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O K. Let's take a look at Luke 16. ... That was all introduction. [laughter] Luke chapter 16, wonderful verse, I'm not gonna read the whole parable, I'm gonna start with verse 10 here. Jesus's talking about ... a shrewd steward, basically that cheated in order to get his needs met; uh b- here's the verse I think that's a kicker though about giving, verse 10, "Whoever can be trusted with very little, can also be trusted with much; and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have *not* been trustworthy in *handling worldly wealth*," ... circle worldly there, that's *greenbacks.* "Who will trust you ... with *true* riches?" Circle *that*: that is *not* greenbacks. ... "And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?" *This* is why Jesus talked about money so much. ... It isn't because he *solicited* it; it isn't because he felt he *needed* it; ... it's be- it isn't even because he *liked* it. It's because he knew that's what *we* liked. ... That that's where *we* lived. That that's how this whole system of this world *revolves*.
So he talked about it, and he said from the *divine* point of view, money is a *testing ground*, it's a *litmus test*. ... That it *says* something. If you are *temperamentally* *disinclined* to give, to the work of, the- of gospel of grace and peace in this world; if you are *that way*, what Jesus is saying is, that *tells* me *somethin'* of the *condition* of *your heart*. And what it says is, *you don't get it!* That's what it *says.*
Now if you don't get it, what - the debt that God had paid for you; if you've given God so *little *of your heart, that you have *no indigenous desire to contribute*, ... hilariously and gladly, ... then *we're* wastin' our *time* appealing to you for money. It's a com-*plete* waste of time, and we th- stand a real - chance of *damaging* the gospel of grace and peace.
You need to keep hearin' the gospel of grace and peace. You need to hear, if you're temperamentally disinclined to give, anything, you need to hear that God loves you. *Unreservedly,* *irrespective* of what ya have done, irrespective of your financial situation, he loves you com-*plete*-ly. And in Christ forgives you com-*plete*-ly, for time and eternity. He hath paid the debt. You need to keep hearin' that, ... and hearin' it and hearin' it and hearin' it, until it sinks in. And when it *sinks in*, ... the horse gets in front of the cart, and you will start to give.
It is a litmus test. What are the true riches? [sv] The true riches are the *good stuff* with God. What *he* considers to be valuable. ... Faith, ... love, ... *insight*, ... *wisdom*, ... God is not goin' to invest that kind of thing in you, if *you* as a Christian, one of his kids, are completely invested in this *world*, which is a world about bucks.
It isn't because he's holding out, it's because he does not *throw pearls before swine*. ... That simple. If you have a k- many of you have college kids, or you're gonna have a college kid. ... And you send your son, you have the means to b- pay for the *whole load* ... four years at whatever school he wants to go to, and he goes to that school, and in the first semester, he mostly majors in Partying 101. [scattered laughter] ... And uh, after the semester's over, he got a D, he withdrew from a class, he *flunked* a class, got him a C-minus, ... and you, you *find out* about that.
And you're a little *concerned*, ... because, you know, it's *expensive*! Among other things. It's costin' me fifteen grand for a semester, or whatever it is, at this ... expensive school. Are you gon' keep payin', for a son that's not committed, at this point in his life, to his education? Would you *underwrite* that kind of thing? If it kept conti- you *wouldn't*. You'd say "Son I gotta *new plan.*" [laughter] ... The *new* plan is, you're comin' home and goin' to SAC. [laughter] ... And uh, ... and, but lemme tell ya, ... I'll pay for SAC, OK? And if you can get it, San Antonio Community College, if you can get it, ... and you can *demonstrate* to me, that you're serious, and that you've finally *graduated* from Partying 101 and you're now actually ready to be an adult, ... I will underwrite you — true riches — to go get the real deal. ... Not that SAC isn't the real deal; it, it *is* the real deal. ... But it's only a two-year deal.
That's what ya do, right? It isn't- you're not holdin' out, you just don't wanna underwrite irresponsibility So when *God* sees ... that you are temperamentally disinclined to give, he understands that that's an issue of the *heart*, *not* your wallet. ... And he says "I'm not going to invest, I'm not going to give you my *pearls*, ... when you're so *wrapped* up in the way that this *world* works, ... that you cain't, that you don't *get* it, you don't get the gospel of grace and peace. So he *waits*. ... He's not *mad*, ... he's not *angry*. He isn't gonna go below the line tryin' to get you to *cough it up*, ... He's gonna wait till ya get it, *hope* that you get it, *yearn* that you get, the gospel of grace and peace.
