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First Baptist Church - Palestine, TX

The Great Pretender – a blog post

Judas Iscariot is arguably the boldest cautionary tale in recorded history. One who was chosen by Christ to be an apostle, yet could never get past his own agenda. One who saw the miracles, yet never truly believed. One who heard all of the teaching of Christ, yet was not transformed by the Gospel.

A true believer certainly could not have been such a willing participant in a plot to murder Jesus. A true believer certainly would have valued Jesus’ life at more than 25 bucks.

I call this a cautionary tale, because I believe that, sitting in our worship centers every week, are people who are religious but have no relationship with Christ. They may have walked an aisle at some point, may even be serving in the church in some capacity, but there is no fruit,  no real Gospel engagement, no burden for souls, and no depth.

In the spring of 1984, as a high school junior, I was sitting in a revival service in my home church. At the altar call time, our Music and Youth Minister went forward, laid his head on the shoulder of the pastor, and sobbed. When they invitation was concluded, the pastor announced to the congregation that this man had confessed that, though he had walked an aisle as a kid, professed a call to ministry and had been serving the church for several years, that he had never truly repented of his sins and trusted Christ for his life. He grew up in a pastor’s home as well. It was a short time later that Ken shared with the congregation that he felt the call to pastor. It was only short time later that he went in view of a call to pastor a church, a church he still pastors 34 years later.

Ken went from religion to relationship, and now bears much fruit.

The primary issue with Judas was the same issue Ken had. Judas was not truly a believer.  We see this evidenced in Scripture with phrases like “Then Satan entered Judas” (Luke 22:3), and “After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him,” (John 13:27a). Satan could not possess a true believer. Judas was active in his religiosity, held a position in the ministry, and was perceived to be one of the true believers by most, but he wasn’t.

When he realized what he had done in betraying Christ, he felt great remorse. He tried to undo what he did – tried to give the 30 pieces of silver back, but it was too late. The guilt overtook him and he ended up taking his own life.

Continuing the idea of the cautionary tale, here are 5 realities in Judas’ life that we should try and avoid:

  1. Close but not connected – He was in the “club”, but not a part of the family. He didn’t have the true brotherhood that would have come in true fellowship.
  2. Remorseful but not repentant – He obviously felt terrible for what he had done, but he never repented of his sin. No repentance = no relationship.
  3. Flame but no fire – there was religious activity in his life, but no fire of the Holy Spirit. No power, no inner direction.
  4. Protest but no production – Judas protested the idea that he would betray Christ “Surely not I, Lord” (Matthew 26:25), but ended up doing just that.
  5. Heritage but no legacy – Judas’ name means “praised one” and scholars believe his parents were likely believers. However, Judas had to own his own faith.

Though God used Judas to complete the Gospel, one can’t help but see how Judas’ life could have had a completely different outcome if he had just believed IN Jesus.

  • Romans 10:9, If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • John 3:16, For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

The sum of our lives will be what we’ve done about and with Jesus. It will not be about our circumstances, but our Savior. The answer for life’s question is Jesus.


Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX


A Life Pointing to Christ – a blog post

Whenever the calendar turns to March, my mind just naturally starts thinking about baseball season. From the time my dad introduced me to baseball as a young boy, it became a passion of mine. I watched the game, played the game, studied the game, read book after book on the game, and was an enthusiastic baseball card collector.

I enjoyed imitating some of the styles of some of the players I would see on TV, like Pete Rose’s batting stance (before we knew he was a degenerate gambler), Luis Tiant’s glove wiggle or turning to face second base in his pitching motion, or Willie Stargell’s roundhouse batting motion while the pitcher was preparing to deliver the pitch. Part of the way I learned the game was by watching those who did it well and following their example.

When John the Baptist came on the scene to begin his ministry, he was very clear that he was not the Messiah but pointed people to Jesus Christ the Messiah. In that, he was a great example for us as to what a true disciple of Christ does in pointing the way to the Savior.

In Mark 1:1-11, we see some introductory material on John the Baptist and the passage concludes with three verses about Jesus’ baptism. John the Baptist and Jesus had some similarities. They were both born in unlikely situations, they were related, both preached baptism of repentance, both had quite a following, and both were killed for the Gospel.

