Summary: Building God’s Church through Stewardship(Bob Russell - When God Build’s a Church)
A well-worn dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty dollar bill arrive at the Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they move along the conveyer belt to be burned, they strike up a conversation. The twenty reminisces about its travels all over the country. “I’ve had a pretty good life,” it proclaims. “Why I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, performances on Broadway, the best restaurants in New York, even a cruise to the Caribbean.” “Wow!” exclaims the one dollar bill. “You’ve really had an exciting life!” “So tell me,” says the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?’ The one dollar bill replies, “Oh I’ve been to the Christian Church, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church…” “Tell me,” the twenty dollar bill interrupts, “what’s a church?”
This is week six in our sermon series Building God’s Church, which is loosely based on Bob Russell’s book, When God Build’s a Church and today’s subject is stewardship. So why is money such a touchy topic in churches today anyway? Some people think the church is only out to get their money. “I’m not going to that church, all they ever do is ask for money. Sure they quote scripture and say it’s better to give than to receive. Seems to me they are all about receiving.” Have you ever heard that before? I have but just because someone doesn’t like the topic of the sermon or the call for outreach doesn’t mean we can stop addressing the topic. The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts 20:27, “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” Tithing is as much a part of being a Christian as baptism and communion. We witnessed the wonderful covenant of baptism earlier and participated in communion. We gave our offerings.
Did you know that most preachers don’t like to preach about money? Just as it is a sensitive issue today, so it was in Jesus’ time. That didn’t stop Jesus from talking about it though. Did you know that more than half of Jesus’ parables relate to stewardship? Brian Sluth, former president of the Christian Stewardship Association, said, “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.” One out of every six verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke deals with money. I get the impression God wants us to deal with this issue regularly.
Throughout the Old Testament tithing is described as giving the very best of the first of everything in our lives – our thoughts, our hearts, our families, our possessions, our money – nothing is to be held back from God. The New Testament scriptures refer to giving it all to God. Not just the first 10 percent, all of it. Did you catch that part in our scripture this morning?
“And God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have plenty of everything – enough to give to every good work.”
Don’t you just love God’s straight-forwardness? He sure doesn’t pull any punches. God gives so we can give. It’s that created in His image thing you know.
What else are you gonna do with it? Take it with you? Have you heard the one about the man who knew he was dying and instructed his wife to take all the money out of the bank and put it in a bag and tie it to a rafter in the attic right above his bed. He said that way, when the time came, he could grab it as he went up to heaven. He was going to prove to everyone that you could take it with you. Well, he passed away during his sleep that night and the first thing his wife did was to run up to the attic to see if the bag was gone. Needless to say, she wasn’t too surprised to see the bag still hanging where she put it. She went back downstairs to the rest of the family and shook her head and said, “I knew I should have put it in the basement.”
Of course we know we can’t take it with us, so the question is, what are we going to do with what God has given? My favorite author, Max Lucado, put it this way, “You don’t give for God’s sake. You give for your sake. The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives. How does tithing teach? Consider the simple act of writing a check for the offering. First you enter the date. Already you are reminded that you are a time bound creature and every possession you have will rust or burn. Best to give it while you can.