When you get it, ... [sv] ya start giving. ... Ya start giving becau- and - it just - ... you *want* to. I *wanna* give. ... So it's a litmus test.
Flip over now to Matthew chapter 6. ... These are familiar verses. ... ... ... OK. Jesus' talking about giving again, ... he's talking about a lot of things, we're right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, almost - dead smack in the middle; verse 19 of chapter 6 of Matthew, "Do *not* store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal but store up for yourselves treasure in *heaven*, ... where moth and rust do *not* destroy, and where thieves do *not* break in and steal for where your *treasure* is your *heart* will be also." It's a *heart* deal. ... OK? And what God is saying is that if you've got a *yearning* to invest, ... if you have a *yearning* to advance yourself, enlightened self-interest: inv- invest in something that will last forever. That's what he's saying. I believe.
Turn away from investing in this world, and all the stuff you're *chasin' after*, ... and then *put your heart here.* ... And by the way, the indication that you're, that's what you real- how you really *feel* in your heart, ... is that you're giving gladly. ... But I also can see the benefit. I think, - by the way the first experience that - many many Christians will have in heaven, ... *saved by grace*, ... as they are, ... the *first* flash - thing you're gonna have ... is ... "*I* should've *invested* in this." ... [laughing] Y'know? "What was I *doin'* down there gettin' *all* *wrapped around the axles*, ... about all the *stuff* of that world, ... when all the while *this* was here for me to invest in?"
OK. Let's read on cause there's some good verses here Verse 22 — uh f- s- these are kind of confusing verses — "The eye is the light of the body but if your eyes are good your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness how *great* is that darkness. No one can serve two masters; either he'll hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You *cannot* ... serve ... God and money," now that's a *matter of the heart*. But these verses are interesting to me this whole business of "the eye is the lamp of the body"... what's he talkin' about there? He's talkin' about money, folks, that verse is wedged between two verses of money, and he's talking about our hearts, and he's saying this: that if your heart is in the right place, ... *given* to God, ... and *illuminated* by God's spirit ... then your whole body is fulla light. ... And ... it's easy to let go of the things of this world. Or easi-*er*.
But if your heart is not, if your eye is not good, if your heart, if- if on one hand you're goin' to God cause you want some help, but the rest of, 99% of your heart is *invested* in the things of this world? ... and th- ... what constitutes this world? What he's saying is, ... your heart, ... uh, actually, ... ya got *no* light. ... You're *dark*. ... I believe that's what he's saying. And he says very pointedly ya c- we cain't serve both God, and money.
OK. Second Corinthians. ... And this is where we'll finish. ... Ch- uh, Second Corinthians in chapter 9, and I *think*, uh, - a- and I've given a *lot of thought* to this, and there are *tons* of verses I could've gone to, ... but I think, here, Paul, ... um, ... actually captures what this whole business of Christian giving is. ... If you wanna give a tithe *great*, that's *great*. Actually I think for many people in this church if you're thinkin' tithe you're thinkin' *way* too low. But if you wanna think tithe, I think that's *fine*. I don't think there's *anything* wrong with that. ... I think you can think a lot bigger than that actually, many people. ... I think when, by the way when you think in terms of *percentages* it encourages a quid pro quo relationship with God. And we don't have a relationship like that We have a relationship of grace and peace, he accepts me as I am. When that sinks in, ... I'm kinda happy to contribute to the advancement of that message.
OK. Paul has a long, ... uh, thing here about generosity, he's taking up an offering. It's a special offering to help out some Christians who are really in need. Chapter 8 deals with that; chapter 9 deals with it; here's the b- part I like.
Verse, uh, ... chapter ... 9 in verse 6: "remember this. ... whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also ... reap generously" Now the greed people use that verse, and they think there's a direct, per- uh, relationship between you givin' God a buck and then givin' you *ten*. ... Right, God gives you ten, you give him a buck. ... But that's not true. If they believed that they'd give God all their money so he could make 'em rich like Bill Gates. ... [scattered laughter] They don't, they don't *really* believe that.