As John brings Jesus up out of the water, three things happen

  1. The heavens were torn open – a visual that would be sort of re-created in the tearing of the temple veil at Jesus’ crucifixion.
  2. The Holy Spirit descended on Christ like a dove – symbolizing Jesus’ empowerment for ministry
  3. God’s voice came from Heaven – identifying Jesus as the Christ and God’s Son

Many had approached John the Baptist as if he was the Messiah – after all, he was baptizing with a baptism of repentance and preaching Christ. However, John was clear that he was not the Messiah, but eagerly pointed people to Christ. He was doing what ever believer has been tasked to do – pointing people to Christ.

As a true disciple of Christ, John the Baptist…

  1. Prepared people for Jesus’ coming. We remember his statement, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He was not referring to himself, but identifying Christ. I have to ask myself, “What am I doing to regularly point people to Christ?” Inviting people to church is important. Being active in my faith is important. Pointing people to Christ is crucial. Life and death for eternity depend on it.
  2. Preached a baptism of repentance. We cannot simply add Jesus to our life and continue on the same path. Repentance literally means “a change of mind” and involves a confession and forgiveness. A truly repentant confession promises forgiveness from a loving Savior. Without repentance, there is no forgiveness. Without repentance, there is no real change or transformation. Am I living a life where repentance is a regular part of it, and am I sharing the need for repentance with people around me on a regular basis?
  3. Pleaded for the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, it wasn’t just a peace, it was an empowerment. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we have no real power at all. John knew full well that when people came to Christ, they would then be filled with the Holy Spirit and be empowered to live transformed lives. The Holy Spirit draws, cleanses, reveals, teaches, and fills. Am I pleading for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in my own life and in the life of others on a regular basis?

If I’m following the example of John the Baptist, I might pray something like “Lord, break me from myself and help my life be one that points people to Christ like John the Baptist did. Fill me with the daily empowerment of the Holy Spirit and let my life consistently int others to You”. Amen.


Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church – Palestine, TX

The Denial of a Devout Disciple – a blog post

Is there any situation that could come up in life where you would openly deny that you know Jesus Christ? A life or death situation? To protect someone else? In some other situation? Until we are truly put to the test, I suppose we really don’t know how we would react.

One that was bold about the fact that he would never deny he knew Jesus Christ was the Apostle Peter. Even after Jesus told him that He would deny Him three times in one night, Peter proclaimed there was no way he would ever deny knowing Christ. Yet, Peter did just as Jesus predicted and denied Christ three times.

How did Peter go from being one of the very first apostles called, the first name listed on many lists of the apostles, to this? He brought Jesus in to heal his mother-in-law, was the subject Jesus was speaking to when He said “upon this rock, I will build my church”. He even briefly walked on water, for crying out loud!

Peter wasn’t perfect. He challenged Jesus on how many times we should forgive those who have wronged us. He rebuked Jesus when He proclaimed He would be killed and raised on the third day. He was the one who didn’t have faith enough to cast out a demon at Jesus’ instruction, one who fell into a deep sleep while Jesus was praying at Gethsemane, and was bold about saying there was no way Jesus would be the one to wash his feet.

Peter was a bold witness for Christ, an outspoken apostle, and what could be termed as the first pastor of the New Testament Church. Still, he was flawed. He had a belief problem – when he challenged Jesus he was basically saying he knew more than Jesus. He had a trust problem – challenging Jesus on what He said more than once. He had a pride problem – in his assertion that he would never deny Christ, he effectively proclaimed himself above the other apostles. He had an identity problem – when he was challenged, He denied he knew Jesus at crucial moments. He had an authority problem – challenging Jesus on several occasions.

God uses the frailties and the fallen-ness of His children to demonstrate the grace and glory of a merciful God. Peter was a great example of that. For all of his problems, Peter was staunch in his acknowledgement of Christ, and his faith was genuine and authentic.

Even Peter’s problems had a purpose. Jesus said in Luke 22:31-32, 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

From this we can see the benefits of authentic faith. Authentic faith doesn’t mean it’s perfect, unflawed, or immune from attacks, but it does stand the test of time. Peter’s certainly did.

  1. Authentic faith will not fail – upon the realization that he had denied Christ for the third time, just as Jesus predicted, Peter was broken and “wept bitterly”. This seems sure to be an indication of true repentance. His faith may have been shaken, but it endured.
  2. Authentic faith is in the hand of the Potter – Satan demanded to sift Peter like wheat, and even amid his denial, Jesus PRAYED for Peter. Can you think of any bigger indicator of Jesus’ desire for Peter to remain firmly in the palm of the hand of the Potter?
  3. Authentic faith strengthens others it touches – Jesus said to Peter, “when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers”. Jesus intended Peter to use his failure to not only draw closer to a loving Savior, but also to help others who may be going through similar struggles.

