Gifts and free will offerings are given in addition to tithing. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. “And now brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” From this passage we gain three principles. First, they gave themselves to the Lord, asking Him to direct their giving. In the same way we need to submit ourselves to the Lord when deciding how much to give. Second, they were so yielded to the Lord that despite bad circumstances they begged to give. And third, they experienced tremendous joy as a result of their sacrificial giving.
Jesus looked at giving to the poor in Matthew 25:42-45; “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and not help you? He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me." We each have to look at our attitudes about giving as God evaluates our actions on the basis of our attitudes. The reason we can give out of a heart filled with love is that our gifts are actually given to the Lord himself. Remember that the amount to give begins with the tithe and then gifts are added over and above the tithe. Giving should be periodic, should be personal, should be out of a private deposit, should be a priority, should be premeditated and should be done without pride and in secret. Remember to pray daily about your giving. Have that one on one with Christ to talk over your finances and let him direct you in your giving.
Proverbs 21:5 tells us, “Steady plodding brings prosperity, hasty speculation brings poverty.” We would say the wise save and the foolish spend and are wasteful. But we must remember that we must not save without giving or we will be drawn away from Christ and to the building of wealth. Invest wisely and get godly counsel about investments, remembering that if it sounds too good to be true it is. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:9 “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Be aware that the desire to get rich is wrong; however, it is not wrong to become rich if is a by-product of being a faithful steward. If we allow our desire to gain riches to take us away from our first love Jesus Christ we have become idolaters.
What is Stewardship?
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13, “ I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity . . .I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” We can spell stewardship, F A I T H. Remember that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
"And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?" - Luke 12:42 (NASB)
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Scripture tells us that we should give back to God 10% of the income that God has given us. This is income before taxes; remember God does not pay taxes. God is asking us to give back to him because we love him and by doing so he may further bless our lives. Matthew 23:23. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of spices, mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” The Pharisees followed the law and gave the required amount but did not give out of love. When we give freely, and out of love, God will reward us and as Proverbs 11:24-25 tells us: “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Matthew 6:19-21 tells us: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”
Few areas of the Christian life can be more frustrating than that of giving. God evaluates our actions on the basis of our attitudes. God’s attitude toward giving is best summed up in John 3:16, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son.” Please note the sequence. Because God loved, He gave. Because God is love, He is also a giver. He set the example of giving motivated by love. We must remember that everything that we have belongs to God to begin with, and anything that we give away was not ours in the first place. We are giving away God’s possessions not ours. He has given much to us because he loves us.
Proverbs 12:15. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” And Proverbs 13:10. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” And Proverbs 15:22. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many adviser they succeed.” The things that usually hinder one from seeking counsel are pride, ignorance, arrogance and a sense of being in control. We are told in scripture that we should seek the counsel of the Lord and we do this primarily through prayer, reading scripture, and from godly people. In Psalms 32:8-9. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come.” Who should you seek counsel from? First, husband and wives should seek each other’s counsel and act as one. Then one should seek out godly and righteous people and always remember what Proverbs 12:5 tells us. “The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.”
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Colossians 3:23-24, “ Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men . . . It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." Even before sin entered the human race God instituted work. “The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Adam was put to work in the garden. Despite what many believe, work was initiated for our benefit in the sinless environment of the garden of Eden. Work is not a result of the curse! God explained that after the fall work was made much more difficult. God also gave us the command that “you shall work six days.” And Paul tells us that “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat.” The verse applies to those who are not willing not to those who are not able to work. God has given us our job skills and each of us has a set of unique skills that are God given. When we work we should always work as if Jesus was our boss and remember that our work should be for the glory of God.
Being a steward is to be one who takes care of another’s property better than if it were his own. In other words being a steward is to be accountable to the one who owns the property. We are all stewards of God's creation, and everything in it that we have been blessed with. It is not our own; it is God's.
Proverbs 22:7. “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender” Debt was considered a curse, being debt free or being a lender was a blessing. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:23. “You were bought at a price, do not become slaves of Men.” Disobedience led to debt and obedience led to getting out of debt. Remember that debt is considered by God as a curse. That enslavement to debt takes away one’s attention from God and therefore should be avoided.
Leviticus 19:11-13. “Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another. Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the names of your God. I am the Lord. Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him.” God wants us to be honest in all things that we do. Those little white lies do count because they are not completely honest. Benefits of honesty: An honest person has a more intimate fellowship with the Lord. An honest person is a delight to the Lord. The children of an honest person are blessed. The Lord will protect and provide for the needs of the honest. Some of the curses of dishonesty are: A dishonest person is an abomination to the Lord. Anything obtained dishonestly will be taken away. Obtaining wealth by lying produces only temporary gains and eventually leads to death.
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This is being responsible and accountable for all things that God has given to us to use while on the earth. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, Chapter 6. “There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. In Luke 16:13 Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters, Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The process of Christian Stewardship starts by accepting that all things -- time, talent and treasure -- come from the Lord. In the passage from Luke Jesus was concerned with how material wealth would affect man’s relationship with God. There are approximately 2,350 verses in the bible about handling money and possessions. God has certain responsibilities and he has given us certain responsibilities. Most of the frustration we face in handling money, is to know which responsibilities are ours and which belong to God. Deuteronomy 10:14. “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the high heavens, the earth and everything in it.” Haggai 2:8. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the Lord Almighty.” Leviticus 25:23. “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” 1 Corinthians 10:26. “. . . for, The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Scripture has established that everything belongs to the Lord and now we must care for and use what he has given us for godly purposes. We can break down steward ship into several categories -- debt, counsel, honesty, giving, work ethics, investing and a perspective of how our management of what God has given us will affect our eternity.