Summary: Giving in the kingdom of God is an act of worship that demonstrates how much we value God and His kingdom.
Two men were marooned on an Island. One man paced back and forth worried and scared while the other man sat back and was sunning himself. The first man said to the second man, "aren’t you afraid we are about to die." "No," said the second man, "I make $100,000 a week and tithe faithfully to my church every week. My Pastor will find me."
As most of you already know, we’re going to focus on giving in the kingdom of heaven this morning in the fourth of a series of five messages on stewardship in the kingdom of heaven. I am really grateful that you’ve chosen to be here this morning because I know that when some people know in advance that the pastor is going to preach on giving, they’ll even try to make a dentist appointment on Sunday morning so they have a good excuse not be at church. But that is really unfortunate.
You see, I’m not going to teach on giving this morning because God needs your money or even because our church needs your money. Certainly God doesn’t need it. He created the whole universe before he created Adam and gave Him the ability to produce wealth. He did all that without one penny from any man. And though our church does have financial obligations, our church can survive just fine as well because this church does not belong to me or to any of us – it belongs to Jesus and He is more than capable of providing for those needs with or without your money.
The main reason that I’m going to teach on giving this morning is because I don’t want any of us to miss out on the bountiful blessings that God has in store for those who give according to the Biblical principles we’ll discuss this morning. I want you to give like that because I want you to experience all the blessings of God that come to those who give like God wants us to give.
We’ll begin this morning with the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, so go ahead and turn to Matthew 6 and follow along as I read the first four verses in that chapter.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)
We actually skipped over this passage earlier in our examination of the Sermon on the Mount, but hopefully you’ll recognize that this is the first of three areas where Jesus warns against outward religious practices that are performed without the right heart.
Jesus is warning here against religion that consists of merely putting on a show. The verb “to be seen” in verse 1 is the Greek verb from which we get our word “theater” in English. And the word “hypocrite” in Greek denotes someone who is an actor.
In our culture, we give high esteem to actors and actresses who play a role in movie or a TV program. But Jesus isn’t very impressed with those who merely “play a role” when it come to their relationship with God. Those who practice their religion merely to be seen by others and receive the accolades of men have received their reward in full and they miss out on the blessings with which God desires to reward them. We’ve already seen that applies to our prayer life and to fasting and we see here that it also applies to our giving.
But if we are to be faithful stewards in the kingdom of God, there are a number of other principles that should also guide our giving so this morning we’re going to take a much broader view of that topic and not just limit it to the one aspect of giving that Jesus deals with here. But before we examine the New Testament principles for our giving, I think it will be helpful for us to take a brief moment to look at the underlying reason why we should give in the first place.
• Giving is an act of worship that puts us in the cycle of blessing
My favorite definition of worship comes from Louie Giglio in his book, The Air I Breathe: