Faithlink Discussion: Giving

by jacobjuncker

This sermon was delivered on October 25, 2009 on Consecration Sunday and works well with this week’s Faithlink.  Blessings! ~Jacob

17As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

 1 Timothy 6:17-19, New Revised Standard Version

“Everyday we let the idols of this world dictate what we do and how we do it. Money and greed often consume us. We love having it, and hate giving it up. We too frequently put our love of money before our love of God, and Matthew 6:24 plainly states ‘[we] cannot serve both God and money.”[1]

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[2]

The right use of money is of the utmost importance to the Christian, yet it is a subject given too little attention. Wealth has often been regarded by poets and philosophers as a source of evil and yet the fault lies, not with money, but with those who use it. Indeed, money should be regarded as a gift of God for the benefits that it brings in ordering the affairs of [society] and the opportunities it offers for doing good. In the hands of God’s children, money is food for the hungry, clothing for the naked and shelter for the stranger. With money we can care for the widow and the fatherless, defend the oppressed, meet the need of those who are sick or in pain.

It is therefore most urgent that God’s people know how to make use of their money for God’s glory. All the necessary instructions can be condensed into 3 simple rules:

  • GAIN ALL YOU CAN
  • SAVE ALL YOU CAN
  • GIVE ALL YOU CAN

 Gain all you can

With this first rule, we sound like children of the world, and it is our bounden duty to do this. There are, however, limits to this rule. We should not gain money at the expense of life or health. No sum of money, however large, should induce us to accept employment which would injure our bodies. Neither should we begin (or continue in) any business which deprives us of the food and sleep that we need.  If our reason or experience shows that a job is unhealthy for us, then we should leave it as soon as possible even if this means that our income is reduced.

What is true of ourselves is equally true of our neighbor. We should not “gain all we can” by causing injury to another, whether to his trade, his body or his soul. We should not sell our goods below their market price nor should we entice away, or receive, the workers’ that a brother has need of. It is quite wrong to make a living from selling those things which would harm a neighbor’s health…

With these restrictions, it is every Christian’s duty to observe this first rule: ‘Gain all you can’. Gain all you can by honest work with all diligence. Lose no time in silly diversions and do not put off until tomorrow what may be done today. Do nothing by halves; use all the common sense that God has given you and study continually that you may improve on those who have gone before you. Make the best of all that is in your hands.

 Save all you can

This is the second rule. Money is a precious gift. It should not be wasted on [trivial things]. Do not spend money on luxury foods, but be content with simple things that your body needs. Ornaments too, whether of the body, house or garden are a waste and should be avoided. Do not spend in order to gratify your vanity or to gain the admiration of others. The more you feed your pride in this way, the more it will grow within you.

Gain all you can.  Save all you can: not that you might hoard it away, but that you might be generous.

[Be generous:] give all you can

Observing the first two rules is far from enough. Storing away money without using it is to throw it away. You might just as well cast your money into the [Wabash River] as keep it in the bank. Having gained and saved all you can, then [be generous:] give all you can.

Why is this? You do not own the wealth that you have. It has been entrusted to you for a short while by the God who brought you into being. All belongs to [God]. Your wealth is to be used for [God] as a holy sacrifice, made acceptable through Jesus Christ.

 If you wish to be a good steward of that which God has given to you on loan the rules are simple enough. First provide sufficient food and clothing for yourself and your household. If there is a surplus after this is done, then use what remains for the good of your Christian brothers and sisters. If there is still a surplus, then do good to all people, as you have the opportunity. If at any time you have a doubt about any particular expenditure, ask yourself honestly:

  1.  Will I be acting, not as an owner, but as a steward of the Lord’s goods?
  2. Am I acting in obedience to the word of God?
  3. Is this expense a sacrifice to God through Jesus Christ?

These, then, are the simple rules for the Christian use of money. Gain all you can, without bringing harm to yourself or neighbor. Save all you can by avoiding waste and unnecessary luxuries. Finally, give all you can. Do not limit yourself to a [percentage]. Do not give God a tenth or even half what [God] already owns, but give all that is [God’s] by using your wealth to preserve yourself and family, the Church of God and the rest of humanity. In this way you will be able to give a good account of your stewardship when the Lord comes with all his saints [in final victory].

I plead with you in the name of the Lord Jesus, no more delay! Whatever task is before you, do it with all your strength. No more waste or luxury or envy. Use whatever God has loaned to you to do good to your fellow Christians and to all people. Give all that you have, as well as all that you are, to [God] who did not even withhold his own Son for [our] sake.

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You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way [God] works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how [God] works. [Gain all you can.  Save all you can.  Give all you can.] Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

You’ll find that God provides enough, if only we’d learn to be better stewards by gaining all we can, saving all we can and giving all we can.  Amen.


[1] From the description of “That’s My Money” from worshiphousemedia.com <http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/7807/Thats-My-Money>

[2] This section is adapted from “John Wesley Sermon No. 44 ‘The Use of Money’ An Abridgment in Modern English” by Richard Hall <http://theconnexion.net/wp/?p=2873>

My comments are based upon the resource: “Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life.”  Faithlink is a weekly adult discipleship resource published and Copyrighted by Cokesbury.  If you are a member or constituent of Christ United Methodist Church (Lafayette, IN) and would like to receive this weekly discipleship tool, simply email info@christumchurch.org to express your interest and you will be put on the weekly email list.
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