Enough: Defined by Generosity
This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, June 21, 2015. This message, the final message of our stewardship drive, was shortened so as to provide time for “A Response to the Shooting at Emanuel AME (Charleston, SC).”
Readings: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Generosity is an indicator of one’s spiritual health. Our lack of generosity demonstrates an over-reliance upon ourselves; a growing generosity demonstrates an ever evolving reliance upon God who makes sure that “you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work” (1 Corinthians 9:8b, Common English Bible). Our faith calls us to generosity.
As people of faith, we understand that everything we have belongs to God. It’s not that God blesses some with more and others with less; but, God is the Creator of all things. The Psalmist (24:1-2, Common English Bible) proclaims:
1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
2 for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Everything belongs to the Creator. God reminds the people of this when God gives to the people the law in Leviticus (25:23b-24, Common English Bible): “the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.” All that we are and all that we have is God’s; and it’s all to be used for God’s purposes, the redemption and reconciliation of all the land. We’re called to be generous.
The Biblical baseline for giving is called the tithe. The tithe was established by the law of Moses as a giving of one-tenth of one’s income or harvest to the temple. In our modern context, the tithe is a giving of one-tenth of one’s income to the temple so that the work of God through the church might be accomplished. The tithe—the giving of one-tenth—is the foundational teaching of the Bible that Jesus builds upon when he instructs the rich young man to give everything he has away (Mark 10:17-31). Jesus tells us that giving a tenth, which is exactly what the rich young man had been doing, isn’t enough. We’re called to loose it all, to give it all in service to God.
On a very practical level, I think God wants us to take stock of what we really need. God wants us to trust that God will provide us with enough; and anything above that which is enough should be employed to the benefit of God’s Kingdom on earth. Practically speaking, the tithe, I think, is a reminder that our giving should be in proportion to our income; and, the New Testament command of Jesus to rend it all to Christ (notably all but that which belongs to Caesar) is a reminder that that proportion should be going up.
In your bulletin you will find a personal goals and commitment folder. The folder is for your personal use. I hope you’ll keep it in your Bible, on your nightstand or somewhere where you can be reminded of it regularly. Inside the booklet are five statements that we will all take seriously as we seek to grow in our faithfulness to God:
I will thank God daily for all my blessings.
I will seek contentment and simplicity and live within my means.
I will seek freedom from the bonds of credit and debt.
I will seek to wisely manage the gifts God has given me, investing and saving for the future.
I will worship God each week by giving of my tithes and offerings.
Each statement is followed by a question or two that is meant to help you find practical ways to meet your commitments to God and yourself in the coming months. In the mail this week, you will receive a letter and commitment card. You will be invited to return the commitment card you receive in the mail back to the church next Sunday, June 28th in worship at 9am. I hope you’ll join us next Sunday at 9am as we consecrate our commitments to God, rejoice in our growing commitment, and share a meal together.