It's *true* riches *I* think. First and foremost. "Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" Now here's the *kicker*. This is what I think ... our *obligation* if I can use that word is, as a Christian, to give. "Each man ... (and woman) ... should give what he or she has decided in his heart to give ... *not* reluctantly, ... or under *compulsion* ... ... for God loves a cheerful giver."
You know what God wants you to do? He wants you to give like *he* does, for the same *reasons* he does. And he doesn't care ... whether it's *two* cents, or *two* million dollars, whether it's *ten* percent of your income, or *point* ten percent of your income, he *wants* you ... [sv] to be hilarious about it. To be glad about it. If you *can't be glad about it*, [offhandedly] go ahead and keep it. That's - I he- that's how I feel. [sv] Be glad about it. ... Be happy about it.
Now. [funny voice] "What about, Steve, all those people that ain't givin' nothin'?" I'm- y'know, I can get like the older prodigal son, and get my back up about that. But I'm not *gonna*. I'm not gonna, this is what I'm gonna do. ... If you're not givin' anything ... at all ... to the, to the life and the advancement of this church, and the message of grace and peace in this world, ... it's OK. That's how I feel about it. ... Because I understand it's a *heart* issue and not a *money* issue.
You know what *I'm* gonna do? I'm gonna give so you can - keep comin'. That's what *I'm* gonna do. ... I'll underwrite ya. ... And so will e- everybody else that's [slowly] constitutionally inclined to give. We will underwrite ya if ya don't get it yet. ... No hassle, no pressure. ... Keep your money. ... Don't give it. Don't give it until you're - really happy about it. ... It's between you and the Lord.
We gotta be *real careful* here, ... that *we don't*, in our quest to try and finance what we're doin' here, ... get this cart ahead of the horse. The *heart* is the issue; God is interested in your *heart*, not your *wallet.* ... Give him your heart, your wallet comes along for the ride. He's not broke, he doesn't need money; what he wants you to do, and what he wants me to do is [slowly] turn away from this world, and the way this world does business, and it revolves ... around ... *bucks.* He wants you and I ... to turn away from it, ... face him, give our hearts to him *unreservedly*.
By the way, when we do that, *you* will get ... financial security. ... And you might not get a *dime* more than you're makin' right now, ... but you'll stop worryin' about your money. Because you realize that this world is not my home. ... I'm merely passin' through. ... I'n that right?
I love that song we sing after church. Y'know ... I'm So Glad I'm A Part Of The Family Of God? ... Washed In The Fountain, Cleansed By His Blood. ... And here's the line that's the kicker: *Joint heirs* with Jesus. A lot of people think that's *join hands* with Jesus. [laughter] Look up at the screen! It's "joint heirs," do you know what an heir is? Heir: h-e-i-r ... right? That means that you are the guy that gets the inheritance. ... And who are you getting the inheritance with, this is scriptural principle by the way. You're gettin' the - inheri- ... with Jesus; well what's *he* inheriting? ... What's Jesus stand to inherit?
*Everything.* Everything. *You*... [slowly] are *joint heirs* ... for what he did, not for *anything* *you* did; you believe in him? you are a *joint* ... heir. That's what eternity's gonna unfold.
If that du'nt get ya excited nothin' will. ... If ya don't get it, keep comin' back, that's what they say in A.A., keep comin' back. [laughter] ... OK? And those of us that get it, we won't get poopy and get mad like the older prodigal, [growling] Aah, why won't that ... 60% give somethin', we could *do* so much *more* if we had it [trailing off] ... we're just gon' keep pluggin' away. ... aright, we'll *underwrite* ... the cost that it takes for you to get it, in your heart, this message of grace and peace. And then join in. And you can pay somebody else's way.
Let's close with prayer.
Father, thank you for your word ... thank you for the joy of giving, help us to give for the *right reasons*, help us to give because we love you. Help us to give *not* under compulsion or coercion, *not* because it's a duty, but *just because we want to.* Because we want others to hear this message. ... And because we're happy to be a part of it, understanding that this world is *not our home*, it's just a place that we wander around, ... that we're looking forward to inheriting ... *unfathomable* grace, ... as a joint heir with your son Jesus, in whose name we pray; ... Amen.
april 9, 2000