Summary: God desires that we express our faith to Him in many ways, one of which is through faithful giving to His local church.
A Faith That Gives
I’m going to be speaking about giving today, and I want you to stay tuned in because during the invitation, if you’ll stick with me I’m going to make you a deal you can’t turn down. I want to be completely up front with you about some things and why I am compelled to speak about giving. First ministry costs money. The fact of the matter is this, there’s just not enough money in the budget to do the Lord’s work the way it deserves to be done. We need to do more for missions, more for our youth, more for evangelism and local outreach and more to our building, but until we have more participation, we’ll coast along.
Second, because giving is more about faith than it is about money, I have to preach about it. As your pastor and brother in Christ and friend, I care about your soul, about your faith and about your spiritual growth. Your giving is a barometer of your faith. People who are unfaithful to give are going to be unfaithful in other areas, and because we care, we are going to talk about your giving.
Some folk may complain that preachers beg for money too much, and that I want to say two things: first, you’ve never heard me beg for money and you are not going to hear me start today. I want to invite you to prove your love and faith toward God and His work by giving. If you don’t want to join up and get blessed, that’s your problem. God gave it to you, and He can take it away from you and give it to someone else who will give it, and I’m not above praying that He do it to you either.
Second, no preacher who has a church full of faithful givers has to beg, not if he’s doing God’s work. We’re not talking about the crooks in the pulpit, but honest God-fearing pastors. I did a little math this week and figured that if we had 65 adults making $25,000 a year (some of you make more than this, others less), and all 65 gave a full tithe, or 10%, we would take in over $162,000 for the year, which is $40,000 more than we took in during 2002. Now that’s a good annual budget to work with, and since we’re talking about mission’s giving, if all of you were tithing and we did take in $162,000, of which 10% would have gone to missions, our mission budget would have been $41,000 instead of $25,000. Imagine what we could have done for missions with an extra $16,000 dollars! Try this for a good exercise: God wants you to learn to live off of the 90% and trust Him with the 10%. If you took what you give each month and multiplied it by 9, could you live off of it? If you gave $400 this month, could you live off of $3,600? Most could, but what if you only gave $20 this month? Could you really live off of $180? Well, let’s get to the sermon.
When we talk about faith in the Bible, one man seems to emerge and rise to the top throughout much of the Old and New Testaments. Even today he is considered to be the father of the Jews and God’s people Israel. The writer of Hebrews describes his faith like this:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son."
The Bible makes this clear, that Abraham was not great because of his riches, not his looks, not what he did for humanity or charity, but because of his faith in God. He was not always faithful, for we read about how he lied on occasion because he failed to trust God, but God saw him through and his faith was strengthened and settled.
What is faith? The Bible says,
"Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Those two phrases simply repeat each other and mean the same thing. Substance and evidence mean the same thing – they both mean that there is a physical reality to the thing hoped for, or the thing not seen. So, faith is the physical reality or expression of something hoped for. For example, Abraham was immensely wealthy. He was financially secure and had Abraham wanted to he could have built his wife a nice house and in fact could have built her an entire city, but he didn’t. He was a wanderer, a nomad, one of the wealthiest men alive and he made his wife live in a tent because he believed God was building him a home and city. The evidence of his faith was his refusal to build himself a home. When God called on him to sacrifice his son Isaac, he obeyed. The thing hoped for was that God would raise Isaac from the dead or provide a lamb. He told his servants to wait at the bottom of the mountain and then said, "We’ll be back." That was the thing hoped for. The substance, or evidence of his faith was his willingness to draw the knife on his son and kill him.