FOR LOVE OR MONEY
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What do you think of when you hear the word philanthropy? What comes to mind if I mention that someone is a philanthropist? (The connotation of the word)
- Perhaps what comes to mind are good deeds and great gifts. We think of all the good things that have been done because a philanthropist donated money. Andrew Carnegie is the most famous philanthropist. He gave away his fortune so that others might benefit. Recently Warren Buffett made a very large donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
- Of course what might also come to mind is that philanthropy is what wealthy people and celebrities do with their money. Maybe so they dont feel guilty or it gives them good press. And I suppose that celebrities and the wealthy need a big word for giving gifts. After all they write big checks those really large Price Is Right checkbook checks that show up very well in photos. (We can criticize motives, but of course many of us benefit)...
Whats interesting about the word philanthropy is that the idea of money doesnt even come into the word. The etymology of the word means love for humanity. Why does a philanthropist give? Why give gifts? For a true philanthropist, it is more about love than money ...
- Love of humanity
- It is a recognition that we have what we have because of what someone else gave.
- We have the myth of the self-made man, the self-made, strike it rich entrepreneur but these are myths! They have what they have because someone else left them a gift, a legacy. We are not isolated.
- You have accomplished nothing on your own (We all thank others for our benefits) None of us can claim we have done it all
- And when we appreciate their gift we understand that it is more about love than money.
- And even if someone could claim to be totally self-sufficient ...
- We all participate in the grace of God.
- Love of God ...
- We need a word that also includes Love for God. Giving and Tithing is also love of God
- 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 The example of the Macedonians they loved others and they loved God.
- It was more about love than money.
- (Because in the Macedonians case, they didnt actually have much but Paul praised them for their outpouring of love.)
- Examples of Grace-filled Philanthropy exist all around us ...
- And these are not just monetary gifts, because IT IS MORE ABOUT LOVE THAN MONEY (Philanthropy)
The purpose of this sermon is to preface all other sermons and teachings about giving:
- Tonight at family meeting we are going to talk about some of the good ministries weve started these are ministries that help the poor, extend the good news, strengthen the young, reach out to neighbors. They all participate in the work that God is doing among us.
- Like Paul told the Corinthian churches, he wants to spare them from sob stories and arm twisting.
- We arent asking you to give to a budget. We dont pay dues to be members of the church body. Budgets are simply spending plans. You will hear from our Business Management Team tonight. They are going to deal you the facts:
- The good news is that Spending is down this year.
- The bad news is that Contributions are also less than what is needed to balance the budget the spending plan.
- Alright, thats just a financial issue, but alongside it is a question about what we want to do with our resources. As Paul asked the Corinthians, do we want to finish the good works we started?
- Theres a thousand and one different ways to explain the current financial situation how we got here, why it is this way.
- We all know what a gallon of gas costs.
- We know what the stock market is doing.
- We dont know what you and your family are dealing with.
- We want to be helpful if you are in need and we certainly dont want to place a burden on anyone.
- We could discuss all of this for a long time, but heres some basic points that should preface every discussion about giving and money ...
Well be talking more about what we can all do to participate in the gracious ministry of giving. Tonight we will discuss it with details and practical examples and not just general concepts. In the near future we will return to this teaching and I hope you now know where I am coming from on this.
- Many of you probably didnt know that our congregation has a financial deficit. The first step in overcoming a problem is just to be aware of it. The BMT will always be available to give you the details thats their ministry. Theres no secrets around here. But if no one ever told you I am telling you now. Now lets just see what we can do about this.
- (2 Corinthians 8:5) A deficit keeps us from doing everything God might have us do. As long as we are just trying to tread water we cannot swim. The goal is not simply to find ways to save a dime we need to trust that God provides all the dimes not just as a church but as families. What does he want us to do with what he gives? Not just the 10%, but the 90% too. To sum up, we need to deal with this issue in creative and faithful ways so that we can move on to the immeasurably more that God can do. So that we can participate in the grace of giving. When we are in a deficit we tend to focus more on the money problem and less on demonstrating love so lets get rid of the roadblock. After all its more about love than money.
- This congregation is generous. This congregation is more about love than money. When theres a need, we give. We have raised money for worldwide disasters and for families in need. Every week our people, young and old our smallest kids put just a little money in the baskets that Ron and Richard bring around to the classrooms. (About how much do they collect each week?) That little effort makes a huge difference because it is more about love than money.
- Everyone should find a way to participate in the gracious ministry of giving. We are always assuming that it takes a few large gifts to make a big difference. I disagree. Paul praises the Macedonians because they gave when it was hard to give. And he encouraged the Corinthians to give what they could not what they couldnt. We sometimes give up because we think we cannot give.
- Why does everyone need to be involved? God is involved in all of this and so it isnt about our capabilities or our limitations. Neither of those are the issue and to view our giving from that perspective isnt very spiritual. Its about money more than it is about love.
- We are not going to trade in guilt. Paul refused to make the Corinthians feel guilty. He testified that the Macedonians gave of their own free will. Thats important. They gave at a time when no one at all would expect them to give. Paul knows that if the Corinthians are going to participate in what Gods doing they need to do it eagerly, freely, and cheerfully. I suppose someone could say, Yeah, but he really laid it on thick with his story about the Macedonians how could they not feel guilty. If any of the Corinthians felt guilty or ashamed after Pauls letter that was their fault not his! Paul doesnt want shame and guilt to enter into it. That gets in the way of demonstrating love. You cannot show love is you are trying to deal with guilt or shame. Paul wanted the Corinthians to focus on what they could give rather than what they couldnt give.
- Likewise, the leaders of this church dont aim to shame you. I wont do it. And I hope you dont do it to yourself. If you feel like you have to give out of shame or guilt or pressure then lets work together on that. Talk to someone who ministers to you about that. Why? Because this is about love more than money.
- Finally, I dont know if I have said this yet, but giving (Christian philanthropy) is more about love than money. Have I said that yet?
But lets put it all into context ... Its about love more than it is about money and thats because it all begins with what Christ did for us he loved humanity. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 30 July 2006
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