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Summary: Stewardship is an issue of sincerity that depends more upon what is in our hearts than what is in our wallets.

IN HIS BOOK “THE DISCIPLINE OF SERVICE,” RICHARD FOSTER WROTE: “SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE COMES THROUGH HUMAN EFFORT. TRUE SERVICE COMES FROM A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DIVINE OTHER DEEP INSIDE.

SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE IS IMPRESSED WITH THE "BIG DEAL." TRUE SERVICE FINDS IT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH THE SMALL FROM THE LARGE SERVICE.

SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE REQUIRES EXTERNAL REWARDS. TRUE SERVICE RESTS CONTENTED IN HIDDENNESS. SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE IS HIGHLY CONCERNED ABOUT RESULTS. TRUE SERVICE IS FREE OF THE NEED TO CALCULATE RESULTS.

SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE PICKS AND CHOOSES WHOM TO SERVE. TRUE SERVICE IS INDISCRIMINATE IN ITS MINISTRY. SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE IS AFFECTED BY MOODS AND WHIMS.

TRUE SERVICE MINISTERS SIMPLY AND FAITHFULLY BECAUSE THERE IS A NEED. SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE IS TEMPORARY. TRUE SERVICE IS A LIFE-STYLE. SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE IS WITHOUT SENSITIVITY. IT INSISTS ON MEETING THE NEED EVEN WHEN TO DO SO WOULD BE DESTRUCTIVE.

TRUE SERVICE CAN WITHHOLD THE SERVICE AS FREELY AS PERFORM IT. SELF-RIGHTEOUS SERVICE FRACTURES COMMUNITY. TRUE SERVICE, ON THE OTHER HAND, BUILDS COMMUNITY.”

STEWARDSHIP HAS LONG BEEN THE HALLMARK OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT CHURCH STEWARDSHIP IS THAT IT ENCOMPASSES MORE THAN MONEY.

WHEN WE SERVE THE WORLD THROUGH CHRIST’S CHURCH, WE ARE NOT ONLY GIVING OF OUR “TITHES AND OFFERINGS,” BUT WE ARE GIVING OF OUR TIME, OUR RESOURCES, AND OUR EFFORT.

AS CHRISTIANS, WE KNOW THAT SERVING CHRIST’S CHURCH IS NOT FOCUSED JUST ON THE AMOUNT THAT COMES OUT OF OUR WALLETS, BUT ON THE SINCERETY OF WHAT IS COMING OUT OF OUR THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEARTS.

“WHAT” IS IN THE HEART WILL ALWAYS BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT IS IN THE WALLET OR CHECKBOOK. OUR SCRIPTURE PASSAGE TODAY MAKES IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR TO US THAT WILLINGNESS TO GIVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ACTUAL ACCPLISHMENT OF THE GIVING ITSELF.

SIMPLY PUT: THE ATTITUDE OF OUR HEARTS AND THE WILINGNESS OF OUR SPIRIT WILL BE THE CRUCIAL FACTORS IN DETERMINING THE DEFINITION OF PROPER GIVING.

ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLES OF THIS GIVING COMES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT ACCOUNT OF GIVING OF GIFT TO BUILD THE TABERNACLE IN EXODUS 35:4-29.

MOSES GATHERS THE PEOPLE AND EXPRESSES TO THEM THE LORD’S COMMAND TO BUILD A TABERNACLE THAT INCLUDES THEIR ASSISTANCE. THE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO HOME AND GATHER WHAT IS NEEDED TO BUILD AND FURNISH THE TABERNACL OF GOD.

MOSES SAYS IN VERSE 5, THAT “EVERYONE IS INVITED TO BRING THESE OFFERINGS TO THE LORD….” MOSES GOES ON TO LIST ALL THE ITEMS NEEDED AND THEN GIVES THE PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO REPSOND. THE PEOPLE GRACIOUSLY DO SO.

IN VERSE 20, WE ARE TOLD THAT, “…ALL THE PEOPLE LEFT MOSES AND WENT TO THEIR TENTS TO PREPARE THEIR GIFTS. IF THEIR HEARTS WERE STIRRED AND THEY DESIRED TO DO SO, THEY BROUGHT TO THE LORD THEIR OFFERINGS OF MATERIALS FOR THE TABERNACLE AND ITS FURNISHING AND FOR THE HOLY GARMENTS.”

IN ALL THAT WAS GIVEN AND PROVIDED, THE VERSE THAT STRUCK ME THE MOST WAS VERSE 22, THAT SAYS, “BOTH MEN AND WOMEN CAME, ALL WHOSE HEARTS WERE WILLING.”

THAT’S THE KEY: WILLING HEARTS WILLING TO GIVE! WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT WILLINGNESS IS THAT IT HAS NEITHER PRICE LIMITATIONS NOR MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR ACCEPTANCE. IN FACT, WE’RE NOT EVEN TOLD WHAT “IT” IS THAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO GIVE. WHAT IS GOING TO BE GIVEN IS LEFT UP TO US!

WHETHER IT IS GIFTS OF GREAT EXTRAVAGANCE OR SIMPLY A “WIDOW’S COPPER COINS WORTH ONLY A FRACTION OF A PENNY” (MARK 12:42), IT IS ALL WORTHY IN THE SITE OF GOD WHEN GIVEN FROM A WILLING HEART.

WHEN IT COMES TO GIVING, WHAT COUNTS IS NOT THE KIND OF OFFERING BUT THE HEART OF THE OFFERER. GIVING SACRIFICIALLY OF WHAT ONE HAS ON HAND, NO MATTER WHAT IT MAY BE, MAKES THE OFFERING ACCEPTABLE TO GOD.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH TODAY IS THAT STEWARDSHIP WITHIN THE CHURCH IS NOT DETERMINED ON “HOW MUCH” IS GIVEN BUT ON “HOW” WE ARE GIVING.

THE EMPHASIS IS ON OUR EAGERNESS IN GIVING. ONCE AGAIN, WE ARE EMPHASIZING THE HEART. IT IS WHAT COMES OUT OF THE HEART NOT WHAT COMES OUT OF THE WALLET OR CHECK BOOK.

2 CORINTHIANS 8:2-3, TELLS US, “…THEIR WONDERFUL JOY AND DEEP POVERTY HAVE OVERFLOWED IN RICH GENEROSITY. FOR I CAN TESTIFY THAT THEY GAVE NOT ONLY WHAT THEY COULD AFFORD BUT FAR MORE. AND THEY DID IT OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL.”

WE SHOULD NEVER FEEL PRESSURED TO GIVE. WE SHOULD NEVER BE SHAMED OR FORCED INTO GIVING JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE MAY BE PRESSURING US WITH A GUILT TRIP OR PLEADING THEIR “CAUSE” WITH CONVICTION.

IF YOU CAN’T GIVE, DON’T FEEL COMPELLED TO GIVE, OR DON’T HAVE THE MEANS READILY AVAILABLE, THEN DON’T! BUT, IF YOUR HEART IS STIRRED AND YOU FEEL THE SPIRIT’S NUDGING OF WHAT IT IS YOU NEED TO DO, THEN GIVE THAT WHICH YOU FEEL.

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