isn’t short of cash. You can’t tithe your way into heaven, and you can’t by failure to tithe cast yourself out of heaven.
Tithing is an act of worship and trust. The call to tithe is a call to really put God first in our lives, not just with our words, not just with our time, not just with our desires or intentions, but also with our finances. It’s an important part of discipleship. Tithing is our response to God’s enormous love for us.
献金をすることは礼拝と信頼の行為です。 献金をすることは私たちへの神の計り知れない愛に応えることです。

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
Leviticus 27:30/レビ記27:30 地の十分の一は地の産物であれ、木の実であれ、すべて主のものであって、主に聖なる物である。

Could (David) give me ¥10,000?
Thank you. Why did (David) so readily give me ¥10,000?
Because I gave it to him before the service to give to me. It was never his money. It was always my money. Knowing that, it was easy for David to give it to me. He was just giving back what was mine. That’s how it is with the tithe. It belongs to the Lord. We’re just giving back to God what is His.
(Would anyone else like to give me ¥10,000?…)

Tithing to God is a command. 神に献金をすることは命令です。
That might sound odd. How can it be a love offering, an act of trust – and a command at the same time?
God commands us to tithe for our benefit, not His. Again, He doesn’t need our money. But we need to learn to trust Him. God commands us to give because of His great love for us and His desire for us to learn to trust Him. 神はご自分のためではなく、私たちのために献金することを命じているのです。神の偉大な愛ゆえに与えることを命じ、神に私たちが信頼するよう望んでおられるのです。

Here’s a fundamental truth: everything we have is God’s. Our family, our time, our possessions, our money. Everything is God’s. And God says, we can keep 90% of our income. 90% is all ours! But we need to give 10% to God. 私たちが持っているものはすべて神のものです。そして神は収入の90%は自分のものにしていいと言っています。しかし10%は神にささげなければなりません。

Jesus affirms this:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law [another perspective on tithing] —justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. Matthew 23:23/マタイによる福音書23:23
And this teaching leads us to a very, very important principle:
The righteousness of grace always exceeds the righteousness of the law.
This sounds very clever. Let me explain it.
Whenever Jesus pointed to an Old Testament law, He then set a higher standard. イエスが旧約聖書の律法を指すときはいつもより高い基準を設けます。
The righteousness of the Old Testament says “Don’t commit murder”. Jesus added the law of grace to this saying, “Don’t even be angry with your brother.”
The righteousness of the Old Testament says, “Don’t commit adultery”. Jesus added the law of grace to this saying, “Don’t even look with lust”.
The righteousness that grace demands goes further than that which the law demands. 恵みが求める義は律法が求める義よりもはるかに上回るのです。

Applying this principle of the righteousness of grace to giving, we see that 10% is actually the minimum we should be giving.
So we shouldn’t confuse the tithe with generosity. It’s not generosity.
It is an act of worship. It’s an act of obedience. And it is a demonstration of trust in God that He will provide for us. And as we learn to tithe faithfully, it also becomes a joy.

Rick Warren said something really interesting about this. We tend to think of trusting in God in very abstract terms. A spiritual matter. I mean, how can you measure a person’s trust of God? Very easily, it turns out. Look at his bank book. If he’s tithing, he’s trusting God. If he’s not tithing, he’s not fully trusting God.
There are going to be odd times when a full 10% is not possible. Think of someone who has lost their job or a businessman who has lost his business. But these are relatively rare exceptions. In all other circumstances, 10% is to be the standard in giving to God.
B. The Church
Where should we give the tithe? 十分の一献金をどこにささげればいいのでしょうか?
The church. 教会
Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
Exodus 23:19/出エジプト記23:29
The tithe is holy. It belongs in God’s house. 献金は聖なるものです。神の家に属します。

Although it’s clearly secondary to worship and trust in giving, there is a practical aspect to our giving, too. 私たちがささげることには実用面的なこともあります。
As Kyoko shared last week our current income through offerings is about the same as our expenses. Yet as our church continues to grow, so do our expenses. Recently we have seen increases in rent, equipment (chairs), teaching courses like the Marriage Course, pastoral expenses, lunch ministry, and so on. We need financial increase to grow our church. So just from a practical perspective, there is need for our income to grow as our church grows. 教会が成長するには経済的な増加が必要です。
Transparency is important. Please see Kyoko if you would like to review the details of the church’s finances.

