Summary: Sometimes people think that that there is no place for talk of money from the pulpit but the Scriptures speak about money, giving and generosity from beginning to end. This message looks at thoughts on generosity from the Book.
This is week two or three of Money Month at Cornerstone, depending on how you count. Two weeks ago we at least gave a nod to the fact that this is the month that we deal with Money at Cornerstone when I preached on A Generous Easter, and then last week was our 20th Anniversary and I preached on The Birth of a Generous Church and talked about the Generosity that allowed this church to exist, the generous support that we received 20 years ago when we started our church, support from our denomination, our district and from individuals around the district and how that birthed a church that has displayed generosity for the past 20 years.
Now if you have no clue what I’m talking about when I say “Money Month” it’s just the way we do things at Cornerstone. Instead of having the pastor preach on money when things are tight, and then it comes off as desperation, we take the month of April each year to teach the theology of giving, how we make our money and how we use our money. Why April? Because it’s the end of the church year and we prepare out new budget in May for the new Church year.
And next week at the end of the service step up cards will be distributed that look like this only smaller, and we will hand out cards that look like this, only much smaller and we will allow the folks who call Cornerstone home to respond and provide an estimate of what they believe they will be able to give in the upcoming year. In affect you get to have a say in the budget and say “This is the type of church I would like to have this year.”
I think I handle the mechanics of it well; we try not to embarrass anyone or put anyone on the spot. If you don’t want to participate that is fine, although we encourage everyone to take part. And we don’t come knocking on your door if you aren’t able to give what you thought you’d be able to, we hope you will after all we have based our budget on those figures. And we provide you with updates throughout the year about where we are in relation to what was committed and where you are personally in relation to your commitment.
But that is then and this is now.
So let’s go back to the scripture that was read for us earlier. 1 Timothy was a letter written by Paul to a young preacher named Timothy. Unlike letters like 1 and 2 Corinthians or Romans, this letter wasn’t written to a church congregation to be read aloud to the group. Instead it was written to an individual, we are reading someone else’s mail here. This would be like you reading a letter that HC Wilson had sent to me regarding my ministry.
And in the last part of this particular letter Paul addresses the topic of money. And he includes warnings and instructions about how money is earned and how it is spent. And part of that instructions is one of the most misquoted scriptures in the New Testament. It’s one of those quotes that creep up from time to time like “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Which isn’t in the bible at all but was a part of a sermon preached by John Wesley in 1791 when he said “Slovenliness is no part of religion. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness."
But how often have you heard someone say “Money is the root of all evil.”? And then they will usually attribute the words to Jesus. But the quote isn’t “Money is the root of all evil”, It is “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” And it wasn’t Jesus who said it, it was Paul who wrote it. The reference is actually 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
One thing that I discovered years ago is that Paul never addressed things in his letters that weren’t an issue. Letters were expensive to produce and hard to deliver so they really weren’t the place to discuss topics that weren’t of interest.
Sometimes we get the idea that talking about money and generosity is somehow of less worth than other topics that could be broached from the pulpit, if we had a pulpit from which to broach topics. But finances and money are addressed throughout the Bible, and when people give generously they are commended and when they withheld the blessings they have been given they were criticized.
This morning I want to take some time to look at Generosity throughout the Book.