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(Genesis 14) Money Matters

(Genesis 14) Money Matters

by Stephen Davey Ref: Genesis 14

Pop quiz: How much money did the Israelites give to God every month? If you answered, "10 percent of their income," you're wrong! Many people today give 10 percent believing it is an Old Testament command, but they're mistaken. So how much money should we give to God? What Biblical principles should we live by? Get your pencils ready as Stephen takes us to financial stewardship 101!




(Genesis 14 & Selected Scriptures)

I would advise you to take out your study notes.  That would help you follow along, as we have a lot to cover.  We’re going to speak on a subject this morning that is addressing us as we go through the book of Genesis.  I looked in my months and discovered that in the thirty months of our existence, I have spoken on the subject of money one time, and that was on a Sunday evening.  So I guess if I’m ever loaded for (?) it’s the morning.  But I want you to understand that I’m going to be coming from a different vantage point perhaps than you have ever approached the subject.  I may be teaching something that you may say, “Yes, that’s exactly the way I’ve always believed, and it’s about time you taught it.”  Some of  you may say, “I have never heard that before, and in fact, I’m scratching my head at the thought that this is different than what I heard.”  Some of you may say, “I have never heard that before and I’m convinced I don’t like it, and I don’t want to hear it again.”  So for you, flexibility would be the key.  For all of us, application is important.

We’re in Genesis Chapter 14.  So would you take your Bibles and turn there please?  Genesis Chapter 14, and we’re going to begin with Verse 17.  We covered last session the fact that Lot rebelled against God, he compromised, he pitched his tent toward Sodom, ultimately ended up in Sodom and then pagan kings took up war against the kings of Sodom, that five fold confederacy, those five cities in the valley.  And as you know, Sodom was taken, ugh, Lot was taken captive along with the king of Sodom and all of the goods.  Well, Abraham sends out his soldiers and rescues Lot.  After he rescues Lot, coming back he’s approached by two men.  He’s approached by the king of Sodom, who gives him or wants to give him a gift, and Lot, or Abraham, turns it down.  He says that I don’t want to take a penny from a pagan king.  But then another man approaches him, and that’s where we will pick it up here in Verse 18.

(Genesis 14:18-20)

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine;  now he was a priest of God Most High.  And he blessed him and said, “Blessed by Abram of God Most High.  Possessor of heaven and earth;  And blessed by God Most High Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Now note how Abram responds to Melchizedek.  And he gave him a tenth of all.   And a lot of times people will say that this is before the law was given, and because Abraham gave a tenth before the law, we who live after the law are required by God to as well give a tenth.

Turn over to a passage in the New Testament.  Hebrews Chapter 7.  If you’ll head toward Revelation you’ll find it a few books before you get to that.  Hebrews Chapter 7 Verse 14.  This gives us an amplified account of what happened.  I’m sorry, Verse 4Hebrews Chapter 7 Verse 4.  This is relating again the story of Melchizedek coming to Abram..   Now notice what happens here in the Amplified or the enlarged version.

Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth.  You’ll note, in fact, some expositors and commentators think that Melchizedek was actually a preincarnate form of Jesus Christ.  Melchizedek is really not a name.  It is a transliterated form of (?) the meaning would be king of righteousness.  And he was from Salem.  Salem was the ancient city which is now Jerusalem, Salem coming from the Hebrew word, shalom.  So this man was the king of righteousness, the king of peace.  So a lot of men think that perhaps this was Jesus.  I’m not sure.  In fact, in Hebrews Chapter 7 it seems to indicate otherwise.  But he comes to Abraham.  Note what Abraham does.  He gave him a tenth of what?  Of all?  No.  He gave him a tenth of the choicest.

Now let me give you two things.  If you’re following along in your notes, let me suggest that you write these down.  Two things about Abraham’s gift.  Number one, it was spontaneous.  It was spontaneous.  There was nothing in the Old Testament account, there was nothing in the New Testament, account that would indicate God commanded Abraham to give a tithe.   It was spontaneous.  In fact, in his entire 160 years of life, we never have before this occasion and after this occasion a time when Abraham gave anything to the priests or this priest.   So it was a spontaneous thing.  It would have been a good example, by the way for the Jew, because the Jew might have grumbled as you’re going to discover as we go through this why they could have grumbled.  But he gave this out of a spontaneous heart.  This was a tenth of the choicest.

That brings up the second point, and that is, this was generous.  It was very generous.  Even though it was not a tenth of all, it was the tenth of the choicest goods or spoils.  The word for spoil is acrothinion (?) which could be translated “pinnacle.”  This is the top.  Abraham gave him a tenth of the top of the pile.  Now this may have represented in value 90% of the entire take, but we do know that he just selected some choice goods and then from those choice goods, he gave a tenth.  This is a tenth of the choicest spoil.

Now we find another example in the Old Testament of tithing.  These are, by the way, the first two occasions the word occurs in the Old Testament.  It will occur some forty times.  The second one is in relation to Jacob.  The text says, and I’ve underlined for emphasis Jacob says this to God.  And I think this is the attitude of most New Testament givers today.  If God will be with me and keep me on this journey that I take and will give me food to eat and garments to wear and I return to my father’s house in safety, then I will surely give a tenth to thee.

(Note:  Reference for verse above was not given, but is from Genesis 28:22)

There are two things that are typical in his attitude.  Number one, it was an attitude of manipulation.   Secondly, it was an attitude of fear.  In other words, you could, you could conversely teach this that I give hoping that I will break my leg.  Have you ever had anybody teach you that if you don’t give a particular percentage, then sooner or later you’re going to end up in the hospital?  Your kid’s going to break his leg.  You’re going to get sick.  And you know what God’s going to do?  He’s going to exact exactly the amount from that doctor bill that you owed Him in the tithe.  Have you ever heard that taught?  I have.  That’s the attitude of Jacob.   It is giving out of a sense of fear and manipulation.   Lord I’m giving this to you, but please give me safety, give me food, give me clothing.

Now just what does the Old Testament teach about tithing?  I want to give you several things about tithing that will help us reach a conclusion as to what we are to do today.  There are four categories of tithing.  The first is a government tithe.  You want to jot that into your notes.  A government or a theocratic tithe.  This, by the way, was a tenth.  Whenever you see the word tithe” immediately equate in your mind “tenth.”  And you’re going to learn as well every time you hear the word or see the word tithe in the Old Testament, you’re also going to think immediately of the word “tax.”   We could refer to these as “taxed tithes.”  The first is the government tithe.  The text reads,  Thus, all the tithe of the land of the seed of the land or the fruit of the tree is the Lord’s.  It is holy to the Lord.  For every tenth part of herd or flock whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.

(Note:  Reference for verse above was not given - Leviticus 27:30)

Now Leviticus Chapter 27 is giving the principles whereby the Jews supported the theocratic system, that is, the system whereby the priests were the under rulers or under shepherds of God.  So it says you give it to the Lord, but in effect, you are giving it to the priests.  And they had a particular system.  They had a rod that the priest would hold out just as the shepherd would hold out to count his sheep.   And they would funnel all of the newly born cattle or sheep underneath this rod, and the first one that came under the rod belonged to the priest or to the Lord.  So you know what the Jew did?  He hoped, he prayed the first thing under the rod was the scrawny one, the weak one, the sick one.  And a lot of times they were even tempted to say, “Oh no, the fattest cow of all is about to go under,” and they’d go swap it with a sick one.  Well, do you think maybe a Jew wouldn’t think that way?  Yeah they did.  Look at the next part of the verse.

He is not to be concerned whether good or bad nor shall he exchange it.  If he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall be holy.  In other words, if you do that, guess what?  The priest gets both of them, the fat one and the sick one.  This was the way, you understand, that the people in a sense gave a tenth, a tax tithe, to support the priest.

Let me show you another passage.  Nehemiah Chapter 10 Verses 37 and 39.  They not only supported the priests with this tax tithe, they supported others as well.  The text reads,

We will also bring bread, fruit, new wine and oil for the priest who are ministering also the gatekeepers and the singers.  They had a paid choir in Jerusalem, and these singers, the gatekeepers and the priests, lived kind of like I live or additional staff live who are added to this church.  We live, they lived, on the basis of what people gave.  So it was very important for the people to be taxed in this way.

Now you understand, let me stop here, this was not voluntary.  This was not something they did because they wanted to.  This was not giving out of a free heart.  This was commanded.  God commanded it.  It was demanded.  It supported the priesthood and everything related to the priestly system.  This is the first ten.

There’s another tenth that is the community or the festival tithe.   And if you are writing down notes, you ought to write in the left hand margin ten percent for the first theocratic tithe and now ten percent for what I’m going to call the community tithe.  The text says,

When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the Lord your God has given to you to inherit, then it shall come about that the place in which the lord your God shall choose for His name to dwell (and I’ve put there, I’ve inserted Jerusalem obviously) there (or to Jerusalem) you shall bring all that I command you, burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes or your tenth and the contribution of your hand, you are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil or the first born of your herd or flock but you shall eat them before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter and your servants and the Levite who is within your gates, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God.

(Note:  Reference for verses above were not given - Deuteronomy 12:10-12)

So every year they had a national pot luck.  Everybody went to Jerusalem and they ate the tenth with all of their children and with the priests and everybody as a community got together.  The first tithe supported the theocratic system.  This tenth, or tithe, supported the sense of community and developed among the Jewish nation a sense of sharing and giving, and this was a fantastic time of rejoicing.  However, this was still commanded, not voluntary.

By the way, what are we up to by now?  Twenty percent.  And we’re not even finished yet.  There’s more.

The third is what we could call a compassionate tithe.  This was a welfare tithe whereby the people by being taxed supported what they had in Jerusalem and there ugh about the ugh, of course all the region where the Jews lived, was a fantastic welfare system.  Notice how it works.  The text reads,

At the end of every third year.  So if you spread that over three years, that tenth, you’ve got three and a half percent.  All right, every third year ye shall bring out the tenth of your produce in that year and shall deposit it in your  town, and the Levite.  You say, “Wait a second.  This is talking about the other one because we just supported the Levite.  This is the nonpriestly Levite.  This might be the retired priest or this might be someone part of the tribe of Levi who had no inheritance in the land, and so he was supported by this.  The Levite (non priestly Levite) because he has no portion or inheritance among you and the foreigner or the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town shall come and eat and be satisfied in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of  you hand.  This also is a command.  This was a taxed tithe that they gave annually.  If you spread that ten percent out over three years, you’re now giving guess how much?  Twenty.  How much?  Three and a third percent.  How many of you want to hold to the Old Testament in terms of what  you give to God?  I don’t see any volunteers. Of course not,  we’re now up to twenty-three an a third.  but we’re still not finished.

(Note:  Reference for verse above was not given - Deuteronomy 26:12)

Let me give you two more.  We’ll just call these miscellaneous. Leviticus Chapter 19 Verse 9 says,

Ye shall not reap the corners nor gather the fallen fruit. Leave them for the needy.  This is a fascinating thought.  Remember Ruth as she gleaned in the field?  She was a foreigner until she married Boaz. And so they were supposed to harvest, but leave the corners for the needy to come in and glean.   And if you’ve got an apple tree and an apple falls off, don’t run out and pick it up.  That’s for the needy person.  You can hope that the wind wouldn’t come along in the night before you harvested the crop, because most of them would fall.  You couldn’t touch that.

There’s another one.  Nehemiah Chapter 10 Verse 31 says We will forego or forget the crops every seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.  So every seven years on top of this, they don’t plant.  They don’t harvest.  God has promised to give them enough to make it through the seventh year,  but you notice the text, if somebody owes  you money, every seventh year, what are you supposed to do?  Forgive them the debt.   You’re going to be a little leery of men borrowing  in the sixth year, I imagine.  They’d be lining up outside your door, but every seventh year this was a test.  Are you going to obey?  Attitude doesn’t have anything to do with this. They could have grumble all the way to Jerusalem.  What God was interested in was obedience.

This is how this system flourished in the Old Testament.  And this developed trust in God and obedience.  This was in effect, the system of taxation.  And this, by the way, will be upheld in the New Testament as we’re going to see in a minute.

Now there’s another kind of giving.  These tithes, or these taxes, were required.  The second type of giving is what we refer to as the freewill offering.  And there are basically two kinds of these.  I tried to put them in categories as a result of my study, and I hope this will not confuse you but make a little more sense .   The first kind of freewill offering, we’ll call the gift of faith.  This is otherwise referred to in the Scriptures as first fruits.  The text says,

All the best of the fresh oil and all the best of the fresh wine and of the grain the first-

fruits of those which they give to the Lord.

(Note:  Reference for verse above not given - Numbers 18:12)

Now the fascinating thing about this in Proverbs Chapter 3 also indicates you give the Lord the first fruits.  This developed great faith.  And that’s why I’d like to refer to this as the gift of faith, because the gift of first fruits came before you had harvested all your crops.  In other words, what’d you do at harvest time is you’d go out and you’d harvest a little bit until you felt satisfied, you felt like you’d gotten enough, that you  wanted o give to God, and then you’d stop harvesting and  you’d go give it to the priest who in effect would say you are giving this to God.  Now you didn’t know what the rest of the crop would yield.  Let’s say you’d give them a bushel of apples and then a wind comes up that night and all the rest of them fall to the ground, and then they are for the needy.  You see how this would develop faith?  God would ask them in their hearts to determine that which they would give being the first fruits.  They’d just kind of take a bushel basket an say, “Lord, this is the beginning, and I don’t even know what you’re going to give me to support my family, but this belongs to you.”

The second category is the gift of love.  This is the free hearted gift that happened on occasion in the Old Testament.  And it’s beautiful to study these passages.  One text reads,

And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution of me.  From every man (note this) whose heart moves him ye shall raise my contribution.

(Note:  Reference for verse above not given)

What they are doing is they are raising in a sense, money to build.

They’re going to build the tabernacle.  And you think, “No way, they are already giving twenty-three and a third percent, they are already leaving the corners of their field.  God is not going to get a dime out of these people.  They are already taxed to he hilt.”  But if you study that passage, it’s interesting that finally Moses has to stand up in front of the congregation and say, “Stop, don’t give anymore.  We’ve got more than we need.”  The interesting thing is that giving was motivated by their hearts.

The second text reads,

Ye shall give to the lord thy God according as the Lord thy God has blessed you every man shall give as he is able (No percentages here) according to the blessing of the Lord your God.  You figure it out.  In fact, Deuteronomy 16:10 reminds me a lot of a passage we’re going to look at in the New Testament.

(Note:  Reference for verse above was not given - Deuteronomy 16:17)

So, we’ve got two categories of giving in the Old Testament.  We’ve got the taxes, or the tax tithe.  That supported the theocratic system.  That supported the welfare system.  That supported community a unity.  Then you’ve got the freewill offerings.  These were motivated by the heart.  God never gave a percentage.  This is as your heart moves you, what will you give?  And these were giving as expressions of faith and love.  So we have the tax tithe and then we’ve got the freewill gift.

Now, what does the New Testament teach?  We’re flying because we’ve got a lot to cover.   What does the New Testament teach?  Now, while many people will try to take the Old Testament and put it into the new in terms of percentages, I think I’ve shown you why that fallacious, because you’re actually going to have to, in order to be consistent, pull twenty-three and a third percent into your freewill giving.  The New Testament will uphold both kinds of giving, taxes and freewill offering, as we’ll see in the text.  It’s another interesting point too, men and women, that the word “tithe” occurs nearly 40 times in the Old Testament.  It only occurs seven times in the New Testament.  And guess where they occur?  In the Gospels prior to the cross.  We’re still in Old Testament economy.  And then the only time after the cross in the New Testament dispensation of grace it occurs is in Hebrews Chapter 7 where it is merely retelling the story of Abraham giving to Melchizedek.

So, if we determine what we give on the basis of  New Testament doctrine, we don’t find the word, we find something, however, much more weighty.  And I warn you, we’re going to find something that will give a greater weight of burden on you and on me.  Giving after the law, there were two kinds.  A.  Required giving, that is, the taxes.  The teaching of Christ in Matthew Chapter 17 Verses 24 to 27, we won’t take time to look, but just jot those references down if they are not already in your notes.  This is the occasion where they guys that collected the two drachma tax came to Peter and they said, Say, did your teacher pay the two drachma tax?  This was the tax the Roman government had levied on most men and most women.  And Peter said, Yes.  The original word for “yes” means “tongue and cheek.”  Peter says, “yes” and he’s anticipating, he’s hoping that Jesus does, and so he goes trotting off to where the Lord is and he comes in the door of the house, and Jesus says without Peter saying anything, “Oh, look, I know why you’ve come, and by the way, I will pay the two drachma tax.  Peter go down to the river, throw in a hook and you’ll catch a fish and you’ll find in the mouth of the fish a gold coin.  And with that gold coin you go pay the taxes.”  Man, I wish that were in existence today.  We’d all be fishing in February.  We’d go find those fish with the tax money in their mouths.  But however, what Jesus is doing, he is upholding the system of taxation.

There’s another more specific illustration in Matthew Chapter 22, and that is where the scribes and the Pharisees come to trick Jesus.  And they come to him and they say, “Ugh, Jesus, do you pay the poll tax?”  Now the poll tax was one of three levied by the Roman government.  By the way, this was the smallest of the three taxes.  They figured that Jesus would probably pay the big ones, but they’re asking, “Lord, did you pay the little tiny poll tax that is imposed by the Roman government?”  And Jesus says, “Well, let me ask you this question?  Does anybody here have a quarter, or let’s say a penny?  That’s about the worth of it.”   And one guy probably said, you know, the guy who asked the question, “Yeah, sure, got it right here.”  And the Lord says, “Well, whose image is on that coin?”  And he says, “Why it’s Caesar’s.”  And so the Lord then says, “Well then give to Casesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.”   In other words, if you are under the system of Rome and you got that money in your pocket you are accountable to the authority God has placed over you.  So he probably thought, you know, “Who came up with this stupid question here?  You know, boy, the Lord got around that                         

(perfectly) ?    They knew if he said pay taxes, he would be considered ugh, sort of a traitor to the Jewish nation.  If he said don’t pay them, then they would go to the Romans and say you’ve got an insurrectionist on your hand.  But he got around it by saying, “You are responsible to the government over you to pay the taxes the government levies on you.”

Now what I want you to understand, ladies and gentlemen, is this.  Paying our taxes is a God honoring thing.  Jesus upheld it.  They did it in the Old Testament to support the system that they were accountable to.  And you and I are under a system.  Paul will say that the rulers over us are what?  Ordained by God.  So by giving our taxes, we give glory to God.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  In February this month, I’m not shouting hallelujah!  I hate to pay it.  I’m not saying, “Honey, get the checkbook.  It’s time to write it out.  Where’s that 1040?”  No, that isn’t my attitude at all.  But you’ve got to understand that it’s not necessarily attitude.  It’s obedience.  When have you and I come to the point in our life where we recognize that paying our taxes actually honors scripture.  It glorifies God.

Well, that’s the first kind of giving, and that, by the way, is required.  The second kind, just as in the Old Testament, is the free will giving.  We refer to that today as grace giving, because grace is the word used synonymously with the act of giving.  Let me give you several principles that we can glean from the New Testament scripture that is after the cross, the Epistles, as to how we are to give.

Number one.  Our giving is to be based upon willingness.  Based upon willingness.

II Corinthians Chapter 9 Verse 7 reads Let each one do just as he purposed in his heart. That kind of reminds you of Deuteronomy, remember?  Not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a big giver.  Huh, ugh.  You see here, it’s not the matter of amount.  It’s the matter of the heart.  It’s the matter of willingness.  Why?  Because God loves a cheerful giver.  So one of the first principles about giving is that it must come from the willingness of our hearts.

I can remember one of my younger brothers, in fact, it was Tim.  Of all of us boys, Tim was very, even as a little boy, very particular in his dress.  You know, we’d take a family picture on Sunday morning and the rest of us brothers would be shirt tails hanging out and our shoes untied.  But not Tim.  Man, he looked perfect.  He was always very concerned.  Well, we were at the church one Sunday, and I think he was probably about six years of age and our church had junior church up to a particular age and I’m guessing it must have ended because now he was in the auditorium.  And ugh, it came time for these tithes and offerings and ugh our pastor had usually the habit of giving you a fifteen minute warning that it’s coming, so we all were ready.  Well, by the time the offering plates passed, they came in front of us and Tim he had on this clip on job, he pulls that thing off and puts it into the offering plate.  And my mom leans over and says, “What are doing, what did you do that for?”  I promise you , this happened.  Tim said, “Well, he said give your ties and offering.”  (laughter)  I can just see the usher at the end of the line.  What is this?  You talk about willingness.  I know that must have been a sacrifice for him, because he was probably wearing his favorite neck tie.  But he gave it based upon a willing heart.  Oh man, even when it means giving up a neck tie.

Secondly, our giving is to be systematic and planned.  II Corinthians 16 says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints as I directed the churches of Galatia, on the first day of every week, let each one of you put aside and save as he may prosper.”  Here is a very specific principle that you and I should decide beforehand what we are going to give.  The worst time to decide is Sunday morning.  Oh, here he comes.  You know, let’s see, what am I going to do?  No.  Decide before you ever come.  That will give you the opportunity to pray about it, to go to your wife or your children, “Hey, what should we give God today?”   Or on Sunday, give them a chance to respond or pray, and if it’s systematic and planned, then we also can hold ourselves accountable by checking up and seeing just how much our plan is working.

In 1976 a well known columnist was going to come up with a slogan for his artwork that he thought best described the American people.  So he sent out a form and he had thousands of people respond with slogans that they thought represented the American people.  But he chose one that he felt was most descriptive.  Do you know what the slogan was?  The check is in the mail.  That’s the description he felt of the American people.  A lot of times that attitude can carry right over into our giving without a system, without a plan, we come to the thought, “Well, Lord, it’s in the plate.  It’s in the mail.”  So take time to think, to plan, to systematize whatever you give, whether it’s to this church, you may give to other missionaries, other causes as well.

Number three.  Sacrificial and generous is another indication or characteristic of our giving.  Now brethren, we wish to make know to you the grace of God which has been given to the churches of Macedonia that in a great ordeal of affliction, their abundance of joy in their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality beyond their ability they gave of their own accord.

(Note:  Reference for verse above was not given - II Corinthians 8:1)

Ladies and gentlemen, God in the New Testament, in the age of grace, is as much interested in the amount we give as he is the amount left over.  In fact, I think He’s more interested in what we have left over.  This is the deathnell (?) of ten percent only teaching, trying to impose one third of the Old Testament giving on the New Testament believer.  Let me illustrate.  Let’s say you are living next to a person and you both live in the same kind of house, you drive the same kind of car, and you both make, you bring home, let’s say, $500 a week.  So, what are you going to do?  You’re going to give ten percent.  Right?  Fifty dollars.  Each of you gives fifty dollars.  However, the guy next to you, even though he didn’t deserve it, gets a raise.  Now he’s making, he’s in middle management, a thousand dollars a week.  By the way both of you before this had $450 left over to spend.  Now he gives a hundred dollars.  You’re still giving fifty.  However, he has $550 more to spend than he did before.  But he says, “Lord, you know, I’m giving my hundred.”  And then he goes out on a shopping spree.  By the way, in this case, who is really sacrificing more, the man who gave a hundred or the man who gave fifty?  You see, this is exactly the point of Jesus Christ as he was sitting there watching the treasury.  There were thirteen golden shaped receptacles in the temple. And many expositors feel that when they came and (?) their bags of gold, that there was a vocal announcement.  This was fun.  You came into the temple.  You dropped in your bag, and you said, “A hundred dollars.”  And then somebody else would come along drop in a bag of gold and say, “Five hundred dollars.”  There was a public announcement with this gift.  That’s why they were so caught up in pride.  And here comes this little widow.  She walks up and she drops in and she says, “A mite,” which is one-eighth of a penny.  And Jesus who’s watching comes out of his seat and he says, “Hey, Peter, James, John, did you hear that?   Did you see that?  That lady gave more than everybody else?”  And the disciples are scratching their heads.  But you see, this is the attitude of giving.  Jesus Christ, He’s looking at the balance in the checkbook, and he wants to know just what we’re doing with what we have left.

All right.  There’s another principle, and that is it is a result of growing in grace.  The text says, “As you abound in everything in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you now abound in this grace also.”  Grace is synonymous with giving.   It’s interesting that he uses the word charis for giving money.  This is grace?   Yes it is!  And that’s how God considers it.

(Note:  Reference for verse above was not given - II Corinthians 8:7)

Giving money, then, is one of  the key signs of whether or not I am growing in grace.  You know, one of the most sensitive nerves in the human body is connected to the back pocket.  One of the things that happens when we grow up in Christ is the Holy Spirit begins to desensitize that nerve.  We are freer to give.  It doesn’t hurt so bad.  It’s a symbol of growing in maturity.  As I grow in grace, I am able to give.

Number five.  It is considered, or thought of, as investing.  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sewing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  Men and women, we do not give anything away when we give it to the cause of Jesus Christ.  Nothing is lost.  I’ve used before and I use again C.T. Studd.  This is such a fantastic illustration.  In fact, I’ve got his picture on my wall of him sitting in front of a little grass hut in Africa.  He was the son of an incredibly wealthy man, and when his father died, he was left a fortune.  The fortune in the 1800’s equaled $150,000.00.  You can imagine what it would have been worth on today’s market or economy.  However, committed to God, he gave $5000 pounds to Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China;  he gave $5000 pounds to William Booth, who would establish the Salvation Army, which used to be a very evangelical, evangelistic, organization;  he gave $5000 pounds to D.L. Moody, who was going as a missionary to India, but God didn’t want that, and he changed his mind and started Moody Bible Institute instead.  And then he gave other gifts away until he had $3400 pounds left.  And he gave them to his bride on his wedding day.  But his wife said, “Honey, Jesus told the rich young ruler to give it all away.”  So he sent that $3400 anonymously to William Booth we would learn later in his journal.  And then he would go to Africa.  You know something, ladies and gentlemen, he didn’t give anything away.  He is still reaping the dividends from that investment.  And by the way, if you put some money in the offering plate and in your heart you’d rather use it somewhere else, New Testament teaching says, “Don’t give it.”  Don’t give it.  We’ll survive.  I had a pastor tell me one time, “Look, if you teach grace giving, you can’t pay the light bill.”  We’re missing half of them this morning.  Maybe that’s the problem.  (laughter)  We have never missed!  And yet, as we are going to teach, there is a greater responsibility in grace giving.

All right. Let’s hurry on.   Giving is to be funneled through he New Testament church, and we have many examples:  the Macedonians, the Corinthians, the Galatians.  We, ladies and gentlemen, as a church, let me speak to us now as a church body, not to you as an individual.  We are a funnel.  We are not a collection agency.   We don’t  just want to store up funds.  We are to be a funnel.  And there is a very important reason, in fact, three that I want to give you.   If we have the attitude of funneling instead of collecting, that will protect us from three attitudes.

Number one.  It will protect us from selfishness, especially now, especially when we don’t have a church building, especially  when we’re not putting all that money.  It’s so easy to say we’ve got so many needs.  We need to get a building.   We need to get land.  Let’s spend it all on ourselves.  Absolutely not!

Secondly, it will protect us from isolationism.  It’s easy for a church to get the idea that hey, the really important work of God is happening at Colonial Baptist Church, no where else.  This is it!  But however, if we funnel our funds to other ministries, if we give money away, it gives us protection from that attitude of isolationism.

Thirdly, it will protect us from unconcern.

Would you turn to Revelation Chapter 3 Verse 14.  There was a church that had this problem.  Revelation Chapter 3 Verse 14.  There was a church that had become isolated, unconcerned and selfish.  And I think often of the church of Laodicea, and my prayer is that we will never become, and if we are, that God will change us like them.  Revelation Chapter 3 “to the angels, Verse 14, of the church of Laodicea write, the amen, the faithful and true witness the beginning of the creation of God says this, I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.   The word “hot” is zestos from which we get our word, “zest.”  There’s no zest in your church.  I would that you were cold or hot, so because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold you become nauseating to me, in other words, I will spit you out of my mouth.  Note why.  Because you say I am rich and I have become wealthy and I have need of nothing.  And I’ve written in the margin of my text, “and no one.”  I have need of nothing and no one.  We are independent.  We are islands.  We are wealthy.  We pay all our bills.  We’ve got money set aside for nothing.  I advise you, he says in Verse 18, to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich and white garments that you may clothed yourself and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.  And note this.  And eye salve to anoint your eyes.  Boy, what a powerful statement, because in Laodocia, they produced the tefra frigia (?).  This was an eye powder that was exported all over the known civilized world.   Physicians would take those tablets exported from Laodicea and crush them into powder and make a salve to put on the inflicted eyes of diseased people to help their eye sight.  What’s he say to this church?  You in that town where they make eye salve to give people sight, you’re blind.  You need eye salve.  What a challenge!

Now, we want to get very practical.  We want to get personal, as a matter of fact.  Now, I’m sensitive to the fact that you’re sitting in a hard chair.  Why don’t you stand just for a moment and stretch.  We’re going for maybe five or ten more minutes.  The people in the middle with the padded chairs you don’t deserve to stand (laughter), so you can remain seated.  I’m teasing.  Just stretch there.  I know after you sit for thirty minutes you start getting welded to that thing.  What we want to do is spend a few minutes now applying these principles to our lives.

The first thought is, how can I misuse my money?   How can I as a Christian misuse my money?  Proverbs Chapter 21.  You can try to follow along.  I’m going to turn as rapidly as I can and I’m going to look up several passages.  I’m just going to read the verses.  The first way that I can misuse my money is through foolishness.   

Proverbs 21:5

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes to poverty.   That is, somebody who spends money without putting thought into where it’s going.  Being hasty.  Just spending it.  There’s another passage.

Proverbs Chapter 28 Verse 19 along the same line.

He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty, foolish pursuits will have poverty and plenty.  I am aware, ladies and gentlemen, you and I can be poverty stricken, we can lose our money and be wise in the doing.  There are some things that are beyond our control.  However, we can spend it foolishly and thereby be reduced to poverty.

Secondly, stubbornness is a way we would misuse our money.

Proverbs Chapter 13 Verse  - I see you’re going to let me look them all up.  I don’t hear any pages.  All right. Proverbs Chapter 13 Verse 18.

Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline.  But he who regards reproof will be honored.  In other words, if you can’t learn, not only from mistakes but learn from other people who counsel, who advise, you may be headed to poverty.  There is safety in a multitude of counselors.   Don’t be stubborn when your parents or close friends or your spouse advises you on how to spend money.

Number three.  Laziness.  Chapter 20 Verse 13 reads,    “Do not love sleep lest you become poor.  Open your eyes or work and you will be satisfied with food.

Number four.  Stinginess.  Chapter 11 Verse 24.  There is one who scatters yet increases all the more.  There’s the principle of investing.  Yet there is one who withholds what is justly due.  But guess what happens?  Is he wealthier because he keeps it?  No!  It results only in poverty or want.

Fifthly.  Indulgence.  Chapter 23 Verses 19 and following.  Indulgence.  And I think this is probably where we have most of our problems.  Chapter 23 Verse 19.

Listen my son and be wise and direct your heart in the way.  Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine or gluttonous eaters of meat, for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty.  What he’s saying there is these are people who are incapable of saying no.  You can translate that from gluttony and drunkenness into every area of life.  Can you and I say no to the lure of commercial society?  It’s very difficult.  They are after us.  They are in a sense after our pocketbooks.  And there is a commercialness that has crept into the church, a materialism, and we’ve got to ask ourselves periodically, “Am I misusing money?”  You know, our parents and our grandparents provide a good example in one area and that’s clothing.  You know when your parents and my parents bought new clothing?  When?  When the old clothing wore out.  Then they’d go down and they’d buy the new.  Not us.  We buy new clothing when the fashions change to keep up.  And the funny thing is that the fashions cycle continually.  I’m discovering that with neckties, and it makes me so mad.  Just about the time I get a dozen or so neck tie that are thin, they are starting to come back out now with the fat ones.  You know those?  (laughter)

It’s not because we want to wear more material.  It’s easier to pick up spaghetti and all of that, but they are changing them all around and so I fortunately kept my college neck ties  and get them dry cleaned and the spaghetti will come off and I won’t have to buy too many neck ties.  The question is, why do we buy what we buy?  I’ve got a brother.  I won’t tell you his name.  I have three of them.  And I’m always, it’s funny.  We all kind of get onto him.  He has about six or seven or eight pairs of tennis shoes.  In fact , I went home this last time, and he had a brand new pair.  He’s got tennis shoes to wear jeans with, to wear kacki’s with, to play basketball in, to play racquetball in, to jog in, to walk around the house in.  And I came home and he had a brand new pair.  And I said you are totally indulging.  So being my brother he smiles and then points out my indulgence.  (laughter)  And I’m not going to tell you what that is either! (laughter)  Nosy congregation.  When my wife and I were first married, we made a mistake.  We had a salesman come to our door selling Encyclopedia Britannicas.  I hold myself up to poor light this morning by giving you t his illustration.  But, you know, we were just married and he comes in and he basically got my wife to the door and he said, “Lady, did you know that for 39 cents a day you can provide your children one day with a great set of encyclopedias that they can use?”  “Hey yeah, 39 cents.  Is that all?  39 cents.”  And I’m just as dumb, and I say, “Yes, show me the whole thing.”   And he lays out this glossy thing that covers the whole living room floor.  Some of you laugh.  He’s been in your living room too. (laughter)  And this guy’s aggressive.  That whole thing was laid out and he’s giving us all the facts and he’s asking us the question, Look, provide now.  And we don’t have any children.    

We’ll you’re gonna have children.  If only known that probably for my children to ever use those things I’d probably have to give them to the school where they go and then let them do the reports there.  They haven’t done anything with them yet, of course,  But to add injury upon injury, we finally said, okay we’ll buy them.  That’s not bad.  That’s not much money.

He said,  Now look, since you are buying this, do you know that for only another hundred dollars you can get the junior set of encyclopedias.  That means that until your children are, now I know doctoral students are able understand the Encyclopedia Brittanica (laughter), they can use the junior set.  Well, what’s another hundred?  We paid thirty bucks for three years.  I hated to see that bill come in. Thirty dollars, which totals up to over a thousand dollars for a set of books that most often collect dust.  You know, they are very clever.  The problem is not just them.  The problem is us.  We are unable to say no.  And I think as parents, especially those of you with teenagers, that is a crucial issue that you learn to teach not only yourself but them.

Now, how can I use my money in a godly fashion?

Number one.  Using it for the needs of your family.  Be careful here, because it’s so easy to give your children what you never had, thereby teaching them undisciplined in giving.  But that is a godly way, in fact, if you don’t provide for your family, you are worse than an infidel.  And note, this is providing for their needs, not their greeds.

Secondly, paying your debts promptly.  Paying your debts promptly.  It’s honoring to God to pay your debts on time.  Now a lot of people have different definitions of debt.  My definition of a debt is something that you cannot afford to pay.  It’s something that you go purchase and you do not have the resources to pay for it.  Unfortunately, preachers, I understand, I just read this past week, are one of the highest credit risks in the country, and that’s sad because I think that same attitude then carries over into many churches.   Pay debt.

Number three.  Supporting the ministry of the New Testament church.  Now let me talk to those of you who believe and you have always practiced ten percent.  I’m not here

(Note:  Side one of tape ended here - nothing on side two) 


Add a Comment


Tonia Tinoco says:
Hi, my name is Tonia. I am Colombian. My English level is not good enough, I know you have the material in Spanish, but I want to improve my English level grow to knowing God words and for me is important try hard every day reading. Could you say me which is the best version for read the bible in English. I hope hear from you soon. Many thanks [WI Welcome, Tonia. We're glad you found us. Stephen teaches from the English Standard Version, which is a good option for you.]

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