We must not misunderstand
that old hymn "Rock of Ages." It is the favorite of some because
of the verse that begins, "Nothing in my hand I bring!" Is that our
theme song? It refers to the basis of our forgiveness--not to the
acts of our worship. It is true that no offering of ours can take away
sin. "Jesus paid it all." It is also true that no real gratitude
exists apart from the desire to give, to bring an offering!
"If money talks, as some
folks tell, to most of us it says, 'Farewell!" When your money talks,
does it say, "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow?" Does it
say "Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul?" When your money talks,
what does it say?
In the entire history of
this earth, only about 8,500 tons of gold have been produced. The
metal is so dense that all of the gold ever seen on earth could be contained
in a cube eighteen yards on each side! Yet people will steal for
it, kill for it, live for it, die for it! Giving keeps us from letting
money become our master, or letting gold be our god.
Tourism is the principal
means of livelihood on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Aruba means
"land of gold," but no gold was ever found there. What a disappointment
that must have been to the early explorers. Does our stewardship
hold out great promise and then prove to be empty? Is God disappointed
in our stewardship?
No man can open the windows
of heaven, but God can and does. He promised in Malachi 3:10 to open
them for every man who would be faithful to Him by bringing the whole tithe
into His house. Thousands have proved the promise true. He
wants to open the windows of heaven for you. He wants to pour out
the best blessings upon you. But He waits to see whether you believe
the promise enough to obey the command.
A little boy was asked the
meaning of stewardship. He said, "Life is like a great ship loaded
with cargo to be delivered to many different people in many different places.
I am the captain. God is the owner!"
Giving is an act of faith.
We give, believing that God will provide for our needs. We give,
believing that Christ's church is worthy of our offerings. We give,
believing that men are lost. We give, believing that the gospel can
save them. If you do not give, which of these do you disbelieve?
St. Peters is not the only
great church in Rome. The church of St. Mary Major is a grand cathedral
with a high, vaulted ceiling. The ceiling is covered with gold--real
gold! It is the first gold that Columbus brought back from
the New World. We are impressed that the first gold was given to
God. That's what He wants all of us to do--put Him first!
Not everyone gives in proportion
to what he possesses. Not everyone gives in proportion to what he
earns. Not everyone gives in proportion to the way he has been blessed.
But everyone is a proportion giver. We all give in proportion to
the amount of religion we really have!
A lady gave a coin to a beggar
saying, "Thats more than God ever gave me." "No," said the beggar,
"God gave you all you have." "No," said the lady, "He only loaned
it to me so that I could distribute it for Him."
Since the dawn of time, man
has worshiped by making sacrifices. On the very edge of Eden, men
made offerings to God. We stand here in a long, long line of ancient
tradition. And from the beginning to the present the bringing of
these offerings has been seen as an act of worship, hallowed and sacred!
It actually happened in a
Sunday School class of boys long ago. The teacher asked each lad
to quote a Bible verse as the offering was taken. One said, "The
Lord loveth a cheerful giver." Another said, "Blessed is he that
considereth the poor." A third boy blurted out, "A fool and his money
are soon parted." The world says you are a fool to give. God
says you are a fool not to give!"
A man named his boat "Mama's
Mink." The meaning is obvious. If we were frank, would some
have to name their boats "God's Tenth?" Would some have to name their
cars "God's Tenth?" Would some have to name their houses "God's Tenth?"
Ninety percent of all the
flowers in the world have an unpleasant odor or no odor at all. Yet,
we remember the flowers because of the ten percent that are pleasantly
fragrant! Ten percent that is given is remembered long after we have
forgotten how we spent the ninety percent. The ten percent rises
as an odor of a sweet savor to God."
Everything Midas touched turned to gold. He thought it was a blessing. He found it to be a curse. His food turned to gold. His child turned to gold. Here we see the reverse of the Midas touch. God turns our gold into truth and comfort; into a voice proclaiming the good news; into a hand helping the sick; into a force striking free the chains of sin; into life everlasting. We bring our money so that He may transform it into something truly valuable.