The Motivation of Stewardship

Bible Book: Matthew  6 : 1-16
Subject: Stewardship; Giving; Tithe; Offerings
Series: Stewardship
Introduction

Understanding the idea of giving can be difficult for everyone, including Christians. In this last message on Stewardship I want to address the concept of motivation in giving and serving. A little boy attended church for the first time. As the offering plate was passed, he said, very brightly, “Daddy, you don't have to pay for me. I'm under six.” The little fellow didn’t understand the concept of giving or the motivation behind giving to the Lord.

I am reminded of another occasion when a little boy misunderstood the offering. A certain church received their offering after the sermon. The pastor of the church was known for his long sermons. One Sunday a young boy got restless as the pastor preached on and on, and turned to his father and whispered, “Daddy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?”

Let’s think today about being truly and correctly motivated to give our best gifts to the Lord. There may be some here today who do not think that motivation in regard to giving really matters, but I assure you that it does. Remember Cain, he gave a gift to God but it was not accepted. Why? His gift was rejected because his motivation was incorrect. It is not only what we do when giving, but why we do it that counts.

I. I am Motivated in Stewardship because of the Scripture

Every true believer desires to be true to the Word of God. There are a thousand voices trying to give us direction in our day. Psychologists, sociologists, humanists, politicians, media, advertisers, and educators all have something to say, and not all of it is bad. But there is only one true voice which can give accurate direction in living, and that is the Word of God.

I love the Bible. I love its promises. I love its story of the love of God. I love its message of grace and forgiveness. I love its people, presented to us so openly and clearly. I love the Savior revealed in this Book. I love the Bible. But I do not have the right to love all the points of grace, love and forgiveness without loving the responsibilities presented to me within its pages. I must love and accept God’s commands just as much as I love and accept His compassion.

Within these pages of His Word I learn that God has a plan for giving. I read about tithing and giving offerings. I read that Jesus taught us that it is better to give than to receive. I read that I am to bring His tithe and my offerings into the storehouse. I read that I should give cheerfully. The same book that promises me Heaven, tells me about the joy of practicing the grace of giving.

I am motivated to give because of this Book. We sing,

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

Would it not be wonderful if we could sing,

“Jesus deserves the I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

The same Bible that tells of His love tells me of my duty and privilege to give my money, time, talent, energy and life to Him.

We must listen to the Bible in order to know God’s love and grace, but we must also listen to the Word when it comes to our responsibilities.

The late preacher W. A. Criswell, in his book, The Bible for Today's World, wrote, "Washington, D. C., is the home of The Bureau of Standards. Every weight and every measure that is used in the United States is a copy of the standard that is kept inviolate by the Bureau in Washington. In that Bureau there is a perfect inch, a perfect foot, a perfect yard, a perfect gallon, a perfect pint, a perfect millimeter, a perfect milligram. Every weight and measure that we have finds its standard in that Bureau in Washington, and all are judged by that standard."

What the Bureau of Standards is to weights and measures, God's Word is to be to us in all matters, and that includes stewardship. It shows us His perfect will. So, listen to His Word and let it lead you into obedience in stewardship just as you allowed it to lead you into saving faith.

Helping his wife wash the dishes, a minister protested, "This isn't a man's job."

"Oh, yes it is," his wife retorted, quoting 2 Kings 21:13: ’I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.’"

Women, you like that, don’t you? Well, what about the passage that says you should submit to your husbands, do you like that? Funny, isn’t it? We like the verses which are favorable to our cause and don’t like the others. This is especially true when it comes to money. Let every child of God accept the Biblical mandate to give and to do so cheerfully.

II. I am Motivated in Stewardship because of Souls

I am motivated to be a steward because of the preciousness of souls. Jesus said in Mark 8:36-37, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus taught us that nothing in all the world is most precious, more valuable, more costly than a soul. A soul lost in eternity is the greatest loss, the greatest tragedy ever known. When I give to God’s work, I am helping to bring souls to Christ through the world-wide work of missions.

Someone has written:

“If you want to enrich days, plant flowers;

If you want to enrich years, plant trees;

f you want to enrich Eternity, plant the Gospel in the hearts of people.”

A hardened criminal, Charlie Peace, had no respect for the law of man or the law of God. He was eventually imprisoned in Leeds, England, and sentenced to die. The morning he was scheduled to die, the guards took him from his cell. As they walked toward the place of execution, the prison chaplain was walking in front of Charlie, sleepily going through the routine of reading some passages of Scripture.

After a few minutes of this, Charlie reached out and tapped the chaplain on the shoulder. He asked what the chaplain was reading. The chaplain replied, "The Consolations of Religion." The prisoner was shocked at how casually the preacher had been reading the verses about hell. If he truly believed the words about the eternal fire and the bottomless pit, how was it possible for him to lead a fellow human being to his death and yet remain dry-eyed and unmoved? Charlie could not fathom it.

He said to the chaplain, "Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees, and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!" [Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill. Bethany House, 1959. Page 19.]

III. I am Motivated in Stewardship because of Sharing

I am motivated to be a steward because of the privilege to share, and I mean this in two ways. First, I get to share with God’s people in the work He has given to us. There are many labor unions in the United States. Union members are often required to pay dues. Some unions, however, offer membership to those who wish to join and do not require that you pay dues if you do not wish to be a member. Some people do not pay dues, but they get the raises, vacations, and benefits that the members get through the collective barging process. People who expect the benefits without the dues are called “free loaders.” It is a shame, but there are some people who are free loaders in the kingdom of God.

The Christian can lay up treasures in heaven by what he gives to the Lord, but he can also lay up pleasures in heaven by helping to bring others to the Lord. With that in mind, C. H. Spurgeon related the following story: As King Cyrus took one of his guests around his garden, the visitor admired it greatly and said that he had much pleasure in it. ‘Ah,’ said Cyrus, ‘but you have not so much pleasure in this garden as I have, for I have planted every tree in it myself.’”

Commenting on that incident, Spurgeon made this application: "One reason Christ has so much pleasure in His church is that He did so much for it. And one reason some saints will have a greater fullness of heaven than others will be that they did more for heaven than others. By God's grace they were enabled to bring more souls there."

The more we give and do for Christ, the more we will be partakers in the joy of the Lord in heaven. I give because I love to share.

But, also, I give because I am motivated to share God’s love through giving. There is no way to estimate the effect of our combined giving upon the needs of the world. I think this morning of one incident which occurred as a result of the giving of Southern Baptists. Not too long ago, we sent 7.2 million pounds of food to North Korea. I cannot tell you how poor, how hungry, how desperate the people of North Korea are. Perhaps no other place on earth has as many starving people today as North Korea. A ship arrived at the port there laden down with food. It took five days in Louisiana to load the food in that ship. Some child, some family, someone in Korea stayed alive because of people like those of you who give faithfully brought your tithes and offerings into the local church. For you see, we forward on through our Southern Baptist Cooperative Program a percentage of all budget gifts to our convention. Our convention then uses that money to honor Christ. One thing that is done with your gifts is food is purchased to give people food and it is given in Jesus name. I am so glad that I am a part of that effort. I am glad some little boy and girl in North Korea are eating a meal today because I had the privilege to give and share.

When I was in college, I went to chapel one day and sat beside a young student I didn’t know. I introduced myself and he did the same. I asked where he was from and he proceeded to tell me how he grew up in a Baptist Children’s Home. He told how they cared for him there. They fed him, clothed him, loved him, corrected him, and educated him, all at the expense of Southern Baptist dollars. I thought about gifts that I had given, my family had given, and my wife’s family had given to God’s work through Southern Baptist churches for many years. Our gifts had helped that handsome young man to grow up healthy and strong. He had been faith in Jesus in that Baptist Children’s Home. He had learned to have a love for the church. He told me that he was committed to doing something with his life for others and for Christ. I am so glad to share in this great work of loving people in Jesus name.

A lighthouse along a bleak coast was tended by a keeper who was given enough oil for one month and told to keep the light burning every night. One day a woman asked for oil so that her children could stay warm. Then a farmer came. His son needed oil for a lamp so he could read. Still another needed some for an engine. The keeper saw each as a worthy request and measured out just enough oil to satisfy all. Near the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse ran dry. That night the beacon was dark and three ships crashed on the rocks. The story is told that more than 100 lives were lost. When a government official investigated, the man explained what he had done and why. "You were given one task alone," insisted the official. "It was to keep the light burning. Everything else was secondary. There is no defense."

Let’s keep the light burning for a lost world by sharing our very best gifts and our very best effort for the cause of Christ.

IV. I am Motivated in Stewardship because of the Savior

But there is one supreme reason I am motivated to be a steward. It is because of my Savior. After all, it is Jesus who gave His very best for us. Think of it, Jesus died in the very prime of life. He was 33 years old. Many would consider that the best time in life? Some of us would love to be that age again! At 33 you are too young to feel your age and old enough to have gained some wisdom. Yet, at the prime of life, Jesus laid down His life for us. He did not give something, He gave all. I am motivated to give because of Jesus.

Conclusion

You remember the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000? Well, there is an interesting point in that incident I don’t want you to miss. Look in your Bible at Matthew 14:20. Note that twelve baskets of leftovers were collected. How many disciples were there? Twelve! A basket for each one - but not a basket for Jesus. He gave to the 5,000. He gave to His disciples, but He took nothing for Himself. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

The Bible clearly states that God so loved the world that He gave - He gave His only begotten Son! Love motivated Jesus to give to us, and nothing but love will motivate us to give as we should to Him!