Spiritual Disciplines The Discipline of Stewardship, Pt. 1

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1 Spiritual Disciplines The Discipline of Stewardship, Pt. 1 Scripture Reading: Psalms 24:1-2 Intro: The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. (NIV) Often times when someone speaks of stewardship in a church setting, they talk about budgeting your money, and making sure you tithe that you give 10% of your income back to God. While this is not an unimportant part of stewardship, I want to take a broader view of stewardship today. Stewardship is another one of those Outward Spiritual Disciplines. This discipline involves putting complete trust in God that He will provide our needs and provide the time we need to accomplish the things that He desires us to do. During this season, we as a church participate in something we call Faith Promise. This is the exact thing that the spiritual discipline of stewardship is talking about. Out of our faith that God is the creator and entrust all things to us as stewards of His creation, we manage our time and resources for the Creator. None of our processions or time belong to us. They are God s and He has loaned them to us for His plans and purposes. We are simply managers entrusted to use our time and resources for the Creator who gave them to us to manage. Body: To begin with this morning, we must ask a simple question. What is a Steward? Steward and Stewardship are not words that you hear much outside of the church; unless you eat in restaurants fancy enough to have a wine steward. A steward was usually a slave in a household, they were the head slave, in charge of running the whole household. They usually had complete control over the

2 finances, would buy and sell and do business in their master s name. They were a bit of a cross between an administrator and an accountant. There are some notable stewards in the Bible, Joseph being the most notable. You remember that after his brothers sold Joseph into slavery, Potiphar bought him. After seeing his diligence, wisdom, and the blessing of God on him, Potiphar put him in charge of his whole household. Genesis 39:5-6 says, From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master's household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar's household for Joseph's sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't worry about a thing except what kind of food to eat! (NLT) After a visit to jail, Joseph becomes steward of all of Egypt. So based on this example, a steward can be the steward of a household, or of an entire nation. They are not the king, nor are they the master of the house, but they are in charge and they often have a great amount of leeway in the way that they run the affairs of the house or the nation. They do not own anything, but they do assign themselves an income to look after their own needs out of the resources that they are steward over. Joseph is a good steward because both Potiphar s house and the nation of Egypt prospered under his stewardship. Being a Good Steward in the Use of Money Why is being a good steward of money and other resources so crucial to growth in Godliness? For one thing it s a matter of sheer obedience. As we ll see, the Scriptures have a lot two say about our use of money. However, at least as much as anything else, the use of money is one of the best indicators of our spiritual maturity because we exchange such a great part of our lives for it. Because we invest most of our days working in exchange for money, there is a real sense in which money represents us. Therefore, how we use money expresses who we are, what our priorities are and what s in our hearts.

3 There is one given before we turn to principles for giving, we must note that God requires us to manage money in such a way that our needs and those of our family are met. 1 Timothy 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (NIV) In addition to making clear our own responsibility to our family. Now let s look at 10 principles of giving. A. God Owns Everything We Own We must remember who really owns everything. Psalms 24:1-2 The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. (NIV) And to be a bit more specific Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty. (NIV) That means we are only managers or, to use the Biblical term, stewards, of the resources God has given us, not owners. Our question should not be, How much of my money do I give to God?, but rather, How much of God s money should I keep for myself? B. Giving Is an Act of Worship

4 Have you ever thought of giving as an act of worship? Let s see what Paul says in Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (NIV) This describes our tithes and offerings. They are an aspect of our worship. Those who have given themselves to the Lord are liberal with their wealth, even in hard times. This is clearly displayed in the widow s offering that we will look at in the next point. C. Giving Reflects Faith in God s Provision The proportion of your income that you give back to God is one distinct indication of how much you trust Him to provide for your needs. Mark 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything all she had to live on. (NIV) The rich people s large sums did not reflect trust in God s goodness. But the widow s giving put her in a place of dependence upon God s love to provide for His own. She made a sacrifice and so showed faith in God s provision to meet her needs.

5 Some people don t give because of fear of future and so they hoard money. And that money, they think will provide the security they need. Only God is our refuge and strength, because investments can turn bad and dry up. So don t trust in uncertain riches. This is not a condemnation of wealth, for it is the attitude of the heart that God cares about, but the temptation to trust in money, instead of God, is certainly greater for the rich. D. Our Giving Should Be Sacrificial and Generous The story of the widow that Jesus commended is one illustration of the truth that giving to God is not just for those who can afford it. The Apostle Paul gives us another good example in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God s will. (NIV) Remember, giving isn t sacrificial unless it s a sacrifice. Does your giving cause you to make different choices about how you live? Sacrifice comes with a cost and causes us to forego or delay things we want for the sake of giving to God s kingdom. Timothy Keller says that, a family adapts their standard of what is enough by their expectations of their class. This is not the way to decide a lifestyle! How true this is in regard to giving sacrificially for the sake of the gospel. Keller further wrote, This principle has ramifications for us all. What about the upscale family who can tithe its income without any curtailment of its living standard at all? Edwards would say that family needs to give more. Sacrificial giving means that

