Summary: Jesus calls us to "freely give," yet many of us aren't free with our generosity. This sermon looks at the problem and steps forward.
A DIFFICULT QUESTION: Are we stingy?
- We don’t like to think of ourselves as being stingy. It’s an ugly word. It’s a small word. But I think a case can be made that many of us are stingier than we’d like to admit. Consider some numbers.
- Four stats:
a. American Christians today give a lower percentage of their income to the church than during the Great Depression.
b. American widows and widowers giving 10% to church: 18%; non-widowed: 9%.
c. Empty Tomb, Inc.: Cost to meet most of the human needs around the globe: $80 billion; total funds added if American church members tithed: $86 billion.
d. Zogby: “Most urgent problem in American culture” is “greed/materialism”; BBC: “Which of seven deadly sins did you commit in last month?” had greed come in last.
- Making all this worse is that we live in one of the most affluent societies ever. We don’t feel that way because most of the people surrounding us are in the same situation that we are. But our wealth in relation to most people who have ever lived makes us look even stingier when we are unable to be particularly generous.
- One thing that I think is important to grasp to properly understand where we are on this continuum has to do with how much we give regularly. Many people will think themselves generous because when a need arises they are willing to kick in $20 or $50. What about what you give away on a regular basis? What are the things you support every month or every pay? The church and the Kingdom of God? Worthwhile ministries? Other charities that you have a heart for? Friends or family? What percentage of your paycheck do you give away each time, even when there’s not a special situation? If that’s not particularly impressive, maybe you’re stingy. If you don’t write a check to anyone like that each pay, maybe you’re stingy. If you wait for a special occasion to give, maybe you’re stingy.
JESUS' CHALLENGE: Live with an open hand.
- Mathew 10:8.
- Our passage for this morning has an interesting command: “freely you have received, freely give.”
- This speaks to an openness and freedom with money and possessions that few of us have. We cling and we grasp. What Jesus says here strikes us as opposed to the way most of us live our lives. We are cautious in our giving. We are calculated with our generosity.
- This is where we can take it a step beyond what I said a moment ago. Maybe you don’t consider yourself stingy in any of the senses I shared. Nonetheless, do you regularly try to increase your giving? Are you going beyond 10%? Are you looking for opportunities to give more?
WHAT'S HOLDING US BACK? Is our trust and security in the teller or the Father?
- For many of us we ultimately find our financial peace in how much we have in the bank. As Christians, that’s not where our financial peace is to come from. It’s to come from our Father.
- What does that mean? It means that I am a child of my heavenly Father and I know that He is watching over me. He has promised in Matthew 6:33 to provide for my financial needs if I am seeking first the Kingdom.
- I’m reminded of one of our kids when they were young. They had some Smarties and were eating them. I teasingly asked them for one, presuming as kids often do they would greedily pull them away. Instead, they freely shared. I asked them why they were being so nice and they told me because there were more in their Mom’s purse. To their mind, Mom’s purse contained an endless supply, so why not share?
- That attitude can translate over into the Christian’s money attitude. I can live with an open hand because our Father has limitless resources.
- This is hard for us to do because we rarely see it modeled. Money issues are so deeply entrenched in America that we often don’t even see money sins for what they are. We’re all aspiring to climb higher on the ladder. We don’t think much about the teaching of Christ concerning money.
- The way of Christ on money is different than the way of the world.
- The sad thing is that Jesus is offering us here a dramatically better way. Want to get rid of your money worries? Want to access unlimited resources to take care of our financial needs? We’ve been offered exactly that. He may not give us all our wants, but He will give us all our needs. We can live without worry, which is the point of the larger passage there. It’s a wonderful offer, but almost all of us decline it.