Be Wise in your Giving
Tim LaFleur, Discipleship Pastor
October 25, 2015
If you have your copy of the Word of God, turn if you would to the book of John and Chapter 1. The book of John and Chapter 1. While you are turning there, let me remind you that during these days we have been talking about God’s wisdom. And basically what we have said all during this series is this: true wisdom comes from God. When we begin to see things from God’s viewpoint, then it begins to make sense to us. We not only see it from a worldly perspective, but listen, when we get into the Word and we see it from God’s perspective, that makes all the difference in the world.
And so the first principle I have been trying to share is that true wisdom comes from God. But the second principle is that Godly wisdom is founded upon the Word of God. Did you know that? When you and I begin to understand and saturate our minds with the principles and the precepts and the promises of the Word of God, you and I can begin to realize what true Godly wisdom is all about. It is not seeing it from a worldly viewpoint, it is seeing it from God’s viewpoint. And when we hide the Word of God into our hearts, when we get into the Word until the Word gets into us, we begin to realize the wisdom of God. We are able to do the right things at the right time for the right reason with the right motivation. Amen?
But I want you to notice the last one. The last one that I have been trying to share, I introduced it last week is this, the wisdom of God is fully expressed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the manifestation of Godly wisdom. He is the personification of wisdom.
Notice in John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Go down to Verse 14. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
So Jesus Christ helps us to realize relationship with Him helps us to realize what true, Godly wisdom is all about. Listen, if we want to be wise, we watch the way Jesus through the gospel accounts conducted Himself. Paul tells us in Colossians 3…2 and Verse 3, here is what he says. He says, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
You want to be wise? Consider Jesus. Take a long look at Jesus. Read about Jesus. Fill your mind with the things of Jesus and you will be wise. Begin to saturate your mind with the principles and precepts of the Word of God and that makes all the difference in the world.
Now today I want to talk to you about being Wise About Your Giving. Being wise about your giving. John Bisano said, “The greatest thing I could teach a man other than being filled with the Spirit of God, is to teach him how to honor God with his finances.
If you have your copy of the Word of God, turn if you would to the book of Philippians and Chapter 4. The book of Philippians and Chapter 4. While you are turning there, let me tell you this. And this is sort of the backdrop of everything we talk about. If you are a disciple of Christ, if you are a believer who surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus, because we are believers, we have a responsibility to manage or to steward all the things that God has blessed us with. Do you know that? We have talked about stewardship so much, but really it is the idea of managing ourselves. A steward was an Old Testament slave who managed the affairs of another. And that is a word, that is a catch word today, especially in the business world. It is not just managing but it is stewarding. And we, as believers, have this obligation and this tremendous responsibility before God to steward all the things that He has blessed us with. How many of you have been blessed of God? God has been so good, amen, to us individually, but He has been so good to us as a fellowship. God is good (what?) all the time, and all the time (what?) God is good. Amen!
Listen, no one can doubt that God has richly blessed us at Brainerd Baptist Church, individually and collectively. Week after week we see videos of people’s lives who have been changed and transformed by the power of God as we get to bring the gospel to neighborhoods and nations. God has blessed this fellowship in some amazing ways. Amen?
Now, if that is the case and you see it from God’s viewpoint, everything you have, everything you own, has been given to you by God. And you’ve got the responsibility of being a good steward of all the things that He has blessed you with. Listen, everything you have been blessed with and everything you own and possess belongs to God. I hope you know that. Everything you have belongs to Him.
Think about all that God has blessed you with: family, friends, relationships, influence, health, the ability to acquire wealth, your job. And men, I want to say to you that many times our self-esteem is tied to our work. And I pray that you have a job that you feel productive in and that you enjoy. And because we work, we get a salary, right? That’s a blessing from God. And God has called every one of us to honor Him with our finances.
And that is what the Apostle Paul talks about in Philippians 4. He says, beginning at Verse 10 and following, he says, “I have learned to be content, whether I have a little or a lot, whether I am abounding or I suffer need, I have learned to be content.” And he says in that great verse in Verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”
But then in 14 he talks about and he shares with the believers at Philippi the blessing they have been to him. Why? Because they have partnered with him in the gospel. And what they did was, during a rough patch in the life of the Apostle Paul during the time when he was under house arrest, they took care of his needs. And they did it on more than one occasion. Several times they partnered with the Apostle Paul in the gospel. And I want…we are going to look at from 14 all the way down, but I want to call your attention to Verses 18-20. Turn there if you would. When you get there, say “Word.” Philippians 4:18-20.
