by Scott Parsons
Ed Note: Scott Parsons honored us with the keynote message at the Gala Celebration. We wanted to take this opportunity to share his words with all of you.
Tonight we are here to celebrate! Celebration is not only important to us, it is very important to God! When we think of giving in the Old Testament, we think of the tithe. On occasion we might even wonder why God would ask so much of His people. It might surprise you to learn that if you add up all of God’s financial requirements of His people in the law, the total amount required of them was close to 35%! It might surprise you even more to learn that much of that extra 25% was to be spent in celebration.
Why is celebration important? First, it reminds us of how good God is. It provides us with the opportunity to look back and see how faithful God has been. For us, our celebration enables us to collectively look back and see how God has provided time and time again for this church throughout its history, and to thank Him for it. It also provides us the opportunity to look around this room. What you see are fellow believers committed to loving and serving Jesus and each other. That is one of the reasons, after a 12-month search, Kim and I decided to put our roots down here. We saw a church where the Word is faithfully preached to a people who take the Word and put it into action. We are grateful to be a part of this church, and this celebration is an opportunity for us to express that gratitude.
Second, we celebrate the fact that God has a purpose for us! We are not simply a drifting collective of people; we have work to do. The church is not a hiding place…a place where we can be safe and comfortable. The church is the hands and feet of God; the church is the army of the Lord, and as such we are called to be busy about God’s work of evangelism, mercy and justice. But please understand that this work does not happen accidentally, or in a vacuum, or by the staff. This work requires all of us. It requires all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our minds, all of our strength, all of our talents and all of our resources!
That is why we are not only here to celebrate. We are also here to give. When we think back about that 35% God asked of his people it seems absurd. Why would God ask them to give up so much of their money? But it’s a different situation when you consider they weren’t giving and celebrating with their money. They were giving and celebrating with money God had first given to them. He was simply asking them to give back to Him from what He had already graciously provided. He asked them to do that to help them remember where all of their blessings came from. It was also a test of their hearts. What did they love most, their money or the God who gave it to them? He did it because He wanted them to experience the joy and blessing of a faith-filled life.
I am not suggesting, and the Bible certainly does not require, that you give 35% of your income to this project. But we should celebrate our good and faithful God, and I encourage you to give generously to the work He has lovingly set before us.