Summary: God directed giving is fun!
OUT OF THE SALTSHAKER AND INTO THE WORLD
Part Four—Giving that Gratifies
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Key concept: God directed giving is fun!
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians to remind them about completing a promise to give that they had made earlier. Perhaps they were becoming a little weary in fulfilling the vow they had made.
This is well illustrated by Burt Reynolds who starred in an old film entitled “The End.” In the film he decides to commit suicide by swimming out as far as he can until he is exhausted and then just go under. But after going under he is looking at the surface from the underside and decides not to go through with it. As he breaks the surface of the water he screams: "I want to live! I want to live!" He then begins to try to swim to shore, but it is a very long way off. As he begins to swim he talks to God. He promises to obey all of the Ten Commandments, and then realizes he doesn’t know what all of them are so he promises to learn them. Then in his panic he says, "Lord, if you get me out of this, I will give you 80% of everything I have." But time passes and he is still going strong, and besides he can just begin to see the shoreline. But as he continues to swim he feels his strength holding out and says, "Lord, if you help me to get to shore alive I will give you 10% of all my earnings." And, finally, he struggles to the place where he sees that he is just going to be able to make it to land and says, "Well, Lord, let’s just forget about what I said before. I think I can make it from here on my own.”
Do we ever make promises to the Lord that we are later reluctant to fulfill?
I want to ask three questions to get us thinking about what God would say to each of us as we consider giving our time, talents and finances for others.
1. How big of a splash do you want to make?
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
a. No splash if you don’t jump! (image of a child at the side afraid to jump)
i. Man who had so much but built bigger barns instead
ii. Rich young ruler
b. Huge splash when you do! (image of a belly-flop)
i. Little boy who gave all he had to Jesus & Jesus fed 5,000
ii. Widow who gave a mite
iii. Good Samaritan
iv. The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right even to lift a solicitous hand. Yet the Emperor threw him several gold coins. A courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need. Why give him gold?” Alexander responded in royal fashion, “Copper coins would suit the beggar’s need, but gold coins suit Alexander’s giving.” (Source unknown)
c. Be content to make the splash God calls you to make. I heard a sermon one time that pointed to the need to seek God’s dream for your life and not try to live someone else’s calling or dream.
2. How do you feel when you give?
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
a. Negative reasons for giving
i. To show off (Jesus talked about those who made a show of giving in the temple in Matthew 6:1 ff.)
ii. For personal gain
1. Generosity isn’t always as generous as it might seem. There is a story out of Miami, Florida about six Royal Palm trees that had been vandalized and cut down along Miami’s Flager Street. Due to the expense involved in replacing them Dade County wasn’t sure how soon, if ever. They would be replaced. Along came a generous donation of six new trees. Not only were the trees paid for but they were even planted by the donor.
The former trees had been 15 feet tall and formed a beautiful foreground for a “Fly Delta” billboard. The new trees were 35 feet tall and now hid the billboard completely. The donor of the trees was Eastern Airlines.
iii. Coercion or guilt
I want each of you take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.