Summary: Third in a series on stewardship
Intro. Everybody loves a home run. It is so exciting to see the batter stand at the plate, especially if the game is on the line, size up the pitcher, make just the right swing, and then see the ball soar high into the centerfield seats. Wow, now that’s baseball! But I would like to suggest to you that even a home run starts at first base. Listen, by the rules, when you hit a home run, you must round the bases beginning with first base, and touch every base before you can touch home plate and be awarded a home run. If you miss one or go the wrong direction, you’ll be called out. Every run in baseball begins with first base and a whole lot more runs are scored by those who get singles or walks than by those who hit homers. First base is, after all, first base.
So how does that relate to Heavenomics? I’ve already shared two principles: First: It’s Not Yours and Second: You Only Keep What You Give Away. What is the next? Well, the third (and I believe the major operating) Principle of Heavenomics is: Keep First Things First. Just like you wouldn’t hit the ball and run to third or just step on home plate, Jesus said that there’s something that takes priority in all of life. It’s not what’s for dinner, it’s not where will we live, it’s not even what will my career be. Jesus said, "Seek first (my 401K, the doctor bill, my education, to get married, the next promotion...no)...seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..."
In other words, the first priority in our lives is to walk in relationship with God as a member of His eternal kingdom, to receive His righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to experience righteousness as a part of every day living AND, in doing that, everything else I need in life will be added, by God. I would say, then, that Heavenomics involves wrapping all of my life around what comes first, avoiding distractions and detours, and getting the first things right – in other words, never underestimate first base! You might restate this principle by saying:
Keep God First In . . .
. . . . Handling Assets
(verse 24) "You cannot serve God and mammon..."
A. Uphold God’s Ownership. (First Principle revisited)
1. Practice Scriptural giving.
a. The Tithe: the minimum evidence that I believe God owns it all.
Proverbs 3:9 "Honor the Lord with your possessions, and the firstfruits of all your increase."
The tithe is often misunderstood. Some believe it is Old Testament law & not for followers of Christ. Others believe it is a qualification for being a Christian and God will reject us if we don’t tithe. Neither is correct. The tithe actually originated before the Old Testament law when Abraham gave a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek (Genesis14:18-20). He tithed to honor God as the One who delivered the enemy into his hands. Jesus later affirmed tithing in Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you...you pay tithe of mint, anise, cummin, and neglect the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." In Malachi, God equates withholding tithes to robbing God, saying to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so we will get blessing from God. (Malachi 3:8-10)
1) The tithe results in God blessing the remainder.
b. Discover generosity.
II Cor. 8:1-2, 7-9 We make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing... But as you abound in everything...see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love...For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
1) The Macedonians sent offerings to help with Paul’s ministry, giving both what they had and what they didn’t have. They helped where there was a need.
2) God gives us wealth to share in carrying out His ministry (i.e. giving to missions, local ministries, etc.); to share with people in need (i.e. charities or needy people you know); to help us grow in likeness to Him (like Jesus’ generosity being poor).
Illus. My practice, which I believe fits Heavenomics, is that when I receive any increase (i.e. a pay raise, bonus, insurance rebate, inheritance, etc), I look for why God gave it. Has my faith promise been met? Is this for the building fund? Is there someone I know who is in need? How might God want me to help get His kingdom work done? When we give faith promises, double tithes for the building campaign, extra offerings to help with disaster relief, offerings for the poor, etc., we are becoming like God!