It's at the cross of Jesus Christ that life begins. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ make up the most critical event in history—one worthy of our pause, our pondering, and our praise.
Infancy is back-to-basics time! It is during that era that we set the cornerstone and fix in place the initial blocks, upon which we develop the balance of our lives, spiritually speaking. Because of the essential nature of these truths, it is helpful for us to return to them periodically and be reminded of their importance.
All who work with babies and bottles, toddlers and high chairs, building blocks and toy boxes enjoy one of the special delights life offers. Yet with all the thrills, there are also the threats unique to newborns. Being so tiny and dependent, their little lives often hang perilously close to danger and death. What is true of infant humans is equally true of infant believers in God's family.
There is one common analogy used throughout the New Testament regarding the local church. It is not a business, farm, team, school, or hospital, though those word pictures are frequently used by us to convey various dimensions of congregational life. The most often used analogy is that of a family. God is our Father; we are called His offspring—sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, even fellow heirs.
Jesus was the master teacher. Against relentless and hostile opposition, and in spite of many who followed Him for all the wrong reasons, He spoke with wisdom and taught with skill. Among the methods He preferred to use, the parable was one of His favourites. By placing a familiar and simple word picture before His audience, Jesus was able to draw out profound analogies that have intrigued even the brightest minds for centuries.
While the New Testament does not include direct commands that God's people tithe, it is worth noting that we are never commanded to not tithe. We could even assume that tithing was so ingrained in the New Testament believers' lifestyles, nothing more needed to be written regarding it—though, under grace, giving a tithe was no longer an obligation but an appropriate starting point for all who wished to cultivate the habit of joyful generosity.
Becoming a faithful and generous follower of Christ does not depend on our accumulation of money as much as it does on our attitude toward money. (Pause and reread that statement.) As we will discover in this lesson, the less we depend on material things to make us happy, the more likely we are to model generosity.
Whether we are single or married, younger or older, wear a hard hat or a top hat, are self-employed or climbing the corporate ladder or retired from that pressured, stressful world, God's Word provides wisdom found nowhere else in literature…and not just wisdom but inspired wisdom. Expressed in ways that are easily understood, some of the most helpful counsel has to do with managing our money wisely.
When grace fuels us to forgive someone who has offended us, we abundantly release every hint of any offence. When grace is cultivated in our relationship with a friend, an abundance of bountiful freedom marks our friendship. The same bountiful abundance occurs when grace is the motivating factor prompting our giving. In other words, living by faith includes giving by grace.
For too long, Christians have regarded serving Christ as a heavy burden. Because that attitude is so widespread, Christians often put on grim, gloomy, whipped, and weather-beaten faces when a pastor mentions the word serve.