Money, money, money

December 30, 2016

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October has always been our stewardship month, a whole month of preaching about money, attendance drops, people get surly, and the emails start to come; my favorite, “it’s none of your business what I do with my money.”

Since I don’t take a salary from the church (and they know that) I often counter with how do they handle bible references to finances, next to hell Jesus talked more about money that any other subject.

So put your money where your mouth is.

Paul uses a gauge for the maturity of our faith that tends to make us uncomfortable: Whether we express love for fellow believers in material ways. We might prefer to keep our money and our spiritual formation separate, but Paul doesn’t give us that option. He makes it clear our generosity stems from our devotion to Christ, and that if we truly love Christ, it will be shown in the financial support of fellow Christians.

Here are three truths we need to remember about Christian giving:

  1. Giving is expected—The idea that giving of our finances is optional is completely foreign to the teachings in the New Testament. Jesus expected that his disciples would give to the poor (see Mt 6:2). Paul also makes it clear that giving is a sign of our love for Jesus. Giving is therefore a sign of our obedience and an expression of our willingness to love others in the church.

  2. Giving should be proportional—We are expected to give in accordance with what God has given us. Paul says, “If the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2Co 8:12). And in his first letter to the Corinthians he said, “Each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income” (1Co 16:2). This means at least two things, says Ligon Duncan: “(1) since we are all supposed to give proportionately, those who have more money are expected to give more [we who are particularly blessed materially must remember this], and (2) the Lord never asks us to give what we do not have, or contribute beyond our means.”

  3. Giving must be done willingly—Paul says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Co 9:7). We are expected to give—and expected to give willingly. Again, our giving is a matter of love of Christ. If we love Jesus we’ll give cheerfully to our brothers and sisters who are in need.

People may hesitate to give generously to God if they worry about having enough money left over to meet their own needs. Paul assured the Corinthians that God was able to meet their needs. The person who gives only a little will receive only a little in return. Don’t let a lack of faith keep you from giving freely and generously.

   2 Corinthians 9:7 A giving attitude is more important than the amount given. The person who can give only a small gift shouldn’t be embarrassed. God is concerned about how a person gives from his or her resources (see Mark 12:41–44). According to that standard, the giving of the Macedonian churches would be difficult to match (8:3). God himself is a cheerful giver. Consider all he has done for us. He is pleased when we who are created in his image give generously and joyfully. Do you have a difficult time letting go of your money? It may reflect ungratefulness to God.

   9:10 God gives us resources to use and invest for him. Paul uses the illustration of seed to explain that the resources God gives us are not to be hidden, foolishly devoured, or thrown away. Instead, they should be cultivated in order to produce more crops. When we invest what God has given us in his work, he will provide us with even more to give in his service.

     9:13 Paul wanted his readers to be generous on every occasion. As he appealed to the Corinthians to give sacrificially to aid the Jerusalem congregation, he reminded them that God is the source of everything good (9:10). Believers are called to be generous because of the example of the Lord of life. A stingy Christian should be an extinct species. Generosity proves that a person’s heart has been cleansed of self-interest and filled with the servant spirit of Jesus himself. That is why acts of generosity result in God being praised. Do neighbors see generosity in your actions?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Hope you all have a happy new year and thanks for all the support and prayers and great comments, hopefully in 2017 we will give away twice as many bibles.

 

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