“I have received full payment,” he says, “and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.” Look at what he says, “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Notice Verse 19, that great promise. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
My goal today is simply this: I want to help you see that when you give sacrificially to help to meet the needs of others and to further the gospel, then God will meet your need. Did you hear me? When you and I give sacrificially to help to meet the needs of others and to further the gospel, then God will meet all of our needs according to His promise.
Let’s go to God in prayer. Father, we ask that You give us a grace during this time. And I know what some are thinking, oh, that preacher is going to preach about money. Well, yes, I am going to preach about money because You have led me to do that. And we have got to be wise about our giving and receiving. Lord, help us to know that You own it all and You give us the privilege to manage or to steward all the gifts that You bestowed upon us. And so I pray, God, that we could learn to give, not because we have to, but because we get to because it is a tremendous privilege to give to You. God, teach us what we don’t know. Make us what we are not. And help us to be all that You have created us to be. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pete Maravich was a tremendous collegiate basketball player. He played at LSU. I am not bragging. I am an alumni of LSU but I am not going to boast. I was chided for that last week because I said I hope your favorite team won. And I will say that again. I hope your favorite team won. But if not, it is okay.
Think about Pistol Pete. Think about basketball. The football season can be put aside for a while. But Pistol Peter Maravich scored more points than any other college player that has ever live. And the thing about Peter was that he was a great offensive player. And sometimes he would score as many as 69 or 70 points in a game and his team would lose, if you can imagine that. But he is on the NCA record books for the most points scored.
Now let me tell you how he died. Some of you may know this. Peter came to faith later in life, thank God. And during a pickup game of basketball, he suffered a major heart attack and eventually lost his life. Now here is the tragedy behind his untimely death. He died as a young man. The tragedy is, his death could have been prevented by a simple EKG. You see, Pete suffered a heart attack. Why? Because he had a congenital heart condition. He had this condition all his life and played but an EKG could have saved his life.
What are you trying to say? I am telling you that in this text, the Apostle Paul helps us by giving us a kind of spiritual EKG. And what he says is, our attitude toward money will determine our heart’s condition. Do you know that? Your attitude toward money will determine the condition of your heart.
Think about this. Are you really burdened when others are hurting? Are you really burdened for those who have not yet received the gospel? Are you burdened when somebody shows up in your neighborhood that suffered crisis and they are going through a rough spot, do you have a heart, do you have a desire to give to meet the need that they have? Can you trust God? That is something else our giving reveals. Can we really trust God? Or do you think when you come and there is preaching about giving, our pastors are trying to teach you or your life group leader or D Group leader is trying to teach you about what it really means to give, are you thinking in the back of your mind, yeah, the church down there, they want all my money.
Well, I want to assure you from the outset, nothing could be farther from the truth as far as I am concerned. I want you to give so that you can be blessed. Amen? I want you to give so that God will replenish your supply so that you can give some more. I want you to learn that part of honoring Jesus Christ as Lord is the fact that you and I ought to give freely and cheerfully to the work of God so that needs can be met, so that the gospel can be furthered and you and I can be blessed. We don’t give to get, we give and a by-product of our giving, to meet needs and further the gospel is that God blesses us.
As we examine this passage of Scripture, there are a couple of things I want you to notice. And the first one is this. You might want to write it down. I want you to notice the spiritual principle involved and wrapped around this text. Why can Paul say in Verse 19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory.” Why can he say that? He can say that because he knows the truth of this biblical principle. And here is the principle: When you and I give sacrificially to try to help meet the needs of others, God has promised to meet our need. Did you hear me? When you and I give sacrificially to help to meet the needs of others, God has promised in His Word to meet our need.
Now that principle shouldn’t surprise you because it is spoken in many different books of the Bible in many different ways. Amen? Notice if you would in the book of Proverbs and Chapter 19. Turn there if you would. Proverbs Chapter 19. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived besides the Lord Jesus Christ wrote these words, a wealthy man, a rich man, a king. Look at what he said in Verse 17 of Chapter 19. When you are there, say “Word.”
