Summary: A sermon asking the church to examine its attitude toward giving.

Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone

Preached at South Branch Ref. Ch. As Guest steward

Pentecost XX October 17, 2004 Mt. 6:19-21, II Cor. 9:6-15

“Giving with Attitude”

This morning I would like to talk to you about a few of the Bibles principles of stewardship. For some, they may come as a surprise. For the rest of us, who have heard it all before, these principles will challenge us once again.

I think the problem with most church giving is that people look at the needs of the church…they look at the budget and say, what part of this am I responsible for?

That is how things work in Rotary or Kiwanis or the Masons or the Elks or the Country Club. People know they must pay their fair share.

If that is how we are looking at giving to the church, then we are making a big mistake.

Consecrating Stewards…the program you have undertaken here at South Branch encourages you to do something different. Instead of looking at the budget and saying, “What part of this shall I give?” Consecrating Stewards asks us to look at our personal income and wealth and ask, “What part of this belongs to God?”

Now if you are a faithful Bible-believing Christian, you will know the answer to that right away. It is one tenth. We are supposed to tithe, to give ten percent of our income to God.

But if that’s what you are thinking, then you are wrong. If you look at your personal wealth and income and ask Jesus what portion belongs to God he’ll say, “One hundred percent. All of it.”

And if we can’t agree with that answer, we have a serious spiritual problem.

Notice I didn’t say you should give one hundred percent of your paycheck to the church. I said one hundred percent of it belongs to God.

The principle is that we are stewards, that is managers, of God’s property. We have nothing, but God has given us oversight of his goods. And it is true. When Aristotle Onassis, the fabulously wealthy Greek who married Jackie Kennedy, died, some men at his funeral were talking about him. They were asking, “How much did he leave?”. One profound man said, “All of it. He left all of it.”

We cannot take it with us. It is not truly ours.

Some of it will go to the church. But after all you have to live. You have to pay a mortgage. You have car insurance to buy, which in NJ is no joking matter! There may be a college tuition. You should also be putting some away in savings and investments. Everyone here should be debt free and saving for the future. In other words, you should be living BELOW your means. If we are not, we have a serious SPIRITUAL problem.

Since all of what we own and earn belongs to God, it matters how we spend any and all of it, and how we save and invest all of it, not just ten percent.

Why do I keep saying “spiritual” problem? Because in over one half of everything Jesus said and taught, he was speaking about money and material possessions. He knows what a hold they have on us, what power they have over us. So much so that he said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the Aramaic word for money. Our Lord said, “You cannot serve two masters. In fact, Jesus said more – “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

If talk of money in church makes you mad, then you are proving what Jesus said and it is time to stop whatever you are doing, drop to your knees in prayer, and examine your heart, and ask whether or not your God is money and that’s why you resent hearing about it.

So principle number one is that everything we have belongs to God. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

The second principle is that we should rejoice in our giving. We heard this morning that God loves the cheerful giver. The truth is we are made to give, not to hoard or squander. The principle is all around us. Your marriage is successful not if you are all of the time receiving from your spouse. Your marriage is a success if you are giving love and devotion to your wife, or husband. Raising children is all about giving love. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a young person who has a baby out of wedlock because she just wanted someone to love her. Parenting is about GIVING love. It is a self-sacrificing task.

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