What I want to talk about today is what most say to be the number one universal immaturity issue found in Christ followers. What do you think that might be? That number one immaturity is financially giving to the kingdom of God. Let me ask you a question off the top. Will a mature Christian give financially the way the Bible says to give? Giving tithes, offerings, and alms is the number one immaturity of Christians.

Growing Up in Giving

By Delbert Young

Growing Up in Giving

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Growing Up in Giving

Scriptures: 1John 2:12-14, Hebrews 5:12, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Matthew 6:21, Matthew 12:35, Luke 12:34, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 2 Corinthians 9:6, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Malachi 3:8-10, Matthew 6:1, Matthew 6:3-4, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Matthew 23:23, Matthew 10:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6, 2 Corinthians 9:8

We will begin a new series today that I am titling GROWING UP.

1John 2:12-14 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

We see from these verses that there are maturity levels in the Kingdom of God. At what level do you think you might be? Are you a little child, young man, or father? You will have a good idea if you attend over the next few weeks.

Have you ever met someone who had Arrested Development Syndrome? Arrested Development Syndrome is a mental condition where a person’s mental development stops – arrests. Though the body continues to develop physically, aspects of a person’s mentality do not develop. For example, a person might be fifty years old, but act and think as they did at sixteen years old. Physical growth can also arrest, such as Emmanuel Lewis of the television program Webster and Gary Coleman of Different Strokes. Many, perhaps even most, Christ followers experience Arrested Development Syndrome in the spiritual dimension. We stop GROWING UP.

Hebrews 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an INFANT, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the MATURE, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and GO ON TO MATURITY…

Those Hebrew Christians were stuck at the elementary level. In the natural, it would be like a 40 year old person acting like and thinking like a 6-12 year old child. Our parents would have been extremely disappointed if we stopped maturing at 10 years of age. Our parents would have continued to love us, but we would never enjoy the wonderful things that mature people enjoy. We would never learn much, never marry, never procreate, never have what most consider a successful life, etc. The writer was telling the Hebrews there is much more to learn, more to create, more to enjoy, and more to celebrate if we will but mature in Christ.

So, what I want to accomplish in our series is to talk about GROWING UP. The way I want to do this is by looking at what a mature Christian does and then we can look and see how we align individually. What do you think? We can sort of give ourselves a spiritual maturity test. I suspect you will pass with flying colors.

What I want to talk about today is what most say to be the number one universal immaturity issue found in Christ followers. What do you think that might be? That number one immaturity is financially giving to the kingdom of God. Let me ask you a question off the top. Will a mature Christian give financially the way the Bible says to give?

The Gallup polling organization says, “Two-thirds of Americans claim to be members of a church or some other religious institution… Gallup concludes, about two-thirds of the population claim to attend services at least once a month or more often… Thirty-six percent say they attend once a week.” 

About 66% of Americans attend church, but how many give as a mature believer gives?

“Barna’s data [Barna Research Group] shows that only 3 percent of adults contributed 10 percent… Among born-again Christians, the decline was similarly steep, from 14 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2002.” 

This particular Arrested Development Syndrome is the cause for the #1 battle of every local church including ours. It stops churches everywhere from fulfilling their God-given purposes.

I want to talk to us today about giving. If I am successful, I will help you mature and will help Life Gate advance toward its God-given purpose by helping us all to become better givers. I am not going to teach this from the aspect of a “command” or condemnation, so you can relax. Mature people do not need a command. Mature people function from doing what is right – righteousness. So, off the top, where are you in your giving maturity level? Well, Delbert, I can’t afford to tithe. That is exactly what I mean. You have not matured in the area of your finances so that you can contribute to the kingdom.

What I want to accomplish is your getting a sense of stewardship. I want you to become a consistent financial supporting part of Life Gate Church of which the Lord can count on. For that to happen, it will require our GROWING UP IN GIVING.

ATTITUDES OF GIVING

The Bible shows us several attitudes and emotions that a mature Christ follower will have when it comes to giving. One attitude is, giving to the kingdom is a happy thing and makes our hearts happy.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as HE PURPOSETH IN HIS HEART, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a CHEERFUL giver.

A person’s giving to the kingdom is purposed in his or her heart. The Greek word translated purposeth is proaireomai (Strong’s #4255) and means to choose for oneself before another thing (prefer), to propose (intend). A mature Christ follower gives on purpose from the heart. When it comes to giving, we wrestle with our hearts. Your heart tells you one thing, but your head tells you something else. Your heart says give. Your head says you cannot afford to give. I promise you, if you will do what your heart tells you, God will take care of the rest. We have a wonderful feeling in our hearts when we give to the work of the kingdom. It truly is a cheerful thing because giving is a heart thing.

Let me share with you our story about giving. My entire family was born again in 1978. We would go to church and put something into the offering, but we did not tithe. My heart was telling me to tithe, but my mind said we could not afford it. On paper, we could not afford to tithe. One Sunday, we began to tithe. Since that Sunday, we never missed paying a bill or missed a meal. Do not hear me incorrectly. Money did not fall out of heaven. We had to GROW UP in our finances. God took care of what we could not because we followed our hearts. My point is following your heart is important when it comes to giving.

Jesus was emphatic about the “heart connection” to giving.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your HEART be also.

Matthew 12:35 A good man out of THE GOOD TREASURE OF THE HEART bringeth forth good things…

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your HEART be also.

A person’s lack of giving is not a bank account problem. It is a heart problem. We allow our minds to stop us from GROWING UP. God’s character is to give and if we are his children then we give. “For God so loved the world that he gave…”

Giving is a serious matter and we must take it seriously. Did you know that the only thing Jesus talked about more than giving and money was the kingdom of God? Why was that? It is because giving cannot be separated from how I truly feel about the kingdom. Our hearts link the two together.

