1 Timothy 6:11-19 Matthew 6:19-24 September 29, 2013
A church was raising money for a new building program. They decided to have a contest were the highest bidder would be able to pick out the 3 hymns for that Sunday’s worship service. The ushers went around and collected the bids. The preacher was then handed the highest bid so that it could be announced. The preacher got up and said, “Our highest bid is $1000 from this sweet lady here in the front of the sanctuary. What three hymns will you pick out today?”
She stood up, pointed at three young men and said, “I will take him, him, and him!”
There was a time that another church was having a building campaign. The guest preacher who was helping with the fundraising effort said, “We have this magnificent building to build. We have wonderful programs to support. And we have the money to do all that we believe God is leading us to do. However, there is one problem. The money is in your wallets!”
Yes, one of the five items that we promise to do when we join the local church is to support it with our gifts. This means that we will give generously to the church through our tithes and offerings. The other four items that we vow to use to support the local church is our prayers, our presence, our service, and our witness. You see, being baptized is the beginning of our lives as Christians. Once baptized, then we need the church to help us to live our baptism, to live our salvation. Part of being a professing, baptized disciple in the UMC is that we agree to support the church. One aspect of being a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ whose life is centering on loving God and loving others, is that we are part of the local church. Our speech says that we are part of the local church. Our actions reflect that we are part of the Body of Christ. We give because Jesus gave.
When we say that we are members of a church, it is much different than saying we attend a church. Our vow, our commitment, says that we will give as Jesus gave to us. Our giving consists of giving what we value. What did Jesus say about what we value?
- We have treasure and a master (Matthew 6:19-24)
- Where do we store our treasures?
- What do you desire with your eyes?
- Whom are you serving?
- We give because Jesus gave. Is this reflected in how we live as disciples in the local church? We can honor Jesus Christ with our giving.
- Our lives now can really be life
- We have our lives because of God
- If we have riches, then let us be generous
- As we follow Jesus Christ, we want to give as he has given. That does mean we are going to be generous. Jesus gave his life. What are we to give?
He was a survivor of the Camp Creek Tornadoes living in a damp, moldy, damaged home with a wife and three kids while he spent every day helping his neighbors rebuild….we searched for a doublewide for months for this family…and had many delays and failed deals….We found another….but no money. We needed $25 grand for the home and the repairs it would need; $5 grand for site preparation, and $5 grand for a roof & handicap ramp… On the way back from looking at the home I knew would be perfect, I was crying like a baby in the mission van and pulled over to clean my glasses…and the call came “‘Preachee’, a Methodist Church just gave me a check for $30,000 from their Lord’s acre sale for tornado recovery. We can buy that house for the boy who helps everyone else.” I hung up the phone and blew my nose and rejoiced “Lord that only leaves $5 grand.”And another call came in from a Site prep contractor “That boy who helps everyone else. He has been on my heart all day. You find a house for that boy and I’ll set it and do the site prep and septic for free.” Laughing and praising I hung up the phone and said “While you are on a roll Lord, They could use some decent furniture?” Somewhere between fatigue and joy, I arrived back in Greenville before Lowe’s closed to buy lumber and supplies for the next day’s work on 3 other homes, and hit the pharmacy for another bottle of Aleve to control the pain in my feet (arthritis in my toes), the phone rang again. It was a member from Mt. Zion UMC, Afton, TN, “Preachee, I owned a furniture business I just sold. I saved a container of furniture that we were going to use to remodel our own home. It is the best we had at the store. Tonight, we decided we like our home good enough as is. We would like to give it to a tornado family….. Volunteer crews worked 10 & 12 hr days in mud and icy rain, and by Christmas a man who had given so much to so many entered a clean, dry home with brand new furniture….. And on the way back to my home, I pulled over again and had a good cry for the abundance the Lord had allowed me to witness. (Stephen Burkhart)
Is that the sort of life we want to live? A life of generosity that is shaped by our faith in Jesus is possible. The church would be a different place if we were as generous as Jesus. The church would be a different people if we were as generous as Jesus. We give because Jesus gave. May that be our theme of generosity as we disciples are followers of Jesus whose life is centering on loving God and loving others!