As we continue in worship…

These words carry a lot of meaning and intentionality at Grace. We believe that the life of a believer should be one of continual worship (Romans 12:1).

Every week at Grace, you’ll hear different leaders use these specific words to move us through the liturgy (the order of our weekend service). You’ll hear them as we move from singing, to confession and communion, and again from singing into the the preaching of God’s Word.

Then they reappear, usually after the message, to lead us as a gathered people to a time of giving.

Of all of the disciplines, or “spiritual acts”, that we do as followers of Jesus, giving our money seems to be the most difficult. Again and again, we hesitate to connect giving to our worship, and sometimes feel as if giving is an obligation.

However, all of the joy and fulfillment that God has for us will be stripped away from the act of giving if we simply view it as a mark on a long checklist of how to make God tip His cosmic hat to us. Obligation and worship are the factors that come into play in the Old Testament story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. Both gave from what they had; however, Cain gave out of obligation, while Abel’s offering was an overflow of his worship. So often, our hearts foolishly endeavor to claim for ourselves that which has already been claimed by our Redeemer Jesus. Through Jesus’ work on our behalf, we are recipients of the astonishing favor of God. One theologian writes that “there is nothing that you can do that will make God love you any more or any less.” God’s love is wholly unconditional.

At Grace, we strive for big-hearted generosity because of God’s overwhelming generosity toward us. Generosity begins at the heart, which is also where worship begins. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, tells us “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

As our hearts have been awakened by his love, so we love. As our hearts have been softened by sacrifice, so we give our lives to serve others. As God has lavishly poured out His generosity over us, so we are marked by being a generous people. As our God has sung out a song of redemption over us, so we sing a song of praise back to him. Our giving is just one component that composes our life of worship to our God. Without it as a regular part of our lives, we are not fully experiencing all that God has for us in our enjoyment of Him.

We were made in the image of God. We reflect His glory and His goodness. The Church is God’s plan of hope for the nations. We carry the light of our Savior and the hope of his Gospel into a dark and despairing world. There is a unique beauty in seeing the people of God give sacrificially to see the Church be the hope that it was intended to be.

Randy Alcorn puts it like this:

By giving, we enter into and participate in the grace of Christ. We worship. By giving in concert with our brothers and sisters in Christ’s body, we jointly worship him, moved by each others’ example and mutual participation. In the building of the tabernacle, building of the temple, and repair of the temple, it was the corporate involvement of the community of saints in which the spirit of God moved so dramatically to produce extravagant giving. The same was true with the New Testament saints of Jerusalem in the early chapters of Acts and those in Macedonia spoken of in 2 Corinthians 8.

We carry on that legacy of generosity through the Church to the world around us. Giving, in an individual sense, demonstrates our worship. Giving, in the corporate sense, demonstrates our mission. We want to see people meet Jesus.

So what about giving when it’s not easy? Not everyone is able to give out of abundance. Practically speaking, generously giving of our finances can have a much greater tangible impact on our lives than serving or singing in a weekend service.

Grace’s Senior Pastor Mike Adkins often reminds us that “money is never about money. It’s always about trust.” Who do we trust with our life? Who do we trust with our future? At the heart of giving is sacrifice. Our giving is not meant to be a thoughtless ritual that has no impact on our day-to-day existence. In the same way that we put others before ourselves by offering our time and talents to make an impact on the world, so we give sacrificially of our possessions to see the Kingdom of God move forward.

At Grace, we are all always taking our next steps toward Christ. Everyone has a next step or even a first step. Some of us are taking our first steps with Jesus. Those are some of the best steps. Some of us are taking our first steps in community and serving. You are experiencing, possibly for the first time ever, what true family feels like.

Many of us need to consider our next, or even first steps, in giving. Our worship is our response to what God has done for us in and  through Jesus. Our giving is a sanctifying expression of that worship.

Giving is worship.