Sun. a.m. AGCC 6/22/97
TEXT: Philip. 4:10-20
INTRO: When one hears the term
"stewardship" or the idea of giving, what comes to mind? For many people
"giving" does not evoke the concept of "JOY", yet for believers this should be
the norm! The Bible always associates "giving" with "joy".
It is ironic how many Christians chafe at the subject of "giving"...even
mentioning tithes evokes the response; "here we go again, talking about money
in Church" as though this is wrong!
Talking about giving a tithe in a Church can raise the anger of some
Christians, and send others out of the Church, yet:
a. our government takes 25-35% of our income but we don't leave the
b. Waitresses get 15% tips and we don't stop going to restaurants!
c. Bank cards can charge well above 10% and we still use them and
Stewardship is not just a percentile, it is a pleasure when conducted with
a proper understanding and with Christian joy!
ILLUS: No man was ever honored for what he received. Honor is the
reward for what he gave. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 241.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
that stewardship is really a joy, not a dreary burdensome responsibility.
Because God takes joy in giving, when we give we discover the heart of God in
our own lives...there is joy in stewardship!
I. ATTITUDE OF STEWARDS 4:10-13
A. Concern 4:10
1. The Philippians were great stewards, notice Paul praises them for being so "concerned" about his needs.
a. This is the heart of a steward, concern.
b. Stewards are not people who are self oriented, they look outward.
2. Stewardship that doesn't flow from "concern" has no joy to it, but when
it comes from a concerned heart there is great joy!
ILLUS: Dear Rev. Graham: You will probably never see this letter. I know, however, I feel compelled to write to you. I am twenty-eight years old, a victim of cerebral palsy since birth. I have never been able to use my hands. They flop about, getting in my way, breaking things, hitting people and behaving like naughty children. Everything I do is done with my feet. For example, I'm writing this with a ball-point pen between the toes of my left foot. The right foot isn't much good for anything except turning pages and walking. But that is beside the point. The point is that for many years I have made spending change and bought most of my clothes by selling the fancy needle work that I do.
The Lord has blessed me with many wonderful
friends and I have most always found ready sale from my wares, but I am slow and
the little money I make is soon gone. I do tithe my earnings but I have long
wanted to do more. To be able to give to your Crusade has been an unattainable
goal for several years. Because of my speech defect I cannot talk to people
about our wonderful Savior or be a soul winner. I felt that through you I might
repay a little of my debt to Christ. I am indeed thankful. It is with the
greatest of joy that I sign the enclosed $10 check. I have high hopes that it
will not be the last. --
Eleanor A. Drath as Quoted in Daily Observations, Western Recorder, Middle Town,
KY, Jan 15, 1959.
3. Evidently the Philippians had wanted to send Paul some financial help but for some unstated reason they had been prohibited from doing so....but like true stewards they didn't give up and they were able to finally get the help to Paul.
a. It may be that they didn't know where Paul was for a while
b. Or it may be that they had no messenger who could bring the gift for some reason, perhaps local persecution kept them at bay.
c. Their concern however never let up.
B. Contentment 4:11-13
1. Notice Paul's attitude as a steward himself....he had little concern for himself, and he did not minister based on how much or how little he was compensated.
a. Stewards are people who have learned contentment as well as concern.
b. Paul as a steward recognized that he could do whatever God called him to do no matter the outward financial situation, because ultimately it was God who strengthened him, not money or material things.
2. At this point it is becoming evident that stewardship has more to do with character than cash!
a. Obviously stewardship is much more than just the tithe issue!
b. It is a whole attitude, both what we have and what we give!
3. The greatest Christian joy in stewardship comes from seeing money as simply a mechanism to please God and minister to needs, not a personal status symbol or power.
a. The joy of being a steward that sees money as a way of expressing God's
heart will make stewardship a wonderfully joyful part of life.
ILLUS: One afternoon three children, two boys and a girl, entered a flower shop. They were about nine or ten years old, raggedly dressed, but at this moment well-scrubbed. One of the boys took off his cap and gazed around the store somewhat doubtfully, then came up to the person who owned the store and said, "Sir, we'd like something in yellow flowers."
There was something in their tense nervous manner that made the man think that this was a very special occasion. He showed them some inexpensive yellow spring flowers. The boy who was the spokesman for the group shook his head. "I think we'd like something better than that."
The man asked, "Do they have to be yellow?" The boy answered, "Yes, sir. You see, Mickey would like 'em better if they were yellow. He had a yellow sweater. I guess he'd like yellow better than any other color."
The man asked, "Are they for his funeral?"
The boy nodded, suddenly choking up. The little girl was desperately struggling to keep back the tears. "She's his sister," the boy said. "He was a swell kid. A truck hit him while he was playing in the street." His lips were trembling now. The other boy entered the conversation. "Us kids in his block took up a collection. We got eighteen cents. Would roses cost an awful lot, sir--yellow roses, I mean?"
The man smiled. "It just happens that I have some nice yellow roses here that I'm offering special today for eighteen cents a dozen." The man pointed to the flower case.
"Gee, those would be swell! Yes, Mickey'd sure like those."
The man said, "I'll make up a nice spray with ferns and ribbons. Where do you want me to send them?" One of the boys responded, "Would it be all right, mister, if we took them with us? We'd kind of like to--you know--give 'em to Mickey ourselves. He'd like it better that way."
The florist fixed the spray of flowers and
accepted the eighteen cents gravely and watched the youngsters trudge out of the
store. And he felt within his heart the warm glow of the presence of God, for he
had remembered anew the meaning of the words of Jesus: "Even as you have done it
unto one of these little ones, you have done it unto me. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations
Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 236.
b. The godly steward is a contented joyful soul!
4. Contentment comes from recognizing the source for all our needs as coming from God, not this world's stuff....so Paul could say, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength".
