I had just sent off my 2009 tax return along with payment to the IRS – so grateful that it was MUCH less than I had anticipated – when I clicked over to TweetDeck to read the latest twitters. As a scrolled through, I decided to check out this news story from FoxNews.com: Some tax day fun: RT @WhiteHouse See Obama and Biden's tax returns http://bit.ly/ci7qTb
And this is what I learned…the President and the First Lady filed a joint tax return and their adjusted gross income was $5,505,409 and reported donating $329,100 to 40 different charities, which is just short of 6% of their income. Meanwhile, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden did not do quite as well, both in income and charitable giving. Their adjusted gross income was $333,182 and they contributed $4,820, which is 1.5% of their income.
As I have pondered this over the past month I have gone from amazement to anger to apathy until I heard some stats my pastor shared in his sermon this past Sunday. At Houston’s First Baptist Church (HFBC), 50% of our members gave zero to the church in 2009. Thirty percent of the members gave less than a $1,000. It is that 80/20 rule all over again – over 80% of the budget was carried by 20% of the people. Now, I am sad.
What saddens me, and what saddened Pastor, is that if 80% of the members of HFBC are giving so little financially to God, have they encountered God? Have they really given their hearts to Him? Based on what Jesus said I believe the answer to that is no. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Pastor Gregg made it so clear that it is not at all about the money. God does not need our money, He desires our heart. You see if we encounter God, we have to respond to God – in worship, in service, in obedience and in giving of our time, talent and treasure. And what is so amazing is that when we respond to God, we will once again encounter God and the circle continues.
So my question to you today is where is your heart? Is it going to take a treadmill stress test for the Lord to know if your heart is fully His? Do you need some CPR? He challenges us to test Him in this area and says, “…see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10) Why don’t you test Him and see if you don’t encounter Him in a profound way?