PROGRESSING IN STEWARDSHIP
II Corinthians 9:1-8
As a small boy we used to have races to the ball field. Sometimes we would just have races to see who was the fastest runner. We would begin the race by drawing the starting and finishing lines. Then everyone would line up at the starting line and someone would say, "one for the money; two for the show; three to get ready; and four to go."
I heard of a woman who had four different husbands in her life time. Late in her life, someone asked if she had any plan in picking her husbands. She replied, "Yes, I first chose a banker, secondly a clown, thirdly a preacher, and an undertaker." The other person asked, "Well, what was the plan in picking a banker, a clown, a preacher, and an undertaker?" She said, "One fr the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."
This lady had a progressive plan for her life. We should all progress
I. PROGRESSION IN STEWARDSHIP,
ONE FOR THE MONEY-Possessions. v. 2, 5-8.
5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, that the same might be ready as a bountiful gift, and not affected by covetousness.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; (NAS)
Paul told the Corinthians about the generous giving of the people in Macedonia. (That is recorded in Chapter 8.) Now the Corinthians have promised or pledged a generous gift and Paul has bragged about them to others. He has encouraged the stewardship of money and the people have responded.
He encouraged them to give promptly so that their gift might challenge others (notice v. 2). He encouraged them to give liberally. A generous gift will inspire others to give generously (notice v. 6). He encouraged them to give joyfully. If one gives with evident gladness, others may desire to get in on the joy (notice v. 7). He encouraged them to give in trust. Paul urged these folks and us to believe God would grant grace to give (notice v. 8). Yes, it is one for the money, and Paul is not shy in this matter of teaching. He is not afraid of being accused of always talking about money.
1. Every time I go bowl they ask for money.
2. My team expects me to be faithful and pay when I miss.
3. The people aren't very friendly (no one from the league even shook my hand).
4. Several times we have not started on time and it seems we never finish on time.
5. Some bowling language I can't understand.
6. Monday night is supposed to be my night off. You
really don't expect me to tie
up my night off, do you?
7. Besides all of this, the manager and staff have never visited me in my home.
8. But the clincher is this; my Mom made me bowl when
I was a child and I always said,
"When I get on my own I am just not going to go bowling."
Every human endeavor it seems, requires money. The Church needs money
for building, salaries, utilities, upkeep, literature, and missions. You
can't be a steward and leave your money behind. You need to progress in
stewardship. Notice the second point.
II. PROGRESSION IN STEWARDSHIP;
TWO FOR THE SHOW-Influence.
In our text Paul urges these folks to use their influence and he exerts his influence. Paul is not backward in persuading folks to be stewards. In verse 4 he says, "I don't want to be put to shame by your inconsistency or your failing to give what you said you were going to give."
Paul sends others to collect their gifts. He is interested in others seeing for themselves and being influenced by what happens in Corinth. He also knows the Corinthians need to be influenced by these other Christians who will come to receive their generous offering for the needy saints in Jerusalem.
All of human life has an element of show or influence. The Christian life is a life lived by humans who have the power of God causing them to influence others in a godly manner. You and I need to be aware of our opportunity to influence others.
A BRIDGE FOR OTHERS
An old man, traveling a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a pilgrim standing near,
"You are wasting your strength in building here;
Your journey will end with the closing day;
You never again will pass this way.
Why build this bridge at eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head;
"Good friend, in the path I've come," he said,
"There followth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way;
The chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He too must cross in the twilight dim-
Good friend, I'm building this bridge for him."
How does your influence affect others? Do you influence them to a better Christian life? If they follow you will they attend church regularly? Will they tithe? Will they visit in the name of Christ? What will be their attitude. Will it be negative or positive?
There should be progression in our life of stewardship. One for the
money (a stewardship of possessions); Two for the show (a stewardship of
influence). Now notice point three.
III. PROGRESSION IN STEWARDSHIP, THREE TO GET READY-Time. v. 2.
Paul boasts about these people and their readiness to give or serve. They have committed the time to do the required stewardship. for some in Corinth the giving of time and being ever ready to serve was more of a struggle than giving money or talent.
Some here today would like to buy their stewardship through the giving of money, but reserve their time for just themselves. Or maybe give their talent but only on their time schedule. But the Bible says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." That means seek in time as well as talent and money.
We are to be ready to serve our Lord any time night or day. We should tell the world no and Jesus yes. If somebody in the family or our association of friends must be hurt by our commitment of time, let it not be our best friend, Jesus. Let's be ready!
I have heard on a number of occasions a story about former President Woodrow Wilson. When a new president was needed for Princeton University, a group of men came to him requesting that he serve. His reply was, "I'm ready." Then a group of men came looking for a new governor and when asked to run for that office, he said, "I'm ready.' Then one day a delegation came requesting that he allow his name to be presented as a nominee for President of the United States and he said, "I'm ready."
A progressive stewardship demands that we be ready to serve or that we get ready to serve. This year Bro. Russ wants the nominating committee to start working in April for teaching assignments in October. The reason for starting so early is to train people to be ready to serve. Are you ready? Are you willing to prepare to be ready?
There should be progression in our life of stewardship. One for the
money (or stewardship of possessions), two for the show (or stewardship
of influence), three to get ready (or stewardship of time), Now notice
the fourth point.
IV. PROGRESSION OF STEWARDSHIP, FOUR TO GO- Doing. v. 7.
"Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart;. . ." This is what Paul told the Corinthians and what the Word says to us today. Let each of us do. Let each one of us go. Let's do this as Christians. That means in direct appreciation of what the Bible says and how the Holy Spirit leads. Christian stewardship is not a matter of my will, but of His will. What would He have me do? How and where would He have me go?
The Apostle Paul was at one time known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a persecutor of Christians. he heartily agreed to the stoning of Stephen. But one day a great light shone on him and the Lord spoke to him. His answer was "Who art thou, Lord?" The Lord then told him what he must do.
Christianity is an action religion. It is a way of doing. Stewardship
is an action word. You cannot manage properly and do nothing. Stewardship
is progressive. One for the money (possessions), two for the show (influence),
three to get ready (time),and four to go (do).
We will sing an invitation hymn giving you the opportunity to respond
to our Lord. As He leads, you come forward.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!