Keys to Stewardship Living #2
1 John 3:1; 16-17
Well I have to warn you if you are a guest today or a regular that missed last week, we are talking about GIVING today, talking about stewardship this month
Last week we started by talking about the Keys to Stewardship Living
I compared these to the Tumblers in a lock. So, last week we got the first number in the combination, Contentment.
As we learn to be content we are on the way to opening up the blessings of Living as a steward
Well today we are going to turn the lock around to the next number,
READ 1 John 3:1-2
1. Generosity Comes Out of a Grateful Heart
Generosity is born from an understanding of what has been done for us and the engine is gratitude
There must be an understanding of our obligation and a willingness but borth are the result of gratitude
1 John 3:1 says “How Great is the love” NIV
YLT – “see what love”
KJV – “Behold, what manner of love”
This phrase “how great” or “what manner” is the Greek word, potapos - pot-ap-os what country, race, or tribe; what quality
There is a gratitude that realizes that the love of God comes from a whole different country than what we have known before. It is of a different race, a different tribe, a difference species of love.
Great Love that he “has lavished” - it is found here as the Greek word dedoken which is in in the perfect tense of the word didomi – meaning that when this love is given, it is once and for all given, it is a permanent possession.
The Great love that God has bestowed on us through Christ Jesus, once received, is PERMENENT … HOW GREAT a LOVE …
What I have in Christ Jesus cannot ever be taken from me.
What you have in Jesus Christ is YOURS … are you grateful??
What is the possession that has been permanently given to us in Jesus? We have been given the position of being the “children of God” That is particularly the adult sons, fully vetted as his children.
So, his other worldly love has been given to us permanently as the blessed sons of God with all the rights and privileges of that relationship.
How can we help but be generous when we are the children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Alexander the Great is said to have tossed several gold coins to a beggar. His aide commented, “COPPER coins would have suit his need, master” to which Alexander replied, “But, Gold Coins Suit Alexander’s giving”
We are the children of the one who loved us so much that his generosity spilled over in giving his one and only son that whoever believes may have everlasting life.
We haven’t just been saved FROM our sins by his love. In addition, we have been saved TO something. We have been saved TO being his graced, privileged children.
And it goes on to say “And that is what we are!” We don’t just appear to be his children we truly genuinely ARE his.
V2 says I don’t know what all that means but it does mean that we will be like Jesus, so the best is yet to come
So, if we are going to be LIKE Jesus how can I be anything BUT Generous
There is an expectation that we will respond LIKE God because we have been given his name … V1 says “that we should be CALLED (named) the TEKNON (born children) of God"
The problem is that we don’t always live UP to our name do we?
Did your parents ever say “we don’t do that” or “we do this” … they mean that THIS is the WAY we expect you to act if you are our children. I certainly have expectations for my sons
And so does our Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Let me stop for a minute before I go further and make some observations regarding generosity and giving.
Specifically regarding giving of money … Christians will have different levels of generosity. Some people have developed generosity by experience and circumstances. Their life has developed in them a desire to be generous.
Others have a natural personality trait toward generosity. It is God-given, but it is a natural inclination nearly from birth.
Then there are those who have a Spiritual Gift of Giving. It is a grace gift from the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual passion through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They may not have even been generous before they came to know Christ. However, since they received Christ, they have a compulsion within to give and so order their lives in such a way so as they are able to give abundantly.
But whether natural, spiritual, or not, ALL Christians are to give out of a grateful heart.
How do I know that we are ALL to give?
Because it is a command but all it is part of the result of our spiritual DNA
LOVE is part of God’s DNA, It is an Otherworldly love … and that LOVE has GIVING as the natural outgrowth
God SO Loved that he what? GAVE
The Love of God does not withhold but it gives. And if we are his CHILDREN then we have his spiritual DNA. 2 Peter 1:4 says that we participate in the divine nature
- So … that begs the question WHAT IS GOD’S LOVE and WHAT does that mean for me?
Look back at verses 16
READ 1 John 3:16
THIS IS LOVE – Jesus Christ LAID DOWN his life for us … and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers
Now brothers and sisters … can I say, gently, that the challenge is that we are often “good” or even “godly” by our estimation.
But I believe the greatest problem among followers of Jesus Christ is not the DOING of BAD things, but the NOT DOING of the Good that we ought
Sure we struggle with levels of sins committed
But most of you are good people and you are not doing bad things … but
While you are restraining from evil are you STRAINING toward GOOD
Are you sharing your faith?
Are you giving your life?
Are you giving your resources?
Are you using your talents?
Jesus “laid down” – tithemi = tith-ay-mee = to put, appoint, deposit, lay aside, lay aside money
Jesus Christ deposited his life into an account for us he emptied his resources for us
It was not enough for Jesus just to come and live a good life for us and not do anything wrong, he had to GIVE of himself to show his love and for us to experience the best of the love
Then it says
“we ought to lay down our lives”
It’s not enough just to stop doing bad things …
Isaiah 1:16-17 says “stop doing evil … learn to do good”
We have to MOVE toward the things that God expects of us
While we are trying to live up to the righteousness within us, we need to do the things of a follower of Jesus Christ
This is not a book of suggestions where you pick what you like and leave out what you don’t. We have a tendency to approach the life of a disciple like a diet plan and take what we want ignore the rest. No, this is the WORD OF GOD, be DOERS of the Word not just hearers only
“Ok Pastor so I’m supposed to lay my life down like Jesus, but does this mean monetarily too?” That’s a great question
READ 1 John 3:17
This doesn’t just mean if you are wealthy …
It literally means “goods of the world”
If you have stuff of this world
If you have an income
If you have possessions
If you have resources
If you have talents
If you have time
Those are all “goods of the world”
Then we are expected to invest those things in the lives of brothers in need
In light of the mercy of Christ and his love given to us
2. Generosity Comes Out of a Willing Heart
We have God’s love IN us if we are his children
And verse 17 says if we don’t respond in generosity, John wonders if we are TRULY the objects of God’s love. He wonders if we are really part of the family of God
Do we really have the DNA of God.
Stay with me for a minute
If you are wondering, “does this just mean if I see someone on the street I should meet their needs if I’m able?”
Yes, you should but let’s be sure of the realm that we are speaking here
John is talking to Christians about other brothers
V16 says we ought to love our “brethren” or “brothers”
In Scripture that is ALWAYS referring to other Christians.
So we are talking about needs within the body
So, if you contemplate intently at the needs of brothers we should respond with a willing and generous heart.
V17 says if we see a need for the regular material possessions of life
V17 says “and have no pity” (NIV)
The LITERAL is “shut up his bowels from him”
The word there is kleio = “to close up” Wuerst says it is a used of the slamming of a door, the snapping of a lock. It speaks of this person who snaps the doors of his heart against any compassionate feelings toward his needy brother and merciful actions.
It uses “bowels” because in the middle east of that day they used the word bowel like we use the term “heart” today.
Now just stay with me one more second
You ask, “how can I meet all the needs for the most important needs of life in the lives of the needy in this body and in his community?”
Oh that’s a great question
Certainly you can reach into a particular life with particular needs and meet those as led by the Spirit of God … BUT
God ordained a PERFECT PLAN for dealing with these needs
It is the FELLOWSHIP of the PEOPLE of GOD
In the Old Testament it was the Synagogue and the Temple in the New Testament and Following it was the church.
- God’s FIRST plan was that we would bring our tithes and offerings to the church as a first line of distribution and ministry to the needs of the community of faith.
The Bible teaches the People of God to “Bring ALL their Tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house” – Malachi 3:10
- The tithe, or 1/10th of our income was to be brought into the fellowship
That tithe was used for several things
It was used to support those who ministered IN the synagogue or Temple or church (the priests in the OT the Overseers in the NT)
It was used to care for the homeless, the orphan, widows, and needy
It was used for the education of God’s people
That is STILL what the church does. If God’s people bring the WHOLE tithe, 10%, into the church house then we can take care of the needs of those in our care
I can’t do it alone, you can’t do it alone, but if we all make equal sacrifice though not equal in number together we have the resources to do ministry and training, to care for the needy, widows, orphans, and presentation of the gospel.
So we come together to do what we can’t do apart. That should be our first commitment
Then if you want to do something above that to meet the needs of others or other ministries that is great
But the tithe, comes to the local storehouse. I hope you support other deserving ministries, but don’t give what belongs here.
But you know as a church that cooperates with the Southern Baptist Convention, when you give tithes and offerings here, we take a portion of that gift and we send a percentage of that along to local St. Louis missions through the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, then to the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention for those same type ministries locally, statewide, nationally and all over the world
So when, because of God’s love in us, in gratitude for his gifts, we GIVE to this body, we then are responding to the greatest needs within this church and within the world and showing the love of God by meeting those needs.
- What is the GREATEST need a person has?
A Need to Know Christ … and so your gifts enable us to address that need because “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17)
And then as you give, we set aside a percentage of those gifts to minister first within the body and then within our community to the physical needs of people.
Folks in Christ, and under his leadership we need to be willing to be generous. Especially in times like this. When everyone is saying “don’t give anything away because you don’t know what tomorrow holds” we need to be willing to be generous
Folks we don’t EVER know what tomorrow holds, but I can be willing to trust God today
Matt 6:33-34 says seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well … do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself …
Oh please don’t turn me off … I am not asking you to give what you don’t have
I’m asking you to be willing to be generous and obedient with what you DO have
- We need to teach our children to tithe with their DOLLAR so that they will tithe with $100,000 later.
Trust God when you do NOT have and be willing and grateful and you will continue to do so when you are again back on top.
And so John is saying what is your ‘love’ if it is only love in theory
He goes on to say in verse 18 we shouldn’t love with words but with actions …
Can I say that sometimes the circumstances of life cause us to suppress the natural spiritual inclination of love
John is shocked and ask “how can the love of God be in us” literally “how does the love of God REMAIN in him?”
While trying to teaching about giving, a mother gave her daughter a dollar and a quarter and told her to give one and keep the other for herself. After the service the mother asked which one she gave. “well I was going to give the dollar, but the pastor said that we should be a cheerful giver so I gave the quarter cause that made me a lot more cheerful than giving the dollar”
Dear Ones, I KNOW this is HARD to talk about … it’s even harder for us to step out on faith … but stay with me …
Not everyone has a lot of resources
Not everyone has a natural or spiritual inclination to be generous
But generosity comes out of gratitude and willingness and
3. Generosity Comes From an Obligated Heart
All Christians are to give HAPPILY, Generously, as directed by God.
I do not need to know what you give, or pay attention to what you do and try to “keep up with the Jones”. I just need to be obedient to the leading of God’s Spirit
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"NIV
Let me draw our attention to verse 16 again. What do I mean when I say we have an obligation … Because we see the Love of God in the life laid down by Jesus Christ … verse 16 says
“we ought” – opheilo = of-i-lo= to owe, be in debt, that which is due
We read that word ought and again we see it as a suggestion … but is your car payment a suggestion? Is your house payment a suggestion? Are your taxes a suggestion?
Because of the Love of Christ poured out on the cross of Calvary we are indebted to CHRIST.
John likes to compare us to Christ and show what our response must be
1 John 2:6 says “whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”
That word MUST is the same word ought (opheilo) it means a moral obligation … if we live in him we are morally obligated to walk like him
If we have his love we are obligated to love like he loved, lived out in our GIVING
Now this might bring up a question … “If it is something I OWE God is it generous? Generosity is over and above what is expected or normal”
Well you are absolutely correct. But a couple of things
- The tithe by nature was generous in that it was always to be the BEST and the FIRST of what we had not what was leftover.
As a matter of fact, God says in Malachi 1 that I would rather you shut the doors of the meeting house than bring me your worst
So there is a generosity in the way we give.
- But there is also a generosity in what we give – an Offering is generous in WHAT is given.
You see sometimes we confuse what it is to GIVE an OFFERING …
A tithe, or a tenth is expected. If you search scripture you will find that when referencing a tenth, it was always said that the tithe was “paid” … it was a debt to God
And an OFFERING was something that was GIVEN AFTER or ABOVE the tithe
Our generosity in giving comes AFTER we have tithed
So our Obligated Heart that pays a tithe …that is the place we start, then because we are overwhelmed with gratitude we are WILLING to give generously OVER and above our Tithe an offering of generous worship
Well, I need to stop here and give you some action points then
I understand that still some of you as new believers, or those who have returned to the church. This idea of tithing is a challenge
Perhaps some of you have been following the Lord for some time and have never been obedient in this area.
Look to the Lord in this area. Read Malachi especially chapter 1 and chapter 3 and see what God thinks about this. Pray and ask God, “am I obeying you in this?”
You may have gotten yourself so controlled by out of control spending that you are committed beyond your ability. Confess that to God and ask him for wisdom, and grace to move toward obedience.
Set a plan and goal for obedience. Challenge yourself whatever you are doing now, increase with a set pattern to get to the minimum of obedience.
I would also say that if you have been a believer a long time and still not obeying in this area, it is possible that some of your challenges are God’s attempt to correct and get you to obey
I guarantee God will do more in your life with 90% than you can do with 100%
Can anyone here attest to that?
“what I tried to keep in my hands, I’ve lost it all, but what I have given into God’s hands I still possess”
“I do not believe we can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than one can spare”
#1 – Commit to move into Obedience and Trust God to bless you in your obedience
#2 – Ask yourself, what can I/we do to show my gratitude through an offering that is above my tithe.
Can we come on the 28th of this month with a tithe and an offering for the Lord
#3 – Let generosity bleed over into every area of my life.
This might be the most radical thing I say but it comes at the end of my message …
Generosity is not LIMITED to our monetary giving, it is * TAUGHT by monetary giving.
We need to be generous with our time
We need to be generous with our talents
We need to be generous in our service
Do you have time for the Lord, do you have time for your friends
Are you too busy to help, too busy to serve, too be part of a ministry, too busy to come to Bible Study?
I would help with AWANA, I would serve in the nursery, I would come to Wednesday Night study, I would pray more, I would read my Bible more, but I’m what … “TOO BUSY”
Can we look at our lives and determine that we are generous with lots of things but not generous with the Lord or generous with our friends or generous with our families?
Let’s do something about it
What is the word?
Job 34:32 says "Should God then reward you on your terms when you refuse to repent?"
Isaiah 30:15 says “this is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says ‘in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it'"
Folks I know this is hard to wrestle with but it is not shared to bring us down but to call us back to what God desires so that he can BLESS US
Hey let me make it easier
Which would be easier, if I asked you to take out $100 and told you give it away, OR if I GAVE you $100 and told you to give it away?
Which would be easier if I told you make some time in your schedule and serve people, attend services etc. or I told you to look at MY schedule and assign me some time to do those things?
Which would be easier if I told you to use YOUR house to minister to your neighborhood or asked you to arrange for how to use MY house to minister to your neighbors?
Which would be easier if I told you to find ways to use your job or your talents to advance God’s Kingdom or let you find ways to use MY job and talents for God’s kingdom?
Well … People … everything you have belongs to GOD
It is HIS money
It is HIS time
It is HIS house
It is HIS job
It is HIS talents
So, take HIS stuff and figure out how to use it for HIS purposes in obedience to HIS plans, and he will BLESS you when you are faithful with HIS stuff
Will you come with me and turn around and follow God?
Let’s turn the lock and live the life of Stewardship