Vol.IV No.VII Pg.5
August 1967

Sermon On "Living"

Robert F. Turner

A sincere but misguided man once approached me with a list of his expenses (rent, food, taxes, etc.) and a statement of his income, and asked me to tell him how much he should give to the Lord. He was dismayed and shocked when I said, "All of it!".

But I honestly believe my answer was correct. We are missing the whole point of "giving" when we allot 10%, 20%, or 30% of our possessions to the Lord, and think the remainder is ours to use as we see fit. There was no compromise in Jesus' answer to the rich young man -- Matt.19:16-30. "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me".

Jesus said, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life". What percentage does Jesus allow a man to keep "for himself??" In Lu.14:33 Christ is recorded as saying, "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple".

Our thinking on this subject is awry because of several popue inmisconceptions. First, we are mistaken in thinking that one's whole gift to God may be measured by funds placed in the church treasury. The brethren of Macedonia "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Cor.8:5) and from this background then gave a liberal portion of goods for the needy saints. We glorify God in our individual relation to God in Christ -- the "universal" church, if you please; (Eph. 3:21) and our functions with the brethren of a local church are but a part of the service we render to Him (Note 1 Cor. 10:31, we must glorify God even in our private social life.). Second, stewardship involves more than money. Paul argues that our very body belongs to the Lord, and that fornication is the taking of that which belongs to the Lord, and giving it to an harlot. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:13-20). Our time, our talents, our possessions -- ALL belong to the Lord when we have truly become His follower. With this attitude, the need and opportunity to serve the Lord will determine the use we make of our possessions -- not some arbitrary rule of percentage.

Some will object, "But a man has to live!!! Does he? Did James, who died by the sword or Herod? Did Paul, "ready to be offered?" No, a man does not have to live in comfort and security here, in order to live in heaven. But there is something he does have to do here -- he must present his body " a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Rom.12:1)

If and when we learn to dedicate ourselves wholly and fully to the service of the Lord -- to realize that as such we are not our own -- then and only then will these money questions be resolved. Preaching on "Giving" will do little to solve the problems. We must preach and practice some good hard sermons on LIVING.