Summary: THis is a stewardship sermon which deals with different motivations for giving to the cause of Christ.
We Give Because We Were Lost
10/24/99 Eccle. 11:1-6 Luke 15:1-10
Let’s suppose that instead of God being the loving and gracious God that He is, suppose God was like what a lot of people think. Many think God is an old grandfatherly figure sitting on a throne ready to zap us for doing wrong. Now what if this grandfatherly figure removes all shadow of a doubt about the existence of heaven and hell, by allowing us to come into a building and showing us those who are rejoicing in heaven. He then says, “if you go open that other door, you will see those who are suffering in hell.” When you go to open the door, your hand burns on the knob, and the screams from inside are unbearable so you immediately close the door.
You ask, “now God is there another door”. God says no. “You will be put in one or the other forever and ever.” You ask “ well God, how can I make sure I don’t end up in this place.” God says, “well I decided that anybody who will give me 90% of what they get in life, will go to heaven and those that don’t will go to hell.” 90% of what God? “90% of their love, 90% of their money, 90% of their time, and 90% of their talents.” But God is that asking too much? Not when I consider that I gave it all to them in the first place. What do they have, that was not made possible by something I gave to them.” “Well God, I guess a lot of people will go to hell then.” Yeah, they probably will, but they didn’t have to. Well how much are you willing to pay.” I’m not sure, but I don’t think its 90%. My friend how much would you be willing to pay to stay out of that hell? If it were me, I think I’d say, whatever it takes.
How many of you are glad our God is not that kind of a God. When it comes to giving there are usually three motivations for giving to the Lord. The weakest and the most frustrating of the motivations is fear. “If I don’t give, God is going to get me like He did Ananais and Sapphira. Ananias and his wife were a married couple who wanted to impress people with their giving, by lying about the kind of sacrifice they were making to give.
They went and sold a piece of property and agreed to split the money three ways. A little bit for Ananias, a little bit for Sapphira, and a little bit for the Lord. Now there was nothing wrong with that, because it was there property to sell. But they got to church and lied because they wanted people to think they were putting in more than they were. They are like people who shout amen every time the preacher mentions we need to tithe, but never get beyond the amen.
Annaias got to church early that day and wouldn’t even wait for his wife to get ready. He could barely wait for them to start to take up the offering. He told Peter, “ Brother we sold our land because of our love for God, and every penny of it is right here for the needs of the saints. Peter said, “ Brother Ananias, Satan has crept into your heart. You’re not lying to the church, but lying to God.” Ananias fell dead right there in the service and they took him out.
His wife was really late for church. She came three hours later. She was so late all the commotion about her husband’s death had died down and she didn’t know about it yet. Peter said, “Sister Ananias did you and your husband bring in all the money from that land you sold.” She said, “Brother Peter, it is a joy and privilege to give all that God has blessed us with back to you and the saints.” Peter said, “I cannot believe the two of you sat down together and deciding to lie about giving to the work of the Lord. Here come the men who just buried your husband, and now they got to back again to bury you.” She then immediately fell over dead.
The bible said, “Great fear seized the whole church.” Now don’t you know they had a record offering that next Sunday. People gave because they were afraid, not because they loved. The only problem with this kind of giving is that our God will still provide blessings in our lives even if we don’t give.
We then gradually lose our sense of fear that God is going to get me, and become comfortable giving very little or nothing at all. We wait until something bad happens and then think its because of us not giving. That may be true and it may not be true. God deals with us as individuals. God’s problem with Ananias and Sapphira was not what they gave, but lying to God about a love relationship with Him that really did not exist.