Today, Consecration Sunday … to put before the LORD a financial promise for 2012.
Today is also Reformation Sunday … when we remember the work of the Reformers - Luther in Germany, and the Swiss Reformers, Calvin in Geneva and Zwingli in Zurich … from Calvin comes theological currents in which we still swim today - the sovereignty of God, the covenant, a high regard for science and the arts, and a just society.
From Calvin’s Geneva to Scotland’s John Knox … and from Scotland through the British Isles … and from the British Isles, to the New World …
Today, Reformation Sunday … we celebrate the Reformed/Presbyterian Tradition … just the other day, off of El Segundo, to the east of Hawthorne Blvd., a Hungarian Reformed Church …
Churches in Europe that adhered to the vision of John Calvin came to be called Reformed … and they came to the States here - German Reformed, French Reformed, Dutch Reformed, and Hungarian Reformed.
From those churches, here and in Europe, missionaries spread out across the globe … that’s why we find Presbyterian Churches all over the world … Presbyterians are never content to simply enjoy God; it is our spiritual DNA to share God … to move into the world, build churches, hospitals and schools - spread the gospel … to make this a better world.
In the British Isles, the Reformed Churches came to be called Presbyterian - because of our form of government - we are governed by Presbyters - from a Greek word that means “elder” - an older one, literally, and figuratively, one charged with the task of oversight, caring for the community of faith.
I’m a teaching elder … Ann Marie is a ruling elder … and together, we form the Board of Elders - responsible for the spiritual and material welfare of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Calvary on the Boulevard.
A part of our care for the welfare of Calvary is the teaching of stewardship - to manage the affairs of our lives, to the honor and glory of God, in such a way, that we can be good and faithful givers.
Two weeks ago, we turned our attention to the question, “To Whom do we give?”
Last week, the question, “How much?”
And today’s question, “Why?”
Why do we give?
There are several good answers.
Number one, we give because God gives … created in the image of God, it’s our nature to give.
We give to our parents.
We give to our children and grandchildren.
We give to worthy causes and we give to the glory of God.
We are, by nature, givers.
Sure, there can be selfish streak in all of us, but our deepest nature, our truest character - we are givers, because we are created in the image of God.
Number two, we give to support the work of Christ through the local church, and through the local church, to the church around the world.
Let me underscore something very important - the efficiency of the church - dollars given are carefully used and guarded for the work of Christ.
The church is primarily volunteers … and even at national headquarters, and with our missionaries, no one is making a big salary, no one gets rich with our money.
Monies given to the church are monies well-given … and because our overhead is small, better than 90% of our monies go for the actual work of mission. That’s about as high as it gets, and better than most charities. If we want to fund a cause that uses money well, there is no better cause than the church of Jesus Christ.
When we pay our per capita, we’re underwriting the administrative costs of the church - with per capita, we pay for paper clips and pencils.
So that our mission money all goes to mission.
The church is a very efficient steward of our monies.
Number Three - we give to free ourselves from the power of money.
Money’s a big deal - always has been, and will remain so until the end of the age.
Money can take us by surprise, and before we know it, money takes center stage … like the Bible says, it’s the LOVE of money that’s the root of all evil … and if we’re not careful, we lose control of our money, and our money gains control of us.
Every time we give, we declare our freedom from the power of money.
Every time we give, we celebrate our trust in God - that God will provide … like seed scattered in good soil, an abundant harvest is promised.
Giving declares our freedom from the power of money.
At most, God asks only for the Tithe … only in the rarest instances does God ask for more.
Jesus asks the wealthy young man to sell everything, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow him. Such a radical demand is the exception, not the rule.
Yet for all us, God invites us to be good stewards.
Paul says, set aside a reasonable amount every week … the tithe can be our guide, the half-tithe our goal … whatever we do, choose a percentage, and then put pencil to paper, and calculate the amount.
God ask a few important things, one of which is faithful giving of time, talent and treasure.
We can do it.
It’s in our nature to give.
All we need sometimes is a gentle reminder … or maybe a firm reminder - giving cleanses the soul and frees the mind … a person who gives is healthier, happier and stronger.
Good giving is good living.
Amen and Amen!