Giving is about the attitude of the heart. The Greek word translated cheerful is most interesting. It is hilaros (Strong’s #2431). Of course we get our English word ‘hilarious’ from it. Hilaros means propitious or merry (hilarious) i.e. prompt or willing. Giving is a therapeutic experience. We know that we are GROWING UP when giving makes us happy.

Let’s look at another attitude found in the mature Christ follower.

2 Corinthians 9:7 …Don’t give RELUCTANTLY OR IN RESPONSE TO PRESSURE. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. [NLT]

Immaturity is giving reluctantly or in response to pressure. It is important to give with the proper attitude.

GIVING DONE WITH THE PROPER ATTITUDE OF CHEERFULNESS AND JOY COMES WITH TREMENDOUS PROMISES OF GOD.

Let’s read the context of 2 Corinthians 9:8. As you can see, we are not pulling out a scripture to make our doctrine on giving work. The Bible directly connects how we give (sow) to how we receive (reap).

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And GOD WILL GENEROUSLY PROVIDE ALL YOU NEED. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. [NLT]

Giving with the correct attitude is a tremendous identifying mark of a mature believer. Interestingly, we find blessings attached every place in the Bible where God instructs us to give. Let’s look at a few. Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament. So, from it we can find the sum total of all Old Testament giving scriptures.

Malachi 3:8-10 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. IF YOU DO,” says the LORD Almighty, “I WILL OPEN THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN FOR YOU. I WILL POUR OUT A BLESSING SO GREAT YOU WON’T HAVE ENOUGH ROOM TO TAKE IT IN! TRY IT! LET ME PROVE IT TO YOU! [NLT]

God gives a personal challenge to his people to “TRY IT!” He is so confident that he says, “LET ME PROVE IT TO YOU.”

Jesus also told us there are rewards when we give properly which includes alms giving.

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have NO REWARD of your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret HIMSELF SHALL REWARD THEE OPENLY.

Alms giving is giving to the poor and needy. We need to include alms giving in our giving. A mature Christ follower gives alms. Jesus said, “When you give alms,” not “if.” Alms giving is actually one of the “tithes” (plural) in the Old Testament and was a separate tithe given every third year (Deu 14:28).

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and SO THAT THE LORD YOUR GOD MAY BLESS YOU IN ALL THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS.

This special giving was to help support traveling ministry, transients, widows, orphans, and the poor. Notice the very special blessing attached to it. THE LORD YOUR GOD MAY BLESS YOU IN ALL THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS.

Another attitude of a mature Christ follower is consistency.

1 Corinthians 16:2 ON THE FIRST DAY OF EVERY WEEK, EACH ONE OF YOU SHOULD SET ASIDE A SUM OF MONEY IN KEEPING WITH HIS INCOME, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

The scriptures have always taught consistent and proportionate giving as to when, where, and the amount of giving. In the Old Testament, the times to give were during feast times (Deu 12:5-6). The place of giving was the Temple. After the cross, the place became the church on the first day of the week.

The amount in the Old Testament was always the proportionate tithe or ten percent (10%). It never changed. I believe that Paul referenced the tithe when he said, “EACH ONE OF YOU SHOULD SET ASIDE A SUM OF MONEY IN KEEPING WITH HIS INCOME.” There is no other guide for us to go by in all of scripture. It was a tithe before the Law of Moses (Gen 14:20; 28:22). It was a tithe during the law and Old Testament (Lev 27:30-32). Jesus agreed and said that we should tithe.

Matthew 23:23 How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law – justice, mercy, and faith. YOU SHOULD TITHE… [NLT]

The KJV says, “…these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Jesus said we should tithe and we should give. We should also do other important things. However, do not leave out the tithe.

In a church, we have different levels of givers. There are the abundantly financially blessed “high capacity” financial givers. There are the “committed-to-the-core” tithing faithful members of the church no matter their income. Then there is everybody else. However, the consistent, proportionate, standard Biblical amount to us all is the tenth – the tithe. It is no more a burden upon the financially blessed than it is upon the financially challenged. God expects EACH ONE to give.

I want to make one more point about giving. From time to time there will be need for a “capital campaign.” This is giving for special things. Moses had a campaign to build the tabernacle. Solomon had a campaign to build the temple and Ezra and Nehemiah had capital campaigns to rebuild the temple and walls. Paul had capital campaigns for church plants and needy believers. It is a time when God challenges us to make a special financial thrust for the kingdom’s advancement.

I want to challenge you today in your giving, but not legalistically. I want to challenge you to lay a foundation upon which you can mature. Imagine what Life Gate Church could accomplish if EACH ONE gave Biblically. We could truly create IRRESISTIBLE ENVIRONMENTS that would impact this region in ways yet to be seen. God wants us all to become a steward of the vision. God needs you to give and he will bless you if you will.

Jesus sent out his disciples and said to them,

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

 

I felt that some of us might want to take God’s challenge from Malachi and Paul’s challenge from 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And GOD WILL GENEROUSLY PROVIDE ALL YOU NEED. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. [NLT]

So, we are going to receive the offering now. Remember, there is no condemnation. Do not give grudgingly or feel you are being manipulated. I truly am far more concerned about your GROWING UP than I am about today’s offering. Let’s bless it. Amen!

Other Related Sermons:

Wounded and Personal Pearl Harbors Veterans Day sermon audio notes

Gift of Divers Tongues Weapon sermon notes

Give Intentionally sermon notes audio

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young

http://www.valleyskeptic.com/Gallup&God.html

ChristianityToday.com, The Ancient Rise and Recent Fall of Tithing, Collin Hansen