C. The Challenges and Promises 課題と約束
We will likely face some challenges as we tithe. 献金をするにあたり私たちは課題に直面するでしょう。
What happens when we’re in recession and our income has decreased and our expenses have increased and after paying bills we’re living on less than 10% of our income?
What happens when we want to tithe but our spouse is an unbeliever and strongly opposes tithing? What happens when we’re in debt?

I don’t have easy answers to these questions but if we find ourselves struggling in any of the ways just mentioned then we should bring them before God and pray for and seek solutions so that we can tithe. You might want to do this with one of the church leaders.
I want you to know that I have struggled with tithing, too. I didn’t grow up in a church or family that taught tithing. I wish I had because it was a big adjustment for me. So personally I understand the challenge that many face when they start to tithe for the first time.

I like what Rick Warren has to say on financial wisdom. I wish someone had taught me this when I was younger.
‘My parents taught me the 10-10-80 principle when I was a child. It’s a great way to become intentional about your financial decisions.
1 Give 10 percent back to God. God blesses whatever you put him first in.
2 Keep 10 percent for yourself. Commit to saving money every time you make money. 10%は自分のためにとっておく。お金をもうけるたびに貯めるようにする。
3 Live on 80 percent. Only fools spend everything they get.
Like it or not, God uses money to test you. He is testing your responsibility. When he looks at your financial decisions in Heaven, God’s going to say, “Were you responsible with what I gave you on Earth?”’

One of the greatest concerns I have for us as Christians and for the church in general is that we’re so quick and so passionate in asking God to bless us, asking God to heal us, asking God to forgive us, asking God to equip us, asking God to use us – yet we hold back – we steal! (that’s the Biblical word) – from God in the process. 私たちは神が祝福してくださるように、癒してくださるように、赦してくださるように、私たちを備えてくださるように、 用いてくださるようにと頼むのは早いし、熱心であるけれど、いつの間にかためらい、神から盗んでいるのです。

If I had a family member who was continually stealing from me and then they kept asking me to give them more, I’m not going to give them more because they haven’t demonstrated that they are trustworthy with what they’ve had.

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
Luke 16:11,12/ルカによる福音書16:11,12 だから、もしあなたがたが不正の富について忠実でなかったら、だれが真の富を任せるだろうか。 また、もしほかの人のものについて忠実でなかったら、だれがあなたがたのものを与えてくれようか。

And God promises to bless those who are faithful in giving their money, just as He promises to bless those who give of their time and their effort and their heart. 時間や努力、心をささげる者を祝福すると約束されているように、献金を忠実にする者を祝福すると神は約束しています。
We certainly do not give just so that we can receive blessing. God knows the motives of our hearts and he can’t be fooled or manipulated.
We give because we love God. 私たちは神を愛しているので、ささげます。
We give because we trust God. 私たちは神を信頼しているので、ささげます。
We give because God first gave to us.  神が私たちに最初にくださったので、ささげます。
We give because we’re commanded to give.私たちはささげるように命じられているので、ささげます。
And we know that God will provide for us and bless us. There are blessings of abundance and there are blessings of joy for those who are faithful in their giving. God invites us to try this. God even invites us to test Him on the matter. 神は私たちに与えてくださり、私たちを祝福してくださると知っています。ささげることに忠実な者には豊かな祝福があり、喜びの祝福があるのです。神はこれを試してほしいのです。神は私たちに神を試してみるようにとも促しています。

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10/マラキ書3:10 わたしの宮に食物のあるように、十分の一全部をわたしの倉に携えてきなさい。これをもってわたしを試み、わたしが天の窓を開いて、あふるる恵みを、あなたがたに注ぐか否かを見なさいと、万軍の主は言われる。

Let’s be faithful in our giving to God and let’s be generous in our giving to each other. Doing so, we will experience the joy of giving.