(JOHN 10:10) "THE THIEF COMETH NOT, BUT FOR TO STEAL, AND TO KILL, AND TO DESTROY: I AM COME THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE LIFE, AND THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY."
God's plan for us is more than just to give us eternal life. God desires that we have an abundant and full life. In other words, God wants to bless us. As we finish up our thoughts on stewardship, we want to consider the rewards of being a good steward.
This brings many questions to our minds. If we give, should we expect God to reward us? If so, in what form should we expect to see such a response from the Lord? Does He want all His children to be healthy and wealthy or without major problems?
I want us to look at the rewards from two perspectives. Temporal and Eternal. Earthly and Heavenly.
I. Earthly Abundance. Cf 2 Co. 9:6-15
A. Physical benefits:
1. Bread to eat
(2 COR 9:10) "NOW HE THAT MINISTERETH SEED TO THE SOWER BOTH MINISTER BREAD FOR YOUR FOOD, AND MULTIPLY YOUR SEED SOWN, AND INCREASE THE FRUITS OF YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS;)"
a. Paul requested that God supply daily food for the generous Corinthian believers.
b. He implied that God might even give them better food to enjoy.
c. Jesus taught His followers to pray, "Give us day by day our daily bread" (Luke 11:2).
d. It is through God's grace that we receive life's necessities.
e. Each meal provides an excellent opportunity to offer thanks to God, Who gives every good gift.
a. Paul prayed for the Lord to multiply the Corinthians' seed and increase the fruits of their righteousness.
b. Assuming God's favorable answer, he wrote that they would be "enriched in every thing" (2 Cor. 9:10-11).
c. God's enrichment of us does not mean we will receive financial prosperity to hoard.
d. This enrichment, or bounty, is not for selfish purposes or self-glory.
e. The believer who practices "grace giving" looks for opportunities to give so he can grow spiritually and help make God's work grow.
f. God receives the glory when we direct our thanks to Him as the One who loves to be tested in this realm.
(MAL 3:10) "BRING YE ALL THE TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE, THAT THERE MAY BE MEAT IN MINE HOUSE, AND PROVE ME NOW HEREWITH, SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, IF I WILL NOT OPEN YOU THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN, AND POUR YOU OUT A BLESSING, THAT THERE SHALL NOT BE ROOM ENOUGH TO RECEIVE IT."
3. Surplus for others.
(2 COR 9:11) "BEING ENRICHED IN EVERY THING TO ALL BOUNTIFULNESS, WHICH CAUSETH THROUGH US THANKSGIVING TO GOD."
a. Because of the Corinthian believers' generosity, Paul asked the Lord to multiply their crops to such an extent that they could increase their giving to others.
b. Giving to God does not have the primary purpose of getting more from God.
c. However, when we give unselfishly and He blesses us, we find ourselves able to give more.
d. Our giving should continue to increase with increased blessings.
e. Believers who have blessings must use them for others.
(EPH 4:28) "LET HIM THAT STOLE STEAL NO MORE: BUT RATHER LET HIM LABOUR, WORKING WITH HIS HANDS THE THING WHICH IS GOOD, THAT HE MAY HAVE TO GIVE TO HIM THAT NEEDETH."
f. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to keep on giving to less fortunate believers, or "the want of the saints" (2 Cor. 9:12).
g. Doing so caused much "thanksgivings unto God" (v. 12).
4. Seed to sow.
a. The farming analogy in 2 Co. 9:10 speaks of God supplying seed for a farmer.
b. Seed is absolutely essential for planting the next year's crop.
c. God promised to provide the means for the Corinthians to plant and therefore support themselves in the future.
d. Paul confidently stated that God is able to provide in all areas.
(2 COR 9:8) "AND GOD IS ABLE TO MAKE ALL GRACE ABOUND TOWARD YOU; THAT YE, ALWAYS HAVING ALL SUFFICIENCY IN ALL THINGS, MAY ABOUND TO EVERY GOOD WORK:"
e. One reason some believers give little or nothing is their fear of the future.
1) "What if tomorrow brings a rainy day and I need this money?"
2) God is able to supply for our future as well as for our present.
3) Will we trust Him who ministers seed to the sower?
1. Service to God.
a. Financial giving provides a tangible form of service for the believer.
b. It shows others our "professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ" (2 Cor. 9:13).
c. It is just as important as prayer, Bible study, and other ways of worship.
a. Churches that are models in grace giving can encourage other churches.
b. Paul boasted to the Macedonians about the giving of the Corinthians.
c. The Corinthians' zeal stirred many in Macedonia to give (2 Cor. 9:2).
d. Generous giving can allow you to be an encourager of others in this area.
e. Scripture records for our benefit the sacrificial giving of Barnabas (whose name literally means "encourager").
3. Exercise of the spiritual gift
a. The Lord gives spiritual gifts so we can excel "to the edifying of the church."
b. Giving is both God's expectation for all His children and a special gift for some of His children (Rom. 12:8).
c. Those believers who have the gift of giving have the opportunity to exercise their gift for the good of the church and the glory of God.
d. The faithfulness of gifted givers helps the rest of us learn the blessings of giving.
4. Glory to God.
a. Verses 11, 12 and 15 speak of thanksgiving, or thanks, to God.
b. This passage of Scripture reveals how giving to Christ can produce an expression of praise to Him for who He is and all He is doing.
c. He is to receive the glory.
d. When we give generously in our local church, we should never give for personal praise, status, influence or control.
C. The work of the ministry
An obvious result of faithful giving by God's people is the growth and expansion of the work of the Lord within the church, in the community at large and in the rest of the world.
1. Church prosperity
a. Christ's plan for supporting His work financially includes believers obeying Him in "grace giving" as worship to Him.
b. When individuals give generously, the church as a body can expand its ministries within the body and to the lost.
c. When believers give generously, the church can also provide facilities for itself.
2. Missionary Support
a. The church at Philippi was a missionary- minded church.
b. The believers gave to Christ in their church.
c. Their gifts were then delivered as one gift from the church to Paul, the missionary (Phil. 4:15-19).
d. In response, their needs would be supplied through Christ to whom they had given (v. 19).
e. The Lord has many open doors of opportunity for missionary work today.
f. In fact, He has more doors open than believers are entering.
g. We lack missionaries and support.
II. Heavenly Abundance.
1. Financial giving produces spiritual fruit to our account (Phil. 4:17).
2. This fruit comes through sacrificial giving and abounds in us as a result of godly virtue (2 Pet. 1:8).
1. Christ instructs His stewards to lay up treasures in Heaven, because we have been made in such a way that our heart focuses its interest where our treasure is.
2. Treasures in Heaven cannot be corrupted or stolen (Matt. 6:19-21).
3. Giving as God directs provides one method of storing treasure in Heaven (Matt. 19:21).
1. The highest possible form of reward is praise from the sovereign God.
2. Jesus used a parable to illustrate His own approval of faithful stewards.
3. The master in the parable said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21).
4. Proper giving to the Lord will result in His commendation after we arrive in Heaven.
1. We have seen that God loves cheerful, enthusiastic giving.
2. When any steward of God does give "heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men," he "shall receive the reward of the inheritance" (Col. 3:23, 24).
3. The rewards of faithful stewardship do not serve as our primary motivation for giving to the Lord.
4. However, God certainly blesses us when we properly give.
Both temporal and eternal. Both earthly and heavenly. God rewards faithful stewardship. Time, Life, Finances, Gifts, etc. It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful.