RESOLVED | Week 4: Resolved to Give

January 28, 2018 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: RESOLVED | Where Desire Meets Discipline

Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 8:1–8:10

RESOLVED | Week 4: Resolved to Give from Damascus Road Church on Vimeo.

Introduction | Resolved to Give 

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. We continue our series winter series Resolved: Where desire meets discipline.  We began by recognizing we are not a satisfied people. We know we’re not the best version of ourselves. We want more. We want to be different that we currently are. We go through a cycle of great effort followed by less discipline. Why do we fail to achieve what we say want?

 

We are driven by our desires. What we say we want and what our true desires are can easily be in conflict. Our deepest desires will always overcome our efforts of self- discipline. What we want will drives us to what we do. Our desires are usually very immediate, temporary, and selfish so we too often desire immediate comfort over long term correction. Part of our challenge is we believe and act as if we will find the most enjoyment and fullness from consuming over contributing.  True flourishing cannot be found without looking beyond right now, outside of ourselves, and ultimately to things that are eternal. We can know this and yet have our discipline fail us.  What we need is not greater discipline but greater desires. We need our attention and affections directed towards things that can stir us to strive for contentment over surrendering to compliancy.  We need to be people who are capable of being joyfully uncomfortable in the present for the purpose of greater rewards both in the near term and for eternity. We need to be Resolved. To be Resolved is to endure being uncomfortable for the purpose of a greater reward. God’s people are a resolved people. We are to have discipline motivated by the captivating desire to experience beauty from in God displayed in Jesus. This drives us to new desires that empower gospel centered discipline. What Jesus people, disciples, desire is to grow in maturity as fully formed disciples. We have to know what this looks like, what target we’re aiming at. At our church we believe fully formed disciples of Jesus are characterized by 4 G’s Gather, Grow, Give, Go. These are not duties we perform but they are desires the drive us to discipline. To at times be uncomfortable for the greater reward of growing as a Family on Mission together. Gathered people grow as they’re centered on the gospel and they give because of the transforming power of the gospel. When we talk about giving this is an all encompassing orientation of our lives that includes our time, talent and treasure being used to build up the family of God and spread the name of Jesus into the world. As disciples of Jesus we generally understand and actively contribute with our time and talent (serving) but something happens, a barrier comes up, resistance is met in our head and heart when giving includes or is addressed in terms of money. If we are going to talk about how are desires drive us to discipline then we have to talk about money because money is the way we direct our desires. Money isn’t evil. Money is a tool.

There are many ways money can be used by God for God, including providing for our individual and family needs, blessing and loving others, having fun enjoying God’s provision, and giving generously. The means disciples of Jesus are Resolved to Give.

 

As Pastors we avoid talking about money because there is so much bad teaching out there from charlatans hoping to profit off the Gospel of Jesus and are greedy for unjust gains and devouring widows houses under false pretenses. But the remedy for false teaching is not silence but clarity. We’re going to look to Jesus first as the author and perfecter of our faith. Listen to Jesus as our great teacher and disciple maker, and talk about what it means to live like Jesus as givers, empowered by Jesus obedience in our place.

PART I | Look To Jesus | Philippians 2:3-9

Philippians 2:3-9 |  3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of other. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Because we are self focused people we can be driven by selfish ambition,  given to pride, and believing we are more significant than everyone else. That some how the very existence of the world, society, those around you exist for you to be made much of. So hourly and daily we talk in our heads about how any situation is making us feel, how to act in ways that will lead to our own self benefit. We’ve got to watch out for #1 and that’s always us. This is sin. This is us having an orientation towards our selves at the expense of how our actions affect other people. That is who people are apart from Jesus. Now there are plenty of people who act in very generous and selfless ways. Consciously or not they are often driven by either a sense of pride (I am good so I’ll give) or guilt (I am not good so I’ll give to feel better). Our motives in all types of giving matter as much or more as the methods and measures of our giving. If we are Christians, if we have been saved by Jesus work (not our own) we are changed by Jesus’ grace to be givers. Why?

We have been given mind of Christ. The thought process of Christ, which is then spelled out very clearly. One man, one God is truly more significant than everyone else and that is Jesus. What did he do? He didn’t consume He emptied himself. He came as a giver. Serving, by humbling himself from what He deserved for the purposes of saving others. He went from the throne room of heaven to first century Judea (poor part of a poor planet). He experienced wilderness and exile from the perfection of Heaven. There He didn’t mope about biding his time bemoaning His circumstances. He remained and was resolved to be obedient to God the Father in everything. The apex of His obedience was the greatest act of self-sacrifice, of giving. His whole body broken, His blood shed, in our place (for the interest of others) for our sin. Jesus was driven by desire to give. This took him to the discipline of the cross motivated by the great reward of purchasing His people from slavery from sin and selfishness, to be son and daughters, heir to the kingdom who would no longer live self-focus lives but experiencing joy in having lives that are others focused motivated by the new identity in Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit to follow the example of Jesus. So when we don’t give it is because we don’t understand who we are. We are ones who have been given much and are called to be givers. We have to see a discipline of giving (even when our feels aren’t all there) as necessary for growth and life. We’re disciplined to give because we desire emulate the example of Jesus in how He has given and is giving to us. Well that is a great example Jesus set for us but we’re not Jesus. Jesus Paid it all, he doesn’t expect us to givers like Him. That is why we need to listen to Jesus teaching.

PART II | Listen To Jesus | Matthew 6:19-24

Matthew 6: 19-24 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Followers of Jesus, follow what Jesus taught. Jesus knows the condition of our hearts. He knows we are extremely disciplined at direct money towards our desires.  Money is worship. Money is not evil, it only reveals what we worship. We direct money to what we find ultimately valuable and desirous. We are to use money to show honor and display our trust in God. We are not to look at money and say this is all about this earth and not invest in eternity.  Giving is a joy. We give to what we find glorious. We are to recognize everything we have (our time, talent, and treasure) is a given to us as a gift from God. Everything we have we have from God. Every moment of our lives, every heart beat we’re granted, every breath we take, and every dollar we make or is directed to us is from God to be used for God. Part of how God gives to us is for our provision. God also gives to us for us to direct our praise. We should also be reminded that we exist for the purpose, to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. This includes glorifying God with our finances meaning the what, how, how much, and why of everything we do with money matters to God. Jesus spends nearly 25% of His teaching specifically talking to us about how we are to interact with money. Each dollar we spend, or don’t spend, is practical doctrinal statement about what we ultimately hope in, value, and worship because we are literally assigning worth to things, services, experiences, and organizations with money. We will use money as a gift from God and use it to worship/glorify Him. The alternative is to worship money as a god or use it worship other false idols in our lives usually ourselves. How are you currently directing your time, talent, and treasure?

 

How we direct our money will direct our heart. Confession of Jesus, profession faith, are meaningless if something else is functioning as your treasure. This is a call to look at your finances and your schedule. How are you spending your time and money? That will tell you where your heart REALLY is. Our battle is not with the budget or the income it’s with our heart first. Money isn’t about math it’s about worship. Money is tied to our hearts. How does money affect our hearts? It is important to note Jesus doesn’t say look in to your heart and there your treasure will be also. He says our heart will follow where we put our treasure. So let’s talk about time instead of money. You start spending time in a place or with a people you don’t really have much in common with or relationship with and eventually your interest in them will grow as you continue to invest time. The more you invest the greater your interest. (Plug in deep) Yes our actions can flow from our affections, but we can also redirect our affections by where/how/how much we act. So we see that treasure(money) do not merely indicate where our heart is, it determines where our heart goes. So what do you desire to have more of a heart for? The problem isn’t with our money it’s with our heart. Withholding giving or participation when things are tough is not a way to redirect your heart. This seems like a hard word but look at this verse reversed, “Where your treasure isn’t, your heart will not be.”

