Week 3 Tithe Challenge

DO THE MATH – PASS THE TEST

Week 3 - Deny Yourself

Selfish vs Selfless

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  Matthew 16:24–25 NLT

Would you consider yourself selfish or selfless?  Depending on the moment, we might answer the question differently. To challenge our understanding of ourselves, here is a test- at some point this week you are going to want to buy something for yourself. Instead, deny yourself and give God what it would have cost you.  Why do this silly exercise? To prove whether or not you are more concerned with self-pleasure or proving to yourself that you can deny something.  If you want to be a Jesus Follower (aka a Christian), He said you need to deny yourself.  We face a real problem in the world today because our culture is truly set up for self-gratification.  Everything we do is to gratify ourselves. We entertain ourselves with TVs, movies, smart phones, tablets and computers; we indulge ourselves through eating out and we spoil ourselves with shopping.  We live in a tailored world that says “you should have everything customized for you so that you are as satisfied as you could possibly be, because after all you deserve it.” That is the norm in our culture. But Jesus had a very different take on it. He said, “Don’t get caught up on you, and if you do you will lose yourself. But if you deny your selfish ways and follow me, you will discover true life.”

As Christians we have given God part of ourselves and think that is enough. But Jesus said that in order to save your life, you must first give it up!  It is so hard to let go of our selfish desires, but this is a battle we need to engage in. This is one of the reasons God taught so much on the subject of money. He knew that when it was in our hands and when we had to divide the tithe, it would be a defining moment kind of test. When we pass this trust test, it is then that we have denied ourselves. The challenge for this week is to deny yourself. Whatever the first thing is that you desire to buy for yourself (as a treat or a need), don’t buy it; instead take the money that it would have cost and give it to God.  It doesn’t matter if it’s $2 for a coffee, $20 for a shirt or $50 for dinner out; deny yourself, test your heart, and follow Him! If we can’t do it in a simple small test, how can we possibly do it in major life decisions?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  Matthew 16:24–25 NLT

It is essential to the faith that we understand full devotion and self-denial.  Self-denial prevents us from feeding our sinful nature, but full devotion let us put all our energy into following Him!  If you want to have a status quo life, live for the stuff. If you want to get to the end of life and lose all your investments, then invest in the things of this world. But if you want to gain eternal life, live for what you can give to God, what you can do for Him, and how you can express your love to Him. To get your life in order, put Him first and let Him take care of your needs.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV