Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Art of Giving

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
Scripture Lesson: 2 Samuel 24:18-25
Sermon: "The Art of Giving"

This sermon was VERY different! It was an open, honest discussion of how our finances are allocated.

There was a Wall Street businessman working late one evening and he was riding the subway at 9 p.m. As he was riding, a man in a very dingy sweatshirt, holey sock cap, with a pungant odor came up to him. He figured he was to about to be hit up for money, and sure enough the man asked, "Do you have any money sir?" Wanting to avoid a scene, the man said, "No, I don't." To which the homeless man replied, "Well you ought to try and get some...It's very useful."

Money can be useful. It can be a trap. It can be a great tool, or it can be our god. What we do with it and where our hearts are determine it's devilry.

The text today speaks of David offering a gift to God. He is commanded by God to buy a parcel of land and establish an altar in Jerusalem. So David and his men approach Araunah to buy his threshing floor. Araunah offers the threshing floor to him, free of charge. As a king in the ANE, David would have had the power to take whatever he wanted. Araunah, knowing this and seeing the king coming with all of his men, offers his land to preempt any demands or threats. But, David knows that his gift must come from his own possessions. He insists on buying the land at full value, and he buys it...then offers it to the LORD.

What is really cool is that David's gift would go on and become the very place on which the Temple was built. Unknowingly, David's gift in that moment, a creative buying of land to give to God and God's purposes, would be a blessing to later generations. In fact still to this day, 3 major religions hold this parcel of land to be sacred and special.

Our texts today demonstrate four characteristics of Biblical giving:

Obedient Giving - David heard God commanding him to give, and he responded.

Joyful Giving - Once we give from obedience, we learn that giving can be joyous. Giving is something that gives us joy. Why? God is a giving God. Think of the many blessings that we've shared today. Think of the innumberable blessings that we haven't mentioned! God is a giving God. God loves to bless, and we are made in God's image. Giving feels good because it is a part of God's character in us. We like to give because we were made to give.

Sacrificial Giving - David refused to accept Araunah's sacrifice of giving the land and call it his own. David knew that his gift had to come from his stuff, his possessions. When Bill Cosby was young he would ask his dad for $.50. His dad would reply that when he was a kid he had to walk 23 miles to work on a dairy farm 6 days a week. He would work 10 hrs. a day milking cows, but he had no bucket so he had to milk the cow into his hands and carry the milk another 8 miles to a milk barrel. He did this all for $.05 a day.! At the end of the story, Cosby didn't receive the $.50. Now that Cosby's a father and grandfather, when his grandkids reach for the money, he pulls his hands back and says, "No, it's my money!" When we earn our money it means much more to us. When the possessions are earned and worked for, the possessions mean more, and therefore, are a real sacrifice when given. David bought the land as a sacrifice to God.

Creative Giving - David's giving was creative. A threshing floor. Who would have thought it would be the foundation of the Temple? Who would have thought that seems to be a little gift from a small king, would grow to be one of the most contested parcels of land in the world? David was creative in buying the land, to make something new and to offer a different place and way to offer to God.

[At this point I took some time to explain our General Fund, Endowment, and other giving pools].

Our financial and giving habits are a part of our spiritual lives because they are a part of our lives.

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