Our culture has bought into two lies when it comes to the way we work and how we handle our finances. This week, as we begin this series, Kent shares with us a third way that can revolutionize your world as you set your vision higher. You will not want to miss this message! When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Going to work at the dealership, my boss Scott – owner, called me in and said, “Kent, we do all this work down in Haiti and I have a bunch of friends who have jets. I’m trying to decide if it’s wrong for us to buy a jet so we can more easily travel down to Haiti”
I stopped him and was like, “Scott, this is not the normal ‘Kent, I need help with my finances’ question…”
Ha. Most people I talk to don’t have ENOUGH money, Scott had too much money… But there was something important I want you to notice about Scott’s attitude
He wanted to please God with how he handled his resources. as a matter of factGenerosity was his basic operating system.-Scott organized fundraisers for Christian youth groups-he and his wife bought a house to house single homeless moms-even the job he gave me was not because he needed that position, but because he knew our heart for ministry and wanted to support us…
Actually, Scott is not alone in this kind of generosity.
I have never personally known a wealthy follower of Jesus who isn’t also incredibly generous.
It’s not that wealth makes the person generousWealth only amplifies what’s already in a person
The person who is generous with a little will also be generous with a little
The person who is greedy with a little will also be greedy with little
Wealth is an amplifier, not a determiner.
That’s why it’s so important to check your motives when it comes to how you think about your finances.
I want to take you to an unlikely place, where Paul talks for a moment about how he viewed his work and his resources.
Paul is traveling back to Jerusalem. He is coming through Asia Minor. He is doing some strange things like at one point he gets off the boat and tells his traveling partners he will walk the 50 miles or so and meet up with them at another spot (Troas to Assos). We don’t know why Paul wanted to walk, but I have a feeling it has to do with what he shares in Acts 20. I think Paul wanted some time to pray and think about what he was about to do. He was going to Jerusalem and will tell us he expects bad things to happen to him there. I think Paul wants to slow it down a little bit. When he gets back on the boat, he tells them to pass up Ephesus – where he had done ministry for nearly 2.5 years. He lands at a place called Miletus and he calls for the Ephesian Elders – these would be the leaders of the church – the pastors if you will. When they get there, Paul tells them he is going to Jerusalem, he hasn’t hesitated to proclaim the whole will of God to them. He encourages them to be overseers and shepherds of the church. He tells them there are going to be those who challenge the gospel work. He ends with this…
Acts 20:32-35 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Paul commits these leaders to God’s grace and then he says something strange…
He says: 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
My granddad used to make knives and leather sheaths to sell. He was really good at it. After he died, I was given his equipment and made a few knives. I actually made some leather sheaths for the knives too. When Paul says that he showed them by this kind of hard work… He is talking about the work he did with his hands – it’s how he can say he didn’t covet their gold or silver.
Paul was a tent-maker – what this likely meant was that he worked with animal skins – like leather. He would have been a leather-worker
He would have sat in a shop working day and night talking about Jesus and creating tents for people to shelter in.
I want you to notice the motive Paul had for how hard he worked. I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak
Paul actually quotes something from Jesus that is outside of the Gospels, this is the only place we have record of these words. -that Jesus said it is more blessed to give than receive.
Paul’s motive for working hard was not to store up for himself but to be a blessing to the weak
I feel like in our modern world – there are two diametrically opposed attitudes toward work:
The first type sees work as a means to prosperity. These people work hard, store up, and pour out for themselves.The second type of attitude sees work as an obstacle and tries to avoid it. These people are entitled and believe they deserve to have because they deserve it.
Can I just warn you – both these attitudes are traps…
Jesus said this about the first:
Luke 12:16-21 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
The person who stores up for themselves, without any thought of being rich toward God, will lose their life and everything they stored up
and to the second one, Paul says this:
1 Thessalonians 3:10 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
To this person Paul has strong words – if you aren’t willing to work, you don’t eat.
See, Christianity isn’t opposed to working hard or gathering wealth – it’s opposed to seeing yourself as an end unto yourself.
What a limited vision of life.
Paul saw his life in the terms he saw Jesus’ life:2 Corinthians 8:99 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 through his poverty might become rich.
The Gospel has always been about those who have, laying down their lives for those who do not have.
So, what do you do with this?
Work hard. Be generous
Some of you need to dig in and work hard…Some of you already work hard and you need to dig into your motives and begin to be generous.
- 10-25% of people in churches tithe
- Christians give at about 2.5% per capita (during the great depression, they gave 3.3%)
- If Christians in America would tithe 10% there would be an additional $165 billion for churches to distribute.
The global impact would be phenomenal. Here are just a few things the Church could do with the kind of money:
- $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation, and deaths from preventable diseases in five years.
- $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years.
- $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
- $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work.
- $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.
The global church could solve most of the world’s problems, just by having a greater vision of what could happen.
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: Last month, Jenni and I had the opportunity to go to Puerto Vallarta Mexico on this Pastor’s retreat. It was paid for by this group called “The Harvest Foundation”. I didn’t know a lot about them honestly until I went on the trip. There was no Amway presentation, just a couple of worship sessions and everything was paid for. It was paid for by a guy who is a serial entrepreneur who has greater vision for the Kingdom than just filling his grain bins. Every business he starts tithes to this foundation that pours into pastors. That week, there were over 500 pastors and spouses there all completely paid for by this guy’s obedience to generosity.
Because he had a higher vision for what God could do with his generosity.
How about you? What’s your vision like?
I will tell you this, if you tithe here, we will squeeze every dollar we can to make disciples for Jesus. My prayer is that God will make us a thriving church that sees missionaries raised up from our midst, that sends students to bible college. That sees kingdom-minded businesses started and lost people coming to know Jesus in droves.
The adult/mature reality of that is, it doesn’t happen without your partnership.
I’ve heard people say churches are businesses – they’re plain wrong.
The difference is businesses use people to make money. Churches use money to make people.
Let’s hand in hand advance the Kingdom of God. Let’s all work hard and be generous!