If you could take one possession of yours, sell it and give the proceeds to the Lord's work, what would it be?
What earthly possession are you willing to part with? If you knew that if you sold your car, someone would be saved and secure his or her place in heaven, would you do it? I spent some time thinking about this, and here’s my list:
- Watches (that weren’t personal gifts)
- TVs – How many of you have more than one TV at home? How many of you have four or more?
- Cars – How many of you have more than one car to drive?
- Clothes – How many of you have more than one set of clothes per day in your closet? Who has clothes that haven’t been worn for more than a year? Who has clothes that are new, tags and all, and never been worn?
Here’s the hard truth: Everything I mentioned as a possession to give away are possessions of excess, not sacrifice. Most of us will give away our possessions when we have extra, but how many of us are willing to give out of sacrifice? How many of us would give something away that we hold dear, and, when gone from our possession, would leave a void in our lives or cause us to think and act differently? Now, I am going to ask you the most convicting question of all here today: When was the last time you actually gave something sacrificial to the Lord?
Stewardship is not simply about accounting for and managing what we have. Nor is it only about giving away possessions of excess. Stewardship is also about sensing the Holy Spirit’s call to give away possessions and money sacrificially when led to do so.
We are reminded in the Scriptures about what happened in the early church when it came to stewarding and sacrificing possessions for the mission of the gospel:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37, NIV84)
The question of sacrificial giving and tangible generosity is a good one because it gets to the core of our hearts. One of the practical ways to get a sense of where your heart is as a giver is to take a “generosity inventory.” When was the last time you said, “God, I’m going to take an inventory of my possessions and pray about what I can sell and give to you to advance your kingdom?”
- What would that do for your spiritual life?
- What would that do for your life of clutter?
- How powerfully would that strike a mortal blow to the materialism in your heart and mine?
Think about the 1st century church. We are told that from time to time people sold their possessions for the kingdom of God. Imagine what that would do for your spiritual journey. I’m sure their giving wasn’t simply a spontaneous offering based on emotion. It took planning and follow-through. It took time and commitment. Maybe it took weeks or months?
Just think about how long it would take you to sell your house. You would have to prepare the house for sale and then sell it. You would have to find a new house and move in. And the emotions involved in packing up your possessions and selling the house you’ve lived in for so long also weigh into the equation, don’t they?
In stewardship, giving of one’s tithes and offerings to the Lord is important. But I like the way one of my elders puts it: “We are not giving a tithe or offering, we are returning what belongs to the Lord.” God expects us to return our offerings to Him, but to be generous is a higher level to reach for. Whenever we steward our resources according to God’s economy we can be assured of what His word promises:
God said: “I shall supply ALL your needs according to my riches in glory in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 4:19)
God said: “Give and it will be given to you pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38)
God said: “Give sparingly and you will reap sparingly. Give generously and you will reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)
God said: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
God said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
God said: “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
As you think about stewardship and generosity with your possessions and money, consider practical and tangible ways you can live out your desire to give. Below are just a few ideas.
- Go to the website of your church or organization to which you want to donate and see if there is a way to give a financial or material gift like cars, smartphones, laptops, jewelry, stock, real estate, etc.
- Give electronically by setting up recurring payments to the church.
- Give money and land through your will so your church benefits after you have gone home to be with the Lord.
Stewardship is an opportunity for all believers to demonstrate that whatever God entrusts to them can be managed for His glory and for the advancement of His program on Earth. It is a privilege to give to the Lord by being generous in a tangible way to others.