by Jeff A. Jenkins
All this church cares about is money!” “Every time I come here you preach about giving.” “It isn’t anybody’s business how much I give every week.” “The New Testament doesn’t say anything about tithing.” “We’ll give more when we get everything squared away in our lives.” “There are many things in my life more important than giving.”
Because of these types of statements, most preachers I know fear the dreaded annual sermons on giving. Even though there may be only one or two Sundays a year when preachers focus on giving, there are those who accuse us of preaching on giving all the time.
There is the perceived notion that the church is only concerned about money. There are always people who loudly proclaim that the leadership has no right to know what people give. These complaints often cause us to be “careful” about preaching on giving. We sometimes shy away from stewardship campaigns and sermons.
The fact is that the New Testament has a great deal to say about finances. Jesus talked about money more than anyone else in Scripture. As preachers of the Gospel of Christ, we should seek to understand why Jesus spoke so often about money, and how we can approach this sensitive topic in a way that would please our Lord.
Surely, preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and attempting to follow the Master teacher requires that we preach messages about giving. It is our duty as preachers of God’s Word to teach the church about the importance and the necessity of giving.
WE SHOULD PREACH THAT STEWARDSHIP BEGINS IN THE HEART. In a lengthy statement about covetousness Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). The clear implication in these words from our Savior is that, if our hearts are right, we will give. Our faith, our walk with God, our commitment to the Lord will always begin in the heart. When we give our hearts completely to the Lord everything else in our life will follow.
WE SHOULD PREACH THAT STEWARDSHIP INVOLVES MORE THAN MONEY. It will make preaching about giving a little easier to take when we explain that stewardship is about so much more than our money.
We should emphasize the stewardship of our time (Ephesians 5:16), the stewardship of our gifts which are to be used for the “building up of the body” (Ephesians 4:12), the stewardship of our speech which should bring “grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29), and the stewardship of our bodies which should be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). When we teach that the giving of our money is only a part of our stewardship, we will be presenting a balanced view of stewardship.
WE SHOULD PREACH THAT STEWARDSHIP IS A BAROMETER OF OUR COMMITMENT TO THE LORD. It has been said many times that our giving is the clearest indicator of our commitment to the Lord.
It is through our giving that the work of the church in this world is made possible. The early Christians understood that giving was necessary to the growth of the Church. “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2: 44-45). “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35).
We are never more like God than when we give. Our great God is the greatest giver of the greatest gift (John 3:16). Our God even gives when we do not deserve His gifts (Romans 5:8). If we really want to become more like God, we will not refuse to give.
WE SHOULD PREACH THAT GIVING IS A GRACE THAT SHOULD FILL OUR HEARTS. Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church, “But as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you--see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:7-9).
In this passage, Paul calls upon all Christians to give in view of what Christ taught about giving by the sacrifice of His great riches. When we understand the magnitude of the grace given to us, we will be more motivated to give to the work of God.
Paul further reminds us that giving is an act of grace. If we can teach the church that it is an act of grace, the church will want to give. When we give, we are becoming conduits of the grace of God. We are dispensing God’s grace to others.
Many people in our world will never read a Bible. They will only know of God’s grace through the way that God’s people give and the way that we live. One of the great tasks of the preacher is to be constantly calling on the people of God to extend the grace of God through giving.