Summary: Part two of a two part series on Godly X-Factors that make the equations of our life make sense.
The X-Factor - Week 2
A little girl became restless in church as the preacher’s sermon past the 15 minute mark. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?" Someone once said, “We all would like the reputation of being generous, but we’d like to buy it real cheap.”
Today we come to our second “X-Factor:” giving generously. As I begin I want us to be sure to understand two basic Scriptural principles. (1) Everything you have ever had, or have, or ever will have belongs to God. This is the principle of ownership. The Bible repeatedly tells us that we are only managers of God’s stuff. Psa. 24:1 - “The earth and everything it contains are God’s. The world and all who live in it are his.”(GW) You see, the Bible teaches that my things are really not my things. They are all owned by God and just given to me to use. (2) God never said, wealth is evil. He never says having things is a sin. But He does want us to recognize the principle of stewardship. We saw last week that the Bible does say: “The love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.” (2Tim. 6:10 - NLT) Not money itself, but the love of it. So, the question this morning is not, “how much wealth or how many things do I have” but rather “how am I using what I have?” Since everything belongs to God and I have a responsibility, as any renter or borrower would, to use His stuff in a way that pleases Him. And one of the things God insists on is that we are generous people. So, today let’s look at God’s expectation for us as managers and givers.
Now, I understand a message like this can be uncomfortable. Many in our culture think all the church “wants is my money.” And certainly there have been churches and ministries that have been guilty of greed, mismanagement and even extortion. That is not true of Discovery. We do not harp on money here. We keep our finances open for anyone to see and we make a point not to preach on it specifically but once a year. We even tell our first time visitors that they are not expected to give. But on the other hand, to totally disregard this topic would not be very “Jesus-like.”
Jesus discussed money and possessions in 1/3 of His stories that are called parables. He talked about this topic more than He did prayer, heaven, hell or baptism. Why? Because He knew that the greatest rival God has for our affection is what we have. So, this morning I want us to look at some words of man who in life experienced wealth and poverty. His words in 2 Corinthians give us a great gauge on this concept of generosity. I want us all to understand, both those who have a relationship to Christ and those who are seeking Him, that the way to handle our possessions not only helps us in the next life, as we discussed last week, but in X-Change for our generosity we find true peace and contentment in this one. Remember, these words are here to help us not milk us.
I. THE INSTRUCTIONS IN GIVING: