(027) Philippians XIX: Investing in Eternity
Philippians XIX: Investing in Eternity
April 13, 2008
· 11/16/03, 02/19/06, 10/21/07 (Intro)
· 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, 11 & 12, Phil 4:10-13, Luke 16
· Pauline parallels (closings)
Intro/thank you letter
Monday marked 6 months as pastor – we are loving it, proud of our church. God is moving, new folks coming in and (more importantly) being integrated into the community.
· Local’s night at Tulip Town, 5:30 pm.
· Last Philippians sermon, part 19.
· Week after next: Gospel of John, pre-read chapter 1.
BACKGROUND: Philippians was a thank you letter, for a generous gift, delivered by Epaphroditus for Paul’s support in prison.
Scott taught on the previous passage, which begins the thank you, but it’s a strange thank you, “I am content regardless of what I have.” Paul remembers himself and thanks them properly:
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 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. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 ¶ Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. 23 ¶ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Philippians 4:14-23 NIV
· The letter ends with praise, and a typical closing.
Let’s talk about $
But the bulk of the passage is about their gift, and this sermon is about offerings. I have had Peter lock the doors.
I am always reluctant to talk about giving, because of perception of church and some hard won visitors. But God has given me an attitude adjustment:
I have said that sin is that which damages us, damages others, and dishonors Him, but it is also true that whenever God tells us to do something, we our obedience benefits us, benefits others, & glorifies Him.
\ I am cheating you to not talk about giving. Giving is for our (collective and individual) benefit, not God’s.
Theology of Money
The Bible has a lot to say about money. Money is a core part of our existence, and if our faith does not equip us to handle our money, it is insufficient.
· If we can’t take God into the bank or store, we have a weak Christianity.
The bedrock principle of money is that is all belongs to God. We are only caretakers: The creation story and the Psalms, parable of talents.
One of the most confusing parables: The dishonest steward. Rather commending his dishonesty, Jesus commends investing money for long term gains.
I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Luke 16:9 NIV
In other words, we must use our money to bring others into the kingdom. Even though you can’t take “it” with you, you can send it on ahead, investing it eternally.
Ä The reason we should invest eternally is because God gave it to us as an investment.
How we use our money – for ourselves or others – is a test of how trustworthy we will be with truly important things.
"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." Luke 16:10-13 NIV
\ We are God’s investment strategy.
Q Are you a trustworthy investment or not?
“We are blessed to be a blessing.” Are others blessed by how God has blessed me?
Ä One of the key ways we invest our money eternally is by using it to partner in ministry, as the Philippians did.
Giving as partnering in ministry
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Philippians 4:14
· “Share in my troubles” could be translated “partner with me.”
In our first Philippians sermon, Paul specifically thanks them for their partnership in the Gospel by their financial support and their prayers.
· By their prayers and gifts, they became an integral part of Paul’s evangelism of Europe.
Participants, not spectators
TG believes the church is not a Sunday activity, it is our identity. We are the body of Christ, committed to each other and what God is doing here.
· We welcome everyone who come in these doors, but know that our goal is for everyone to become a part, not just a spectator.
· We partner with the church through praying, giving, and serving.
All of these are vital, and without them, the church will die.
There’s an unconscious misperception that “no matter what I give to the church, God will provide.” He could provide, but He often doesn’t. He also could have angles preach the Gospel.
· We are his provision.
In the OT, the temple and the priests were solely supported by the people. In NT as well as OT, tithes and offerings were how God provided for the spiritual care of His people.
· If we don’t give to the church, there is no one else.
· God wants His work to be supported by His people.
And it takes a lot of money to keep a church running. We forget the church is subject to all of regular expenses of a business.
· It costs approximately $3,300 a week to do ministry.
· 1/5 of the congregation provided 80% of regular giving.
What about tithe?
So how much should you give? The word “tithe” means “ten percent.” Some believe it is an OT rule made obsolete by the NT, while others regard it as a sound Biblical guideline.
Paul gave three basic principles that we should pursue: give consistently, give proportionally, give sacrificially, and give cheerfully.
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... 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 NIV
For I testify that [the Philippians] gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. 2 Corinthians 8:3 NIV
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
I can’t tell you how much to give, as much as I would like say “10%,” but I can tell you God expects his children to give consistently, proportionally, sacrificially, and cheerfully.
Where should you give
Q Where should you give?
Give to what you think is a good investment. If you believe in what TGCC is doing and want to be a vital part, then serve in the church, pray for the church, and give to the church.
· I have known many people who are more inclined to give to various causes than their church because it’s more sexy.
I invest here, and all of the elders invest a significant portion of their income to this church. We all work with the expectation that we will invest our giving here.
· BTW: I don’t know any dollar and cents of your giving.
Ä It’s appropriate to speak in terms of investing, this passage uses a lot of banking terms:
...when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more... Philippians 4:15-18 NIV
It’s as if Paul views this as a business transaction: Give materially, receive spiritual returns. Not in a “Health & Wealth” way, but using our money to see spiritual gains.
Ä Paul turns suddenly from the language of partnership and investment to worship.
Giving as worship (Communion and offering on table)
They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. Philippians 4:18 NIV
Partnering in ministry is not simply an eternal investment, but it is no less than an act of worship.
Worship can be defined as an internal perspective that treasures God higher than everything else, and external actions that demonstrate and validate that perspective.
· Since money is the thing we tend to treasure the most, our finances are one of the most important places to worship God.
Giving is a costly act of worship and as such it honors and glorifies God in a way that singing cannot.
No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. 2 Samuel 24:23-24 NIV
· We worship God with the fruit of our mouth and the fruit of our labor.
To reinforce this point, we have placed the offering baskets on the communion table.
Q Do you worship God with your checkbook?
Q Can you think about your money and spending in church without wincing?
Q Are you investing your money in eternal thing?
If you’re not yet giving consistently, proportionally, sacrificially, and joyfully, my challenge to you is that you sit down with your family and prayerfully consider your giving to your church.
May the Lord help each of us invest our earthly wealth in things of eternal value.