Summary: This is the last of four messages "about the collection" in which we examine the principles of financial stewardship with respect to giving to the church. This sermon examines the provocation, protection, and perspective in giving.
This is the fourth and last in a series of sermons About the Collection. For the past few weeks I have tried to highlight some of the biblical principles of financial stewardship with respect to giving to the Lord. I would like to reiterate that these messages are intended to help you who are Christians grow in this vital area of discipleship. I have no desire to lay guilt trips on you. I want to motivate you on the basis of God’s Word to obedience in this area of your Christian life.
By the way, most of the material for this series of messages comes from John MacArthur, whose teaching on the subject I have found particularly helpful.
So, with that in mind, let’s read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. In this text Paul gives us principles about the collection:
"1 Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me." (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
A. Money Can Be a Curse
The Bible contains a number of warnings about money. Perhaps they are best summarized in a statement by the apostle Paul: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10a).
Our Lord put it bluntly when he said, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24c).
Money, or rather, the love of money, you see, can be a curse.
Let me remind you of what the love of money can do to people. For the love of money, Achan brought defeat on the armies of Israel and death upon himself (Joshua 7).
For the love of money, Balaam sinned against God and tried to curse God’s people (Numbers 22:5-35).
For the love of money, Delilah betrayed Samson to the Philistines (Judges 16).
For the love of money, Gehazi lied to Naaman and Elisha, and became a leper (2 Kings 5:20-27).
For the love of money, Ananias and Sapphira became the first hypocrites in the first-century church, and they died on the spot (Acts 5:1-11).
For the love of money, Judas betrayed the Son of God and damned his own soul (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50; 27:3-10).
For the love of money, many people have been cursed. In fact, the apostle Paul said, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
So you see, the love of money can be a tremendous curse.
B. Money Can Be a Blessing
But while the love of money can be a curse, the Bible also teaches us that money can be a great blessing.
Proverbs 22:9 says that “a generous man will himself be blessed.”
Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 says: “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: ‘The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,’ so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
So money can be a curse, or it can be a blessing. It all depends on the attitude we have toward money. If we have an attitude of sharing, an attitude of giving, we will be blessed. Remember, it was Jesus himself who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
The Bible calls the wrong attitude toward money and possessions “covetousness,” which is a dominant sin in human nature. In fact, not to covet is one of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).