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Philanthropy -
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)

What’s interesting about the word philanthropy is that the idea of money doesn’t 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 ...

  1. Love of humanity
  2. Love of God ...

The purpose of this sermon is to preface all other sermons and teachings about giving:

  1. Many of you probably didn’t 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 – that’s their ministry. There’s no secrets around here. But if no one ever told you – I am telling you now. Now let’s just see what we can do about this.
  2. (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 let’s get rid of the roadblock. After all it’s more about love than money.
  3. This congregation is generous. This congregation is more about love than money. When there’s 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.
  4. 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 couldn’t. We sometimes give up because we think we cannot give.
  5. 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. That’s 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 God’s 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 Paul’s letter that was their fault not his! Paul doesn’t 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 couldn’t give.
  6. Finally, I don’t know if I have said this yet, but giving (Christian philanthropy) is more about love than money. Have I said that yet?
We’ll 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.

But let’s put it all into context ... It’s about love more than it is about money and that’s because it all begins with what Christ did for us – he loved humanity. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 30 July 2006

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