Giving: How We Bless God’s Work

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Giving: How We Bless God’s Work”

(Selected Passages)

Series: The Spiritual Disciplines [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

June 17, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Well, here we are talking about everyone’s favorite subject: giving!

We are continuing our series on the spiritual disciplines, a short series where we study the spiritual acts that we can do to grow closer to Jesus Christ and be more like the people who God created us to be. 

Last week, we discussed what is potentially a church attender’s most feared spiritual discipline: fasting. This morning, we’re discussing what is potentially a pastor’s most feared discipline to preach about: giving. 

Why do pastor’s fear preaching on this topic? The biggest reason is because there is probably no topic in all of the Bible that more easily offends someone, particularly someone who is new to a church. 

I think most of you know that I am not in the business of offending people. That’s not my goal, at all. I even go out of my way at times to be careful not to offend. 

However, I will not go out of my way to change what the Bible says about a particular subject. I will preach it as I believe the Bible teaches it. I cannot help but do that. 

And, so, let us be open to hearing from the Bible and doing what it says. 

Let us be listeners of the Word and doers of the Word. 

Let’s pray together as we get started. 

(Prayer)

As we start our conversation on this topic let’s go right to a very heavy passage from Luke 16. Jesus said this,

10 Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. 11 So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:10-13)  [on screen]

So, there is a warning here that money can be a master over us. It can control us. It can have us do things that are contrary to what we would otherwise do. Particularly, it can have us serving it rather than serving God. 

So, we must be intentional when it comes to the giving of our resources for the purpose of godliness and making us more like Jesus. 

Here are five ways that we can give intentionally. 

First, . . . 

I. We give out of gratitude  [on screen]

We give because everything in this world already belongs to God. 

Listen to what Psalm 24:1 says:

The earth and everything in it,

the world and its inhabitants,

belong to the Lord; [on screen]

Also, Haggai 2:8 says,

“The silver and gold belong to me”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies. [on screen]

Everything that we think we “own” is actually a gift that is entrusted to us by God. 

Let me see if I can help explain this.

Illustration: I need $200 right now. Is there someone in here that is willing to give me $200? (Have three different people each bring up money). These people quickly and easily gave up this money. Why did they do so? Let’s ask. (Ask one of the people why they so quickly and easily gave up the money. One person will answer that I gave them the money ahead of time). The money was easily given to me because it was mine to begin with. I gave it to them and simply asked for it back. 

By the way, I’m indebted to Pastor Richard for providing me with that illustration. 

We give back to God and the work through His church because we are giving out of the gratitude we have towards Him because He has blessed us with everything that we have. It all belongs to Him!

God generously gives to us and He wants us to use His gifts in ways that bring us joy as we glorify Him. Part of our use of what He’s given us is to give back to Him and His work. 

(pause)

When we consider the ways that God has blessed us with life, with our family, with our possessions, with our church family, and primarily with the saving blood of Jesus Christ, we give out of tremendous gratitude, and we are glad to do so. 

So, we give out of gratitude. 

Second, . . .

II. We give in worship  [on screen]

Listen to this example that Paul gives us in Philippians 4:18,

But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. [on screen]

Paul is thanking the church in Philipi for the gift that he received from them: a monetary gift. He says that their gift was a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to whom? To God! The gift to Paul and his work of ministry was pleasing to God. 

When we give to God’s work, through the local church, it is an act of worship to God. A fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, that is pleasing to God. 

So, giving is not merely a matter of obligation, or law, or rule. As with all the other spiritual disciplines, it is an act of worship. 

That’s why giving is a part of our worship service, because it is an act of worship. 

When we give, we give in worship.

Third, . . .

III. We give in faith  [on screen]

Listen to one of Jesus’ most famous passages on giving. 

Mark 12:41-44 says,

41 Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. 43 Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.” [on screen]

This woman gave everything that she had to the work of God. 

How can someone do that? Someone can give that way when they have great faith in the calling to give sacrificially and great faith that God will continue to bless them. 

Indeed, Paul says to the Philippians after he says their giving is an act of worship

19 And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) [on screen]

God will supply all that we need, so we can give in faith!

Fourth, . . .

IV. We give with generosity [on screen]

Remember, we give with gratitude because we were blessed generously by God. 

Because of the generosity that was shown to us, we should have generosity overflowing from us. 

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

1 We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia: 2 During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, 4 they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, 5 and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will. [on screen]

Paul gives us an example of the churches in Macedonia who were personally suffering from poverty. Yet, they begged to be able to give to the work of ministry beyond their ability. 

This is something impressive, is it not?

Have you ever suffered financially and as you are suffering you beg for an opportunity to give generously to someone else?

That doesn’t make any sense! However, this is what happens to you when you follow Jesus! You do things that don’t make sense! You give generously in a crazy way!

Following Jesus will change you. It will create within you regular disciplines that lead you to become a person that is foreign to the world yet perfectly in line with the Word of God. 

(pause)

Just so you know, the generosity shown to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ can never be outdone by how much you give. So, give generously!

Just like the widow who gave everything that she had: she did so because of how much she was blessed by God. 