Peter was not defined by his failures, but by his Savior. If you know Christ, that is how you are defined as well. Do not let your failures define you – Christ has the final word.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church – Palestine, TX

Overflow – a blog post

Many times when we hear the word overflow, we are thinking of something that has happened to create a mess, such as a car radiator overflowing or a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper spewing foam all over the floor (have you ever wondered why it’s always Dr. Pepper?). However, overflow can be a really good thing as well. I can’t remember when I heard the term for the first time in regard to preaching, but it has been a saying that has stuck with me.

When I preach out of the overflow, that means I’m so filled up with what the Lord has revealed to me through the week that it just “overflows”. Often that means that the Word has been really alive in me that week and it’s typically accented by some experiences that have happened throughout the week as well. I love being so full of what God is saying that it just spills out. Does that happen every week? No, I wish it did, but it sure is wonderful when it does.

When God’s people are unified, it creates an overflow that cannot be replicated in any other way. In Exodus 36, we see the culmination of a project that was begun in Exodus 25, the building of a sanctuary for the Lord. Artisans and craftsmen of great skill were creating a beautiful place to worship God and people were bringing in freewill offerings every morning…yes you read that right…every morning. Because the people were so unified and on the same page, there was more than enough to complete the work.

Because of this, Moses gave an order that every pastor that has ever led a building campaign wishes he could give. He told the people to stop giving, for there was more than enough to complete the work. Wow…

This was no ordinary building either. This was a sanctuary befitting worship of Jehovah God. The people were not only unified, but they were consistent in their efforts to spare no expense or beauty in creating this house of worship for the King of Kings.

So, can we live in the overflow on a regular basis? We’ve all had those moments, those periods of time, those experiences, where it is apparent that God is just keeping the blessings flowing. There is nothing like it. But, does that have to be the exception or can that be closer to the rule?

I believe this story in Exodus teach us that it very much is possible, but it depends on us being totally surrendered to God – recognizing that everything belongs to Him. Two key elements are at play here.

We must….Trust the Truth. For many people, trusting God with their finances is a hurdle that they continue to struggle with, but if we are going to be fully surrendered, that is an area that is most important. Either God’s Word is totally true or it’s not. Either God can be totally trusted or not. We trust God with our salvation, our eternal security, with life an death, with our daily protection, but yet we won’t consistently give Him the first and the best of our finances? If we are going to be consistent in our walk and striving for total unity, then it’s time to trust Him.

We must also…Count the Cost. There are two aspects of counting the cost. The first aspect is evaluating our investments in regard to our financial stewardship and…well…uh…buying stuff. Luke 14:28 reminds us that it is a wise steward that counts the cost before he builds a tower. Take, for instance, buying a new car. If you have to finance it, then there is that cost, plus the maintenance, tires, gasoline, etc. The average US household has over $132,000 in debt, including mortgages. Those who have car loans average $28,500 in car debt, those who have student loans average $49,000. Household income has not kept up with the cost of living, so many people are living beyond their means. It would be hard to be a part of living out of the overflow in such a struggle.

The other aspect of counting the cost is counting the cost of not being obedient to the Lord. God tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly. We can restrict what our loving Savior wants to do in and through us simply by not being completely obedient. I’m not saying it’s easy but once we fully trust and see the results, it is oh, so worth it.

This life is a journey, a growth in trust. Sometimes our trust in our Heavenly Father is affected by experiences we’ve had where others haven’t been as trustworthy, but our Father is anything but untrustworthy. He created it all, He owns it all, and He loves to bless His children.

May my life be lived in such surrender that overflow is the only natural result.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine TX

Influence – a blog post

The older I get, I think I focus more attention on the influence I have with other people. I’m at the age where there are more people younger than me than older than me in church, and in many crowds I find myself in. I can remember when people were so amazed by things I had accomplished at such a young age. Now it’s just expected, but that’s not a bad thing.

Part of what fuels my thinking about my influence is thinking back to all of those who have influenced me over the years. I’ve been influenced by my parents, family, my wife, my children, my friends, pastors, teachers, church members I’ve served with, gospel music artists I’ve been friends with, people I’ve watched on TV, athletes, people in the communities I’ve lived…the list is lengthy.

