Summary: Four reasons why it is wise to share what we have with those in need around us.
Note: This sermon was introduced with a drama sketch called "The Offering"
People share what they have for very different reasons, as we saw illustrated in the drama. Some people share what they have out of guilt. Others share what they have to be seen by others. But still other people give out of a genuine, heartfelt response to God’s love and grace in their lives.
I’ve been the pastor of teaching here at Life Bible Fellowship Church for over ten years now, and I believe this congregation is filled with people who give of themselves out of a sincere and honest response to God’s grace in their lives. I was reminded of this when our elder board started working on our church’s annual budget a few weeks ago. Our new fiscal year starts July 1, so we’re in the budget planning process right now. We always start by spending time in prayer, and then looking at how much money came into the church the previous fiscal year. Last year we took a huge step of faith and adopted an operating budget that was 15% more than the money that had come in the previous fiscal year. But when we compared what actually came in, we were amazed to see that we’re on pace to see 20% come in above the previous year, 5% more than we thought was a huge step of faith. That’s a testimony to the sharing and generous spirit of the people of this congregation.
I was also reminded of the giving character of this congregation when we went through Beyond Every Limit a few months ago. Most pastors I talk to dread giving campaigns, where they have to address issues like paying off construction loans, buying more land, and facilities renovation. But you make it easy to talk about these kinds of things, because you’re not afraid to take new steps of faith. So I believe this congregation is a giving congregation.
Today we’re going to talk about Wising Up about Sharing. We’ve been in a series through the Old Testament book of Proverbs called Wise Up About Life. We’ve been looking at different topics addressed in the book of Proverbs and how to live with the grain of God’s wisdom as it relates to each topic. In week’s past we’ve talked about wising up about the environment, about sex, about alcohol, and about parenting. In weeks to follow we’re going to talk about wising up about our parents, about leadership, about our legacy, about our words, and so forth.
But today we’re going to talk about wising up about sharing. Now I realize that just four weeks ago we talked about wising up about money. In that message we talked about working hard to reach our earning potential, avoiding foolish debts, seeking moderation in our lifestyle, and sharing what we have with those in need. The kind of sharing we focused our application on four weeks ago was sharing through our consistent giving to the church. Most of you are doing that faithfully.
So today I want to focus our application on our sharing with individual people we come in contact with. I find that if I’ve been faithful in my giving to the church that I have a tendency to think my sharing is done. So because I’ve written my tithe check for the month, I inadvertently close my eyes to the needs I see each day. I don’t see my neighbor who needs my help fixing his car or the single mom at church who needs those baby clothes I have boxed in the attic. I don’t think about the homeless person on my way to the grocery store or the teenager who doesn’t have quite enough money for summer camp.
So today we’re going to talk about why it’s wise to share what we have with other people. Today we’re going to see four reasons why it’s wise to share our resources with other people.
1. Demonstrating God’s Kindness (Proverbs 19:17)
Let’s look at this first proverb together.
"He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done" (Prov. 19:17 NIV).
The Hebrew verb for "kind" here means to be gracious and generous. It focuses both on the motive for giving something--that it’s graciously motivated, without strings attached--and on the action itself, that it’s actually given. So the focus of this Hebrew verb is on both the motive and the action.
And the word for "poor" here simply describes anyone who’s in need. The Hebrew word for "poor" is a very general term that can describe virtually anyone. So it’s not just the homeless or the destitute that this word includes. This is simply any person who’s suffering hardship, a person who’s been laid off because of the recession, someone who’s medical bills have caused them to hit hard times. It includes a single mom who’s on her own with the kids.