Summary: Discover that stewardship is a sign of a persons loyalty to God as you learn why you should give, how you should give and what you should give to God.
STEWARDSHIP -- THE SIGN OF LOYALTY
February 2, 2003
Today we are going to address a topic that is often uncomfortable for both the pastors and people of many churches. We are going to address the topic of stewardship. This is not going to be a fund raising campaign. Nor is this going to be a plea for more money. It is simply going to be an honest look at the issue of stewardship from a passage in 1 Chronicles which talks about how David and the people provided the resources for building the temple of God. As we look at this passage together we will be asking and answering three questions: 1) Why do we give? 2) How do we give? and 3) What do we give? We will not be exhaustive in our answers to these questions but will primarily stick to this passage and see what it has to say to us regarding these things.
In today’s lesson we will learn that stewardship is a sign of loyalty to God. David writes, “O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire (for stewardship) in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you” (29:18). Stewardship is the evidence that our hearts are truly loyal to God. This is the case because our finances are usually one of the last areas that we are willing to turn over to God. Therefore, when one becomes a good steward we can be sure of their devotion to God. A pastor I know once said, “If God has their checkbook, you know he has their heart.” I think that is very true. Let’s look at this passage together.
I. WHY SHOULD WE GIVE?
This is a very good question to start with as it is foundational to understand the purpose of stewardship. Many would say that they have worked very hard to earn their money and so why should they turn around and give it away to God. They worked for it. They earned it. It belongs to them. But as we begin to delve into the passage at hand we quickly learn that this simply isn’t true.
A) Because Everything Belongs To God.
If it really belongs to you, you can do with it as you please. However right off the bat we learn that it doesn’t really belong to us but to God. David prays, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours” (v. 11). This exposes a fundamental flaw in the world views of most people including many Christians. It shows us that our possessions and our money really belongs to God and not to us. And since it doesn’t belong to us in the first place we have no right to hoard it for ourselves.
B) Because Everything Comes From God.
Not only does God own all things, but also everything we have comes to us as a gift from God. “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (v. 12). We give to God because in reality he is both the owner of all things and the source of all things. David clearly understood this when he wrote: “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (v.14). When you understand this truth you realize that when you give you are not giving God what belongs to you, but you are giving God what already belongs to him. For David this was a matter of praise and worship. “Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name” (v. 13). We are often guilty of viewing the song service as the worship. But the offering is every bit as much an act of worship as is singing praise to God. In fact, if we sing our praise to God, but do not back that up with giving to God our songs of praise ring empty.
II. HOW SHOULD WE GIVE?
This questions deals with what manner we should give to God. Did you know that it is not enough to simply give to God? Did you know that you can give to God, but do it in the wrong way? It is important that when we give to God we do it for the right reason and in the right way.
A) We Should Give Generously.
David and the people gave very generously to the Lord’s work. “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (v.14). We can give generously to God because God has given generously to us. How generous were David and the people in their giving? Consider these numbers. “Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents (110 tons) of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents (260 tons) of refined silver” (vv. 3-4). When the people saw the generosity of their leader they were moved to follow suit. “They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents (190 tons) and ten thousand darics (180 pounds) of gold, ten thousand talents (375 tons) of silver, eighteen thousand talents (675 tons) of bronze and a hundred thousand talents (3,750 tons) of iron. Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord” (vv. 7-8). That is some very generous giving. But before you get overwhelmed with those massive numbers remember that that were able to generously give to God because God had given generously to them. The Bible tells us that we should give to God in proportion to how we have been blessed. This is the principle of tithing. This is the practice of giving 10% of what God has given us back to him. We give to God generously as he has blessed us.