SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY
19TH DAY AFTER PENTECOST
SEPTEMBER 30, 2018
Title: “The Faithful Steward is Faithful in Giving”
Text: Mark 12:41-44
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto them, verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hast cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury; 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Last Sunday we talked about stewards. We dealt primarily with the religious beliefs of stewards and what might be called the underlying foundation of stewardship. Today we will talk specifically about faithful stewards and the matter of giving their money.
Probably everyone here has a special connection with our church and some interest in the cause for which our church stands. Furthermore, we know that our church will be able to accomplish its task only in proportion to our financial support of its efforts. We also are aware that our support of our church is a much broader concept than the financial support alone; but this in no way minimizes the need for our financial support. In all of this, it is important to understand that we are first and foremost stewards of God. We must be faithful in giving ourselves and our substances. In doing this, we must give voluntarily. We must give proportionately, and we must give generously.
To begin with let us get an understanding of the background of our text. Our text this morning talks about a time when Jesus Christ had gone to sit quietly at the Gate Beautiful. The Gate Beautiful was between the Court of the Gentiles and the Courts of the Women. It may well be that Jesus had gone to sit quietly there after the argument and tension of the Courts of the Gentiles. In the Courts of the Women, there were thirteen collecting boxes called “the Trumpets,” because they were so shape. Each of them was for a special purpose. Some of the collecting boxes were to buy corn or wine for the sacrifices. They were for contributions for the daily sacrifice and expenses of the Temple. When people came to throw in what they had, many threw in quite a considerable contributions. On this special occasion, a widow came. She put in two mites. The coin she threw in was called a lepton, which literally means a thin one. It was the smallest of all the coins and was worth one fortieth of one pence. And yet Jesus said that her tiny contribution was greater than all the others, for the others had thrown in what they could spare easily enough and still have plenty left, while the widow had put in everything she had. She was faithful in her giving.
Stewardship is a form of worship where we give ourselves first to God. This is worship and it is personal. Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 5:23-24 that we cannot make a gift to God unless we are first right with God and with our neighbors. He said, “if you are offering your gifts at the altar, there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first to be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gifts. We give ourselves first to God. When we do this we reverence God. Paul wrote of the Macedonians, “First they gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). Paul was encouraging the church at Corinth to give their money for the support of the poor in Jerusalem. Paul urged the Corinthians to see the relationship between the giving of themselves and the giving of their money to God. Paul sought the Corinthians, not their possessions. Paul wrote, “I seek not what is yours but you” (2 Corinthians 12:14). Paul thought the Corinthians had given themselves to God, but some of them either had not or made little progress in their Christian lives. Their dedication of themselves to God was of primary importance. Giving their money for the Christian cause was evidence of their having given themselves. Paul repeatedly urged them to grow in the grace of Christian giving. In giving ourselves, we must give voluntarily.
I will submit to you that tithing alone is an inadequate expression of Christian stewardship. Tithing in the Old Testament involves the giving of 10 percent of one’s earning to God. Today many Christians would never think of giving less than 10 percent of their money to God through their churches. They give not because the law requires it, but because they have given themselves to God through Jesus Christ and because they attached importance to the cause of Jesus Christ. Christians should be satisfied with giving as little as 10 percent of their money to their churches. Some are prosperous that they should give 50 percent or more to the cause of Jesus Christ. Christian steward does, in fact, insist on giving oneself totally to God and managing all of one’s resources for the glory God.
This is why Paul commended the Macedonians, “They gave…of their own free will” (2 Corinthians 8:3). Voluntary giving is cheerful giving. Nowhere is the voluntary element of giving summed up in a better way than in Paul’s statement, “Each one must do as he had made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We can grow into cheerful stewards only as we understand more thoroughly our own commitment to God and our dedication to the cause of God in loving and caring for other people. Cheerful giving is giving in proportion to one’s ability. The widow in our text gave proportionately. She gave according to her ability. Paul indicated that Christians should give in accordance with their ability to give, “as they may prosper. This is a practical way that is fair and equitable. Paul further emphasized this principle by his commitment, “it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Christians should never feel uncomfortable if others are able to give more than they are. Christians stewardship of money is in proportion to one’s ability to give.
Proportionate giving is characteristic of Christian giving. Early in the history of the church, Christians gave their material means for the support of Christians in other areas who were in need. Paul and Barnabas took such a collection of funds to Jerusalem on one occasion (Act 11:29). Let us remember that these Christians in giving proportionately, did so to their dedication and their vision of the accomplishment to be made through their giving.
Faithful stewards give generously. To begin with generous giving, let us learn also the principle of giving systematically. Paul recommended to the Christians of Corinth that they give, on the first day of the week” (1 Corinthians 16:2) The emphasis here is on systemic giving to meet the ongoing needs of the congregation. Many people receive their money on a monthly basis or even on an annual basis. So regular systemic giving to them would be regulated by the time in which they receive their income.
Generosity is a Christian virtue. It is giving where in Christians respond to the needs of people and the challenges of the Christian cause. It is always good to remember that generous giving is measure in terms of ability to give and in terms of enthusiasm for the cause. Generosity is a Christian virtue that should never be restricted by minimums and maximums.
The Bible talk a great deal about the dangers of wealth in that it often is the occasion through which rich people become caloloused and indifferent to the needs of those about them. There is a promise to those who give generously. Paul wrote, “You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11). This is not a promise that generous giver will become rich immediately. Neither is it a promise that will become rich in the future. The promise has to do with the quality of life and the rewards we receive by responding to the people and causes about them.
Finally, faithful stewards are accountable in the proper use of what God has entrusted to them. Christian stewardship always requires stewards to be responsible, or accountable, for the proper use of the money they give and that is entrusted to them. It is surprising that some Christians will give their money to their churches but will not bother to attend business meetings or participate in budget planning to assure that their gifts accomplish the purposes for which they are given.
It is even more incredible that many Christians will send gifts to television and radio ministries about who handling of funds they know nothing. Great caution must be used and much research done before giving to such ministries. Giving money to irresponsible people is not Christian stewardship; it is misappropriation of funds. You and I are stewards of every aspect of our lives, including the wealth God entrusts to us. How shall we respond to the teachings of the New Testament? Let us resovle to be faithful stewards in every area so that others might helped and God be glorified. Would you be willing to determine that you will move beyond the minimum in giving and give in proportion to a dream or a hope for the full accomplishment of the cause of Christ in our time. Remember the requirement of stewards. They must be faithful. Are you and I faithful? When we stand before God in the end of our journey, will He speak that welcome benediction, ‘You have been faithful over a little. Enter into the joy of your Lord”? God bless you!