I was just having a phone conversation earlier today with a pastor friend of mine who was sharing with me that he had become convicted about spending the rest of his ministry investing in other pastors and being a mentor whenever he could. I’ve heard my “Pastor hero” Johnny Hunt say many times that his passion for the remaining years he has to live on earth, along with pastoring his great church, is to pour into men in ministry. We all need influencers and we’ve all been called to be people of influence.

Let me apply it this way…if my main focus when I attend church and read my Bible is simply to “get fed” and not do anything with it, then I’m just going to get fat and just take up more space from those around me. Our calling is to “go”, “teach”, “make disciples”… in other words, I’m to invest and influence others for the Kingdom of God as long as I’m living on this earth. For me, that starts with my family, then moves to my church, and on to the world. It’s not enough that I preach and teach, I have to be personally involved and invested in being a person of Kingdom influence.

After all, if the end result was “getting fed”, Jesus would have taken me home upon my confession of Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. My work would have been complete. Think about that for a moment.

This week my mind was drawn to a single verse, speaking of the influence of Abel, the second born son of Adam and Eve. He’s the first one listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. Regarding Abel, verse 4 tells us that his offering was a “more acceptable sacrifice” than that of Cain, speaking of the fact that he gave the “first-fruits” of his labor, rather than simply “an offering” that Cain gave.

Then there are 9 words given, in three short phrases, that tell a big story…”through his faith, though he died, he still speaks”. Did anyone tell Abel to bring an offering? Did anyone tell Abel to bring the first and the best? We don’t see that directed in Scripture, but Abel, because of his faith in God, just knew that was what he needed to do. He wanted to give God the first and best because he was honoring his Creator.

His faith still speaks today. God’s design has not changed – we are still called to give Him the first and the best – not only in offering, but in everything.

The church must continue to influence the culture if we have any hope of true revival in this world. We must be less consumer, more influencer.

Each of us needs some fine-tuning, once in a while, in our influence. Here are some ways I believe we can do some self-testing on that concept.

  1. Watch your walk – do I have a plan of growth in my spiritual life or am I just counting on the sermon on Sunday morning or the Sunday School lesson to keep me in tune and fresh? If I don’t have a plan, I’ll never truly experience growth, and my walk will be inconsistent at best.
  2. Manage your mission – Looking back on my parenting, I believe this is one area I could have been much more proactive. Oh, I’ve certainly tried to live a consistent Christian life and be a positive role model for my girls, but I don’t know if I could say I had a true plan for this. Since I was lacking in a plan, my course of action was to wait for something to go wrong and try to fix it. Not the best idea. A better plan would be to intentionally work to shape and mold those young lives into active workers for the Kingdom. They’ve done well in spite of their father.
  3. Minister your money – If I don’t have a plan for my finances, I will always be working from behind. If my plan doesn’t have Jesus at the front and involve giving the first-fruits of every paycheck back to Him, I’m allowing my money to be cursed and setting myself up for failure. It’s in the Word, clearly. Look it up.
  4. Investigate your involvements – A number of years ago, my daughter had the opportunity to play on a select basketball team, which would have involved playing every weekend, including lots of Sundays. I didn’t allow it, but if I’m honest, at the time, I wondered if I was holding her back from succeeding in a sport she loved. Time proved over and over again I made the right decision to declare that our involvements were not going to interfere with being in God’s House on Sunday morning. What message am I sending to my kids and others I have relationships with if I don’t keep the worship of God as a top priority? Not only that, but what am I saying to God about my priorities?
  5. Inspect your integrity – Your true integrity is measured by what you do when nobody is looking. If the boss is away, are you still working hard? If you think nobody will notice, are you willing to give into that temptation to steal or do something illegal or immoral? I enjoy my smartphone as much as the next person, but I am thankful that I didn’t have one when I was a teenager. The access that people have to a world of things that people shouldn’t be exposed to is literally at someone’s fingertips. Integrity takes a lifetime to build, but only a moment to lose. We all need accountability in our lives – and as Christians, we should embrace that as well as striving to live a life above reproach.

Like it or not, each of us has influence on others, and our influence has a ripple effect. The lessons I teach my children by my life will likely be repeated in some fashion when they become parents. The people I preach to are impacted by my investment in the Word of God and by my love for Christ. The salesperson in the store that I treat poorly may see me as the church and feel a bad taste in their mouth about the church.

I don’t have to be perfect every day, nor could I ever be. However, I can draw closer to Him on a daily basis and allow Him to sanctify me. People won’t see me as perfect, but as a work in progress that loves Christ and loves people. I cannot control how people view me or react to me, but I can control what I put “out there” for them to see and how I respond to them.

