For many pastors, the topic of giving is one they shy away from or have little passion to preach about, but Robert Morris, the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multicampus church in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex with more than 39,000 active members, says he speaks on giving every single week.
But it’s rarely about money.
In Friday morning’s final business session of the 2017 General Council in Anaheim, Morris urged pastors to not apologize for preaching God’s Word, stating: “Preach with boldness on giving . . . 16 of Christ’s 38 parables have to do with giving and possessions.”
Although money appeared to be the topic, Morris instead took a different path. Examining the frequently used “money giving” passages found in Matthew 7:1-2 and Luke 6:37-38, that begins with “Judge not and you will not be judged . . . but includes, “give and it will be given unto you.,” Morris and the audience agreed that the verse’s subject was judgment. But then he pointed out what the phrase concerning giving actually meant: whatever a person gives — judgement, condemnation, forgiveness — it will be given back to him or her.
“Luke 6:38 is not the motive for giving,” he said, “it is the motivation for giving with the right heart.”
In criticizing the ministries that promote giving more to get more, Morris explained that God invented giving to work greed and selfishness out of people’s lives, but the way giving is preached by some actually works greed and selfishness into lives.
Referring back to Luke and giving, he observed that when people hear the word “giving,” they automatically thing about money. And when pastors consider preaching on giving, they become uncomfortable because they’re afraid people will see it as benefiting the church.
But Morris pointed out that sermons on prayer, grace, marriage, salvation, and nearly any other topic in the Bible involves giving (time, love, sacrifice, effort) and benefits the church.
“The subject of the Bible is God . . . the verb that describes the Bible is giving,” Morris said. “What if God just loved, but had not given — did not give Christ to die for our sins?” Then added, “We are the most like God when we give.”
Morris moved on to the issue of money and how Luke 16:9 mentions mammon, which Morris believes is the spirit of the Antichrist as it rules through the threat of being able to buy and sell. “You cannot preach a mammon doctrine and have people love God,” he said referring to Matthew 6:24 and serving two masters. “Mammon will promise you everything only God can give you (security, love, respect, a better marriage).”
Jesus never told anyone the answer to their problem was more money, but too often pastors pray that God provides a miracle or someone would send them more money — taking God out of the equation at that point, where He isn’t needed. “That’s the mammon influence in our lives . . . money doesn’t reach people,” Morris chastised, “the Holy Spirit does . . . the answer to your church’s problems isn’t more money, it’s more God!”
Morris then urged ministers to not apologize (to speak less boldly) about tithing. He offered a new perspective, noting that the Bible doesn’t ask people to give or pay their tithes, but to bring their tithes.
“The Bible uses the word ‘bring’ and not ‘give’ because you can’t give what doesn’t belong to you,” he said. “You have two options: you can bring the tithe or you can steal it.”
Morris also noted that the tithe went to the church — not a building fund or school or missionaries as those were offerings — and it was undesignated. “You can’t designate what’s not yours,” he said.
Pausing, Morris admitted that while his daughter was dating, he did look to see the tithing record of the young man she was dating. “Why would I give my daughter to a thief — one that not only steals, but steals from God?”
He urged ministers to emphasize, as the Bible did, the practice of giving to God first — the first fruits. He observed that Abel’s offering to the Lord was that of the first-born lamb while Cain “in the course of time” brought some of his fruits. Morris believed the Lord rejected Cain’s offering because he gave what he wanted, when he wanted — not the first fruits and possibly not the best.
“Teach people to give first to God,” Morris said. “Don’t apologize for preaching about God’s Word, giving, or tithing. Preach with boldness and confidence and you will set your people free!”
In an earlier business session, newly elected Executive Presbyter Rod Ketterling, senior pastor of River Valley Church in Minneapolis, gave a strong endorsement of Morris. He exhorted attendees to not miss Morris’ message as when he spoke on giving at his church, it resulted in a new understanding of giving and a significant increase in those volunteering as well as in tithing. Better understanding of God’s Word had indeed, as Morris later stated, set people free.