Money will show you what kingdom you are a citizen of and what master you serve. Jesus has clear laid out there are two kingdoms we can accumulate treasure in earth or heaven, two ways of viewing the world in , either in darkness or light, and there are only two masters we will ultimately serve. God or money.  Choices have to be made on who you serve, it’s not just one-time choice but one that is faced constantly.  Money has the ability to change a lot of things in our lives but it has no ability to actually make us a new person, just a dressed up version of the person we already are. We can use money to finance our kingdom. There is no neutrality. Every time we spend or fail to spend, or hold back, or invest wisely is an act of worship to one master or another. Either we are intentionally or unintentionally serving ourselves or we are intentionally serving the Lord.  We can have lots of things pulling at our attention, time, and finances, but there is only one throne in our lives that governs our interactions with all of these different areas. It is a grand throne but it is only big enough for one king to claim it. Which kingdom are you investing in? His or yours? We don’t give because we desire the wrong kingdom. We will give when we desire the right one.

PART III | Live like Jesus | 2 Cor 8:1-10

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 

We give as an act of grace. Paul witting to a wealthy church (we are wealthy top 1% of the world!) and instructing them on how a church from a poor area has excelled in living like Jesus. The midst of severe affliction and extreme poverty they had Joy knowing what Jesus had done for them and that joy overflowed in a desire to give the cause of spreading the gospel and making disciples. They understood Money is Mission Ammunition.  We have been saved by the Gospel to advance to the Gospel. Gospel mission is advanced through the local church. Living on Jesus’ Mission mean taking resources we’ve been given and stewarding them by investing in God’s economy.  God’s economy in providing for the work of the local church is for her members to give cheerfully, regularly, and sacrificially to the local church first than beyond.

We give to prove the earnestness of our genuine love. It doesn’t matter what you say you love. Love is a verb so it matters what you actually do. We should desire to excel in our giving just as we would in knowledge, faith, and love for one another.  

We are to be resolved in our giving.  I will desire to be disciplined to properly manage the resources God has given me, including my time, body, gifts and talents, attitudes, finances and possessions and steward them for the building up of the church and spreading of the name and fame of Jesus. This includes regular giving to Damascus Road Church that is sacrificial and cheerful. Many do not give because they simply do not know how much should be given—they need to be taught how to give of their time, energies, or resources. 

Cheerful -  Our giving is rooted in an understanding of the gospel.  That understanding leads to belief; our giving is a confession of that belief. Our giving should spring from a cheerful heart which God loves.  God is not interested in your money but your heart.  Our sacrifices do not mean as much to him as our repentance.  We are to do all things, including giving, without grumbling and with joy, we do not give reluctantly or under compulsion so we ask Am I properly motivated in my giving? Our giving is a glad response to what God has given us in Christ. Jesus gave cheerfully (for the joy set before him went to the cross) We’ll be careful understand that our  motivation to give is in no way that we are paying back God.  What God has done for us in Christ is not something we can pay back. It is a gift. Grace is a gift you don't pay back. It is given to us to use. We've been gifted His righteousness. Because He has given us every aspect of our lives we use those gifts for His glory and our joy so here's what this is not:  When Carys was three years old she has pneumonia so bad that she was in Children's Hospital for five days at that time I was unemployed. We had no money except for unemployment insurance we are in for tithing off of and so when it came time to pay her bill Children's Hospital they said this is on us and so I knew that was from the charitable giving from a whole bunch of other people who don't even know me they don't know anything about me but we were blessed by it on so every time I'm at Costco and they ask “Would you like to give a dollar to Children's Hospital today?” every single time I say yes. I only get asked three times a year so I given maybe 15 dollars and in no way am I paying back how much five days in the hospital is. It’s cheerfully but it’s not really sacrificial It’s just a couple of bucks. It’s not intentional, I don’t plan for it.  Giving a little church is never going to pay back how are you blessed in Christ. We now exist to see the mission of God’s Kingdom advancing. That requires resources and I believe God has granted us the resources to pursue His Kingdom advancing and He's done that through equipping each and everyone of us individually and as families with  resources to steward for us to flourish and enjoy and collectively for us to flourish and enjoy.  

Intentional – Am I giving purposefully and regularly? Our giving is consistent and is a planned part of our life rhythms. (Jesus gave intentionally, it was a plan for the full ness of time to unite all things Eph 1:10).

Our giving should be on a regular basis, that is, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc.  Although there is nothing wrong with spontaneous giving, our giving should not be blind. Scripture suggests that we be more mindful and systematic about our giving.  Therefore, giving should not be an afterthought or derived from “leftovers”.  It should be a result of the firstfruits of our labor and intentionally planned as part of our budget.

