Summary: God wants us to share our resources generously with those who need them and for us to give in a manner that demonstrates faith.
“The church is always talking about money.”
“the minister just wants my money.”
“they don’t care about me – just that I give my offering.”
Such things are often said about churches – and sometimes, unfortunately, it is true. I heard of a church recently that has a little mini-sermon EVERY WEEK about the importance of giving.
We don’t do that around here. But we are going to talk about our offerings to God today. If you’re a visitor – you just got lucky and arrived on the day we’re talking about our giving money to God’s Kingdom.
We’re doing so because we’re in the last of 3 messages on Money Matters, aimed at helping all of us experience freedom from financial bondage in our lives. Two weeks ago we talked about debt – the root cause of it in our lives, and a Biblical plan to get out of debt. Then last week we looked at the scriptures to learn what it says about our responsibility to be saving for the future without falling into the trap of hoarding or worrying. At the close of that message last week I gave the instruction that in setting up a plan for savings – it must be balanced with a plan for giving. It is in this way that we will ensure that we don’t forget that ALL we have belongs to God since we are His servants.
So this week I want to talk about setting up a giving plan in your life. Not because of some “law” that God has decreed, but because when we give we demonstrate to God that He really is Lord of our life. That we trust him to take care of our needs. That our money doesn’t own us – that He does.
But the big question is “how much should I give”? What does God expect from me? How can I be sure I’m giving enough to make God happy?
For those of you who expected to hear a simple answer to the question “how much does God want” such as 10% - I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. What I would like to give you instead are principles that God has given us to help each of us answer “How much of my money does God want?”
1. Give yourself to God first. (2 Cor. 8:5)
2Cor. 8:1-5 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
Have you ever received a present from someone who you knew didn’t really have their heart in it? I remember a time a few years back when a person with whom I was in a minor conflict kept sending Ann presents. It just didn’t feel quite right. It seemed like she was somehow trying to go around the normal ways of creating a healthy trusting relationship. Ann and I weren’t all that interested in the gifts she was giving – because we knew that there was a break in our relationship.
Here in 2 Cor. 8, Paul is writing to the Corinthian church to give them instructions about an offering that is to be received to provide famine relief to the Christians in Jerusalem. And in his instructions he tells them about the positive example of the Macedonian believers and how they rose to the call to give to help their Christian brothers and sisters. He shares how they were really generous and how excited and motivated they were to be able to help – even beyond what they were really able to give. But all of this flowed out of the foundation of their relationship with God in the first place. “…they gave themselves first to the Lord…” (v. 5)
APPLICATION: If you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ then the answer to the question “how much of my money does God want” is zero. God is not after your money, he is after your heart.
2. Give willingly from what you have – not from what you don’t have. (2 Cor 8:12)
2 Cor. 8:10 (NLT) I suggest that you finish what you started a year ago, for you were the first to propose this idea, and you were the first to begin doing something about it. 11Now you should carry this project through to completion just as enthusiastically as you began it. Give whatever you can according to what you have. 12If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have. 13Of course, I don’t mean you should give so much that you suffer from having too little. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14Right now you have plenty and can help them. Then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way, everyone’s needs will be met.