What Price Wealth?

After trying to offend some people last week preaching on holiness, I thought I’d try and upset all of you by speaking about wealth and giving. Let me say that this is the first message I have delivered on money in years, so I don’t stand up here every week begging for money, and I won’t do that today. But given that we all work or get Centrelink because we want to gain wealth, my question is valid. What price wealth?

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but me make a life by what we give.”

While the world is our there scrapping and fighting for wealth, for prosperity, for things and stuff, and while most people would sell their integrity, principles, even their souls for money, I believe God has a different standard and a better way.

I heard of a rich man who, before he died, placed a suitcase of gold bars to ensure he had wealth in the afterlife. He went to Heaven and miraculously took the suitcase with him. When he arrived he proudly showed St Peter who asked, “Why are you carrying a suitcase full of roadbase?”

God’s idea of wealth is different to ours. In God’s economy, what price is wealth?

Psalms 49:16-17 (ESV)
Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases.
For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.

Two boys sitting watching a funeral one day. One asked whose funeral it was and the other answered, “The local millionaire.” “How much money did he leave,” asked the first boy, and the second answered, “All of it.”

Truth is we spend so much time accumulating things that are worthless in eternity, and avoiding things that are valuable. Interestingly, the Bible has a lot to say about money, wealth and about generosity and prosperity. As missionary Jim Eliot said,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”—

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN OWNER OR A STEWARD?

When we consider wealth, the first question must be about how we see ourselves. Are you an owner or a steward. When Job had everything he owned, all his wealth and worldly goods stripped away from him,

Job 1:21 (ESV)
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job realised that he never really owned anything, it was always God’s, but that God had blessed him to be able to steward some wealth during his lifetime.  Let me tell you today that everything you think you own, every dollar you accumulate, is all down to God’s blessing.

Psalms 24:1 (ESV)
The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,

Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth,

Every dollar you get is a blessing from the Lord, and every dollar you give, is God’s blessing flowing through you to bless another. So if you have any wealth, great or small, then you have the great privilege to be able to invest that into the Kingdom of God. You are blessed to be a blessing, “Our life is to be like a river, not a reservoir.”

Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV)
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

If you view your money as your money, you are reluctant to give it away and you want to keep as much of it as you can for yourself. But if you acknowledge that everything you have is from the Lord, and that your future and prosperity is in His hands not yours, then you can give as much as He directs without fear, because He is never going to let you down.  This is my experience, and it is what God’s Word teaches. As Martin Luther said, “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”

A little girl was given 2 dollar coins, and her dad said, one is for the Lord and the other you can spend on lollies. She was walking to the shops, tripped and lost one down a drain, so she prayed, sorry God, guess you’re not getting anything this week.

If you see yourself as a steward, not an owner, you are far closer to the truth about wealth, and will find it far easier to have a generous heart.

SO IS MONEY EVIL?

You will often hear this misquoted, but Paul did not say money was the root of all evil. He said,

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (ESV)
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

When you love money above God, you open up all kinds of evil. Money itself is not evil, it is neutral. Someone once criticised John Wesley for taking dirty money from pub owners, and he said, “Give me as much dirty money as you can and I’ll show you how clean I can make it.” Money is neutral. It’s the love of money, the desire for money, the clutching and fighting and grasping for money. The Spirit behind it that is evil.

And how do you know if you love money more than God? Here’s a simple test, what do you think about the most? What fills your mind and heart? What are you obsessed with? What is it that possesses you? And let me say, you don’t have to be rich to love of money. Some poor people I know are more obsessed with money that rich people.

Martin Luther said, “There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the mind and the purse. Of these three, it may well be that we moderns find the conversion of the purse the most difficult.”

The rich young ruler came to Jesus saying, I’ve keep all the rules, what else is needed to be saved. Jesus correctly diagnosed his problem area and said this…

Luke 18:22-24 (ESV)
“One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he (the ruler) became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Do you have your money, or does your money have you?

WHY IS GENEROSITY SO IMPORTANT (OPEN FLOODGATES)

As a general principle, a generous Spirit is blessed by God. The one who waters, is himself watered (Proverbs 11:25). I’m not preaching the give to get philosophy of the blab it and grab it, name it and claim it prosperity preachers, I’m preaching not give to get but give to trust.

Generosity is way more than just giving away some of your money. Generosity needs to be pervasive in your life. There needs to be a generosity of spirit, a generosity of heart, a generosity in relationships, an emotional generosity, a financial generosity. So let’s look at some of the ways we can give, and what God says about giving.

1. THE TITHE

The tithe is an arbitrary figure based on Abraham’s gift to Melchizedek

Genesis 14:20 (ESV)
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Later Jacob encountered God and then committed to serving Him,

Genesis 28:22 (ESV)
and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Leviticus 27:30 (ESV)
“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD.

Jesus also referred to tithing in Matthew 23:23. Jesus removed the curse for not tithing, but he didn’t remove the Blessing for tithing.

The tithe is an arbitrary measure, a suggested amount for giving to the Lord. For me, it’s a minimum, and you could argue whether it’s applicable at all today. However, the tithe concept is targeted deliberately in the book of Malachi, because the people had grown slack in their giving to the Lord. They were offering not the best of their flocks, but the sick, the lame, the diseased… Basically they were offering only worthless things to God. So God laid out a challenge and a promise that still holds today.

Malachi 3:10 (ESV)
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

The Bible warns against testing God, but this is the one place God Himself says, test Me. The Word test is in Hebrew BAHAN, which means to examine, scrutinise, try and then prove. In Aussie lingo, give it a go. If you are not currently giving much to God, the first challenge is to try giving 10%. God says, test me in this. He promises to open the floodgates of blessing if you do this. I recommend testing God in this. Give your first 10% to God, your second to savings, and see what the Lord does. This is not a principle, it’s a promise.

2. THE OFFERING

The offering is what’s given of your own freewill, over and above the required tithe.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

God loves it when we give, especially when we are not reluctant but cheerful. In several places in the New Testament Paul commends churches for their generosity to those less fortunate, and I believe it is a Biblical mandate for Christians to be generous to others. I love to give where ever I can, and not just in church. Those who know me well know I will usually be the first to pay when we go out somewhere. And the more generous I am the more God seems to miraculously bring finances my way, and I’d rather live in the world of miraculous divine provision than working harder for a dollar.

Luke 6:38 (ESV)
give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Someone once said, “I shovel out, He shovels in. He has a bigger shovel.” I love this verse because this is how I see giving to the Lord. I’m not sitting around wondering what is the least I can give and still get the Blessing I want, I just want to give lavishly, just as God blesses lavishly.  Remember,

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

I’m not advocating giving to get, but giving to trust. It just seems the more generous I am, the more generous God is in blessing my life. God blesses not just my finances but every aspect of my life.

3. THE FIRST FRUITS

Last week was the start of the new financial year here in Australia. It means tax time, and it means we start all over again. I think this is an ideal time for a first fruits offering.

Part of the issue with Malachi was that people were offering the old, the lame, and the broken. The first fruits tells God that we give the best to Him first, not last. How many of you know that when you take out rent or home payments, food, petrol, clothes, toiletries, some money for fun… There’s nothing left to give! Sorry Lord, spent up a bit big this week, let me tip You and throw You a few bucks.

I always give at least my tithe first, then make sure I have some left over to give generously where I feel God wants me to give. Let me remind you of a promise…

Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV)
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce ( not the dregs at the end); then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

According to this promise, if you prioritise honouring the Lord with your wealth, then He prioritises overflowing you with financial prosperity.  That’s why I want to give first to Him. It’s a Biblical principle, and it applies to time, money, talent, everything. Give God your best and trust Him for the rest.

SOW WHAT?

Some might be saying, Pastor Darin is touting for money, Ignite must be in trouble. We are not, we are not desperate for your money, but I believe this is great soil to plant in!

I see giving to God not as a loss to me, but as an investment in the Kingdom. If you had invested $100 in bitcoin in 2010, by 2021 it was worth a staggering $57,600,000. Now that’s an investment! I see giving to God as an investment in the souls of men and women that yields eternal fruit.  Money you give to Ignite Church is not thrown around aimlessly buying me cars and holidays. It is carefully managed. I pay my own car, phone, holidays, mortgage, etc. The Bible says,

2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV)
whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Giving is not a debt you owe but a seed you sow.  But if you’re going to sow, the ground into which you sow is important, just ask a farmer. Rocky barren soil yields little fruit, nutrient rich, dark soil yields abundant crop.

You can give to Vinnies or UNHCR or Oxfam or some other good cause, but if you want to see God’s Kingdom advanced in our community, this is great soil right here.

BUT I DON’T HAVE MONEY (WEALTH)!

How does God view your giving? He doesn’t see the dollar value, He sees the sacrifice. Can you honestly say with David,

2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV)
I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.”

One of the most powerful and beautiful passages that talk about giving refers to Jesus, who sat quietly watching people give to His Father one day.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

As Oswald Chambers said, “With Christ, it is not how much we give, but what we do not give that is the real test.”

After watching rich people giving large sums out if their great wealth, Jesus highlighted the widow, who had precious little, “but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Again, Jesus is not counting the dollars, He is looking at the heart. For those of us who are not millionaires, this is encouraging. It’s not about how much you give, it’s about the heart behind it.

In recent weeks we have asked what price revival, and what price Holiness? But today the question is, what price wealth? What Price? Everything. Give everything to Jesus and trust Him for your provision.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Put Him and His Kingdom first in all you do, and trust Him to take care of the rest. Are you truly seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness, no matter the cost. The last two weeks we’ve committed ourselves to paying the cost, but this week, it’s a tangible cost.

2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV)
I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.”

TIPPING, TITHING OR TRUSTING?

Let me ask you today, are you tipping, tithing or trusting?  Are you giving God whatever is left, chucking Him a few bucks, saying come on God, bless me! Are you tithing, calculating the bare minimum, the 10% after tax, bargaining with God to see what price you can get what you want from Him for? Or are you trusting, are you giving generously and believing for Him to return 30, 60, 100 fold into your life.  I know for a fact you cannot out give God!

The bottom line is that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), who focuses not on giving the least they can to get a result that favours them, but who gives lavishly and generously gives and trusts God for true wealth. Trusts God to take care of them, no matter what, knowing, as Paul so confidently proclaims.

Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

God supplies our needs, not our greeds. And God doesn’t need your money, He is looking for your heart, and He promises this…

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

I believe God is looking, actively searching for those who are totally devoted to Him, heart, mind , soul and, yes, bank account.

A MODERN VERSION OF THE WIDOW’S MITE

I want to finish with a true story and a serious challenge. This is how the largest church in the world (Yoido Full Gospel Church, in South Korea) began, in the midst of an economic crisis, in the words of Ps David Yonggi Cho…

When our present church was being built in 1973, the dollar was devalued, and we entered into a deep recession. Our people lost their jobs, and our income went down.  Having signed contracts, and experiencing an unprecedented increase in building costs, I sat in my unfinished church building, wishing the still bare rafters would just fall on me.

One evening while we were meeting to pray on the ground floor of our unfinished church, several hundred joined me in prayer. An old woman walked slowly in my direction. As she approached the platform, I noticed that tears were filling her eyes. She bowed and said, “Pastor, I want to give these items to you so that you may sell them for a few pennies to help with our building fund.”

I looked down, and in her hands were an old rice bowl and a pair of chopsticks. I said to her, “Sister, I can’t take these necessities from you!”

“But, Pastor, I am an old woman. I have nothing of value to give to my Lord; yet, Jesus has graciously saved me. These items are the only things in the world I possess!” she exclaimed, tears now flowing freely down her wrinkled cheeks. “You must let me give these to Jesus. I can place my rice on old newspapers, and I can use my hands to feed myself. I know that I will die soon, so I don’t want to meet Jesus without giving Him something on this earth.” As she finished speaking, everyone there began to weep openly. The Holy Spirit’s presence filled the place, and we all began to pray in the Spirit.

A businessman in the back of the group was deeply moved and said, “Pastor Cho, I want to buy that rice bowl and chopsticks for one thousand dollars!” With that, everyone started to pledge their possessions. My wife and I sold our small home and gave the money to the church.  This spirit of giving saved us from financial ruin.

I want get practical and I want to give of the first fruits of my finances the Lord. I’m going to ask you to join me. Can you trust God to bless your finances if you give generously to the Lord’s work here at Ignite? I believe in a first fruits offering

Proverbsy 3:9-10 (ESV)
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Next week we are going to receive a first fruits offering. I’d love you to be a part of it, sowing into what I believe is good soil. I’m not going to check what you give or even if you give, because it’s between you and God. I want to encourage you to have to courage and faith to offer a weeks income to the Lord. I’m not going to tell you how much Fiona and I am giving, but I will tell you this as your pastor. We are going to pledge to give 2 weeks income.

George Müller, the poor man who oversaw orphanages caring for thousands of orphans, wrote of his conversion: “When I surrendered myself totally to God, the love of money was gone, the love of a home was gone, the affection of wealth was gone, the Love of worldly things was gone. God has become my everything, I found everything in Him, there is nothing else I wanted. And I stayed with Him, a happy man, a very happy man, seeking to only accomplish the things of God. ”

I am asking you to pray, really seek God this week, and then bring money or write a pledge next week. Don’t not come coz you don’t want to give. If you choose not to give, as long as God is ok with that, then do what He says. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Questions – What Price Wealth?

WHAT DOES GOD ACTUALLY PROMISE ABOUT GIVING AND BEING BLESSED?

WHEN GOD SAYS TEST ME, WHAT DOES HE MEAN? (MALACHI 3:10)

WHAT IS GOD ASKING YOU TO GIVE TO HIM TODAY?

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