Summary: A three-fold rationale for keeping stewardship a primary focus in the church...It is a Lordship matter, Heart matter, and Eternal matter.
Chest of Joash, Part One: WHY?
2 Chronicles 24 March 4, 2001
1Joash was seven years old when he began to reign,
and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem.
His mother¡¦s name also was Zibiah of Beersheba.
2And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest. 3And Jehoiada took for him two wives;
and he begat sons and daughters. 4And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.5And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter.
8And at the king¡¦s commandment they made a chest,
and set it without at the gate of the house of the LORD.
2 Chronicles 24.1-5, 8 KJV
This week every family of our congregation received a letter about The Chest of Joash. (I congratulate each of you for being here, knowing I would be speaking about money!)
There are three very important questions (relative to stewardship) which we will explore as we approach our Victory March to the chest on March 18th. The questions: WHY, HOW, and WHEN? One question each of the next three weeks. This morning¡¦s question is ¡§WHY¡¨?
If you are a believer, you have heard many times how it is a Christian¡¦s responsibility and joy to give. If you are human, your heart probably rebelled, alerting you to the fact that you really didn¡¦t want to give.
You might have even had the thought cross your mind, "Who does that preacher think he is, telling me I should put MY money in HIS plate?" There are three responses I¡¦ve come to understand ¡V
a. It¡¦s not my plate;
b. It¡¦s not your money;
c. The preacher is supposed to tell the congregation to put the Lord¡¦s tithe in the Lord¡¦s plate on the Lord¡¦s Day, and in the Lord¡¦s way (cheerfully!!).
The story about the three pre-teen boys is one of my stewardship favorites. The first boy begins the bragging. He says, My Dad is really important. He¡¦s a songwriter. He scribbles a few words on paper, calls it a song, and they pay him $500. The second kiddo, not to be outdone, brags, He ain¡¦t nothin¡¦ ¡V my Dad¡¦s a lawyer. He scribbles a few words on a paper, calls it a brief, and they pay him $1,000. The third little guy takes the cake, Ha! you think your Dads are important? My Dad¡¦s a preacher. He scribbles a few words on a paper, calls it a sermon, an¡¦ it takes six guys to haul in the cash!
Well, the story is funny, but it illustrates the untruth of the matter ¡V it really is God¡¦s plate, not anyone else¡¦s here.
Now that we have dealt with the issue that so-often keeps us from the real issues, Why IS it so important to talk about money in the church? Why can¡¦t we just talk about loving God and let the money issue alone?
Several reasons ¡V but one underlying thought ¡V money is very ¡V even extremely important.
„« We watch the stock market.
„« We hear reports on the news of Government trade agreements.
„« We want a balanced budget and Social Security security.
„« There are robberies.
„« We see the poverty which is the absence of money.
All this about money. Money occupies a vital role in society. What we do about, and with the money, with which God blesses us, expresses much about our life and faith towards God.
In our Bible passage this morning, we read about Joash. He was a good king (righteous, or accepted by God). For 40 years he ruled over God¡¦s people in the late 9th century BC and he repaired the crumbling temple at Jerusalem. His collection plate was a chest, placed to the right of the altar.
That chest was a reminder of the overdue tithes and offerings Israel should have been paying. Nobody likes that kind of reminder.
In the Christian scriptures, Jesus mentioned money often.
„« In fact 16 of the 29 stories (parables) Jesus told were about the use of money.
„« In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, one verse in six is about money.
„« Jesus talked far more about money than heaven or hell. That alone should alert us to the importance money holds. We cannot ignore that!
What we do with money represents the resources of our lives, and the worship of our souls, and our love of God.
Let me inject my disclaimer at this point. I do not look at the personal giving records of the members of this church. In fact I have never done that in any church. I don¡¦t even know where they¡¦re kept.