Out of The Heart… How Giving Reflects Belief

“You evil, lazy slave!”

These are the words the master had for the third servant in Jesus’ story recorded in Matthew 25. Each had been given a substantial sum of money; each had made choices about what to do with it. The first two servants, with varying success, had taken what had been entrusted to them and put it to work. When the master came back, these two were lauded for their good investment and faithful stewardship.

But not the third.

The third took his talent, dug a hole, and put it in the ground. And the master had that harsh rebuke for him.

He was wicked. And he was lazy. And here is the end result:

“So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:28-30).

Jesus told this story, along with a few others, during His last days in Jerusalem. All of the stories in Matthew 25 are centered around the theme of readiness. Jesus wanted His followers to live with the end in mind; convinced that He would return at a moment’s notice, and to be ready at a moment’s notice for that inevitable coming.

We look at this story and take many applications from it. We see the need to make the most of what we’ve been given. We see that there is an active stance we must take while waiting for Jesus to return. We see that we must make wise choices for the sake of the kingdom.

But there is an issue at the bottom of this kind of kingdom investment. The issues, as is always the case, is what we believe about God.

Look back at the way the third servant responded when the master returned and asked what had been done with the gifts He had given:

“Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24-25).

See it? I know you.

But he did not.

Nowhere in this story do we have the slightest indication that the master was a hard man. Nowhere do we see him being unfair. Nowhere do we find him being stingy or overbearing. Instead, we see him being generous, and overly so at that. Even though the master distributed the talents unevenly, the smallest portion was a gigantic sum.

I know you says the third servant.

But he did not.

This is the root of the issue. This is the bottom of it all. The real question, then, is not what you are going to do with what God has given you. The real question is, “Do you really know Him?”

Do you really know His generosity? Do you really know His kindness? Do you really know His love? Do you really know Him?

What you do is a reflection of what you believe.

Today, then, as we either hold tightly to what we’ve been given, bent on our own self-preservation, refusing to relinquish our grip out of fear or anxiety or greed, then we would do well to ask ourselves that question:

Do we really know Him?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

God’s 5 Investment Funds

Your congregation can invest in eternity by using their money for God’s purposes. It is secure. It is risk free. It comes with guaranteed interest. It yields dividends forever.

The Bible says, “Tell people to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share whatever God has given them. By doing this they’ll be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven. It is the only safe investment for eternity and they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19, TLB)

1. Invest in God’s treasury fund (worship).

This is the investment fund most of your congregation will know about – tithing. We invest in the treasury fund by using some of our money to express worship.

There’s nothing we can give God that he needs. And God certainly doesn’t need our money. But when we give an offering to God – an undesignated, planned, and proportional offering where and when we worship – we’re saying, “God I love you.”

The Bible says, “Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income.” (Prov. 3:9 TLB) We honor God when we tithe. It’s an act of worship. God wants us to give to this fund before we invest in any other fund. He doesn’t want our money; he wants what it represents.

2. Invest in God’s mutual fund (fellowship).

God also wants us to use some of our money to encourage fellowship, to show love to other believers, to build relationships.

Anytime I give my money to God, it draws me closer to God. Anytime I give my money to another person, it draws me closer to that person. When I give money to people in my small group or I invest in my small group, I grow closer to those in the group. Anytime I buy a nice card and write a note of encouragement, I’ve just invested in the mutual fund. When another believer is discouraged, and I take him or her out for lunch, I’ve just invested in the mutual fund.

Investing in this fund brings in dividends from elsewhere as well. The Bible says, “When you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible” (3 John 1:5 MSG).

When we invest our money in developing relationships within the church, it points others to God. Investing in the fellowship of your church helps bring people to Christ.

3. Invest in God’s growth fund (discipleship).

God wants us to take some of our money and invest it in ourselves – in personal and spiritual improvement. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:18, “Grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (TLB)

There are many ways to waste your money instead of using it to grow. But God wants us to use some of our money to grow spiritually, to develop skills, and to educate ourselves – so that we can become the kind of person God has shaped us to be. The Bible says, “Buy truth and don’t sell it for love or money. Buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight” (Prov. 22:23 MSG).

Anytime we use our money to buy a Christian book or a CD that helps us grow, we’ve invested in this fund. Or whenever we use our money to take a class or to learn something that makes us more of what God wants us to be, we’re investing in our growth fund.

4. Invest in God’s equity service fund (ministry).

God wants us to use some of our money to help people in need. God didn’t put us on this earth to live for ourselves.

This is all part of God making us more like himself. God is generous. Everything we have in life is because of God’s generosity. We wouldn’t have anything – we wouldn’t even be alive – if it weren’t for God’s generosity. And God wants us to be generous like he is.

God particularly wants us to be generous with the poor. All throughout the Bible, God tells us he is watching how we help the poor. For example:

  • “Give to the poor, and you will never be in need. But if you close your eyes to the poor, many will curse you.” (Prov. 28:27 TEV)
  • “When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back.” (Prov. 19:17 TEV)

5. God wants the people of your church to invest in his global fund (missions).

God wants us to use some of our money to take the Good News to the whole world.

Luke 16:9 is one of the most misunderstood verses in the entire Bible. Jesus says,“Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone you will be welcomed in eternal dwellings.” What in the world does he mean by that?