“Whoever is generous to the poor,” some of your translations say, “whoever shows pity on the poor,” and by that they mean gives to the poor. “Whoever is generous to the poor,” notice what it says, “lends to the Lord, and the Lord will repay him his debt.” Do you see it? When you and I give to meet the needs of others, especially those who are poor, especially the downtrodden, especially those who have tremendous needs, God says in His Word that we are lending to Him and He will repay the debt. Isn’t that amazing? When you and I give to meet the needs of others, God says in His Word, you are really lending to Me and I am going to meet your need. I will repay is what God says.
Turn if you would back to Proverbs 11 and Verse 24. This is an amazing verse. When you get there, say “Word.” Verse 11…Chapter 11 Verse 24. Notice what he says. And this is the difference between a closed fist and an open hand. Here is what I want you to do. I want you to make a closed fist. It is my money. I won’t give it, no matter what. And an open hand. It is God’s money and I am going to give as He leads and directs. Closed fist, open hand.
Notice what he says in Verse 24, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds (notice) what he should give, and only suffers want.” Some of your translations say, “only suffers loss.” Do you see it? One gives freely. He has got an open hand. He is sensitive to God’s leadership. He is giving toward the needs of others. And the Bible says, he grows all the richer, while another withholds what he should give and only suffers want.
“Whoever brings blessing,” it goes on to say, “will be blessed and the one who waters will be watered.” That is Old Testament. What about New Testament? Let’s hear the Word of Jesus. Look at Luke Chapter 6 and Verse 38. Luke Chapter 6 and Verse 38. When you get there, say “Word.”
“Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.” Notice, “For with the measure you use or give, it will be measured back to you.” Do you see it? The difference between a closed hand, my money and an open hand, God’s money.
Now here is the kicker. Look at II Corinthians Chapter 9 and Verse 6-8. II Corinthians Chapter 9 and Verses 6-8. Paul makes it abundantly clear. And here is the backdrop of this verse. Paul is commending those in Macedonia who gave freely to the relief effort for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. They were being persecuted. There was an intense famine in the land. They were being persecuted. They were being dispersed and they had some tremendous needs and yet a remnant stayed behind in Jerusalem. These Jewish believers, they had come to faith in Christ and they were poverty stricken. And so everywhere Paul went, he remembered the Jews, those poor Jews who had been persecuted and who were experiencing the famine at that time with no resources. So everywhere he went to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, he always remembered his roots and he always remembered the need of that church in Jerusalem. And he is commending these Macedonians for their giftedness. And he is talking to the Corinthians and he is encouraging them to give. The example of the Macedonians is a great example. But now he is speaking to them and he is saying, Listen, it is not only the example of the Macedonians, but I want you to exercise your gifts and your resources at this moment to give so that their needs can be met.
Now notice what he says. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.” Do you know what he is saying? He is saying if you give a little bit, you will only get a little bit. “Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his own mind or determined or decided in his heart, (Notice) not reluctantly or under compulsion.” You shouldn’t be made to give. You shouldn’t feel pressured to give. You shouldn’t give reluctantly, Paul says. Listen, this is a free will offering. And the offering we are going to take up next week is going to be a free will offering. Don’t give because you feel like you have to. Don’t give half-heartedly. Give with a thankful heart. Give to God for the blessings of God in your life and your family and you want to respond to Him saying, thank You, Lord. That is what Harvest Day is all about. Amen? And next week we are going to give to the glory of God.
He says, “not reluctantly or under compulsion.” Notice the last phrase, “God loves a cheerful giver.” The word in the language of the New Testament is, God loves a hilarious giver. You ought to have a smile on your face when you march up and give your offering next week, Amen?
Now notice Verse 8. 8 is an amazing verse. Paul says to the Philippians, “My God shall meet all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Now here he says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Do you know what he is saying? He is saying basically the same thing, that when you and I give to meet the needs of others, God will supply every need we have. He will supply all the grace we need. Amen? That ought to bring joy to our hearts.
Now in this context, the Apostle Paul says, because the believers at Philippi partnered with me in the gospel by meeting my need, notice Verse 19, “God will meet their every need.”
