Summary: A stewardship message that teaching that giving it to God, not to a budget, a cause, or the church.
What’s In Your Wallet?
TEXT: II Corinthians 9:6-8
Sunday, October 6, 2002
Now I know that you know that next week is Consecration Sunday and this is kind of a primer for it. I know exactly how Christians feel about Consecration Sunday and all kinds of things like it. It is the service with the lowest attendance in the year. I don’t know why that is because giving what God has blessed us with is an act of Christian discipleship and an act of seeing Jesus as Lord. It really is an act of worship. I really hate stewardship campaigns because there is something worldly about them. It gives a person the impression that the church is going to try to talk them into giving more. My giving is between me and God and I resent that yearly thing during harvest season when the leaves are falling–it’s a Hallmark moment.
What I hope is that we discard this whole idea of a stewardship campaign because I don’t see anywhere in scripture where we are called to campaign at all. All that we are called to do is live out our faith consistently in every area including finances. I am not here trying to squeeze every nickel out of you that I can. What I hope to do this morning is simply open up the scriptures and look at what giving is from a Biblical perspective.
If we give the way the Lord teaches us, it’s like the Capital One Card commercial. It protects us from the pestilence and the problems and the heartaches that can come into our lives if we hold back from God. Left to our own devices, materialism has a way of eating us up or life doesn’t turn out the way we want, and we don’t maximize what we make to the best degree because we don’t have God’s blessings upon it. How do we have the divine protection of God? We do this by giving according to the scripture, and we will look at our text today which will instruct us in giving according to the scripture. We will look at the right perspective for giving, how much to give, the procedure for giving, and the focus for giving.
What attitude should we have towards giving? I love the analogy Paul uses about the sower. To give is really to sow, and this comes in direct opposition with how we human beings perceive giving. We tend to see giving as losing. How many times have you given in the offering plate or thought about giving a certain sum, and your mind starts playing tricks on you–“That could be a car payment.” “That could be this week’s grocery bill.” “That could have been what I needed to pay for these tires that blew or these engine problems that I’m having.” “That could have been my insurance payment.” You feel that because you gave the money in the offering, you lost it, that it’s not coming back to you at all. This is how we tend to see giving–as something that’s lost.
Yet scripture is very clear–giving is sowing. We all know the farming terms. What happens when you sow? You reap. You take a whole ear of corn and strip all the kernels off it, put each of them into the ground, and what happens? From one ear of corn, how many rows of corn can you plant? Each of those kernels will grow a stalk, and how many ears of corn are on each stalk? This concept of sowing is amazing. It is not something that is lost and gone forever. It actually multiplies.
This is what God says about giving. Giving is like sowing seed or planting a zucchini plant. If you have one plant, you have enough zucchini to last a lifetime. One tomato plant can grow an amazing number of tomatoes. That’s like giving. Every time you give, you need to remember that you are sowing seeds and a harvest is coming. This whole concept of sowing and reaping is built into the very fabric of life. Unless people and things give, we will all die. Think of a hanging plant in a pot without holes. If you keep giving it water without holes to drain the water away, the plant becomes waterlogged and will rot. Any plant that is not producing is dying.
Look at the Dead Sea itself or any body of water. Healthy water is constantly flowing, giving and receiving. The only water that is bad for you is the water that only receives. It becomes stagnant and has no movement.
The same thing is true with people. The happiest people are not the takers but the givers. The happiest class in our society is the middle class, not the upper class. Why? Because they tend to be the people who both give and receive.