Every week I publish my sermon notes so that you may read them for yourselves. For my parishioners, this could be a good review from the weekend before. And it gives you a chance to see what I intended to say! For other pastors and ministers, feel free to borrow and use any of this material. I'd love for God to be glorified by you incorporating these notes into your own worship.
Splits & Royalties: 7 Principles of Giving (Part 1) - 02.24.13
Matthew 25:14-30 NIV
Introduction: We are in the My Story sermon series, learning how to tell our life story in the best way possible. What is the story we want to tell with our lives? What will be our legacy? What story do we want others to remember about us?
Writing and selling books is as much a business as it is an art form. The author makes a contract with the publisher to sell and market his book. In this contract an agreement is reached for how much of the book proceeds is SPLIT between the writer and the publishing company. The author also receives ROYALTIES back for every book sold.
We often think our relationship with God is this same way. We put a name to it - tithing and offerings. Sometimes we have the idea that God expects a percentage of what we produce, sort of like a tax. The truth is that giving is an important part of who we are if we if we are a Christ-follower, but the reason behind our giving is just as important as the fact of our giving.
Why Giving Is So Important:
Reason #1 - Giving makes me ___MORE LIKE GOD___.
“God so loved the world that He gave his only Son ...” John 3:16 ESV
God is a Giver! He gave us life. He gave us this world to enjoy. He even gave us his only Son so that we might have a relationship with Him. That most famous of verses, John 3:16, shows us the connection between loving and giving. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving!
Reason #2 - Giving draws me ___CLOSER TO GOD___.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV
Where I put my money, my time, my efforts, my thinking, my life... that’s where my heart will be! So where do I want my heart? If I want to be more like God, then I’ll also want to be closer to God. When I give out of a heart of love and compassion, I’ll find that I’m also next to God’s heart.
Reason #3 - Giving strengthens my ___FAITH___.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.” Proverbs 3:5, 9 NLT
Nothing strengthens my faith more than giving when I don’t understand how in the world I possibly can do so. Giving the way God gives - and the way He wants us to give - goes beyond our budgeting. It requires faith. The more I give, the stronger my faith will become. This is so because I discover that I cannot out give God. The more I give, the more He provides me the ability to give.
“Give, and it will be given to you... For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV
Giving of our money and material possessions is the only place in the Bible where God literally says, “I dare you.” Here is Mark’s translation: “Give with a cup and you will be measured back a cup. Give with a dump truck and you will be measured back with a dump truck!”
Reason #4 - Giving is an investment ___FOR ETERNITY___.
“... Give happily to those in need, and always be ready to share whatever God has given you. By doing this, you will be storing up real treasure for yourselves in heaven - it is the only safe investment for eternity.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19 LB
As a financial planner I have prepared many estate plans for passing someone’s wealth on. As a pastor I have seen and spoken over many funerals. Let me tell you what I’ve never seen - a hearse followed by a U-Haul truck! You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead!
Reason #5 - Giving reveals my ___SPIRITUAL MATURITY___.
“But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness... - see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7 NIV
Ultimately giving is more about my spiritual maturity than it is about the actual gift. Our finances are the last part of our personal life that we will release in trust to God. We hold on to our money and our wealth as a form of security. We cannot trust in God AND trust in our money at the same time. Giving is the discipline of learning to trust God. And it reveals to us the truth of our spiritual maturity.
The principles behind giving were important to Jesus - the master teacher. Both the gospel of Matthew and Luke tell us the parable of the talents, and both are recorded in the final week of Jesus’ life. Many of you, who are reading the 40 Days of Lent will read this story in the next week. Why was this story so important to Jesus? Because in it we find 7 underlying principles of a giving lifestyle! We’ll cover the first 4 this week and then finish the rest next week.
7 Principles of Giving from the Parable of the Talents:
Giving Principle #1 - ___It all belongs to the Master___.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” Matthew 25:14 NIV
Our whole sense of perspective is off base when it comes to our possessions and our wealth. We may think that we are the owner and that we give - or not give (our choice) - out of what belongs to us. Any sense of such ownership is an illusion. We are not the owner. God is! Everything was created by God and returns to God.