5. It is probably noteworthy that the best givers are contented people, not the richest people.
a. Discontented people do not usually give, or give faithfully...
b. and when they do give it is usually grudgingly, hence no joy in giving!
c. No wonder the Bible says to give "cheerfully"!
II. ACTIONS OF STEWARDS 4:14-18
A. Contributors 4:14-15
1. Though Paul recognized that all his need came from God ultimately, he also recognizes here that God uses people in that process.
a. Therefore he thanks them for participating and being used by God in their stewardship to help him in his time of need.
b. Though God supplies all our needs, we bear a responsibility as stewards to make available a portion of what He has given us as part of the way He does His work.
2. The joy comes from understanding this and cheerfully giving, if
our motives are wrong the joy will be lacking even if the need is
ILLUS: Sometimes our generosity comes from mixed motives. It seems
that some vandals had cut down six royal palms along Miami's Flagler Street.
Since the palms were very expensive, Dade County authorities weren't sure if
they could replace them very soon. But then someone donated six more and even
had them planted. The old ones had been about fifteen feet tall and provided a
nice foreground for a "Fly Delta" billboard. The new palms are thirty-five feet
tall-- completely hiding the sign. The new donor: Eastern Airlines. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations
Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp.
3. Paul praises the Philippian Church because they had ministered to him out of love, not obligation.
4. What did the Philippians receive?
c. PRAISE and PEACE...and the JOY of knowing that God used them!
B. Consistent 4:16-18
1. Paul thanks them for their consistent giving!
a. A steward is not someone that just gives occasionally!
b. A steward realizes the importance of faithful giving
c. This also brings about a faithful joy!
2. Everyone can be a faithful giver, consistent, no matter their status in life or financially.
3. Giving consistently allows for consistent JOY!
ILLUS: Dr. Hugh McKean of Chiengmai, Thailand, tells of a church
of four hundred members where every member tithes. They receive a weekly wage of
forty stangs (less than twenty cents] and their rice. Of this meager existence,
each gives a tenth every week. Because of this, they have done more for Christ
in Thailand than any other church. They pay their own preacher and have sent two
missionary families to spread the gospel in a community cut off from the outside
world. They are intensely interested in all forms of Christian work, especially
work for unfortunates of every kind; and their gifts for this kind of work are
large. They have not only accepted Christ, but, having found Him good, they are
making Him known to others. Oh, by the way, this church of all tithers is also a
church of all lepers--every person has leprosy. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 461.
4. Stewards don't look at what they CAN'T give, but what they CAN give faithfully.
a. Paul was not emphasizing their faithful giving so as to continue to receive something from them, but so that they might be blessed consistently.
b. Hence his statement in 4:17 "Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account."
c. He didn't want his own motives questioned in bringing up the subject of
stewardship and their consistent giving...he expresses in 4:18 that his needs
were more than met by their generosity, and that their actions were not simply
an offering to him, but an offering to God, an offering which pleased
III. ADEQUACY OF STEWARDSHIP 4:19-20
A. Complete 4:19
1. Not only did their faithful stewardship meet all of Paul's needs, but Paul says that because they gave faithfully and joyfully, God will meet all their needs as well!
a. This is not a case of "giving to get" ...Paul simply recognizes that the heart that gives out of love, the heart that overflows with joy in giving, is a heart that gets God's attention.
b. God does respond to faithfulness, in every area of life including stewardship.
2. This is why giving does not impoverish us...because God will supply all our needs as we are faithful in our giving.
a. It is for this reason that there really is no gamble to giving...it can't fail unless God fails to have a supply!
b. Stewards do what is right, not what is expedient.
3. We need to take God at his word on stewardship, He can be trusted in
ILLUS: William Penn, the founder of the commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, was well liked by the Indians. Once they told him he could have as
much of their land as he could encompass on foot in a single day. So, early the
next morning he started out and walked until late that night. When he finally
went to claim his land, the Indians were greatly surprised, for they really
didn't think he would take them seriously. But they kept their promise and gave
him a large area which today is part of the city of Philadelphia. William Penn
simply believed what they said. Should we do less with God!
4. In Malachi God even invites us to actually "test Him in this" ...the only place in the Bible that we are allowed to "put God to the test" !
a. That's how much confidence God has in stewardship...we can actually test Him in this area!
b. Giving brings great joy to the giver...this is God's reason for asking
us to give, He wants us to experience this joy.
B. Communion 4:20
1. God's reasons for principles on stewardship is to enable us to experience His own heart...for God is a great giver!
2. You will never feel more like God that when you give:
a. give forgiveness
b. give love
c. give your blessings materially
d. give of yourself
3. The heart of stewardship is not just money, it is about giving period! 4. We never look more like God than when we give with joy!
ILLUS: Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began
picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was
in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children
starving in the streets of those war-torn cities. Early one chilly morning an
American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned
the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the
window of a pastry shop. Inside the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of
doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier
pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where
the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed- up window he could see the
mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The
boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto
the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully. The soldier's heart went out to
the nameless orphan as he stood beside him. "Son, would you like some of those?"
The boy was startled. "Oh, yeah--I would!" The American stepped inside and
bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing
in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and said
simply: "Here you are." As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He
looked back and heard the child ask quietly: "Mister, are you God?" We are never
more like God than when we give. --James S.
Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988),
5. Stewardship has great joy to it, when it comes from a right
CONCLUSION: Stewardship is not some dreary burden, it is another dimension of Christian joy! Paul explodes in this passage with joy that has come to both him and the Philippians through their faithful stewardship. Being a good steward is not just giving tithes and offerings, it is also about getting joy and eternal rewards with our giving. Paul paints a picture of joy in stewardship that is still true today. Does your life express joyful stewardship?