I believe Jesus is telling us that he wants us to take some of our money and use it to help other people get into heaven. So when you die and get to heaven, those same people will welcome you there and say, “Thank you for investing in me. I’m in heaven because of you. I’m not your friend for life; I’m your friend for eternity. I’m in heaven because you cared enough. You bought me a Bible. You bought me a ticket for an event. You did something with your money to help spread the Good News to my village. Because you gave, I’m now a follower of Christ, and I’m in heaven because of you.”

That’s the greatest possible use of our money! We can use the money from this fund locally or we can use it globally. Are there people in your church who want to participate in short-term missions, but they don’t think they can afford it? Encourage them to invest (or save) a little money each month for their global fund, so they can take the Good News of Jesus Christ to another country.

Investing in these five funds is eternally important. If your church members invest their treasure on earth, all they’re doing is piling up treasure here. But if we invest in eternity – in God’s eternal purposes – we’ll enjoy our investment forever and ever and ever.

This article is adapted from Rick Warren’s message, Enabling the Vision – Purpose Driven Giving.

> Read more from Rick.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Leading Your Congregation to Invest in God’s 5 Funds

Should Pastors ever talk about money? Only if you want to make disciples. What we worship shows in how we spend our time, our energy, and our money. So one of the roles of church leaders is to help people see the proper place of money in our lives and the potential reward in eternity when we invest our resources into eternal things.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, “Tell people to use their money to do good.  They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share whatever God has given them.  By doing this they’ll be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven.  It is the only safe investment for eternity and they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.” 

Notice three things:

  • Money should be used, not loved. We should love people and use money and never use people and love money.
  • Money can be invested to store up treasures for eternity.
  • You invest in eternity by using your money for God’s purposes for your life.

Since God has five purposes for your life, He also has five funds for people to invest in – one for each purpose.

1. We can invest in His treasury fund.

In Matthew 6 Jesus says, “Don’t store up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves can break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” We invest in God’s treasury fund in heaven when we use our money to express worship to God.

God doesn’t need money. But when people given an offering to God, they’re saying, “God, I love you and I’m thinking of you and I want you to be first in my life.” Worship giving is undesignated. We offer it as a sacrifice with no strings attached and no controls placed on it. And we offer it when and where we worship.

2. We can invest in His mutual fund.

The second purpose of God for our lives is to learn to love other people. The Bible says in Romans 12:10,“Love one another with mutual affection.” People invest in God’s mutual fund by using money to encourage fellowship and build relationships with other people. Giving to God brings people closer to God, and giving to other people brings us closer to other people. We lead people to give to each other through acts of hospitality, such as hosting a small group with refreshments, encouraging and discipling people over a cup of coffee, and serving a meal to people who need friends. This often happens within the body in a way that can’t be programmed. It’s spontaneous and personal.

3. We can invest in His growth fund.

The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:18 “Grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Some of my money expresses worship. And some of my money encourages fellowship. And I invest in God’s growth fund when I use some of my money to enhance my own personal character, my own personal growth.

When you teach about money, it’s always appropriate to challenge people to use some of their money to buy and read books, to develop skills, to pursue education, or to become a better leader. People waste tons of money on comfort and entertainment. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with spending money on entertainment, a higher priority should be to spend money on personal development.

The Bible not only says people can give an offering, but also that we can be an offering. It says in Romans 12:1, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (MSG)

4. We can invest in His service equity fund.

When we teach about money, we should be teaching people that one of the ways we serve others is by helping in times of financial need. The church should develop a reputation for responding to crises financially when we take a special offering after a tragedy. And it should happen in behind-the-scenes ways as well when members of a small group help another member during a difficult season.

In the Bible there was a church in Greece that did this. They heard about another church that was in trouble and going through a famine so they gave them some money. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 8:3-4, “They gave as much as they were able and even more than they could afford. No one told them to do it. They pleaded with us to let them share with us in this service [that’s the Service Fund] for God’s people.” (NCV)

The Bible says this in Proverbs 11:24, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”  One aspect of discipleship is moving people from selfishness to generosity by instructing and inspiring people to give to others.

When we did the 40 Days of Community campaign, Saddleback Church decided we would feed every homeless person in Orange County three meals a day for 40 days. Then we found out there were 42,000 people who were homeless. The members of Saddleback collected over two million pounds of food and then 9,200 volunteers collected, sorted, and distributed it.

5. We can invest in His global fund.

Luke 16:9 is probably one of the most misunderstood verses in the entire Bible. Jesus says this, “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone you will be welcomed in eternal dwellings.” What in the world does He mean by that? I’m convinced Jesus wanted people to use their wealth to share the good news of Jesus, to expand the family of God, to enlarge heaven’s population.

Churches can give people opportunities to purchase resources to share their faith, to give to missionaries, to go on mission trips or sponsor the trips others are going on, and to support the evangelistic outreach capacity of the local church. God is looking for people who will care about the whole world as much as He does.

Your reward and your responsibility in heaven – not your salvation but your reward and responsibility for eternity is going to be based on how you manage what God put in your hands while you’re here on earth. It would be foolish and shortsighted to spend it all on myself now in light of eternity.

The best time for people to start investing in eternity is now. And the best time for you to teach and lead your congregation to embrace this life of generosity is now. So where do you need to start?

> Read more from Rick.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.