Sacrificial - Am I giving proportionally? Am giving generously? Our giving is generous and costs us giving something else up. Jesus gave sacrificially (the cross) so we give sacrificially. Our giving should be in accordance with how each of us has been prospered by God; according to our ability.  Many of us have been blessed by God abundantly, others have not.  Some people can give much more than 10%, others much less.  This is an issue that must be worked out in your own heart—but it must be worked out. We are called to give generously, even sacrificially, but not to the point of personal affliction.  What is sacrificial? Besides your housing what is your largest monthly payment? How much is your cell phone bill? Car Payment? Sports? Eating out? Trips? Entertainment?

Christians are instructed to give cheerfully, regularly, and sacrificially. What happens when all three of these are not present? Which one of these do you struggle with most?

 

If it’s intentional and sacrificial but not cheerful it’s ungrateful duty.

If it’s sacrificial and cheerful but not intentional it’s undisciplined stewardship

If it’s cheerful and intentional but not sacrificial it’s underwhelming generosity

As Pastors and Leaders we are called to make disciples. Giving is discipleship. When we fail to give as disciples it is usually because of one of three things:

You don’t know we’re supposed to. We’re ignorant to the cost of discipleship and didn’t know disciples are givers. We’ve failed to educate. Now you know and we’re happy to talk and teach further.  

You don’t know how to actively fulfill this. You know giving is part of discipleship but you struggle to manage the finances you have and can’t see how giving could part of your provision without suffering affliction. You need budgeting help. You desire to give but need help in being disciplined to steward well. We’ve failed to equip. Let us know how we can help you flourish in your finances in stewardship.

You don’t choose to give. You know this part of your discipleship, you have resources your managing and stewarding but you simply are not obedient. We’ve failed to encourage obedience.

Start giving, God loves a cheerful giver yes, He also loves an obedient one. “I am not cheerful, so I won’t give till I am.” Give even when you don’t feel like it. Giving is a benefit to the giver! Verse 10 says they began to give and then desired to do it! Desires drives discipline but discipline can foster desire.

After service, when you get your giving letters (maybe you didn’t give) and you reflect on that number, I want to be clear the number doesn’t define you. But it does describe this aspect of your discipleship during this past year. I don’t know all your circumstances but God does so ask yourself if this characterized how you view God and money. So I encourage you to not feel any condemnation or coercion in your giving but allow yourself to be challenged. If there is conviction sin in disobedience confess repent and be comforted in the gospel. If there is faithfulness and fruitfulness in your giving praise God for His provision and for Him giving you the means and desire to steward well. Continue!

We are thankful there are so many here who are cheerful sacrificially intentional giving to Damascus Road Church and fueling our Family on Mission Together. Those who aren’t we invite you to join us!

What is your next step?

Do you need to repent of believing your life is about you and follow the God who has giving you everything in Jesus? That you need to put your trust in him and him alone? Become a Christian find you identity not I yourself but In Christ. Be baptized.  Resolve to repent.

Are you a Christian? Do you need to look at your budget and see how you’re spending and begin to live within your means so you can give, save, and steward? What needs to change? Who do you need to get counsel from? Resolve to rely on God for wisdom provision and guidance.

Do you need to have a conversation with yourself, God, and/or your spouse about your giving? Resolve to release what you think is your money and steward His money for His glory and your joy.  

Do you need to trust God with your finances for the first time? Do you need to give for the first time?

We don’t give because we don’t trust God. We trust our bank accounts more than the one who took our account of our debt of sin and nailed to the cross. All giving is a trust issue.

“All the difficulty in this matter is in trusting God with what we give, in trusting his promises. If men could but trust the faithfulness of God to his own promises, they would give freely.” -Jonathan Edwards, The Duty of Christian Charity: Explained and Defended

 

How we use money matters to God. It displays where our hope, faith and trust is in. Trust Jesus.

More in RESOLVED | Where Desire Meets Discipline

February 11, 2018

RESOLVED | Week 6: Resolved to Be Pure

February 4, 2018

RESOLVED | Week 5: Resolved to Go on Mission

January 21, 2018

RESOLVED | Week 3: Resolved to Grow