Summary: Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of "letting go and letting God" where money is concerned. This sermon is intended to bring the grudging giver past duty to delight.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
a fellowship of faith, family and friendships
February 15, 2004
Every reasonable human being who has thought about his life senses some kind of indebtedness. It may be thankfulness toward parents or a mentor; it could be the realization that you could not have gotten started in your field if someone hadn¡¦t believed in you and given you that first break. No one is an island, and we know we owe! I saw a bumper sticker once that said, I owe, I owe, it¡¦s off to work I go!
Along with the typical kinds of indebtedness there is a built-in understanding that we are in God¡¦s debt most of all. Just being born means you are indebted for life itself; you are breathing HIS air; you take up space on HIS planet! Stewardship is our means of saying ¡§Thank You¡¨ to God, and acknowledging that HE owns everything, and we are stewards, or caretakers of all we possess. Unfortunately some people never get that fact. The closest even many Christians come to genuine stewardship is adopting the new prosperity theology which is really only a Christianized materialism. I call it greed in church clothes.
A right attitude about money, things and power sets the course of life. The writer of Proverbs tells us our heart (the center of that which we care about) will determine how we conduct our lives:
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Jesus taught us the heart follows that which we treasure:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
A wrong attitude about the powerful issues of money and our stewardship of money can warp our heart and ruin our life. A man called at the church and asked if he could speak to the Head Hog at the Trough. The secretary said, "Who?" The man replied, "I want to speak to the Head Hog at the Trough!" Sure now that she had heard correctly, the secretary said, "Sir, if you mean our pastor, you will have to treat him with more respect¡Xand ask for ’The Reverend’ or ’The Pastor.’ But certainly you cannot refer to him as the Head Hog at the Trough!"
At this, the man came back, "Oh, I see. Well, I have ten thousand dollars I was thinking about donating to the Building Fund." Secretary: "Hold the line--I think the Big Pig just walked in the door." 
There are some decisions a person has to make about what place money will occupy in his life¡K
I. You¡¦ve Got to Decide if You¡¦ll Be a Control-Freak or Trust God.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)
Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor in Ephesus. Paul knew that there would be control issues in the church. Ephesus was an economically-advantaged community. Paul also knew that riches lead to power issues. The word ¡§rich¡¨ in the verse means to be full. The word ¡§arrogant¡¨ is a compound word that means to feel lofty. There is no doubt that if you add money and power together, one can begin to feel superior. When that happens, riches cease to be a blessing and begin to be in the way; it gives you a sense of control¡Kand that always stands between you and trust in the Lord.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.ƒn Prov 3:5-6 (NIV)
The more control we have, the less we trust in the Lord. It is tough in a rich country like America. Someone once said, ¡§America is one place where the people have complete control over how they pay their taxes ¡V cash, check, or money order.¡¨ 
In Luke 18 we read the story Jesus told some gathered listeners about two guys who went to worship. One was a model citizen, a very religious guy¡Kwent to church all the time, supported the church with his time, talent and tithes¡Keven down to tithing on the spices in his wife¡¦s cooking supplies. He made the treasurer smile, and he made the other church members feel guilty they didn¡¦t give as much as he did. He prayed aloud in church; in fact he prayed loud aloud! He made certain everyone heard his prayer, because it was more a list than a prayer; it was a list of his giving, prayer times and religious duties observed.