When you give, give generously because of the example of Jesus and the model of giving commended to us in the Word of God. 

Finally, . . .

V. We give out of love [on screen]

Paul tells us very clearly in 2 Corinthians 9:7,

7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. [on screen]

So, we don’t give out of duty or requirement. We give because we are cheerful; we give because we have been changed; we give out of love. 

First, we give out of love for God. 

We love God, so we want to worship Him through our giving. 

We love God, so we want to give to His work. 

We love God, so we want to make His name known by multiplying the work of ministry. 

Second, we give out of love for the church. 

We love the church, so we give to bless one another. 

We love the church, so we give to keep the doors open and accomplish its vision. 

Listen to the loving giving practiced by the first Christian church, the church in Jerusalem. 

Acts 4:32-35 tells us, 

32 Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. 33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. 34 For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need. [on screen]

Do we give with that kind of love for our church?

(pause)

Third, we give out of love for others. 

We love others, so we give sacrificially to bless others. 

We love others, so we give to reach them with the gospel. 

The love of God overwhelms us so that we cannot help but give.

(pause)

Concluding Thoughts:

Some of us may not want to give for whatever reason. 

I would encourage you to ask yourself why you would not give. 

What is keeping you from following the biblical command and the biblical example concerning giving?

In addition to the biblical command for us to give, we are also told that we will be blessed when we give. 

Luke 6:38 says, 

38 Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” [on screen]

We don’t know exactly what this looks like in the end, but we know that God will bless us when we give. What a wonderful promise! When we are obedient God will bless us!

Let us not ignore this important spiritual discipline. 

Here’s our bottom line for this week:

Bottom Line: Give because you are blessed; give to be a blessing.  [on screen]

(repeat)

We are blessed tremendously, so we give. 

We want to be a blessing to others, so we give. 

We are promised a blessing when we give, so we give. 

Here’s our weekly challenge for this week:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Examine your standard of generosity.  [on screen]

How are you doing when it comes to giving generously?

(pause)

That question should make most of us uncomfortable.

(pause)

I want to let you know that Satan does not want you to be generous. 

Generosity is a gift from God. 

Selfishness and stinginess are curses from Satan. 

As you examine your standard of generosity, don’t be distracted by Satan. 

  1. Practice faithful, sacrificial, biblical giving.  [on screen]

Paul said this to the church in Corinth,

2 On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he is prospering, so that no collections will need to be made when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:2) [on screen]

Paul told the Corinthians to give every Sunday in a pattern. The biblical pattern is regular, faithful, sacrificial giving. 

So, make it a priority to give a specific amount, at a specific time, in a regular pattern. Be faithful as you do so. 

(pause)

Now, one might ask, “Pastor, how much should we give?”

I want to spend just a moment speaking about this. 

First of all, the tradition of the church has far and away been to give a tithe, or ten percent of one’s income to the Lord through the local church. 

To be sure, when it comes to figuring out a percentage of what we should give from the pages of the Bible, we are pointed again and again to the tithe, particularly in the Old Testament. 

The tithe is indeed a biblical model, but it is not the complete biblical model. 

When we turn to the New Testament, and we examine the commands of Jesus, the instruction of the apostles, and the model of the early church the standard of generosity seems to be much more than ten percent. In fact, at times the standard is one hundred percent. 

So what are we to do with this?

Here’s my conclusion on the matter:

The minimum standard for God’s people giving to the work of the Lord has consistently seemed to be at least ten percent. So, if you don’t know where to start with your giving to the work of the Lord, start with ten percent. 

However, it’s important for us to know that the tithe is not meant to be a cap to what we should give to the work of the Lord, it seems to be more of a starting point. 

Some of us should be giving way more than ten percent to the work of the Lord.  I have no doubt that some of you are in fact giving more than ten percent (to be clear I only know what my family gives).

So, I encourage all of us not to make ten percent our goal, but our starting point for giving. 

Give faithfully, give generously, give sacrificially, and give biblically. 

Finally, . . . 

  1. Give because you love your church.  [on screen]

To put it plainly, we cannot operate as a church very long without the faithful giving of our people.

We have bills to pay, ministry to do, and staff to support. This cannot be done without all of us working together to give generously. 

As a matter of personal note, and as a challenge to all of us, I have dreams and plans for us as a church, but we must give more in order for us to accomplish those dreams and plans. 

We have a vision worthy of attaining! We must give!

Let’s all challenge ourselves to give more because we love God, we love our church, and we love others. 

Closing:

As we speak about giving know this: the greatest gift ever given is revealed in the book of John, chapter three, verse sixteen. John said,

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. [on screen]

Have you received that gift?

Have you been changed by that gift?

Has that generosity made you a generous giver?

If you’ve not been changed, today be changed!

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go

Benediction:

There will not be a service tonight. Spend some time celebrating fathers today. 

Join us this Wednesday as we have a time of celebration with our youth ministry. We’ll get to hear what God taught them while they were at camp, as well as what God is doing in general in their lives. We’ll meet in the ministry center fellowship hall at 6 PM.  I hope to see you there.

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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