Jesus - as God’s son - knew that he only had days left in his earthly life, when he shared this parable. He is the “man going on a journey.” We are “his servants.” He (God) has “entrusted his property” to us. We are caretakers. Stewards. Managers. Everything belongs to the Master. We have been given the opportunity to manage his property here on Earth for the short period of our lifetime. Will we manage it in a way that reflects the values and priorities of our Master Jesus? Will we manage it in way that demonstrates His love, His compassion, and His selflessness?
Giving Principle #2 - We receive equal to ___OUR ABILITIES___ not equal to ___ONE ANOTHER___.
“To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.” Matthew 25:15 NIV
No where do we find anything about fairness or equality in this parable. The fact is that different people receive different talents - one 5, one 2, and the third only 1. What is a talent?
- talent = 6,000 denarii
- one denarii = one day’s wage for a common laborer
- so each talent would be worth 20 years of labor!
This issue was so important that Jesus explains why. Each receives according to his ability! We shouldn’t worry if anyone else has received more than me. Instead I should be focused on what I’m doing with mine!
Giving Principle #3 - What am I doing with what I’ve been given?
“The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.” Matthew 25:16-17 NIV
- Do I have a sense of ___URGENCY___?
The servant went at once and put his money to work. He didn’t know when the master would return. It could be any day. Do we have the false sense that we have a long time before we need to worry about this? Or do we make the most of every day and every opportunity?
- Do I have an ethic of ___WORK___?
Don’t gloss over this idea of putting “his money to work.” There is work involved in the kingdom of God! The principle here is that not only do we work in the kingdom - our labor - but that even our money labors for the kingdom too, if we have the right attitude of being a steward and not of owner.
- Do I have the objective of ___GROWTH___?
The five gained five more. The two gained two more. Even though different servants received different amounts, the same growth happened with both! In God’s kingdom it is normal and expected that growth happens. Why? Because healthy things grow! God’s first instructions to mankind were to “fill the Earth and multiply!”
Think of it this way - are you growing in your desire to give to God’s kingdom? Are you growing in seeing the opportunities? Our financial abilities will not be the same - from time to time or from person to person. But growth should be present in whatever it is that we are doing for God and with His help!
Giving Principle #4 - ___STEWARDSHIP___ - managing during the Master’s absence.
“After a long time the master of those servants returned...” Matthew 25:19a
Money is a bad master, but a good servant! Remembering that will help me to determine whether I am God’s servant - his steward of all He has entrusted to me, OR whether I have the attitude of Owner.
When we hear a sermon like this, we all WANT to be a steward - God’s servant. The way we handle our money, though, tells us whether our actions equal our desires. That’s why tithing is so important. It’s not the money given as much as the attitude with which it is given. Not a tax (I gotta do it), and not a tip (I give a leftover amount). It’s a tithe - the first tenth given to say to God: “I know this is all yours. You have entrusted it to me. I am managing it for you and for your kingdom. Here is the first fruits of my labor. Without You, none of this would be possible.”
Conclusion: Illustration -
- Some say the greatest violinist who ever lived was Niccolo Paganini, who lived in the mid-1800s. He lost his own violin in a gambling wager. (Do you value your gift so little that you gamble it away?)
- A businessman lent him his violin. Paganini played it so masterfully that the businessman refused to take it back. The businessman showed he was a steward. (Do you value your gift so much that you give it away to where it is needed the most? Are you unselfish with your gift and use it for God and others?)
- Paganini played on this gift for the rest of his life. When he died, he willed it to the city of Genoa, on the condition that it must never be played upon. Paganini forgot he was a steward. (Do you use your gift for others only with strings attached? Or do you share it freely - literally giving yourself and your possessions away, knowing they were given to you in the first place?)
- But Genoa takes it out of the case once a year and played upon by a young musician, who has won a contest. Genoa knows it is a steward of this great musical instrument. (Do you know you are a steward of all that God has given to you?)
We’ll consider the next 3 principles next week. Let’s pray.