The Mastery of Stewardship

Bible Book: Genesis  22 : 1-14
Subject: Stewardship; Giving; Sacrifice; Obedience; Money
Series: The Happy Giver
Introduction

We come now to the fourth sermon in a series of messages on stewardship. Today we will look at the Mastery of Stewardship. Many of us in this room would like to master something. Some of you would love to master the game of golf. You play often and grumble because you never seem to get it right, and if you do get it right, it doesn’t carry over to the next game. Some of you are like that about tennis, or sewing, or gardening, any number of things. You want to grow in the ability to do a thing in a masterful way.

I wonder if there is anyone here who has ever desired to be a master at stewardship. I doubt it! This is something we do but we don’t necessarily enjoy. I entitled this series, The Happy Giver, because that is what God wants us to be. I know a pastor in Georgia who once told his congregation that it was unusual that they applauded a great song that was presented, and maybe even a salient point in a sermon, but he had never heard a congregation applaud when the offering was about to be taken. That morning when he announced the offering, the church broke into applause and praise. As far as I know, they still do that every week. It seems they are attempting to master stewardship.

Let’s look at Genesis 22:1-14 and learn something about mastering stewardship today.

I. The Test in Mastering Stewardship

To master stewardship, you must be able to face the tests which God will send your way. In a certain sense, the very idea of stewardship is a test. God calls on us to lay our all on the altar. This is a test of at least two things in our lives: Our Love For Him and His Lordship Over Us.

It is important to understand that temptations never come from God and tests never come from the devil. Why? Because a test is designed to strengthen us, but a temptation is designed to spoil us. A test is for our good, a temptation is for evil. A test is from God and He uses it to lift us up to the place we belong; a temptation is from the devil and he uses it to drag us down to a level beneath God’s will for us.

Do you remember when Jesus was tempted? The devil tempted Him to jump down from the pinnacle of the Temple. He always tempts us to come down, but God calls always calls on us to go up! Abraham was called by God to come up to Mt. Moriah. God’s tests are always intended for the purpose of lifting us up. God never tempts us, the devil never tries us. In the story of Abraham, we have a story of God testing Abraham.

Every believer will have his or her faith tested. One might well say that a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted! Maybe you heard about the lady who went in for an operation and while waiting for the surgery to take place told her doctor that she was nervous. The young doctor asked her why she was so anxious. She replied, “This is my first surgery and I am scared.” The doctor nodded and said, “Don’t feel so bad, it’s my first operation, too!” Tests in life just naturally make us a little uneasy.

I want you to see some important elements of the story of a test from God to Abraham. Will Abraham be willing to place that which is most precious to him on the altar for the Lord? He will if he can meet the twofold test of Love and Lordship.

A. Love

This was a test of Abraham’s love for God.

1. A Demanding Love

Look in the passage at verse 2 and notice the emphasis that God placed on Abraham’s devotion to his son. Is it possible that Abraham had begun to love the gift of his son more than the Giver of the son? Could it be he had begun to love the promise more than the One who promised? Was he in danger of loving the grace of God more than the God of grace? Certainly this is possible. Surely, every test of our faith is also a test of our love.

2. A Developing Love

Please do not misunderstand. God is patient with us. He seeks to develop our love for Him. This was true in the case of Abraham. If you read Abraham’s life story, you will see that Abraham was led by the Lord carefully until He was ready for this test. Our love must grow for the Lord.

God wants our love to grow to the point that we can believe Him in spite of all the circumstances around us. In fact, it has been said that real faith is not believing God in spite of evidence but it is believing God in spite of circumstances. How do you do that? You get a Word from God! Faith is based upon God’s Word. God had promised Abraham that He (God) would make him (Abraham) a great nation. Now it was going to require Abraham to face the test and see if His love for God could overcome the circumstances he was facing. True stewardship, placing all on the altar, cannot be done without being victorious in this test!

B. Lordship

God requires that He is first in our lives. He does not just desire to be prominent in our lives, He demands to be preeminent in our lives. Note that this is a principle that precedes the law. Later the Law given to Moses would state clearly, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Every true right and wrong is based on who God is and what He demands, not on some written word. The written word is merely an expression, albeit an absolutely accurate expression, of God’s desires, demands, demeanor, and deity. Thus, the written Law stated what was always true, “There is only one God and He is the Lord - the Lord your God is One.”

This brings us to the second word which we must know and understand, if we would master stewardship.

II. The Trust in Mastering Stewardship

We must trust the Lord implicitly. That is what Abraham did. Look at Hebrews 11:17-19. Abraham had victory in the arena of stewardship because he trusted God. I want you to see two important elements of trust in God.

A. Compliance

First, we deal with compliance or obedience. Look back in Genesis at our text. In verse 2 of chapter 22 we see that God gave a command to Abraham. Note what the text says next: Early the next morning… . Abraham was obedient immediately. Abraham was obedient emphatically.

Early the next morning he prepared the wood and set off for the mountain. In other words, he fully intended to do what was being asked. This is amazing! This is true stewardship. He was ready to place his all on the altar for the Lord. In essence, we can say that faith is always tested by the depth of its devotion shown through the height of its compliance and obedience!

B. Confidence

Abraham was willing to obey because of his love for God, God’s lordship over his life and revealed it in his compliance to God’s will. How could he do this? Because he had confidence in God. He trusted God. He trusted the grace of God, the goodness of God, the guarantee of God. He trusted God. In my opinion, all refusal to be obedient in stewardship matters is directed related to one’s confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will take care of you!

Look again at Hebrews 11:17-19. Note that Abraham reasoned (counted, reckoned, believed) that God could raise his son from the dead. He had confidence, trust in God’s ability and God’s availability!

III. The Triumph in Mastering Stewardship

Abraham went up that mountain trusting God. The boy, Issac, carried the wood on his back. Then he said to his father, “Father, we have the wood, we have the fire, where is the lamb?” What would Abraham say to the boy? His answer, “The Lord will provide.” That was the victory. The victory was in Abraham’s heart before the knife was in his hand. This is always the case. The truth is, God did not want Abraham’s son, He wanted Abraham’s heart! That is true of you and me. God does want my money, He wants my heart; but, to get to my heart, He demands that I give faithfully to Him. This is a test. In fact, it is not just a test of me, it is a test of God. That is what He said in Malachi. He told us to test Him, to prove Him and to see if He would not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon us.

In what ways did Abraham triumph in this story?

A. Upwardly Triumphant

God is pleased with Abraham. God is always pleased when we have faith to believe Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” might be turned around to say, “Real faith always pleases God.”

B. Outwardly Triumphant

Look at the testimony of Abraham, he called the place Jehovah-Jireh = The Lord Will Provide. He revealed a testimony, not of his faith, but of the faithfulness of His God! You and I can make a difference for the Lord in this world, when we trust Him enough to be faithful in giving to Him everything He demands. If He gave it to me, I can trust Him with it; if He didn’t give it to me, I don’t need it!!! That was Abraham’s testimony.

C. Onwardly Triumphant

Note that Abraham pointed out that God “will provide”. That is future tense. His faith did not just look back to what God did on the mountain, but forward to what He would do in the future. In fact, the word provide means pro = forward; vision = see. Provision means to see into the future. You and I can look forward and see that a home is waiting on those people who have trust in Christ as Savior. We can see that God will take care of us. We can tithe, give, serve, work, for we know that God will meet our needs in terms of money, strength, wisdom, etc., to enable us to do what He calls on us to do.

A man once said to a missionary, “I would give everything in this world to have the peace you have.” The missionary responded, “That is exactly what it cost, everything!”

Some today do not have peace because you have not given God everything. Don’t you see, when Abraham and Issac started up the mountain on one side, the ram of God started up the mountain on the other side. God did provide. He always does! God does not ask something of you without having something for you!

Conclusion

In his book entitled "By Love Compelled," Joseph Underwood tells of a missionary some years ago in India who saw a Hindu woman hurrying along with her two children. She had witnessed to the lady before about the claims of Christ, but all to no avail. The missionary stopped the Hindu woman and began a conversation with her by asking where she was going. The Hindu woman told her that she was going to sacrifice one of her children by throwing it in the water. The missionary knew of this horrible practice and pleaded with the woman not to do it, but rather to accept Christ. The two parted. A week later the missionary saw the Hindu woman again and saw that she was carrying one of her two children, the one which was crippled in body and mind. She hoped that this was a sign that she had not sacrificed one of her children. She asked about the other child, the intelligent and healthy child. She was shocked when told that the perfectly healthy and smart child had been thrown in the river and sacrificed to the gods. The missionary was so shocked she asked, “Why that child? Why the healthy, intelligent child.” The Hindu woman looked almost offended as she replied, “Well, I don’t know about your religion, but in my religion we give the best we have to our gods.”

The missionary woman went away thinking about that statement. Tell me, friend, will we let the lost world give more to their false, idol, non-existent gods, than we give to the true God? No, God does not call on us to give our babies over to be sacrificed, but He does call on us to give our all to Him in love and devotion. Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? It can be! It should be. It would be, if we would meet God’s tests and learn to trust - then we would be triumphant and give this world a testimony concerning what a believer is really supposed to be!