Matt Bennett is founder and CEO of Christian Union, a Christian leadership development organization. A native of Houston, Texas, Matt earned B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Cornell University and holds a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He resides in New York City.
In a time of incredible financial adversity, what, perhaps, is the first thing as a Christian that you should do? Have you thought about that? Perhaps right after thanking and praising God — since we should thank and praise Him in all circumstances — I would suggest that we should look at our own financial generosity and think about if there's a connection between that. My name is Matt Bennett. I am Founder and CEO of Christian Union. Our focus is Christian leadership development at some of the most academically intense universities in the United States as well as with adults in New York City and through Day and Night, across the United States. There is benefit to seeing what the Scriptures have to say about this, because if we can get our lives in line with the Lord and His purposes, then we can receive His favor, His pleasure and His blessings and we can be part, perhaps, of a move of revival and repentance across the country.
The passage we want to look at is Matthew 23:23. I want to read this passage and get some reactions or get some teaching from it. It 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 you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." The main point of this passage is to communicate that even more important than being fastidious about every little command that God has, even though they're important, is that we've got to hold the bigger things in front, and we've got to value mercy and faithfulness and justice. But you notice the last part of there, it says, "These things you ought to have done without neglecting the others." Jesus affirms the importance of tithing. He affirms that, even when it says that these people were tithing even little plants of mint and dill and cumin — which wasn't that big a deal if they didn't tithe the increase of that because they were so small — but He said you still should have done it.
And if we're not tithing — and by the way, tithing means giving at least 10%. Sometimes we use the word means just to give. But it means 10%, and this was something that was established even before Moses in the Old Testament law, with Abraham and Melchizedek way back in Genesis 14. Abraham had to give 10% away. So this is something that even predates the old covenant, and it's something that Jesus himself affirms that's something that could be done. And then in the New Testament we're told to be generous. It was inconceivable for a Jewish Christian to think that you'd be generous without giving at least 10% of your money away. Now, you can still have a bad attitude when you do it, and if you do it, you need to repent of that. And you can still be greedy if that's the case, but certainly, arguably you are greedy if you're not giving away at least 10%.
America is the richest country in the history of the world. Christians — we're supposed to be different than other people. We're supposed to be set apart and be a light to other people. That comes in part through our giving. To give away money, it shows that we have a heavenly mindset. It shows that we believe God will provide. It shows the world. It's an act of faith, and it strengthens us because we show back to God that we're not dependent upon that. God is our source. We do not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. That's what we're saying when we do it. So it's an act of faith. It pleases God when we do it. It also blesses other people and does other things.
So, since we as a nation are facing a time of great financial adversity, the first thing we should do is examine our own finances, examine our own hearts. Are we being financially generous? Are we giving away at least 10%? If not, repent of it, correct it immediately. Make up perhaps at least from the beginning of this year — calendar year, maybe the previous year, and then go forward in faith and doing everything that's pleasing to the Lord.
May God bless you. May He strengthen you, in Jesus' name.