Influence – like it or not, you have it. Use it wisely.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

Compassion – a blog post

Several years ago I was teaching a series on the Parables of Christ. Working through those stories and looking at the depth of meaning and relevance in them made them come alive in a way that they had never done before for me. That’s the beauty of studying Scripture over and over. As you go deeper, you discover there is much more than what you first realized.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan was one that made a special impression on me. I’m not sure what it was about it exactly, but I do know that I enjoy going back and looking that story and looking for little truths I may have missed previously. I do know this – a story that I originally thought was simply about helping your neighbor had much more to it.

Jesus was asked by a scribe or a lawyer about what was needed to inherit eternal life. This wasn’t an innocent question, but one that was given as an opportunity for Jesus to fall into a trap (which of course He never did). Jesus turned the question back around by asking the lawyer what was stated in the law. The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus assured the lawyer that his answer was correct, and that if he would do just that, he would find eternal life. The lawyer responded with another question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered his question with a story, which would turn it back on the man rather than trap Jesus.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was about 17 miles, was crooked, and had a 3,300 foot drop in elevation from one point to the other. Crooks would hide in the nooks and crannies, laying in wait for people traveling alone that they could rob. Priests and Levites would make this journey regularly as they would fulfill their temple service. Often these men would travel together as to guard against potential danger, but certainly there were times when that just wasn’t practical. This story was about one of those times.

A man who is only described as a Jewish man was making this journey and was attacked, beaten and left for dead by robbers. A sad story indeed, but that was just the beginning. The robbers fled and left the man, perhaps hoping he was dead or thinking he would die soon, so as not to identify them. He was seriously injured but needed help to get to some medical attention or to get home.

At some point a priest came walking down the road. Good news, right? Surely this priest could provide some sort of assistance, or at least stay and pray with the man until more help could arrive. No, this priest would have none of it. He saw the man ahead, then crossed to the other side of the road.

Next comes a Levite, an associate pastor if you will. Another man of God! Surely this Levite could help, right? His response was the same as the priest – he crossed over and passed on the other side of the road.

Why would these men of God pass by? Perhaps they feared for their own lives, perhaps they had urgent business ahead, or maybe they were just flat tired and had “nothing left to give”. The man’s hopes seem to be fading fast…

The third man to approach the fallen Jew was a Samaritan, a non-Jew. Not only was he the most unlikely of the three to help the man, Samaritans were pretty much despised by the Jews. No one would have thought anything about it if the Samaritan would have crossed on the other side, but he didn’t

The Samaritan not only stopped, but he rendered aid to the fallen man. It was common for men to carry some oil and wine in their bags to deal with injuries that could happen along a journey. He treated the man’s abrasions, bandaged his wounds, put him on his animal and transported him to the nearest inn. While that would have been significant enough, the Samaritan took him in, paid for his lodging and likely some food. Before he left, he assured the innkeeper that he would be back, and that whatever overage the innkeeper incurred, that he would take care of it when he returned. WOW!

So what made the difference? Jesus stated it clearly this way, “when he saw him, he had compassion”. The operative word was compassion. It was compassion that broke down the barriers, compassion that revealed the need, compassion that led the Samaritan to reach out to a man who perhaps would not have given him the time of day in normal circumstances. The man went over and above simply because he was helpless and needy, not because of his nationality, his race, his religiosity, or any other factor.

It was compassion that led Jesus to surrender His life into the hands of men who sought to destroy Him. It was because of compassion that Jesus drew us into a relationship with Himself, compassion that allowed Him to see us in a helpless sin-sick state, unable to affect our own salvation.

In a society that draws lines upon political persuasions, who hides behind social media platforms to spew negativity, compassion is lacking…and so is our passion for souls. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Where is our compassion for the hurting, the sin-sick, the addicted, the ones who look fine on the outside but are struggling to keep it together on the inside, the ones that look different than us, the ones that are in a different economic situation than us, or who have found themselves in situations they did not anticipate?

I can tell you, without a doubt, I need a fresh dose of compassion. We resist it sometimes because we know it requires an investment of ourselves. We resist it sometimes because we could get hurt. We resist it sometimes because we just are selfish. We resist it sometimes because we have lost our sense of what it means to be lost.

Compassion re-establishes our mission. Will you join me in seeking to have the compassion of Christ?


Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

Giving – a blog post

Several years ago I heard a comparison in regard to the giving patterns of two men who were successful in their respective fields, and it has stuck with me.

Howard Hughes was one of the wealthiest men of the 20th century. He was an aviator, investor, filmmaker, business tycoon, engineer and entrepreneur. He was gifted in many areas in regard to business and accumulated over 2.5 billion in assets before he died. However, he was a very eccentric and extremely troubled man. His “relationships” revolved around being a pleasure seeking playboy. He was selfish, and he died sad and alone, a recluse. His wealth became his prison and pushed people away.

On the other hand was George Mueller. Mueller was a British evangelist in the 1800’s. He and his wife were heartbroken by the vast numbers of orphans they saw in their town of Bristol in England. He took that burden and built an orphanage – determined never to ask for money. When they had a need, they brought it to the Lord and they watched Him provide, time and again. Over the years they operated the orphanage, they received over 2 million dollars in donations, allowing them to help as many as 10,000 orphans. When an orphan would leave or “graduate” from the home, Mueller would place a Bible in their right hand and a coin in their left hand and pray for them. He told each one of them that if they clung tightly to what was in the right hand, God would always make sure they  had something in their left hand.

Who was the greater success? In my mind, it was Mueller. Though he didn’t have the resources that Hughes did, he positively affected many more lives and God always made sure he had plenty to meet the need. Hughes held on to everything he had except what he used to meet his own desires and he ended up sad and alone. Mueller gave away everything he had, yet never had to do without anything – while giving life and love and Christ to generations of children who needed it (and could then affect others around them).

I Corinthians 16:2 says “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come”.

In this single verse, we can see God’s principles of giving for us, the church:

  1. The Period – the verse says “on the first day of every week”. We could modernize this by saying “as often as we receive income, we should bring into the storehouse (church)”.
  2. The Participants – “each of you”. This is the church, the whole church, and everyone in the church. It is not “those of you who are inclined to give” or “those of you who have abundance”. Remember the widow who contributed to the temple offering?
  3. The Place – “and store it up”. Going back to the original language, this is not meant to be a storing up at home or in your own bank, but bringing to the “storehouse”, the church. I also believe this is specific to the general budget offering of the church. The practice of the day was for people to bring their tithes and offerings, and the church leadership was to determine how to disperse it. Such is the case today as well in whatever means each church determines to steward that.
  4. The Proportion – “as he may prosper”. There are a couple of different viewpoints here in regard to New Testament giving. Some (myself included) still practice the principle of the tithe as the basis for giving to the church. The tithe is not only 10 percent, but the first and best 10 percent. Others practice what the New Testament calls “Grace Giving”, in other words, not a particular percentage but seeking God’s direction regularly for the pattern of giving. Both have sound arguments in their favor. In either case, it’s giving the first and best which is the most important.

One thing I have discovered with experience, however, is this…if you do not make it a top priority to give as God has directed, your money will not go nearly as far as you think it should and your spiritual life is affected. Giving is a matter of the heart. I’ve lived both sides of this and I can assure you that obedience opens the pathway to blessings.

Giving methods have changed over the years as checks are used less and less in today’s society. The last time I opened a bank account, the bank didn’t even offer checks with their most popular checking account. People are using debit cards and other mobile pay services. Churches like ours have thankfully adapted with the times and have online options for giving, both through our church website and by text message.

Still not motivated to be obedient in giving? Here are some Biblical motives for giving:

  1. Giving recognizes God’s ownership – as long as I hold on to it, I believe I own it
  2. Giving opens the heart to obedience – our actions follow the condition of our heart
  3. Giving breaks the power of money – money, the lack of it or the abundance, can have incredible power over us
  4. Giving invites God’s blessing – when we are obedient, it frees God’s hand up to bless His children
  5. Giving follows God’s example – even what was God’s, He didn’t keep for Himself

Giving really is much more a matter of the heart than it is administration. Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

My wife’s grandmother and grandfather were active in their church throughout their married life, but her grandfather was always very reluctant to tithe. His argument was “I can’t afford it”. Her grandmother tithed on her income but he did not on his. After hearing a sermon about tithing one Sunday, his heart was prompted. The pastor challenged them to tithe for a period of 30 or 60 days (I can’t remember which). He told them if God didn’t bless them in that time, then they could go back to their old ways with no guilt. Her grandfather met the challenge, and from that point forward, NEVER failed to tithe for the rest of his life. God did His part, as He always does.


Tony Watson
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX