Summary: A challenge for the church not just to tithe, but to tithe with glad hearts. When we put in our offering, does God get the idea that we’re obeying because of love, or that we’re dragging our feet?
Stewardship IV - The attitude in giving
Purpose: To challenge our people to tithe, but to tithe with glad hearts.
1. Our attitude says a lot about our actions. A husband might go to a "chick" movie with his wife, but he might go with a negative attitude, making lots of comments and huffing his way through the whole thing. A child might obey his parents, but he might do so kicking his feet and mumbling under his breath. You might complete a task at work, but you might just let your boss know that you think it is a waste of time and you might put less than full effort into it. Attitude says a lot.
2. This month we’ve been talking about financial matters. Three weeks ago we talked about ownership (It’s mine … all mine). Two weeks ago we talked about the power that money has over us (The Rich Ruler walking away from Jesus). Last Sunday we talked about how obedience to Jesus instructions can turn failures into successes (Peter’s big catch, "If you say so").
· Isn’t that Communism? Taking away from a person with more to give to a person with less?
· No. These believers weren’t forced. They did it because their love for Christ and for those in need went far beyond their love for their possessions. They gave with glad hearts.
4. Two questions. Why should we give? And how should we give?
5. Why should we give? Because, like the early believers, we love God and we love our neighbor more than we love our possessions.
· Simple obedience. Ten percent wasn’t my creation. It wasn’t John Wesley, not Martin Luther, not the Apostle Paul, not even Jesus. God instituted tithe.
· Leviticus 27:30 says, "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord."
· Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house."
· Remember, like we’ve talked about the past few weeks. Ten percent isn’t about accounting and nickel pinching. It’s about obedience.
· Why do I tithe? Because God told me to. If God had told me to wear purple polka dots every Friday, I’d do that too.
· But it’s not a brainless, robot thing. It’s a "seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you" thing. God isn’t pleased with big gifts or small gifts. He’s pleased with obedience.
· I believe each Christian should tithe, setting aside 10 percent of their income for the church. I don’t think our giving should be spontaneous or random.
· Random giving is haphazard. It’s ruled by your feelings and your present situation.
· It’s like mowing the back yard when your father has told you to mow the grass. It’s good, there’s nothing wrong with what you did. But it wasn’t obedience.
6. And how should we give? We should give freely, generously, cheerfully and expectantly.
· About 30 years after Acts 2, the early Christians in Jerusalem were under tremendous persecution from the Romans. Judea was also experiencing a great drought. Paul led a fund-raising campaign throughout the Christian church to bring relief to these Jerusalem believers. Read II Cor. 8:1-4.
· We know the Bible verse that, "God loves a cheerful giver." One Bible translation says, "God loves a hilarious giver." But how on earth can we do that when we’re parting with our cash?
· We can be cheerful knowing that we can also give expectantly. Look closer at II Cor. 9:6-7.
· Earlier we read the first part of Malachi 3:10. That verse continues by saying, "’Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ’and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’" Remember Peter last week with his boat full of fish? Do you think Peter would believe that promise?
7. I really do hate preaching about money. I don’t want to come across looking like a religious beggar. And I know many of you are very generous and are wonderful givers.
· But money is important to us. It makes us do things that we usually wouldn’t do, compromise our values, and turn our backs on our personal, family and religious responsibilities. It can easily become our master.
· Today’s sermon shouldn’t be one that is loaded with guilt. Remember, God isn’t a nickel counter.
· But God loves obedience. And he loves to shower blessings on those who are obedient. Take him at his word. "Test me in this and see …"
8. Prayer for the Holy Spirit to guide each one as they consider their giving.