6 we feel the sacrifice. It hits home. It effects the way we live, and the decisions that we make. E. Giving Reflects Spiritual Trustworthiness We find a startling insight into the ways of God s kingdom in Luke 16: It says, Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else s property, who will give you property of your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (NIV) The use of money and how we give it is one of the best ways of evaluating our relationship to Christ. What does our checkbook, ATM record and credit card receipts say about us? They say more about us than almost anything else. If, after death, our children or a biographer were to review our bank records, what conclusion would they draw about what was important to us? What would they reveal about our walk with Christ? Remember Zacchaeus, he gave half his money to the poor and repaid everyone he had wronged four times over, and the rich young ruler, who at the thought of parting with his riches, went away sad. One made money his god and the other made money his servant. One held money with a closed, tight fist; the other opened his hand out of love for God. F. Give out of Love, not Legalism Have you received your giving bill from Dalesburg Baptist Church this month? Well, God doesn t send you a bill either. And we give because of our love not because we will buy God s favor.

7 2 Corinthians 8:7-9 But just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (NIV) What kind of contrast do you think you d see if you give someone a gift and tell them you ve done so out of a sense of duty, as opposed to giving them a gift and telling them it s because you love them? G. Give Willingly, Thankfully, and Cheerfully 2 Corinthians 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. (NIV) There are many motives of giving, three of which are grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, I have to. Duty giving says, I ought to. Thanksgiving says, I want to. Another helpful analogy: Some people give to God like they give to the IRS. Some give to God like they give to the electric company. But a few give to God like they give an engagement ring to their fiancé. God wants us to enjoy giving. If we have trouble being happy giving some of God s money back to Him, just remember what God has done for us by adopting us as His child because of our faith in Christ. What an inheritance we have! H. Giving is an Appropriate Response to Real Needs

8 We are to give in response to specific needs as they arise. There are several good examples of this in Acts. Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (NIV) As a spiritual family we should desire the best for each other. This affects the way we handle caring for members in need with money from our benevolence fund. Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. (NIV) May our congregation be marked by this way of loving one another! First, that we would know each other well enough to know needs and to be comfortable to share what our needs are. And second, that we might step up and give generously to provide. I. Giving Should Be Planned and Systematic 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now about the collection for God s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (NIV) Notice Peaul says each one of you. All who claim to be believers are to express their stewardship of God s money this way. Give in good times and difficult times, when you re retired, as a teenager, even if you have only a part time job.

9 Notice Paul says in keeping with his income, or, as the NASB says, as he may prosper. While time precludes a full exegesis on this, we could give 10 percent of our gross income and that does not necessarily mean we have fulfilled the will of God. That s not a ceiling to stop at, but rather a floor to move up from. Stewardship of money doesn t end with the offering plate. Our responsibility goes further to ensure that our gifts have been put to proper use. Let s say our church only spent money on facilities. As stewards, we would need to also remember our missionaries and the poor. Dalesburg Baptist has covenanted to give to these causes and we all have a vested interest in asking questions about how we are fulfilling this aspect of our covenant. Further, we must seek ways to fulfill the covenant we have made with each other. Think about how we spend money also to meet our own needs. How should we respond to a company that makes a product we like that supports abortions and pornography? We should know and care about that. Do we know what the money the Lord has made us stewards of is supporting and where it is going? J. Generous Giving Results in Bountiful Blessing Prosperity theology, which teaches that it is God s will to make every Christian rich here on earth is an abominable twisting of Scripture. However, there are many NT passages that indicate earthly blessings of an unspecified nature will be given to those who are faithful stewards of God s money. Luke 6:38 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 to you. (NIV) You may not see immediate fruit, although some have. God blesses over time and in ways we may never know in this life. As we read part of this passage earlier 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give

10 what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NIV) Most of God s blessings for giving will come in the next life. By good stewardship we are laying up treasure in heaven. Matthew 6:20-21 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV) Carry-Over: Are you willing to accept God s principles for giving? Maybe God is calling for some fine-tuning or major readjustments in your spending habits. As a believer, no matter how much or little we have, we can discipline ourselves to use money for the purpose of godliness. Over 30 years, the Lord will likely provide you with over $1million. How will you steward this money? Get on a budget! Know how money is being spent and plan wisely. How can we be a faithful steward and don t know what we are in charge of? Decision:

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