The Rich Fool

Scripture: Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?”
15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.
17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’
18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.
19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
21“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

INTRODUCTION

God labeled this man a fool. Why did God call him a fool?

I. BECAUSE HE THINKS LIKE A FOOL

  1. HE THINKS ONLY OF HIMSELF: This is an amazing story. The man Jesus describes is an egomaniac, he thinks only of him self. He has not the first thought for God who is the source of all blessings. This fool does not acknowledge God; he does not thank God for his bountiful provision. This is amazing to me: how could the fool not give God a thought. But neither does he think of anyone else. He never mentions family, wife or children. He never thinks of anyone other than himself.
  2. HE THINKS ONLY ABOUT THINGS: ‘Crops,’ ‘Barns’, etc. He never thinks about people.
  3. HE THINKS LIFE IS IN HIS POSSESSIONS: He believes the more he keeps to himself, the more he has. He believes success is measured by how much a person owns.
  4. HE THINKS ABOUT SAVING BUT NEVER ABOUT GIVING: There is a simple solution to his problem. Instead of spending all that money on tearing down old barns and building new and bigger barns–the wise thing to do would be to fill the old barns and give the excess away. This would save him thousands of dollars. How is it, that this fool never thought about giving? Because he was obsessed with his greed. Greed had totally consumed him and greed never sees giving as an option.
  5. HE THINKS HAPPINESS IS IN HAVING THINGS: This fool was not riding a white horse and shooting silver bullets, most Americans believe that happiness is bound up in things. If I can get this car…I will be happy. If I can just own my own home… I will be happy. If I can get this piece of property…I will be happy. Yet the more we get, the more we want.

STORY

I know what it’s like to want. I bought my first car when I was 19 years old. I bought if from a Baptist deacon. He told me what he wanted for the car but when I got there to pick it up, he upped the price $100 which was a lot of money in 1968. My daddy warned me, not about dealing with a deacon but about buying a foreign car: it was an Austin Healey Sprite. Daddy told me, “Son that car is wore out which is why he wants to sell it. You will spend more money on the car than it is worth. Don’t get the car.” Did I listen to my daddy? No! I bought the car and my daddy was right. The car became a headache, a nightmare to be honest. Things will not make you happy. Elvis had things, any thing he wanted but he died from abusing drugs which means he was not happy.

II. BECAUSE HE LIVED LIKE A FOOL.

This man was a practical atheist: He lives as though God did not exist. Not only does he refuse to show gratitude to God, he ignores his accountability to God. The man is a horrible steward. He lived like there is no judgment. Unfortunately, there are people today who think a lot like this man. Many of them do acknowledge God but they make the same mistakes with the resources God has entrusted to them that this man made. He was so intent on saving and hoarding that he lost everything. You would be shocked at the number of people who live without regard for others when it comes to sharing resources. GREED is a huge problem in the Baptist Church.

I met a man just last week who is being cared for by one of his daughters who is doing it with his money but her sister is upset that she is spending their inheritance taking care of their father. Our church is in partnership with Guatemala where we build houses for $400. It is actually a shed, something we would used to store tools in here in America. I know a man who not only has wealth in banks, he has old cars, barns filled with old cars, washers, dryers, refrigeration. This scrap metal that is rusting is worth thousands but he will not part with it. It isn’t helping him, nor is it helping anyone else. He could build 4-6 houses in Guatemala by just getting rid of scrap but he will not allow you to touch it. This is horrible stewardship. No one is getting any use of these wasted resources. Like the unfaithful Steward, he has buried God’s resources so that no one can benefit from them. All misers are miserable: there are no happy misers.

 

What would you call a person who built a house on a camping spot? It would not be intelligent or wise. If you drove into a State Park and saw camper after camper and then some dude building a house on one of the camp sites, you would laugh and say, “What a fool?” You can’t build a permanent home on a campsite. You don’t have a deed to the land. Sooner or later, the park ranger is going to show up and your little mansion is coming down. You may not like my analogy but this world is a “camp ground” not our home. We are here for only a short time. Abraham understood this principle and that is why he lived in a tent; even then he didn’t drive his tent stakes too deep. He never settled in this world and neither should you.


III. BECAUSE HE DIED LIKE A FOOL. 

This man was a fool because he prepared to live but made no preparations to die. As John Newton said, “We live in the land of the dying.” Earth is a dying planet and the evidence is everywhere. Grave yards and funeral homes dot the landscape. I personally don’t know how a person can miss it but greed has a blinding effect on our minds and we fail to see the inevitable.

This man was an absolute fool because he made no preparations for eternity. Have you made preparations for eternity? Are you laying up a treasure in heaven? Do you love money more than Jesus? Do you understand that money has no future? They use gold to pave streets in the next world. In the world to come, things that are of value here will not be worth anything. Are you spending your times hording manna that will canker and rot?

The Law Of The Harvest

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

1 I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.
2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you.
4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them!
5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.
15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

INTRODUCTION

I am doing something tonight that I don’t normally do, trying to cover an entire chapter in one message. I feel like I am preaching to the choir on Wednesday night: if this was the Sunday morning crowd, I would feel differently. We have been on this subject of “Stewardship” for two months and I think it is time to move on but I cannot do that in good conscious without sharing with you what little I know about the LAW OF THE HARVEST.


We will use verse 1-5 as our introduction:

1 I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.
2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you.
4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them!
5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.


Paul is holding the Corinthians accountable for promises made. I don’t know how you interpret what Paul said, but to me, it is a subtle form of pressure.

  1. He is putting words in their mouth… I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. Eager and enthusiastic givers don’t need prodding.
  2. Paul is sending a team to collect the offering…I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. Now, if I got a letter in the mail next week from an evangelist who said he was sending a team here to collect an offering, I would take that as a form of pressure. Paul also added, “Don’t embarrass me.”
  3. Paul is holding them accountable for a previous promise…So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But he adds, “I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.” I see a tad of humor in Pauls appeal. How do you pressure someone to give cheerfully?

    There is a way to pressure someone into giving cheerfully. Well, it is actually not a form of pressure so much as understanding. I think a lot of people would get eager and enthusiastic about giving if they understood the LAW OF THE HARVEST. Getting folks to understand this truth is not easy. The moment you begin asking for my stuff, I get defensive. When I get defensive, I don’t listen, don’t hear, don’t absorb, don’t take in, etc. I prefer to give to those who don’t ask.

Tonight we are going to talk about the LAW OF THE HARVEST which is a simple law.

  1. The LAW OF THE HARVEST is the law of proportionate giving. [ Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.] Its the same rule as that of a farmer, you  harvest in proportion to what you sow. If you sow many seeds, you will reap an abundant harvest: if you sow only a few seed, you will reap a small harvest. If a farmer is to expand his operation, he sows more seed, not less. The more generous he is in sowing the greater his harvest.
  2. The LAW OF THE HARVEST is the law of reciprocal giving. This is where a lot of folks misunderstand the law of the harvest. You do not GIVE TO GET…YOU GIVE TO GET TO GIVE AGAIN. Same as in farming: for the farmer to expand his operation, he plants more acreage which means a greater investment in seeds. Before all these hybrids, farmers saved their seed for the following year. Thus the bigger the harvest, the more seed you have to sow the next cycle, or year. In Luke 6:38, Jesus tells us that we cannot out give God…Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” There is a problem, a human problem and it is called greed. At no point in this process can we become greedy and save all our seed. The moment we begin hording, the law of the harvest breaks down. We must continually remind ourselves that we are not giving to get but giving to get so we can give again in a greater purportion.
  3. THE LAW OF THE HARVEST is faith-based giving. The farmer [in the old days, before crop insurance] had to sow in faith. There was never a guarantee of rain or of an abundant harvest. Some years the yield was very good, some years good, some years fair and some years bad. The farmer never knew what the yield would be so he planted in seeds in faith. I can guarantee you a return, based on the word of God the return depends upon [1] your motives and [2] God’s methods. We do normally reap in kind: if we give money our return is in money. If we sow kindness, our return is in kindness but there is no guarantee that we will reap in kind. God has many, many ways of blessing us. If our basic motive is the return, in getting or reaping the harvest, we will probably miss the truth and miss a blessing. Paul explains in the latter part of the chapter, the results of our giving: 

    [1] Our gifts meet the NEEDS OF OTHERS {So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.} I have been studying and trying to impliment the principles of good stewardship for over 45 years and one of the things I have wrestled with time and again is “Motive.” I know that motive is important to God, so what do we do when we suspect impure motives. I always look at the need. Will my gift met a need? This is the first question. I give on the basis of need whether my motives are pure or not. True, there will be no reward for me but the persons needs are met and that is a reward within itself.


    [2] Our gifts produce THANKSGIVING in the heart of the recipent. {And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.} …..To be perfectly honest with you: June and I recieve a lot. I don’t say a lot about it because I know that there is a thin line between being thankful and praising and being proud and boasting. Last week on vacation, our meals were paid for by one of our church members or maybe it was two, our hotel was paid for by a family in this church. June writes the thank you notes to them and I write the thank you notes to the LORD. When you give to a Christian brother, this is going to happen: he or she is going to praise God and give HIM thanks. I recieved one love offering while we were in Seminary and then went some 20 years are more before I got the second. Most churches in the old days paid a set fee, called an honorarium and sometimes, it barely met expenses. Then, after my kids were grown, not gone, but grown, a little church in a neighboring county invited me to preach a revival. I don’t like missing Sunday morning but I gave them a full Sunday and preached at night through Wednesday. I expected the usual honorarium which would be around $200 in most churches. I don’t recall ever getting more than $300, so is was generally in the 2-3 hundred range. That last night of the revival, the pastor got up and said, “We are going to do something I had not planned to do, we are going to take up a love offering for Bro. Jack. I was both shocked and impressed but with my experience in the ministry, I did not expect much. After the service, the pastor gave me an envelop and I just stuck it in my pocket. When we got in our vehicle to leave, my wife said, “hand me the envelop, I want to see what’s in it.” She started counting and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. She said, “You are not going to believe this.” I said, “What, you have to tell me now.” She gave me the amount and I thought I was going to have pull off the road. I was elated, filled with praise and thanksgiving and in a celebrative mood. We went on to Cracker Barrel in Cullman and celebrated. Folks, this has happened to me in some shape, form or fashion more times than I can recount. FIRST OUR GIFT MEETS A NEED, THEN IT CREATES AN ERUPTION OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD. But that is not all…


    [3] Our gifts will produce GLORY TO GOD. {v.13,  As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.} This truth consoles me in my giving. I think to myself, “Someone is going to be helped and You will get glory so what difference does it make if I get a reward for giving, my motive is unimportant.” In other words, I have made up my mind to give whether I get a reward or not. Believe it or not, there is a 4th reason…


    [4] Our gifts will produce intercession in our behalf {v.13-14…For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.}…. My father in the ministry was Calvin C. Inman and he was a prayer warrior. He had a prayer room, a prayer calendar and a prayer note book. After he retired in the late 80’s, I bumped into him at a meeting. He said, “Jack, I pray for you every Wednesday.” I pulled him aside and said, “I appreciate your prayers. I just weathered a crisis and it just dawned on me that your prayers could very well have made the difference.” Bro. Inman was not perfect but I covets his prayers. I have some wealthy friends. They can buy anything they want and they are super generous to me. They have given me thousands of dollars. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much they have given. I cannot give them anything because they have money to get whatever they want. BUT I CAN PRAY FOR THEM. They have needs just like everyone else. Just last year, a church member family [one that has been very generous with us] came to visit June and I concerning our little crisis and they never mentioned what was going on in their life. I found out just hours later that their crisis was more severe than ours and immediately, my prayer focus changed. Folks, you cannot put a price tag on an INTERCESSOR, they are priceless.

CONCLUSION

Once again, Paul points us to Jesus in verse 15, “Thank God for this gift to wonderful for words.”

  • AV–Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!
  • NKJV/NIV–Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
  • ESV–Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
  • CEV–Thank God for His gift which is too wonderful for words!
  • NIrV–Let us give thanks to God for HIS gift which is so great that no one can tell you how wonderful it really is!

The bottom line: God is a giver, He is a generous benevolent God and no one can outgive HIM. He has infinite pockets and HIS gift is Christ speaks for itself–how are we going to top this wonderful gift that we cannot even describe.

 My advice to you is: Don’t worry so much about your motives, just respond obediently to God’s command and give, someday you will thank me for challenging you.

Stewardship

Scripture: Luke 12:41-48

41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”

42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

47 And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

INTRODUCTION

Stewardship is an old word that we don’t use much but it is a good word. A steward was an exalted slave who was entrusted with the responsibility of managing his master’s estate. Abraham, for example, had a Steward who’s name was Eliezer. Abraham trusted Eliezer with everything he had. Before Abraham had children, Eliezer was named to inheret Abraham’s wealth. A second, and even better example is Joseph. Joseph was a slave but he was Potiphar’s Steward {Butler}. Joseph ran Potiphar’s estate. He kept the check book, paid all the bills, instructed all the slaves. 

Before we get into the heart of the message, I want you to note that his particular teaching comes in response to Peter’s question in verse 41, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?” Jesus had been teaching on “Readiness and watchfulness” in regards to His return. Now Jesus in answer to Peter’s question, takes it a step further and teaches us not only to be watching and ready for His return but to be faithful during the interim. We are not to sit and watch but work and watch. Paul gave the Thessalonians a good chewing out for sitting on their roof top patio’s, having bible studies and watching for the Second Coming. Jesus said in John 9:4, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. Now is the time to work, not sit and watch but work and watch.

TRANSITION

What do we look for in a steward? What would a wealthy Jewish man like Abraham look for in a steward?

I. HE WOULD LOOK FOR ABILITY

Ability is the talent, the skill, the aptitude to do something. When you are drafting leaders, you look first at ability. One of the requirements of Stewards, Managers or Leaders is to be sensible, wise and prudent. We are to make good sound judgments. You don’t give great responsibility to someone who has no ability to perform the task you are delegating them to do.

If we, as leaders, delegate authority to some individual who does not have the abilty to carry out the assigned task and they fail to do so, God will not hold them responsible, he will hold us responsible because we ask them to do something that they were not capable of doing.

II. HE WOULD LOOK FOR FAITHFULNESS

Jesus said, [v.42] “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.” Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

Abraham didn’t put Eliezer in charge of his household until he knew that he could trust him. The same was true of Potiphar. After ability, the first thing you look for is faithfulness or loyalty. You want a person you can depend on. Therefore the steward must be reliable, dependable, trustworthy and loyal to a fault. We sang a song when I was growing up that came to my mind when I got to this verse…it goes like this:

In the warfare that is raging
For the truth and for the right,
When the conflict, fierce, is raging
With the powers of the night,
God needs people brave and true:
May He then depend on you?

See, they come on sable pinions,
Come in strong, Satanic might,—
Powers come, and dark dominions,
From the regions of the night;
God requires the brave and true:
May He then depend on you? 

From His throne the Father sees us;
Angels help us to prevail;
And our leader true is Jesus,
And we shall not, cannot fail:
Triumph crowns the brave and true,—
May the Lord depend on you? 

Refrain:
May the Lord depend on you?
Loyalty is but His due;
Say, O spirit, brave and true,
That He may depend on you.

It is a sobering question: Can the LORD depend on you? If your church can’t, I doubt seriously that the LORD can. I know a lot of good people. They are very likable and fun to be around but you cannot depend on them. They are not reliable. When I was a boy, we had a horse named Betty. Betty enjoyed her freedom. She like to frolic but she didn’t like to work. To catch old Betty, you had to hem her up. If she was in the lot, you could slip around and shut the gate, then get her in the barn or a corner. If you didn’t decieve her and she saw you walk toward her with a bridle, that head came up and she immediately headed to the very back side of our 40 arce farm. Believe it or not, we have church members who are just like Betty. They have ability but no sense of responsibility. You can’t hem them up. When they see you coming with a task in mind, they are gone. There is only one thing worse than a Betty, its a person who promises to do something and then fails to keep their promise.

A steward must be reliable!

III. A THIRD THING TO LOOK FOR IS GOOD JUDGMENT

The AV translates verse 42 thusly, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

Lets look quickly at the bad judgment of the hypothetical steward that Jesus describes:

  1. He thought of his MASTER as being absent.
  2. He thought he had more time “My master won’t be back for a while.”
  3. He abused his power “Beating the other servants”
  4. He acted irresponsibly “Getting Drunk”
  5. He failed to put his MASTER interest above his own. He pursued his own agenda.
  6. He was not prepared when his MASTER returned.

 

CONCLUSION

The wise, the sensible steward who is faithful will be rewarded with more responsibility and priviledge but the unwise, the foolish steward will be cut in sunder [NLT, to pieces].  One commentary said, “Cut in half,” which was an ancient form of execution. Isaiah the prophet was cut in half by a saw by the wicked Manassah.

Jesus said, And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Junior Hill told a story, a parable about two brothers. One was a very healtly and gifted child and the other was born with Downs Syndrome. They attended the same school but the child with the disability was in a special education sector. They were only a year or so apart in age. One day they came in from school and both were elated, the gifted child ran to him mom showing his report card which had all A’s, the child with Downs Syndrome, pecked his mom on the arm and said look, he bent over and ties his shoe. Which one was the mom most proud of? Both, she was proud of both. Both used the ability they had but both didn’t have the same ability.

God is good and He is fair. He is not going to require the same from those who have less ability as he does from those who have much more.

Integrity Is Handling Money

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8: 16-24

16 But thank God! He has given Titus the same enthusiasm for you that I have.
17 Titus welcomed our request that he visit you again. In fact, he himself was very eager to go and see you.
18 We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News.
19 He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.
20 We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift.
21 We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.
22 We are also sending with them another of our brothers who has proven himself many times and has shown on many occasions how eager he is. He is now even more enthusiastic because of his great confidence in you.
23 If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ.
24 So show them your love, and prove to all the churches that our boasting about you is justified.

INTRODUCTION

Whereas we have been talking primarily of the responsibility and priviledge of giving, tonight we are talking about the integrity of handling the money that is given in good faith by believers.


I have been in the ministry for 47 years and I can tell you from experience, it is not important to handle the tithes and offering with integrity, it is vital. The last thing any church needs is a question about the money and how it is being used. We do have some discretionary funds that are not made public but any member or contributor has the right to review the books and records. We do have a benevolent fund and we have helped various families and we did it in a discret and private way [several reasons for not making these gifts public] but nothing is hid from those who give the money. You are more than welcome to stop by and we will show you exactly where the money went and I will take full responsibility. I do discus all benevolent needs with the deacons except in cases of emergency. Nothing is hiden.


I heard a radio broadcast this morning about the failure of the public school or government education. At one time, the U.S. ranked one in the world and now we are close to the bottom. I’ll tell you why its a failure and it has nothing or very little to do with the teachers. [1] The Federal Government filing it up which they do to everything [2] and no accountability to the public, to the tax payers. There are more bureaucrats in education than there are teachers and they make more money. If you tried to run a business the way public education and the postal service is run, you would go bankrupt. Accountability may not be pleasant but it makes us better.


Those who handle church money should be….

I. SERVANTS: THEY SHOULD HAVE A DESIRE TO SERVE OTHERS [V.16-17]

16 But thank God! He has given Titus the same enthusiasm for you that I have.
17 Titus welcomed our request that he visit you again. In fact, he himself was very eager to go and see you.
Sometimes church veer from that purpose. We lose sight of what God had placed us here today. Dr. Wiersbe says, “It is good to have soul winners in charge of your money because they will keep evangelism and mission forefront in your spending.” A lot of churches make the mistake of putting bankers and accountants in charge of the money but this may not be a good idea. Although the church is considered a small business and must operate like one in many ways, we are not really a business. The church is a ministry and a mission. A business must profit to stay in business but a church involved in ministry, evangelism and mission is not going to show a profit. It takes money to do missions, ministry and evangelism.

So when we are putting someone on the budget committee, it needs to be someone like Titus, someone who is enthusiastic about God’s work.

II. SINCERE IN THEIR LOVE FOR OTHERS [V.18]

We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News.

This unnamed member of Paul Finance Committee was a faithful preacher of the gospel and he cared enough about the situation to take the risk of travel. Travel is getting dangerous today because of the shere numbers. June could not get over the volume of traffic last Friday as we made our way the Florida. It was very heavy all day long. Travel was far more dangerous in Paul’s day than today. Paul for example was in three ship wrecks. Fortunately, he survived all three but in most ship wrecks, there were no survivors. The fact that this unnamed committee member was willing to risk his life was an indication of his sincerety.

III. THEY MOTIVE SHOULD BE TO HONOR CHRIST [V.19]

19 He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.

Paul had previously said to the Corinthians, So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. When it comes to handling the church’s money, we should do it in such a way that God would get glory.

IV. THEY MUST HAVE A GOOD REPUTATION AS BEING HONEST [V.20-22]

20 We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift.
21 We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.
22 We are also sending with them another of our brothers who has proven himself many times and has shown on many occasions how eager he is. He is now even more enthusiastic because of his great confidence in you.


A church can make a lot of mistakes but it had better not be with the money. People aren’t going to give to an organization they don’t trust.
  1. We have to be causious. We must be proactive when it comes to criticism. What can we do to prevent criticism. We cannot go to the extreme of letting the tail wag the dog; we are not to give in to the critics but at the same time, why give them fodder. Critism can be very hurtful whether it is justified or not. It is to be avoided if possible
  2. We have to be careful. We know the LORD is watching but we must assume that people are watching as well. There has to be accountability. It is foolish for any church not to have an accountability system in play. My home church got burned when I was just a boy. The treasurer was a likable man whom everyone respected but he did not manage his own resources well and I don’t think they knew it. He got behind on his bills and he borrowed money from the church. Since he was the only one who saw the offering, he was able to do this for some years. The technical term for this is embezzlement. Full disclosure was never given but it got into the thousands and this was in the 1950’s. Mercy and grace were extended because he was related to several in the church and he was not a villian, he just had the wrong weakness to be handling money. The same thing has happened right here in Morgan County at least three times since I have been at Danville. I was a personal friend to the pastor in one such case and many of you know that man who embezzled. He is a respected man in the community but he stole thousands of dollars from a church. He was shrewd and there was no hard evidence, just missing information and missing money. He resigned his position and moved to another church. Treasuers are not the only ones guilty, in some cases, pastors have been given too much liberty and they have embezzled and some were forced to pay the money back. My rule is simple: I don’t handle the church’s money. I don’t count it, don’t deposit it and I don’t keep it. I also insist that no member of my family be responsible for church money.
  3. We must make ourselves accountable by involving more than one or even two people. Paul believed the more, the merrier so he was bringing it this unnamed person to accompany them when there was already a half-d0zen on the team. Some people love the old days and the old ways because of the secrecy but you should not be ashamed of what you give and neither should I. I could very easily see a person questioning my stewardship: “He is always talking about tithing, I wonder if he tithes.” Well, you don’t have to wonder. It is all a matter of public record and although we do not publish giving records publically, they are available if needed. I don’t want to be a legalist but if my pastor was not tithing, I’d want to know it. There is nothing wrong with accountability.

V. THEY MUST HAVE A WILLING SPIRIT TO WORK WITH OTHERS [V. 23-24]

23 If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ.
24 So show them your love, and prove to all the churches that our boasting about you is justified.


The last thing you want is a disgruntaled, unhappy church member as the chairman of your finance committee. He or she will not cooperate with others in achieving the church goals. They will use their office as a power to hinder everything that you are trying to accomplish. If a person is ambitious for an office like Treasurer or deacon [in the old days] I would be leary. I have seen this in play time and again, thank God not recently. You cannot put unhappy people in charge of the money because they will not cooperate with anyone on anything.

Giving

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:6-9

6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving.
7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty He could make you rich.

INTRODUCTION

There is no question, Paul is still on the subject of giving as indicated in verses 6-7. Giving is a ministry and is actually mentioned as a spiritual gift. Paul said is Romans 12…If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.


Not only is giving a ministry and a gift, it is to be encouraged. Titus encouraged the Corinthians to give. Paul is encouraging them to give. I encourage you to give. Not every one needs to be encouraged in this matter but some do. I make no appology for encouraging people to give because I know the truth about stewardship. No one will come to me in heaven and say, “I wish you had not encouraged me to give.” The greatest gift I could give would be to teach you to give.

With this is mind, I think we see three very discernable points in verses 7-9.

I. FIRST OF ALL THERE IS THE GOAL: TO EXCEL IN THE GRACIOUS ACT OF GIVING [v.7]

Giving is a ministry, a practice, the exercise of a gift and like all other disciplines, it can be improved with practice and work. Our goal should be to excel in the gracious act of giving but to excel at anything, there must be a commitment to excellence. Do you want to become a generous person? Would you like to excel in the matter of giving?

Have you heard of the man who moved men and mountains? Chances are, I have mentioned him before: his name is Robert Gilmore LeTourneau. He is perhaps the most inspiring Christian inventor, businessman and entrepreneur the world has ever seen. A sixth grade dropout, Robert Gilmore “RG” LeTourneau went on to become the leading earth moving machinery manufacturer of his day with plants on 4 continents, more than 300 patents to his name and major contributions to road construction and heavy equipment that forever changed the world.  Most importantly, his contribution to the advancement of the Gospel ranks him among the greatest of Christian Businessmen of all time. Famous for living on 10% of his income and giving 90% to the spread of the Gospel, LeTourneau exemplified what a Christian businessman should be.

I want to ask you an honest and simple question: Do you think RG LeTourneau had a goal in his giving? Do you think he aimed at excellence? Or do you think his giving 90% of his income just happened without any forethought or planning?

Several years ago, I challenged you to set a goal for your annual giving and June and I set a goal for our giving. I don’t remember what our goal was but it was impossible or at least very challenging. I was shocked as the year progressed and the LORD Himself made it possbile for us to reach our goal. The sad thing is: I don’t think we have done it since.

Would you make generous giving a goal in your life?

II. THEN NOTICE THE TEST: TESTING THE GENUINESS OF YOUR LOVE [v.8]

I wouldn’t say that Paul is using pressure but he is putting the Corinthians on the spot. Paul understand the age old truth that you can give without loving but you can’t love without giving. It is utterly impossible. No one geniunely loves who is not willing to give or even sacrifice. I don’t know what it is about people that makes them believe that people can be decieved about their sincerety when they are miserly in their giving.

I use the illustration of a husband/father. No matter how much a man insist that he loves his family, we know that he is lying when he fails to provide. How can a man, a father drive a new truck, wear new clothes, buy a new house when he is not paying his child support? What about a father who goes to court to get child support reduced and lies about his income to get it done? What about a father who refused to pay child support at all and is then has his wages garnished. The support comes but against his will. When his children get grown, and they will, they will find out eventually what he did and didn’t do. It doesn’t matter how many times he says “I love you,” his children know better. Love gives, it does not make excuses.

At least 20 years ago, I went to the East side of the county to preach a revival. The pastor and I were sitting on the first pew. It was a small church and they had a general assembly before breaking into small groups for Sunday School. A laymen dressed in a fine suit stood before us and brought an arousing devotion. When he finished and left the room the pastor said to me, “That is a fine young man. He can do anything. He has only one problem and you would never guess what it is.” I said without hesitation, “He doesn’t tithe.” He said, “How did you know?” “It’s a gift,” I said. But it is really not a gift, it was a calculated guess. I discovered early on that big talkers are often shallow givers. I suppose they talk big to draw the attention away from their spiritual immaturity.

Then some years later, a new family moves into our community and they began coming to our church. Right off the bat, the man ask me, “Am I to tithe the gross or the net?” I told him, “You tithe whatever God puts into your hand.” When he walked off, I assumed he gave. I figured he was a legalistic tither but that he gave.  He did tell me that the previous church had refused to ordain him as a deacon but he never mentioned why. Three years later, I found out that he gave nothing. As a matter of fact, he had contributed $25 in three years. Do I believe this man is sincere? Not on your life! He is as phony as a three dollar bill. I’m not being judgmental, I am stating facts: you prove the sincerety of your love by giving.

I had a man get violently upset with me some years ago because I said, “If you are a giver and a supporter of DBC, I want you to vote on this issue.” He got fighting mad. He said, “You have violated the by-laws.” I tried to reason with him but it made everything worse. I said, “Think of it as a survey, not a vote. To do what we are proposing, we need financial support and we have some none members who are contributors.” He said, “That is all your concerned about isn’t it, you are just like all the other preachers I know, all you care about is catered to those who give.” He left in a rage and has never been back.

He was right about the by-laws but he was wrong about me. I do not cater to money but I have great respect for those who give and none for those who don’t. My lack of respect for those who want to chime in at a business meeting but never give a dime comes from this and other scriptures. Giving is a proof of your love. Not giving is proof that you don’t love. You can bet your last dollar that I will never seek advice from a man who robs God.

III. LAST, LOOK AT THE EXAMPLE: THE GENEROUS GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST [v.9]

When you get on the subject of giving; you always have those who mention tithing as an old testment law. I don’t actually think of it as a law, more of a system of supporting God’s work and an avenue of worship. In Judaism, it was impossible to worship without giving. Their worship was centered around the sacrifical system. You could not worship without an offering. For the poor, it could be turtle doves instead of a lamb but you brought something as an expression of faith and devotion. However, these people who point to tithing as an OT law are full of crock.

Tithing is just a place to start: Jesus taught us to go beyond the law. Jesus was not a tither, Jesus gave it all. I tell them, “Look, you can either tithe or give like Jesus who gave it all.” Quiet literally, JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE WHEN IT COMES TO GIVING.

Jesus gave sacrifically, “Although He was rich, yet for our sakes, He became poor.” He gave up the glory of heaven for a cross of shame. Someone compared the condescension to a man being willing to become a rat to save all the rats but it was a bigger gap than that. It is an infinite gap, one that we can imagine.

A Secure Investment

Scripture: Luke 12:31-34, NLT

31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.
34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

INTRODUCTION

Have you ever played Dirty Santa at a Christmas Party? It is certainly not a game for children. I wouldn’t want to play Dirty Santa with Chloe. Anyway, in Dirty Santa, you don’t necessarily get to keep the gift that you have in your hand or possession, it can be taken from you. It is not secure unless you have owed it two times previously.

……….

Life is like Dirty Santa, people get things and horde them thinking they are going to get to keep them but this is not reality. In Dirty Santa, the only way to make a gift secure is to give it up and it is the same way in life. Those who horde and hang on will lose everything. Nothing is yours, nothing is secure until you give it away.

……….

I think you will agree, most people are living for the little kingdom. Jesus challenge to us all is to give up the little kingdom and embrace God’s Kingdom. As you look at this world in terms of creation, are you not impressed with what God has made. This world you see with your eyes is nothing compared to the next. There are several major differences in the little kingdom and God’s Kingdom. This kingdom here is temporal, it is not going to last and the Kingdom of God is eternal. This kingdom is flawed and cursed by sin. The Kingdom of God is a perfect place. Better than Eden.
A treasure [noun] is something valuable, very special, important, that is hidden or kept in a safe place. It can also be used as a verb, “I treasure my grandchildren.” This means they are very special, important to me. It means I value them highly.

I. EVERYONE HAS A TREASURE {Something the heart is set on}

There is something that is more important to you than anything else. Something that you value more highly than anything else. Think about it! What is it that you cherish most? I hope it is not ALABAMA FOOTBALL, that would be a bad answer. I hope it is not your home, your farm, your property or your savings, this too is a bad answer. If you have a relationship in mind, you are getting warmer but of all your relationships, which do you value most?

My greatest TREASURE is Jesus. Paul said is Colossians 2:3, In Him {Jesus} lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

There is a story of a Roman slave who inherited all of his master’s wealth. When the will was read, the rich Roman nobleman’s son was present and the lawyer read the terms of the will. The son was unmoved because his father left him one thing. He could have any one thing on his father’s estate and so he immediately choose the slave that had inherited all his fathers’s wealth.

II. NOT EVERYONE HAS A TREASURE THEY CAN KEEP

“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.”  [Luke 12:33]

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” [Matthew 6:19]

Thieves, moths, rust, holes in your purse or pocket: these are words that Jesus used to teach us that earthly treasures cannot be maintained.

You can have a treasure here on earth but you can’t keep it.

Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. {James 5:3}

Advantages to a heavenly treasure

  1. It is secure–can’t lose it

  2. It will pay eternal dividends

  3. It allows you to help others while helping yourself

  4. It brings lasting joy

Jesus to the rich young ruler…“Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. [Luke 16:9]

The Grace of Giving

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.
2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately, not all church members understand what I am about to say, but ‘Giving’ financially to the support of your church and Christ kingdom is a ministry. Our word minister is translated from the Greek word for ‘serve.’ It is related to agency or instrumentality and in the Christians sense, it is God working through you to serve or help others {8:1}. You have the distinct privilege of helping countless numbers of people by giving.

……………….

Let me give you an example, one that is very fresh. June’s nephew Jason gave Joe David $2,000 for the Guatemala Trip but Joe David already had all the bases covered so they used the money to feed hungry people. The money Jason gave will feed 30 families for three months. God used Jason through the agency of GRACE MINISTRIES to serve, to help 30 Guatemalan families. Jason got involved in the MINISTRY OF GIVING and through the ministry of Joe David’s team and Teddy’s organization thirty families were helped.

………………..

One more example: You can give a dollar to the Gideon’s in memory of Tom and they will purchase and place a N.T. in the hand of a child, soldier, nurse, etc. You can donate $5 and they will place a bible in a hospital room or motel. The Gideon’s are an international agency, in more than 200 countries. They have distributed over 2 billion bibles in 95 languages. My friend Rodney Lamar Browning was saved by one of those bibles in a motel room in NYC back in 1970. My daughter Hannah was saved when a Gideon speaker came to DBC 34 years ago. Here is the thing: if you give a dollar of five, you must give it by faith. You will never know if someone came to know Christ due to your gift, not in this life, but by placing that small gift into the hands of such an effective agency the odds are in your favor. Isn’t this exciting! Not to some Baptist.

So I want to talk to you tonight about the MINISTRY OF GIVING and we will use the Philippians as an example….Note how they gave…

I. THEY GAVE SACRIFICALLY

[v.2-3] They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosityFor I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.

………………..

The Macedonian churches {Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea} were being persecuted and suffering financially from the persecution. The churches were having a hard time financially. I don’t think Paul wanted them to take part because he says himself that they were very poor. I guess someone forgot to tell them their were poor because they not only gave, they gave more than they could afford and far more than Paul expected.

I think you would agree that most people give what they can afford and very few give more. William Barclay says, “It is not always those who are wealthy who are most generous.” Our problem is that we confuse Generosity with the amount. Jesus doesn’t get these confused. In Luke 21 we have an example of what I am talking about….

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Our generosity is determined by what we have left after we give. We are not to give with the motive of getting back. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. For our gift to be a sacrifice, we have to give up something.

………………..

Several weeks ago, I got a call from the precious lady who took care of June and I in Seminary. She will be 90 her birthday. She can’t drive and her grandkids have put her in an assisted living in Metorie Louisana which is a suberb of New Orleans. She had talked her son in to bringing her home for two or three days {Ashville, Ala} and wanted to know if I could come and see her and so June and I went down. Her late husband was a truck driver and made good money but he didn’t save it so all she has is a SS check which isn’t much. When June and I were in Seminary, we thought they were rich because her husband was making $600 a week, a lot of money in 1971. Knowing that she has a hard time and feeling a debt to her for all she did for us, I gave her half of my allowance for gas money. I thought about it before I gave and I felt I should give it without expecting any return so I gave it and I was broke by Thursday of the week. I was at Huntsville Hospital on Friday of that week and all I had was the change in the ask tray of the car. Fifty dollars would be no sacrifice to most folks but it was to me because it meant I had to give up some things in order to give it. I have a friend, a good friend who give $500 per week to his church building fund. This is not his tithe, it is an offering on top of what he already gives. This means he gives $26,000 per year to the building fund, which is a lot more than I give entirely. I’ve been told that he is worth 8-10 million dollars.

II. THEY GAVE FREELY

[v.3] For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.

They exercised their free will

The Philippians were poor people because they were being persecuted. Not only did the Jews hate and mistreat Christians, the Roman world was not fond of them either. It had cost the Philippians to follow Christ but they were not complaining. As a matter of fact, Paul was shocked at their generous gift. 

………………..

How did the Philippians come to be so generous? {ANSWER} They choose to of their own free will. Why was Tom Bennich generous? At some point in his life, he made a decision, “I want to be remembered as a generous man.” No one forced Tom to be generous and no one is going to force you. I told Edith last week that Tom had a disciple that he didn’t know anything about. Tom’s generosity so impressed a certain young man that he said, “I want to be like Tom.” Actually two men made a huge impression on this young man, Tom’s impression was on the positive side but the other man was a miser. The young man looked at the contrast and he said, “I want to be like Tom.”

………………..

If you are saying “Its too late,” you could be right or you could be wrong, that too is up to you. Ebeneezer Scrooge was an old man before he learned to give and so was John D. Rockefeller. The doctor told Rockefeller to prepare for his death because he could not digest food. Once Rockefeller realized that the doctor was serious and that he was going to die, he made a change and began giving money away. Without him being aware of what was going on or what made the difference, he began to digest his food and get better physically. Greed was literally killing him and he lived for many more years.

………………..

So who makes the call, who determines whether or not you are going to get into the MINISTRY OF GIVING?  [ANSWER: You do! By exercising your free will] Look at 2 Corinthians 2:9, You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a cheerful giver.”

III. THEY GAVE THANKFULLY

{v.4} They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 

They understood the privilege of Giving

I gave $500 to the Mission Offering last Sunday and I enjoyed every minute of it. The check I put into the plate came from Edith Bennich. It was as easy as falling off a log. I was never tempted to keep the money. I was simply giving for someone else. Edith used me as an instrument, an agent to give in her behalf. I was having so much fun in the process that I had a thought: giving someone else’s money is easier than giving your own. Then I had another thought: every dime I have given belonged to someone else.

………………..

The only reason I can give, the only reason you can give is because God has given to us first. He is allowing you the privilege of being His agent in the ministry of giving but it is HIS MONEY that you and I are giving. God could very easily take away your privilege to give by taking away your ability to give. The Philippians did not want to miss the privilege of giving to the Christians in Jerusalem. They wanted a part in this ministry. Evidently, Paul didn’t ask them to participate because their condition was as bad or worse than that in Jerusalem. They wouldn’t take no for an answer.

IV.  THEY GAVE SPIRITUALLY 

{v.5} They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

How do we give spiritually?

  1. Pray about what you are to give. Let God direct you in your giving. You will give what you can afford but sometimes God will challenge you to give more than you can afford.
  2. Commit your life to him before you give money. God does not want your money or necessarily need it, He wants YOU. Money is easier to give than “self.” Those who pretend to be committed yet do not give are only fooling themselves. Giving is a test of your love, to see if it is genuine. You cannot stop love from giving. You can give without loving but you can’t love without giving.