16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16 NIV
I love my kids. I love to hang out with them, love to talk with them. I love watching them play ball and dance around the room in their sillier moments. I love to hear them laugh. And I try real hard, even in those moments when I am being the big mean daddy, to let them know that I am very proud of them. It's important to them and it's important to me that they know that. Typically, those words are accompanied by a hug or a kiss on the forehead (don't tell Harrison I told you that). You can see what an impact it has--the way their faces light up with the words that I believe in them.
Can you hear the Father's voice in the words above? He is saying, "I'm not ashamed to be yours. I long to have this. I desire to be associated with those who are longing for the right things."
That got me thinking about the opposing perspective on this verse. If God is not ashamed of some, does that mean He is ashamed of others? Of course. I think that's pretty obvious. There are some people who God gets frustrated with and would rather not have any association with. Who are they? Look at the verse again. It says God is not ashamed of those who are longing for heaven.
The ones who bring shame? Those of us who get caught up longing for the things of this world. I know what you're thinking. What Christian in their right mind longs for this world? The answer...a great many of them. Want proof? Pull out the check book or credit card receipt of your nearest Bible toting, Sunday-go-to-meeting believer and find out where they spend their money. Cars, house, clothes, vacations, technology, hobbies, etc.--all of them are good things. But none of them matter. God says we can enjoy these things as long as they are in the right order on your list of priorities. Ready for the list as He sees it...God first, everything else in the world a distant "it don't matter."
Here's the basic principle as it's applied. You get a check, the first 10% goes to him. That's it. Plain and simple. Anything else is robbery. It's pointing a gun at God and saying "You owe me." How dare we? No wonder He is ashamed.
Now, as a pastor, I get asked a lot of questions like, "Do we tithe on the gross or net?" That's like going up to your wife and saying, "Hey, honey, what's the least amount I can spend for your birthday without having to sleep on the couch tonight?" We're not asking what do we get to give; we're asking what do we have to give. We're not saying how can I grow God's kingdom, spread His glory and bless others. It's all about me, me and, oh yeah, me. God says, "Give me the first fruits and watch how you will be blessed." I say I dare you to give it a try.
I don't care what kind of debt you have or what kind of bills you pay or how little you think your income is or how little you've put away for retirement. You can't out give God. And, you can't take it with you when you're gone. So, the smart investment is to put as much as you can in a Kingdom that never fades, knowing that the blessing will be yours for eternity...not just until the next bills are due. Then, when it's all said and done and you're standing in front of God, you can hear Him say, "I wasn't ashamed of this one. She had her sights set on the right kingdom...a Heavenly one."