Spiritual Disciplines - Financial Stewardship (12-12-20)
The spiritual discipline of stewardship is our privileged opportunity to be faithful managers of God’s provisions for God’s glory! God has called His redeemed people to respond to the gospel and His ongoing provisions with faithful stewardship.
This week we focused on Scripture that deals with the commands of God on us to be good financial stewards. One key Scripture we have about our stewardship of the “stuff” and money God has entrusted to us is in 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV) Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
As you read this you may be thinking, “I am far from rich.” But I want to ask, “Compared to whom?” Compared to the rest of mankind, many of us are truly rich. One of our favorite American sayings is, “God bless America.” Every time I see this on a bumper sticker or hear someone say it, I think, “God has. God has blessed America.” Do you realize how blessed by God we are? Do you know that America is approximately 6% of the world’s population, but we consume 40% of the world’s resources? Even though we have so much, we cling to it as our hope—our refuge. Most of us have a car. Some of us own more than one. Do you realize that only 8% of the people in the world own a car? That means 92% of the people in the world look at us and see wealth.
I was in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2013 on a mission trip. There are 6.5 million people who live there (the same number of people in one city as in the entire state of Arizona), but only a tiny group of people own cars. The Vietnamese travel their families of four, and sometimes more, mainly by moped, because there is no way they can afford, in a lifetime, to buy a car.
Seven hundred eighty million people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. That is 3.5 times the population of the United States. This is the reason why 3.4 million people die every year from water-related diseases. You and I are so wealthy that we can literally go to any hose bib in our city, open it up, and safely drink from it. But most of us won’t even do that because it tastes bad; it’s not because it’s contaminated, but because chlorine tastes gross. Do you realize millions of people in this highly advanced world don’t even know what it’s like to turn on a water source—any water source—and have something come out for them to drink? They don’t know what this is like.
We Are So Rich!
So, when we say, “God bless America!” or when we cringe at the thought of our comfort and abundance being messed with, we need to heed the words of Paul here when he says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV).
What we need to be saying is, “God, may America bless You by falling on our faces in gratitude for entrusting us with so much, and then instead of asking for more, may we learn to manage it in such a way that we bless others.”
Why? Because as redeemed children of God, our joy and our hope are not in our stuff but in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Look further at this Scripture with me for a moment:
1. “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds ...”
The word “good” here is the Greek word “kalos.” It means “beautiful.” The question is, when people see your deeds, do they see the beauty of Christ? Do they say, “Amazing!”? We are saved, by the grace of God, through faith in Christ, in order to do “kalos” deeds—good deeds, beautiful deeds.
2. “... and to be generous and willing to share ...”
Are you generous in your lifestyle? How do you know you are living generously or sacrificially? You know because it costs you something. It changes your lifestyle. You feel it!
3. “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Jesus taught us that the way to true life is narrow. He said it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. Why? Why is it hard? Why is the way to life narrow? It’s narrow because we don’t need a wide road so we can carry all of our trophies, money, possessions, pictures, and diplomas to eternal life; we just need Jesus. Why is the road to eternal destruction wide? It’s wide because all that stuff has to fit as we pack it, worship it, and cling to it straight to hell! Why is it hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? It’s hard because he wants to have his own kingdom now, and if entering God’s Kingdom means being generous and living for God’s glory and fame and not his own, then he will pass.
Here is the true test. Many of us wealthy, gifted, healthy people have said yes to Jesus' invitation to the feast, but we have our arms so full of this world that we have no time to help anybody else get there with us.
Praise God, Jesus Christ is the door, and it is not by my good deeds that I am saved!
But hear me today, brothers! When the gospel takes a hold of you, you will set down the treasures of this world and be faithful managers of God’s provisions for God’s glory, and in doing so, you will take hold of the life that is truly life.
In Luke 16:10, Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
If we hoard what we are given, we can only handle so much, but if we continue to give, we are able to be entrusted by God with more; not so we can be rich, but so we can keep giving it away for His glory and others’ salvation and growth.
In 1 and 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the New Testament Church about how we are to be faithful in our giving that with which God has entrusted us. It is a very specific counsel on how you and I are to be great stewards of the money and stuff we have!
1. Give Joyfully
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
To reluctantly give means, “I really do not want to, but oh, I better.” The world “cheerful” in the Greek is “hilarion.” It’s where we get our word hilarious—God loves a hilarious giver.
Now, we need to understand what God is trying to teach us about the amazing flow of kingdom living it is when we live an open-handed life. It should bring us an immense amount of joy, and it should bring God an immense amount of glory.
2. Give Regularly
Your faithfulness is more important to me than the amount you are able to give.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
The Christians in Jerusalem were suffering from poverty and famine, so Paul was collecting money for them. He suggested that believers set aside a certain amount each week and give it to the church until he arrived to take it on to Jerusalem.
Are you to only give to the church to which you belong? No. But the Bible says here and in other places to bring your regular commitment to God to support the ministry and ministers that you are partnering with in life and ministry. So, we are to give the firstfruits of our income to our home church, and then extra giving to other causes or people.
3. Give Generously
2 Corinthians 8:2-3 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord
What is generous living? Let’s look at Jesus; He gave sacrificially. How do I know I am giving sacrificially? Generous giving changes your lifestyle: You feel it! If you are trying to figure out a minimum number required to give, your giving is already from a heart that is more about how much you can keep for yourself and less about how much you can give others in the name of the One to whom it belongs—Jesus! I love the statement that God will do way more with what you have left than you can ever do with the full amount.
4. Give Proportionally
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
There is not a required percentage as to how much one should give after the cross. The requirement is a Christ-like life, one that is consumed by Him and overflowing with His character. This can only equal a sacrificial stewardship.
The key to our being good stewards of the money and “stuff” that God has entrusted to us is to first know that it is all His. It is our utter privilege to be entrusted with this life and the gifts and abilities that He has given us.
Our kingdom mindset is to be open-handed with His stuff and His money, to be faithful to bless others, and to continue the kingdom work that is happening in our local church and ministries of which we are a part.
I pray that if you have been negligent in faithfully managing what He has entrusted to you that you repent and begin to give joyfully, regularly, generously, and proportionally. I pray also that you let your good deeds shine bright and let God work through you, as you steward well all He has entrusted to you. For His glory we live!
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC