Summary: I don’t want to preach to you about tithing. I want to encourage you to live a generous life! Jesus said more about money than anything else.
A minister was speaking about all the things money can’t buy. “Money can’t buy happiness, it can’t buy laughter and money can’t buy love” he told the congregation. Driving his point home he said, “What would you do if I offered you $1,000 not to love your mother and father?” A hush fell over the congregation. Finally a small voice near the front, raised an important question, “How much would you give me not to love my big sister?”
A little girl became restless in church as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?" We all like the reputation of being generous, and we’d all like to buy it cheap. Our seven-year-old daughter had just won $2 for her memory work in Sunday School. After the morning service, the pastor’s wife congratulated her. Our daughter proudly announced, “And I put it all in the morning’s offering!” “My, how wonderful!” the pastor’s wife exclaimed. “I’m sure God will be pleased.” “Yes,” the child replied, “now maybe God will let me do some of the things I want to do!”
Have you ever noticed how big $100.00 looks when you take it to church, yet how small it looks when you take it to the mall?
There’s something about a minister mentioning money that makes people cringe. Perhaps it is the returning memory of such sleezy televangelists of the 1980’s. Maybe people cringe because they are not tithing what they think they should be. I do not want to preach at you about tithing. I want to encourage you to live a generous life! Jesus said more about money than anything else, but today pastors are afraid that they will offend someone or turn off guests by mentioning money. It is most likely why I have been serving at our church for six months without a single mention of money. For that mistake, I apologize to you. Living a generous life is more than just money. It is also about something else that is very precious in the society in which we live. Time is the second most valuable resource to a person, second only to the dollar. If we do not give freely of our time and our financial resources, we are harming the kingdom of God. Did I just say that? Yes. It will take generous use of our time, and in most cases, hard-earned money to advance the kingdom of God on earth. This month our church is focusing on the dreams God has for us individually and as a church. Last week we talked about giving complete control to God. In order to do that, we must give up the two things most precious to us; time and money.
In the revival in the book of Acts one of the first manifestations is giving and generosity. Why wait for revival to come – let’s sow our lives into a revival and open the windows of heaven and see if there will be room to contain it. If you have your Bible this morning, flip over to 2 Corinthians 9. (Read v.1-5). In the passage, Paul is describing the generosity of the Macedonian church. I want to observe the way they gave as a model for how we should give. Lately there have been some strange things going on around here. There’s new paint in the foyer the church wasn’t charged for. There is or soon will be a new lock on the front door. That didn’t come out of church funds, either. KidZone is raising money to try to support itself. There will soon be flowers and plants in the flower bed outside. Do you know what I think when I see all of this stuff going on? That is exactly the way it should be. Then again, every time I think the church has learned something, the devil throws us a curve ball. I applaud your sacrificial giving to see your volunteer work succeed. In fact, if you are involved in a service project currently, raise your hand. Whether service in the church or in the community, raise your hand. That’s great; it means we’re starting to get this dream of being a church of member ministers. This situation is exactly what Paul was seeing from the church in Macedonia. As Christians, we want to be good stewards of what we have. However, a good steward is not defined as “a person who hordes every cent.” Giving voluntarily makes the quality of life so much better. We aren’t going to take money with us anyways. There was a greedy man with great wealth who was determined to take his money with him when he died. He gave strict orders that when he died all of his stocks and assets were to be liquidated and all his life’s earnings were to placed in his casket and buried with him. When He finally did die many people came to the graveside service. They were surprised to see the man’s casket closed and lowered into the grave, but apparently empty. After the service a family member approached the man’s lawyer who had been entrusted with the mans will and asked, “What happened to all the money that was supposed to be buried with him?” The Lawyer smirked and replied, “Don’t worry about that – I wrote him a check.” And it goes with earthly wealth – in time it will all be lost - even with the best planning!