Summary: We come to know God through giving.
This morning, our topic is "Seeking God Through Giving". As you know if you’ve been attending this church for very long, we don’t emphasize giving. We don’t take an offering, we don’t pass the plate. We just have a basket in the back for contributions. I don’t look at the giving records, so I don’t know how much any one of you gives, whether it’s a lot, or a little, or none at all. And in over a year, this is the first time I’ve spoken on the subject. Why is that? It’s not because we’re embarrassed to talk about it, as if it were somehow in bad taste to discuss something as "vulgar" as money. In fact, Jesus spoke about money quite a bit. He taught more about money than he did about heaven. But we know that many people are skeptical of churches. Many people think that ministers just want their money. They turn on the TV, and if they happen to come across a religious program, sometime during that show they will hear an appeal for money. They get letters in the mail from religious organizations asking for money. So, in order not to reinforce those negative attitudes, we don’t make a big deal of giving. And to anyone who may be a first-time visitor with us today, let me make a special appeal to you. Please don’t feel any expectation to give. In fact, we’d rather you didn’t. What we want most this morning is not to receive something from you, but to give something to you.
Having said all that, I couldn’t put it off this sermon any longer. It’s not that the church is in any critical need; we’re doing fine financially. But I had to speak on giving because of this sermon series. Today is the fourth in our series of five messages on "Seeking God." The goal of these messages is to help you develop the spiritual habits that will help you in your quest to know God. And I couldn’t claim to have adequately treated the topic of knowing God without at some point addressing the issue of giving. Because giving financially is a necessary spiritual habit for anyone who wants to know and experience God. It’s an indicator, a barometer, of our desire to know and follow God, and it’s also an important means by which we come to know Him. Our giving reveals what’s in our heart, and it can also change our heart. So as much as we might wish it to be otherwise, our giving practices are central to our walk with God.
As you ponder that, let me remind you of the promises we’re relying on throughout this series. We have God’s promise that this desire, this quest, to know Him will be rewarded.
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." -- Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks." -- Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -- Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
God can be found. God can be known. God desires that we find Him, and know Him, and experience Him, and have fellowship with Him. All we have to do is seek Him. Earnestly. Diligently. With perseverance. With all our hearts. God is not known by the idle, or the lazy, or the merely curious. God is known by those who are willing to do whatever it takes, suffer any hardship, make any sacrifice, pay the price, because they are convinced that the knowledge of God is worth whatever they may have to give for it. Do you believe that? If you do, then these messages will give you a map and a compass for the journey. But the desire and determination has to come from you. So this message, and this series, is only for those who want to know God. I hope that includes you.
So what does giving have to do with all this? After all, knowing God is something exalted and spiritual. How does something as crass and ordinary and worldly as a twenty dollar bill factor into that process? How is giving a "spiritual" habit, and not just a financial habit? It’s spiritual because it’s an act of faith. When you give to God, you’re saying, "God, I trust you to provide for me, not this money. I’m not trusting in this money to protect me and give me security, Lord, I’m trusting in you instead to do that. I’m trusting in you to give me pleasure, and not in this money. For all the things that money can bring, I’m trusting you instead." It’s also spiritual because it’s an act of worship. Worship is attributing worth to God; it’s "worth-ship". Worship is saying that God is great, and worthy of our praise, and adoration, and service. So when we give our finances to God, we’re saying that he’s worthy to receive all that we are and all that we have, even our money. And giving a portion of our money to God reminds us that all of it, and everything we own, really belongs to Him, because we belong to Him. That’s why giving is a spiritual act.