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September 23, 2020
We are talking about scripture, and how to teach scripture when it comes to motivating people to be generous, and teaching them to change their ways from selfish behavior, to godly behavior.
We know those of us that are church leaders, that godly behavior is generous behavior, and we're living to give, and all that good stuff.
I want to look at Luke chapter 21, because this goes to the context of what I think every talk on generosity and giving should start with. This is a well-known passage, and you're going to know it as soon as I read it. But this is almost the golden seam that runs through every generosity talk that I ever give. And it's well-known.
Luke 21:1: "As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "Truly, I tell you," he said, talking to the Pharisees, talking to the rich, "This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave gifts out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in all that she had to live on."
Wow. So I would be the first to say that there has been some Christian abuse when it comes to teaching about money. I think there's been unscrupulous, and wrongly motivated teaching when it comes to teaching about giving and generosity. And I think sometimes as church leaders, maybe we didn't want to do it, but we exerted undue pressure, and God forbid, manipulation, when it comes to talking about generosity and giving. I don't think that should stop us from talking and teaching about money, but I think it should give us pause. What's our motivation? As a church leader, why are you going to talk about giving? Is it to get more money for the church? Is it to pay yourself a higher wage? Is it to...
So really, when we look at the context of generosity, and especially when it comes to the New Testament, it's all about the condition of the heart, and it's less about how much you gave than is about the heart from which it's given. So Jesus sets up one of the biggest contrasts in the New Testament. Rich, externally rich, dressed in... Like looking splendid and glorious and literally displaying the gift of your wealth in front of everyone for all to see, for all the wrong reasons, so that you can be praised by men. And the contrast is number one, a widow. And we all know in the Bible time of the New Testament, widows were very, very, not just poor, but shunned. If you didn't have a husband, you were down the rung of the ladder of the society already.
So Jesus observes this. This is not a parable. This isn't a made up story to teach a biblical truth, which is what a parable is. This is actually happening. And as so often, Jesus said, he uses real life, whether made up stories or real life stories to teach a spiritual truth. So he's... Don't you find it fascinating that Jesus is watching the offering? Like it says, he's literally watching the giving going on. And in the temple, they would bring that offering, and it was a very public thing, and they'd do it out in front. We're not dissimilar in how we take offerings, certainly, in the judge today. We pass the plate, or we give a mobile device, right? It's done in a public way. But I find it fascinating that Jesus is watching. Here's a great message to kind of talk to people when you're teaching on giving, Jesus is watching.
So it's like, "Oh, we do the worship, and we get up, and we do some announcements, and we welcome people to church" and, "Oh, let's quickly have the offering, because we don't want to dwell on that too much because we're a little bit embarrassed about money." Well, Jesus was watching the offering, so it must be important to him. Side thing, don't rush the offering. Don't be embarrassed about the offering moment. Don't think you've got to get through this as fast as possible because the visitors might be offended. Give the visitors a pass. Say, "Hey, we're glad you here today visiting our church. We're very excited that you're here. But right, now I'm just talking about church members and we're going to take this offering and I'm going to talk about money for five minutes. So sit back, relax and chill, but this is for our church community, our church family." And go for it.
Jesus was watching the offering. But here's the beautiful thing, the context of generosity is heart first, what's going on, and it's not how much. God doesn't count how much you give. He's looking with what you kept. That's the context. She gave two coins, which was all she had to live on. Maybe she was a beggar. I don't know where she got her two coins from. Maybe she had children that helped her. I don't know. But you know what? She gave it all to God.
So when teaching about generosity, we're challenging people to come up to a level of trust in God, that when we put God first, it doesn't matter how much we're giving to him, because the amount is insignificant to him. It's not like he needs the money. God doesn't need our money. He needs our heart. And he knows the way to the heart of a believer is through putting him first in finance. And that was the stark contrast in the story. Always weave the theme around generosity teaching, that God is looking at the condition of the heart, and it's not about the amount. But when you give out of that pure generosity, wanting to bless God with your offering, blessing will come to your house. It's a theme that should be in every single offering message. It's going to work.
Read the full blog of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/preach-giving-semon-appeal-luke
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly CEO Dean Sweetman discusses how to preach a compelling giving campaign from Luke.
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