I like the way John MacArthur says it. He says, “Listen, when you and I give sacrificially, what we give is invested with God and He pays eternal dividends.” He pays eternal dividends.
Now here is what I want you to notice. I want you to notice Paul in this text likens their giving to two things. Two word pictures here. The first one is this, a spiritual investment. A spiritual investment. Look at it in Verse 14. “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” Paul is saying, listen, it is kind of you to share the trouble that I was in. I was in a rough spot. It was during a rough time. It was tough. I was under house arrest. I had to pay for my own imprisonment. And I wanted to be a home because being in that home, people could come and go freely to visit me and I could continue to disciple and mentor and help to instruct the churches all over the known world at the time.
And so you see what is happening here. He is in trouble. He is under house arrest. God is providing for his need through this church at Philippi. Look at what it says in Verse 15. “And you Philippians yourselves know that no church partnered with me in giving and receiving except you only. Even in Thessalonica,” he left Macedonia and they partnered with him, “Even in Thessalonica,” he says in Verse 16, you sent me help by meeting my needs once and again.”
So several times during their relationship, Paul had brought them the gospel and they were faithful to meet his need so that others might receive the gospel. Do you see it?
Now notice Verse 17. I think it is an awesome verse. Look at it. “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your account or your credit,” I think the ESV says. You see what is going here. Paul is more concerned about the Philippians than he is himself. Why? He has learned to trust God in whatever circumstance he finds himself in. That is why he says in Verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But he is commending these believers and he is saying, listen, I don’t want your money. God is going to provide for my need but I am glad you gave because I know my God. And what my God is going to do is, He is going to take the investment that you’ve made to meet my need and God is going to multiply and give you such a wonderful return on your investment that He is going to meet all of your needs. Do you see it? Isn’t that amazing?
Warren Wiersbe helps us. He said, “God is the One who keeps the books and He has never failed to pay one dividend.” How many of you can attest to that? Every time we have been faithful to give to God, God has been faithful to supply our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
He not only talks about a spiritual investment, but he talks about a sacrifice of worship. Notice Verse 18. “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.” Look at it. “A fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
You know, when I hear that language because I am familiar with the New Testament and the writings of the Apostle Paul, immediately I think about Romans 12:1. Turn there if you would. Romans 12:1-2. When you get there, say “Word.” Notice what it says. “I appeal to you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice wholly and acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.” Notice Verse 2, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
What Paul is saying in the book of Romans is, in light of all that God has done, you ought to see your life and everything that belongs to you as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. You present your bodies a living sacrifice. Everything you are, everything you own. And I think that is what Paul is talking here. It is a sacrifice of worship. Do you see it? When you and I give to the glory of God, to meet the needs of others so that the gospel might be furthered, we are actually making this beautiful, spiritual sacrifice of worship to God.
How many of you know that our giving is an act of worship? Do you know that? When we give, it is as if we are saying, God, everything I am and everything I have belongs to You. I am going to honor You with my finances. I know that in giving, I am not giving to get, but I know that in my giving that You promised to meet all my needs. That is why we give. We give so that the needs of people might be met and the gospel might be furthered. But a great by-product is, God sees. He keeps the books. And He has never failed to pay one solitary dividend. Isn’t that comforting to know? We can have an open hand and say, God, it is Your money. You do what You will.
The second thing I want you to notice in this text is this: I want you to notice the promise of God. Not only the principles of God but the promise of God. Notice in Verse 19. “And my God,” huh. Let’s stop for a moment here. The message in music a while ago, I hope you understand that in a worship time, there is not just the worship, meaning the singing, but there is the worship experience where there is musical worship and there is worship with the Word of God. Amen? This is an act of worship that we are involved in right now. The saints are being equipped. Jesus Christ is being exalted and we are being challenged to take what we know to a lost world so that they can be evangelized. Do you realize that? It is all worship. And what you should have got a while ago through the great presentation of the choir and the orchestra is this, you should have understood that God is a big God. Amen? My grandkids call Him, Big Solve, Big Sovereign. They can’t say sovereign so they call Him Big Solve. Not out of disrespect, but notice, that they know, even at a young age that our God is all-powerful. Our God is in control. Our God sees all and knows all. And listen, you better believe that when Paul says, “And my God,” he is talking about the sovereign God of the Bible that is large and in charge and in control. Amen? “And my God,” he says, “will meet every need of yours according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus or in Christ Jesus.” I am so glad he said, according to His riches and not out of His riches. There is a difference. Amen?
