Wayne Smith tells about a farmer who called the office of Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY where he was senior minister for 40 years. The farmer asked to speak to the Head Hog at the Trough. The receptionist said, “If you’re referring to our senior minister, you may call him Brother, Pastor, even Reverend if you feel so inclined. But it would not be proper to refer to him as the Head Hog.” The farmer said, “I’m sorry. I’m just an old pig farmer and I just sold a few pigs out of my herd. I was going to donate ten thousand dollars to the building fund at your church, so I was hoping to catch him in the office.” The receptionist said, “Oh….just a minute…I think I hear the Big Pig coming down the hall.” Since some preachers, especially televangelists, are perceived to be always focusing on money, many preachers go to the opposite extreme of not wanting to talk about money at all. So we have treated the subject of giving as being a hands off subject, because we do not want to offend anyone. There are 2,350 passages in the bible dealing with money and material possessions – more than on any other subject – but it’s the least talked-about subject in the church. The church has been silent for so long that people don’t understand the responsibilities that under gird a generous lifestyle. Wise stewardship of God’s resources is an important part of a healthy church. We live in a culture that is extremely materialistic and people battle against the god of money on a daily basis. Biblical stewardship and generous giving can transform lives and significantly advance the Kingdom of God. Today I want us to take some time to gain an understanding of how outrageous generosity pleases God.
I. There are three very compelling reasons to teach on the subject of stewardship.
A. Stewardship is a subject addressed quite often in God’s Word.
1. Jesus addressed the subject of stewardship more than any other, in fact half of the parables He told dealt with handling your possessions.
2. 16 of the 38 parables of Jesus deal with money, 288 verses in the Gospels deal with money.
3. There are 2,350 verses on money in the Bible & only 500 on prayer & 500 on faith
4. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21—NIV)
5. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:27—NIV)
6. If are truly going to follow Paul’s example and preach the whole Bible we need to be willing to address this subject.
7. The subject of money was not very popular in Jesus’ day either. When Jesus addressed the subject with the rich young ruler, that young man left very disheartened and sad because he was not willing to give up his possessions.
B. Generous giving always succeeds in transforming lives.
1. There’s an old illustration about a technique they use in Africa to capture monkeys. They put a banana in a small-mouthed jar chained to a tree. The monkey will reach in to get the banana, and get his hand stuck in the jar. Because he refuses to let go of the banana, he is captured. He could have easily set himself free if he had just been willing to let go of his prized possession.
2. Paul shows Timothy that the rich face two dilemmas: the temptation “to be arrogant” and the temptation “to put their hope in wealth.
3. When people release their grip on the things of this world, they become liberated from all kinds of bondage and snares.
4. Talk show host Dave Ramsey once spoke about how different America would be if all the Christians tithed.
a. He said, “There would be no more welfare in North America.
b. In ninety days, there would be no existing church or hospital debts. In the next ninety days, the entire world could be evangelized.
c. There would be prayer in schools, because Christian would buy all the schools!”
5. Generosity will result in an overflow of spiritual, emotional, and relational blessings in your life and God promises to take care of your physical needs too.
C. Generous giving is a positive testimony.
1. Many people are afraid that preaching on money is going to turn off the world—sometimes it does just that.
2. Sincere efforts to help people overcome their addiction to the stuff of this world will result in attracting people to Jesus Christ, and a congregation of sacrificial givers is a powerful testimony to the community.
3. Generous giving speaks volumes about the depth of your faith in Jesus Christ.
II. The most difficult concept for many of us to come to terms with is that of “giving generously”.
A. Jesus financial management principles are radically different from the worlds.
1. Giving is a way of life for the Christian who understands the grace of God.
2. The world simply does not understand a statement like “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” (Proverbs 11:24—NIV)
3. The world’s advice is: save, invest, and indulge but God’s instruction is to give it away.
4. Admittedly, worldly advisors suggest that it’s good to give; the difference is that the world tells you to earn, and then to give out of your abundance.
5. The difference between the Biblical teaching and the worldly teaching is faith.
B. In the Old Testament the concept of stewardship and generosity was practiced in a principal known as “first fruits.”
1. The first of the harvest belonged to God. The first of the spoils of battle belonged to God.
2. The people gave to God first, then trusted God to provide the rest.
3. When we give away the first fruits, we demonstrate that we’re trusting God to provide because it doesn’t take any faith to give God the leftovers.
4. God wants us to give Him our first fruits and He wants us to give in a way that demonstrates our faith.
C. God’s standard for giving begins with the tithe.
1. Many people believe that tithing was something unique under the law, so Christians are not expected to do so.
2. More than 500 years before the Law of Moses in Genesis 14 we see that Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek the king of Salem who was a high priest of God.
3. An important note to remember is that the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
4. “This stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Genesis 28:22—NIV)
5. Well before the Law of Moses Jacob made the same commitment to God to give a tenth.
6. So deduction leads us to see that offerings are anything given beyond the tenth.
III. The Church needs to rediscover the concept of stewardship and outrageous generosity.
A. Stewardship and outrageous generosity brings glory and honor to God.
1. Here is one of the beauties of church giving: no individual gets the glory that belongs only to God.
2. Like I alluded to earlier our giving reflects the depth of our faith, this is because giving is an attitude of the heart.
3. Our giving must come from the heart, and the motive in the heart must please God. We must not be “sad givers” who give grudgingly, or “mad givers” who give because we have to (“of necessity”); but we should be “glad givers” who cheerfully share what we have because we have experienced the grace of God.
B. Stewardship and outrageous generosity are growth issues.
1. Most people who do not tithe can not just automatically start doing so.
2. J. D. Rockefeller said, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.”
3. Sit down with God and make a commitment to begin on the road toward outrageous generosity.
4. Once you and God find a place to begin, as you see His blessing and your trust in Him begins to grow, move your amount up until you arrive at the place where you fully trust Him in your financial life.
There was a terrible earthquake in California many years ago. Thousands of homes were destroyed and the state was in chaos. Many people were claiming the homes they lived in as their own. The courthouse and all the titles and deeds were destroyed completely. The gas lines ran under the court house, and the flames were so consuming, not one record was found. This couple had lived in this house 15 years and they went to the judge to declare the home theirs. Another individual came forward and claimed the home was theirs. The judge did not know what to do, the people had lived there 15 years and brought people forward to back their claim. The other people brought little stubs where the people had paid rent to them. The judge asked to see the peoples signatures? The judge asked, Is this your signature on these rent stubs? The people said, YES! The judge declared the other people the owners of the home, even though they did not live there. May I suggest to you, that is sort of what paying tithes really is...10% is a legal document that you believe Jesus is Savior and Lord, and that God is the Creator. Your giving could be used in a court of law that you know who God really is. Tithing acknowledges God as the true owner.