Spiritual Disciplines- Financial Stewardship (12-10-16)
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:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 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? Because 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% look at us and see wealth.
I was in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2013 on a mission trip where there are 6.5 million people (the same amount of people in one city as the entire state of Arizona), but only a tiny group of people own cars. The Vietnamese travel their families of 4 and sometimes more mainly by moped, because there is no way they can afford in a lifetime to buy a car.
780 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 and 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 is 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.
How many freshly prepared meals and yummy snacks will you consume today?
Over 800 million people will not eat anything today. Even the homeless in America can beg and get food in their bellies.
Our homeless are more wealthy then 800 million people around the world.
We are so RICH!
A few weeks ago was Black Friday.
Do you know the annual amount we consumers spend each year in one day on trinkets and the latest gadgets and toys?
10 billion dollars. That amount of money would solve half of the hunger needs of the entire world! We spend it in one DAY!
So when we say, “God bless America!” 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).
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.”
Because as redeemed children of God, our joy and our hope is 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?
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?
Because we don’t need a wide road so we can carry all of our trophies and money and possessions and pictures and diplomas to eternal life; we just need Jesus.
Why is the road to eternal destruction 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?
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.
See, 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, take hold of the life that is truly life.
In Luke 16:10 Jesus said, “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
2 Cor. 9:6 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 & 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the New Testament church about how we are to be faithful in our giving what God has entrusted us with. It is a very specific counsel to how you and I are to be great stewards of the money and stuff we have!
- Give Joyfully:
2 Cor. 9:7 Each man 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 from.
God loves a hilarious giver.
Now, we need to understand what God is trying to teach us about the amazing flow of kingdom living is that when we live an open-handed life, it should bring us an immense amount of JOY and God an immense amount of glory.
- Give Regularly:
Your faithfulness is more important to me than the amount you are able to give.
1 Cor. 16:1-2 Now about the money being collected for the Christians in Jerusalem: You should follow the same procedures I gave to the churches in Galatia.  On every Lord’s Day, each of you should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have earned and save it for this offering. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.
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 you belong to? 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 give our first fruits of our income to our home church, and then extra giving to other causes or people.
- Give Generously:
2 Cor. 8:2-3 Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity.  For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
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 you and less about how much you can give others in the name of the One to whom it belongs!
I love the statement that God will do way more with what you have left than you can ever do with the full amount.
- Give Proportionally:
1 Cor 16:2 On every Lord’s Day, each of you should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have earned and save it for this offering.
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 steward.
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.
And that it is our utter privilege to be entrusted with this life and the gifts and the 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 continue the kingdom work that is happening in our local church and ministries we are a part of.
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. That you let your good deeds shine bright and let God work through you as you steward well in all He has entrusted to you. For His glory we live!
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC