Today, we are beginning a new message series, “God’s Plan for Your Finances.” What does this title mean? Let’s start with the first phrase “God’s Plan.” God created you and has a plan for your life. God’s plan includes every part of your life. The principles of God’s plan for your life are revealed to us in God’s Word, the Bible. How those principles specifically apply to your life is communicated to you through the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is God’s manual for living a blessed life, both now and in eternity.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
So, not only is the Bible written by God, it is useful, actually essential as a training manual for life. God’s Word is designed to equip you for the work God has called you to do. If you don’t make use of God’s Word to equip with His plan for you life, you will miss out on God’s blessing, not do the work you were created to do and have a lot of problems that you didn’t need to have.
Our message series title is “God’s Plan for Your Finances.” So, in this February series, we’re going to be talking specifically about God’s plan for your finances. To be more accurate, the finances or money that you have, isn’t really yours according to the Bible, it’s God’s. God has a plan for how He wants you to use His finances to carry out His plan. As we read through the Bible, we discover that God has a great deal to say about money and finances. In fact, it’s one of the biggest topics in the Bible. Over 2350 verses in the Bible talk about this topic, which is the topic of money.
If you handle your money God’s way, you’ll be blessed in your finances. If you handle your money your way, you will have many problems in your finances. One of the most important aspects of handling your money God’s way is the aspect of giving.
Today, my message is entitled “Giving That Feels Good.” Some time ago I read a book called “How To Be Happy Giving Your Money Away.” That title captures what we’re going to be talking about this morning, giving that feels good. How does this tie in with our series title “God’s Plan for Your Finances?” Well, for a lot of people giving their money away doesn’t seem to feel good, in fact they resist it and give as little as possible. But what does God’s Word, say about giving? What did Jesus say about giving?
Acts 20:35b (ESV) “ … remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Being blessed makes me feel good. So if I desire to follow God’s Plan for my finances, I’m going to be a giver. I’m going to believe that as I give to God, I’m going to be blessed in every way. My parents taught me to be a blessed giver. From around the age of 4, I have given at least 10% of all my income to the church, the Bible calls it a tithe. When my wife Carol was saved as child, she began tithing as well. Over the years, we’ve always had more than enough. Our needs have been met and we’ve had enough to continue feeling good about giving to God. God’s promises always work when we follow them with faith. The more God blesses, the more we have to give to extend His love and kingdom. We want you and your family to be blessed as well. Today, I’m going to look at five motivations for giving to God.
The first motivation for giving we’re going to look at is guilt. I give simply because I feel I have to. Maybe I give because I’m afraid something bad will happen if I don’t. There’s certainly some truth to this motivation.
Malachi 3:8-9 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.
That doesn’t sound too good does it? But does God want us to give simply because of fear or guilt? The answer is no. God is not just interested in your money. He is far more interested in your heart and having a right motivation in your giving.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV) Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Ah, now we see how God wants us to give. Not out of reluctance, guilt or feeling compelled. God wants us to give because we’ve decided to and because we understand the blessing of giving. When you give to God, God wants you to be cheerful, to feel good about giving to Him.
Think about some times in your life when you’ve felt good about giving something. When I gave my wife Carol an engagement ring, I felt good about it. Why? Because I loved her and wanted to show her my love. What about your children? How did it make you feel to give to your children? It feels good to give to your children because you love them and want them to be blessed. In many ways, children bring blessing into our lives and we give back to them. How do you think your children would feel if you gave them a gift and said: Here’s something I got for you, I don’t really want to give it to you, but I feel like I should because it’s your birthday. How would that make them feel? God doesn’t want His children giving to Him out of guilt or compulsion either. He wants you to give willingly with a cheerful heart.
This motivation is giving is giving because we feel we ought to. There are rules and we have to follow God’s rules.
2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV) But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
In this verse, there’s a list of things that I must do, so I’d better improve in my giving, it’s my responsibility. Studies of average church congregations show that 20% of the people give 80% of the funds and 50% give almost nothing at all. At Life Church, we don’t want to be an average congregation, we want everyone to be blessed by fulfilling their responsibility in giving. Giving is a responsibility of every believer, but God is interested in more than just a follow the rules type of attitude or motivation. Notice that this verse talks about the grace of giving. God wants to empower you with His grace to give and He wants you to excel in it.
When your motivation is simply responsibility, things can get very legalistic. Is tithing to be 10% on the net or the gross? If I give my 10% that must mean that I can do whatever I want with the other 90%, right? Actually, wrong. All our money is God’s. He does let us use our money to meet our needs, but it is God who has the final say as to how you use His money. When you’re just giving out of responsibility, it’s hard to be a cheerful giver. Do you do things in your marriage, simply because you feel it’s your responsibility? Yes, we work on our marriages because it’s our responsibility, but our motivations are deeper.
There are legitimate needs in the church family that need to be met. The church has needs in many areas: building mortgage and upkeep, insurance, children’s and youth ministries, refreshments, sound equipment, pastor’s salary, health insurance, office software, printing, websites, outreach, missions and the list goes on and on. Meeting those needs allows ministry to the needs of people to go on. Paul writes to a church about their giving and says:
2 Corinthians 8:13-14 (ESV) For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.
In other words, God wants to use the finances of His people to meet the needs of the church family. The good news is that God has given His people enough finances to meet the church family’s needs and allow it to reach out, as each person does their part.
Kurt Warner, former quarterback, started a family tradition he calls “The Restaurant Game.” When Kurt, his wife Brenda and their 7 children went out to eat, they would pick a child to quietly look over the other families eating. When the child picks a table, Kurt will call the waiter over and add that families’ tab to his ticket, anonymously. Then Kurt and his family will pray and eat their meal. Kurt said he wanted to teach his children to be thankful for how they’ve been blessed by giving to meet needs. Now, although neither you nor I have as much money as Kurt, we can use what God has given us to meet needs right within our church family.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (ESV) He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
The Bible teaches that giving to God is like sowing seed. When you sow seed, you expect to reap a harvest and the same is true with giving. Some people think they have no seed to sow. However, God promises to supply you with seed to sow, money to give, so that you can reap a harvest. So, if God has given you the money you have, a wonderful motivation is to give in thanksgiving to God for what He has given you. Some people think that if they give their money to the church, they will end up poor and unable to meet their own needs. These verses promise that when you give, you will be made rich in every way. Rich means to have all your needs met and to have enough to be generous in your giving. When you give out of thanksgiving, the end result is even more thanksgiving to God. People whose lives are touched and changed through the church’s ministry will give thanks to God as well.
A father wanted to teach his five year-old son about giving to God from a heart of thanksgiving. He told him, “Son, don’t ever worry about giving to God. You’ll always be better off after you give then before.” He even told him, “I’ll return whatever you give to the Lord, so don’t worry about losing your money.” The next Sunday, the boy went to church with fifty cents in his pocket. However, before the offering came, he began to think about what he could buy with those fifty cents. When the offering was passed, he only put in a penny. After the service, his Dad asked him how much he gave. The boy said, one penny. His Dad said, I’ll give you 5 times what you gave, and handed him a nickel. The young boy realized how much he had lost by not trusting either God or his father. When we give with thanksgiving, when we trust God’s word, God will bless us greatly.
2 Corinthians 8:5b (ESV) … they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Paul in this passage is praising the Macedonian Christians for their giving. He says that first of all they gave themselves to the Lord, then they gave to other believers. These were not wealthy believers in a world sense. A few verses earlier, Paul says of them “their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” When you give yourself to the Lord, your giving becomes part of your worship. You give because you love Him. You give because everything you have comes from Him. You give because you want to be used by God to do things that will last forever. You give to God because you trust Him to care for you.
As followers of Jesus, I believe that we all want to give to God for most of the reasons we talked about today. We know God’s Word tells us to, we want to meet needs in our local church and in missions, we are thankful for what God has done in our lives and we want to give as an act of worship. Yet, there are many who just don’t think they can give as God’s Word instructs. The reason is that when their expenses are subtracted from income, there is nothing left. And for many today, those expenses are not easily reduced, because those expenses are caused by debt. If you don’t keep paying your mortgage you will lose your home. If you don’t keep paying your car payment, you will lose your car and so on. So, what is the answer for those who don’t think they can give tithes and offerings cheerfully as Scripture says?
Well, we want to help those who wish they could give but feel they can’t. We want to help everyone who wants to learn more about the biblical principles concerning finances. So, beginning on March 13, we are going to offer the class Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. This class is recommended by Southern Missouri AG. Financial Peace University will help you learn the basics of budgeting, dumping debt, planning for the future, and much more. It will meet on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 for 9 weeks, right here are Life Church. Calvin Holderby will be our coordinator. If you must miss a class, you can catch up with an online video. Or you can take the whole class online if you can’t make Tuesday nights. Class membership for a family is $109 and the registration link is in your bulletin. Talk to Calvin if you have questions. Please pray about whether God would have you take this course.
Today we’ve looked at five motivations for giving: guilt, responsibility, needs, thanksgiving and worship. Bottom line is that God wants you to be a cheerful giver. Each of us can be cheerful givers when we understand that when we give to God, God uses and multiplies our gift back to us. It is more blessed to give than to receive.