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Series: All In – Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness
Text: Mark 12:41-44; Luke 12:16-21
Rev. Laura Brewster
Introduction. This month Simone Biles broke the record for the most world medals earned by a gymnast when she won her 25th world medal at the World Championships in Germany. She has amazing natural talent. However, she also had to work hour after hour, day after day, year after year to perfect her routines. She had to go “all in” to reach her goal. Today we continue our sermon series “All In” which seeks to remind us that if we want to reach our goal of having a meaningful relationship with God, we have to go “All In” and do our part to nurture that relationship. We must take steps to respond to God’s love and strengthen our relationship with God. In recent weeks we have reflected on some steps: prayer, presence and service. Today we will reflect on a fourth step – giving to God.
How we use money can impact our faith. The Bible has more than two thousand references to the subject of money and possessions, and Jesus often spoke about the use of financial resources. One lesson that emerges from those references is that there is a relationship between our faith and how we view and use our financial resources. How we view money and how we use money can either draw us closer to God or push us further away from God. Read Mark 12:41-44. How did the woman’s radical act of generosity impact her faith? Read Luke 12:16-21. How did the man’s tight-fisted approach to wealth impact his faith? The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, often warned early Methodists about the danger of allowing wealth to become more important than God. He wrote: “It is true, riches, and the increase of them, are the gift of God. Yet great care is to be taken, that what is intended for a blessing, do not turn into a curse.”
Giving Nurtures Our Love For And Relationship With God. Scripture encourages to give to God as a way of nurturing our faith. Each time we give a significant gift to God we are reminded that God is important to us and worthy of our gifts. Scripture puts it this way: where our treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Giving Allows Us to Work in Concert with God. Scripture also encourages us to be generous so that we can join in God’s work; our giving helps fund the many ministries God uses to transforms the lives of others and transform the world. Our gifts don’t just help others, they help us too. When we pause to realize that God is working through us, we are provided with satisfaction and fulfillment and our faith is nourished.
How Much Should We Give? How much do I need to give to grow in love for God, and work in concert with God? The Bible offers guidance. Scripture passages, such as Leviticus 30, instruct us to tithe. A tithe is ten percent of our income. If you have never given such a significant amount, the idea may sound impossible. However, I challenge you to consider taking a step in that direction. You can do so by taking a look at what percentage of your income you are now gifting to God. After you determine what percentage of your income you are already giving to God, increase your giving by one percent. Keeping increasing by one percent each year until you arrive at the giving level suggested by scripture.
Attitude Matters. Ultimately, you must decide what the right amount is for you to give to God. After you make that choice, you must also choose the attitude with which you will offer that gift. Will you give with reluctance and resentment or joy and thanksgiving? Scripture says: Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.