Peninsula Community Church
Be Rich: Do More, Give More
Our View of God Will Determine Our Stewardship
Matthew 25:24-26 “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours. ’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
As I return to this message, I must say that this can be a just as hard of a series to preach and as it is to listen to because too often the very mention of the word stewardship can illicit emotions that are painful, are filled with mistrust, and bring a sense of rejection. Too often, we are presented sermons which seem to ram finances down our throats and too often the focus is on guilting people to give or to do rather than issuing a godly challenge of inspiration; but that is not the intended goal here. The goal is to present the truth of the gospel and then allow God to bring about the conviction and the change needed. I am also convinced that we need this message. I need this message. We all need this message. If we get this, our lives will forever be different.
To be honest with you, as I was preparing this message I was reminded that we all have some areas in our lives that require realignment with God’s will, His word, and His purpose. How many have ever had a car that was out of alignment? When one’s car is out of alignment there is a tendency to veer to the right or the left. When driving the car, it takes a lot of work to maintain a straight path. But, when the car is aligned, the amount of labor required to keep the car on the right trajectory is reduced. So it is spiritually. When we are aligned with God’s will, His word, and His purpose for our life, we find an easier go of things.
Let me look at this another way. Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? I remember it clearly. In front of our house was a slight incline. My older cousin would take me to the top of the incline, place me on the bike and would walk behind me while she would hold onto the bike to steady it. She did this several times until I was able to gain my balance. At first, it seemed awkward and there was a fear of falling and hurting myself. After a period of time, I remember looking back and realized that she was not longer holding onto the bike. I was riding all by myself. And then I crashed. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and I could ride the bike without falling. In fact, it was not very long before I was able to pop wheelies, ride with no hands, jump off of a 5 foot cliff and more. Why? Because I developed my ability and I had a confidence in the principles of bike riding. When I followed the principles of bike riding, I could ride without fear of falling and if I did I picked myself and continued riding.
My point is this, stewardship can seem foreign to us, especially when it comes to our finances. But as we continue to give our lives, our finances, and our abilities to God; we will be amazed at what we will be able to do. When we learn the principles of stewardship, we will gain our spiritual balance and amazing things will happen. Remember, true Biblical stewardship recognizes that God’s resources are to be deployed through God’s people to accomplish God’s mission. All we have belongs to God and as we come to the place were we can release what we have and trust God with what we have, we will be blessed beyond measure because we will see the Kingdom of God expanded and Christ proclaimed in ways that could not be done otherwise.
Today, I want to focus our attention on the attitude of the servants who were given the talents. As we read this story we find that their attitude toward the master dictated how they invested what they had been given. Two of the servants doubled their investment while the one failed to do so because he was afraid of his master. The first two servants had a healthy view of their master while the third servant projected an unhealthy view of his master. Listen to the words of the servant. ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.’
Just as the servant’s attitude affected his investment, when we have a unhealthy view of God our actions are affected as well. The servant’s view of his master was that He was a hard task master. Because of his attitude, the fear he had of the master trumped his respect for the master. When we walk in fear, we tend to do things that we do not normally do. Charles Stanley had this to say about fear. First, fear stifles our thinking and our actions. It causes indecisiveness that results in stagnation which erodes confidence. Second, fear hinders us from becoming the people God wants us to be. When we are dominated by negative emotions, we cannot achieve the goals He has in mind for us. Third, fear can drive people to destructive habits. We often turn to artificial relief that creates even more issues rather than changing our emotions. Fourth, fear steals our peace. When we live in fear, our life becomes centered on pessimism and gloom. We can develop a negative outlook on life and on our talents and gifts. And lastly, fear creates doubt. God has given us great promises, but when we walk in fear, we will lack trust and we will doubt the words and the promises of God. This is deadly because it is the promises of God that bring freedom and victory for us.
The fact is our view of God effects our stewardship. And, for that matter our view of God effects everything we do. How do we steward our time? How do we steward what we have been given? How do we steward our friendships and relationships? How do we steward God’s creation? Our view of God matters.
The question to be considered here is whether or not we trust God or do we fear Him? Do you trust God that He will do what He says He will do? Or, are you bound by fear? Are you afraid of the giving of yourselves because you have tried before and failed. Have you tried to sing but felt embarrassed and self conscience? Maybe you tried to teach but felt you were not accepted and you felt rejected by those you taught. Have you tried to play an instrument, but were intimidated by others with greater talents? Not only do we exhibit a fear of people and success, but we can have an unhealthy fear of God.
When we exhibit an unhealthy view of God, we will be focused on the here and now and not the future that is available to us. This focus should be on what we are investing in. Are we investing in eternal things or those things that will only rust and be destroyed? We don’t trust God because we don’t truly believe His word that is filled with promises of blessing when we honor God with what we have been given. We hold onto to things so tightly that we lose control anyway.
Our view of God will determine if we are tippers or if we tithe. A Center on Philanthropy Panel Study found the average Christian household gives an average of 2.6% to the church which is far from the touted 10%. If that is the case, we are not even good tippers. The writer of Proverbs exhorts us to Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10).
In Malachi we have this blessing outlined for us. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return? ’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you? ’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 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. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
I am often asked about what to tithe on. Do I tithe on the gross or the net? My reply is how much of a blessing do you want? Do you want a net blessing or a gross blessing?
So do you fear or do you trust? Your answer will speak volumes about your heart and about your view of God.