Summary: What kind of giver are you?
A man had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He could receive little company and was not to be excited. While in the hospital a rich uncle died and left him a million dollars. His family wondered how to break the news to him with the least amount of excitement. It was decided to ask the preacher if he would go and break the news quietly to the man. The preacher went, and gradually led up to the question. The preacher asked the patient what he would do if he inherited a million dollars. He said, "I think I would give half of it to the church." The preacher dropped dead.
This morning, no doubt, this message may seem a little odd to some of you. Someone here may even be upset by what I have to say. Especially because this is the day that we’ve asked you to dig deep into your pockets to help us be able to update our parsonage next door.
Probably one of the biggest things that has turned numbers of people off to the church is the feeling that preachers are out to get your money. We’ve seen so many preachers, whether they’re on TV or not, who have taken advantage of sincere people and used their money not for the purpose of building God’s kingdom, but for the purpose of building their checking account and building their new houses and their shiny custom yachts. And so it’s made all preachers and the church look like we’re out to get you’re money.
People feel like Henry Ford did when he was asked to donate money for the construction of a new medical facility. The billionaire pledged to donate $5,000. The next day in the newspaper, the headline read, "Henry Ford contributes $50,000 to the local hospital." The irate Ford was on the phone immediately to complain to the fund-raiser that he had been misunderstood. The fund-raiser replied that they would print a retraction in the paper the following day to read, "Henry Ford reduces his donation by $45,000." Realizing the poor publicity that would result, the industrialist agreed to the $50,000 contribution in return for the following: That above the entrance to the hospital was to be carved the biblical inscription: "I came among you and you took me in." A lot of people feel as though the church has taken them. Those who have been guilty of deceiving people out of their money have given the rest of us preachers and the church as a whole a bad name.
Well, this morning, I’m not out to get your money, I’m not after your pocket books. But I do want to talk to you about the subject of giving. Money seems to be something that was an important topic to Jesus. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke 1 out of every 6 verses deals with money. Of the 29 parables Christ told, 16 deal with a person and his money. Why it is seems to be so important to Jesus, I don’t know. Perhaps it was because He how important money was to a persons survival and level of livelihood. Perhaps it was because He knew that one of the last things a man is ready to surrender is his wallet. Perhaps it’s because, as Paul tells Timothy, the love of money is the root of all evil. For some reason the topic of money and giving was important to Christ. Therefore, I think it’s a worthy topic for our discussion this morning.
Let me preface what I’m going to say by commending each of you for being so giving. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I believe the area of giving is one of our strengths. Our church gives and gives and gives. Can we do better? Absolutely. Are we doing bad? Absolutely not. This is one of the best giving churches I’ve come across. I love to see how much our church gives to needs that are presented, like the parsonage, or the recent renovations done to this building and the fellowship hall, or to seeds of compassion collections. This is a very giving church. And I appreciate being part of a giving church. I believe God honors a giving church and He has honored us. So this morning, I’m not trying to scold us for not giving at all. But I do want to challenge us to allow God to use us even more in the area of giving.
I believe there are three stages in giving. Well, four, if you count the “not giving anything” stage. But I want to talk to you about the three stages that come after that one for a little while this morning. And I’m praying that God would show us which category we fall into, and if it falls short of what He wants for us we’ll be willing to follow His leadership in our giving. Three stages of giving.