Summary: Giving leads to praise, partnership and profit
WHAT GIVING PRODUCES
I remember hearing Pastor Rick Warren once talk about a time years ago when people had bumper stickers that read “honk if you love Jesus.” He once saw a bumper sticker with this message, “Tithe if you love Jesus, any idiot can honk.”
Imagine that today when you left the service you accidently left your wallet or purse on the pew and went home. After the service someone found it and took it home with them. During the week they gave you a call saying that they had found your wallet and that you could come in to get it. You would be relieved to know that, but what would happen when you arrived if they aid that they had helped themselves to the money that was in it. You would be angry! You would call it stealing. Just because you hold in your hands the resources of another person, that does not give you the right to help yourself to it. You cannot take what does not belong to you.
Likewise, everything we are and everything we own belongs to God. Just because we hold God’s resources in our hands does not mean that it belongs to us. It is God who makes the decision. God has told us in His word that at least 10% of it needs to be returned to Him to be set aside for the work and needs of the church. Unfortunately, what happens far too often is that we simply take what belongs to Him and use it for ourselves. Rationalize it however you like, but in the end it is stealing.
Today we are continuing our series on giving. Again, I know that giving can be a touchy subject for some. I think that is why Jesus talked so much about it, because He knew it was a struggle. It is our anniversary Sunday today, and latter during this message we are going to talking about pledges for the new building campaign. I want to assure you that no electricity will be involved. Instead, I just want to speak today about what giving produces. Giving produces great benefit, not only to the recipients of the gift, but to the givers as well. It blesses everyone.
That is what the believers in the church at Philippi discovered. They had supported Paul in his missionary efforts, so he writes them a thank-you note to them expressing his gratitude for their gifts.
Philippians 4:10-17 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
In this scripture we see that giving produced three different things;
1. Giving Leads to PRAISE (vs. 10-13)
Paul says here that “I rejoice greatly in the Lord…” That was the fruit of the gift Paul received from the Philippian believers. It caused him to praise God, even though he was it a very difficult situation. That is what giving does. Generosity causes people to rejoice in the Lord and brings glory to God.
Last year, Harvard professor Robert Putnam, criticized “organized religion” for being useless. His criticism reflected the attitude of many non-believers. Putman said, “The obvious fact is that over the last 30 years, most organized religion has only focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those” without addressing in his mind “real needs” in the world.
However, an article in The Washington Post countered with the facts about what is really going on in the American Church. Rob Schwarzwalder and Pat Fagan, the writers of that article said, “Broadly speaking, American churches are incredibly generous to the needs of a hurting world.” Then they presented lots of statistics to back up that claim.