And here is the beauty of the promise. Paul tells these believers, you supplied my need out of your poverty and my God will supply your need out of His abundance. Aren’t you glad? Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, Amen? Nothing is too difficult for our God. And so the promise of God is sure. Remember what he said, not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit of increase for you. That is what Paul says about these believers. They partnered with him in the gospel and it wasn’t just about Paul’s needs being met, it was about the gospel being furthered.
Paul knew he was a blessed man. And whether or not he abounded or there were times in his ministry where he suffered want, he learned to be content.
Next week we have an opportunity to give. I want you to listen very carefully. God has certainly blessed us, amen? He has blessed us individually. He has blessed us collectively. To think of the amazing growth at Brainerd Baptist over the last several years. We have grown numerically but listen, I want to tell you something, we have grown spiritually. We have feasted on the Word of God through the preaching of the Word, through Life Groups and through D Groups. This idea of deliver, disciple and deploy. We have seen that happen in our fellowship. We have seen people delivered by the power of God. As the Word of God was delivered, we have seen lives changed and transformed for the glory of God. Hundreds of people have come to faith in Christ over the last several years. I know since I have been here, hundreds of people have come to faith. Not only that but we have seen many of you grow exponentially in your faith. Through our Life Groups and our D Groups, God has used those things. He gave Pastor Robby a mission when he came, a vision and we have tried our best to accomplish and flesh out that vision that He gave. God has blessed us in some amazing ways. People have been delivered. People have been discipled. And people are being deployed to the nations. Fifty. Fifty unreached and unengaged people groups that our church is responsible for. Hundreds of people have taken the gospel to neighborhoods and nations. God has certainly blessed us.
But I think to myself, what could it be? We have got some needs. There is not only the blessing of God, but guess what? We have some needs. One need that I know you are interested in is, we need to pay off our indebtedness. Do you realize that? I am thinking about all the mission efforts that we have now. What could it be if the debt was fully paid. And you know what, if we meet budget this year, we will be on track to pay off that debt before we call another pastor. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
I don’t know what the figure was at the beginning, 7 or 8 million, but it is down to about $500,000. We could do it next week at Brainerd Baptist if we had a mind to. We could do it next week. And if the debt is paid, just think of all the ministry we can do. Listen, God has blessed us with a wonderful campus. It has got to be maintained. There might be projects in the future of building and improving and revitalizing the facilities that God has blessed us with. But guess what? When we pay the debt, we have more money to do ministry. And ministry costs money. You guys have been so faithful to give in time past.
Wouldn’t it be great if next week we have the greatest Harvest Day Offering in the life of our church? That is what I am believing for.
Let me give you three encouragements. The first is this. I want to encourage you to purpose to give. It is not a matter of if you give, it is a matter of what you give. I know if it is like at my house, I come up with a figure and then my wife says, let’s double it, honey. Shows you how much faith I have. Let’s double it, Honey. I love it when she says that. Why? Because she wants to see the gospel furthered.
The second encouragement I would want to give you is this: You and your family begin to pray about what God would have you to give and then give generously. Don’t be a sad giver. Don’t be a mad giver. Be a glad giver as Warren Wiersbe says, amen? Be a glad giver. Give cheerfully. Give hilariously. Give till it hurts. Give to the glory of God. And watch God do what only He can do. I am praying that every need would be met and I am praying that every need in the life of our church would be met before this year is out.
The last encouragement I would give you is this: I would encourage you to give expectantly. What are you saying? I am telling you that God is the One who keeps the books. He takes note and you give freely with an open hand. But you expect to have a cupped hand to receive all the blessings of God that He will pour into your life. Are you one of them health, wealth and prosperity preachers? Don’t curse me like that! No. A hundred times no. But listen, I am not going to let that crowd hijack the promise of God from His people, Amen? God promises…my God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. God is able to make all grace abound so that having all sufficiency at all times in all things you may abound in every good work. God is going to bless you if you give sacrificially.
And listen, don’t worry about amount, worry about sacrifice. It is not equal amount. It is an equal sacrifice. Give to the glory of God.