Summary: Giving is a vital part of serving Christ.
Stewardship Questions We Must Answer
I recall one of the Andy Griffith episodes that I think illustrates very well the matter of giving. It seems Andy had been elected chairman of the needy children charity drive. They were taking up money at the schools for this charity as well as in town. Well, word got back to Andy that Opie had only given a penny at school. Now he had a pretty good sum in his piggy bank, but he only gave a penny. This thing upset Andy to no end. Here he was the sheriff and the chairman of the drive and his own boy only gave a penny. His identity was tied up in his son, and he thought this was a bad reflection on him. On several occasions, he tried to explain to Opie why he should give more than that to this most worthy charity, but every time Opie would tell him that he could not give because he was saving that money. Andy, of course, thought Opie was saving it to buy something that a child would want. He even sent him to his room. He once used an apple to try to explain to Opie how important sharing was. Andy finally came to the place where he was totally disgusted with his son. Finally, Aunt Bee scolded him for being overly concerned about what others would think of him because his son had not given enough to a charity drive. Then she reminded Andy that he already knew what a good little boy Opie was. Now Andy was willing to forget all of that just because he chose not to give on this one occasion. Andy called Opie back for supper and told him they would just forget about that incident. If he wanted to skimp out on this charity this one time so he could buy something he wanted, that was okay. It was only then that Opie told his father why he was saving his money. It seems there was a little girl in his class who needed a coat, and he was saving his money so that he would have enough to buy it before winter. Andy says; “Opie you never told me that was why you were saving the money.” Opie responds, “You never asked me.”
One said, “Money isn’t everything, but it’s way ahead of whatever is in second place.” Then there is the businessperson that says; “We operate our business by the golden rule. Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”
But as we consider this matter of stewardship, I want you to understand that this is not a sermon solely on our need to give our money to God, for God wants more than that. Additionally, the giving of our money can never make up for a heart that is not right with God.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were noted for their strict obedience to God’s laws, laws which required the tithing of their money or goods, yet listen to what Jesus said to them on one occasion; “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law-justice, mercy and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.” It seems to me that Jesus is saying there are stewardship things we need to be involved in that don’t relate to the giving of our money and that are more important than the giving of our money. Now how often do we hear that preached or taught?
So as we think on this matter of stewardship today, remember that we are talking about much more than the giving of our money to God. We are talking about the giving of ourselves and all that God has endowed us with.
At the same time, we know that it is impossible for God’s churches to operate and do his work without money. Yes, we can have many volunteers, which saves the church from having to pay someone to do a job, but it still takes money for God’s church to operate. But if everyone only gave money and did not work in any way in God’s church, it still could not operate. It takes a combination. Think about it, what if everyone just sent their money in every week but never showed up for any services or to use their talents. How could we disciple and train?
Jesus did not just give money for us. He gave himself totally. We can give no less to him and his work. It is unfortunate that God’s churches have to have bingo, bazaars and raffles to raise money to do his work. It is unfortunate that we have to hear high pressure campaigns and devise cleverly designed schemes to get the money we need to do God’s work. If everyone in God’s churches would give of their money and themselves we would be amazed what could happen.