Not too long ago, I listened to a fantastic sermon on money from Dr. Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. I wanted to share those notes with you.
The title of the sermon is “Grace and Money” and the main text is Acts 4:32-37. The main point was that money is the bottom line in faith…it illustrates if we’ve been changed by God’s grace.
The early church was different when it came to money. They were unreasonably generous and that generosity was an engine that influenced the community. People paid attention to the Apostles teaching because they backed up their words with generosity. “Nobody treats money like this,” people thought.
In 252, there was a plague in Carthage. Healthy people left town, but Cyprian called Christians to serve. Emperor Julian, who wanted to destroy Christianity wrote, “Their success lies in their charity to all. They take care not only of their own poor, but ours as well.”
Here are some benefits of giving.
1. Grace revolutionizes our attitude towards money.
We believe that it’s not really our money. After receiving grace, Scrooge changed his attitude when it comes to money. If you’ve experienced grace, you should look at money different. The Bible says money is a bottom line in our lives – how we spend it shows what matters to us.
Martin Luther used to get up every day and look up to heaven and say ‘You are my goodness, I was Your punishment. You assumed everything I deserved and was so that I can receive everything You deserved and are. I’m rich. I’m adopted into the family of God. I have an imperishable inheritance. I’m going to shine like the stars in the kingdom of My Father. And even now I’ve got His holy power and joy has come into my life through the power of the Holy Spirit and it’s begun to grow and it will eventually swallow up all my foolishness-es and all of my sadness-es and all of my weaknesses.’
Paul says in 2 Corinthians, when he’s asking for giving to hunger relief, ‘I’m not commanding you to give. I’m just looking for the sincerity of your love for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who, though He was rich, for us became poor so that through His poverty we might become rich.’
We don’t give out of guilt, we give out of grace!
In Luke 18:18-23, Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give it away. Jesus knew that money was his god, so he challenged him to give it away. You will always give money to your god. If your salvation is in Jesus, you should want to give money to His mission. Your expenses reveal your religion.
2. Grace changes the procedure of your giving.
Our generosity should be an active and intentional part of our grace experience. We should scheme about how to give money away, not scheme about how to get more of it.
You have to decide ahead of time to do this. If we plan for retirement, shouldn’t we plan for generous giving?
In the Bible, the guideline is the tithe. In an agricultural time, the tithe was the first fruits – the gifts given off the top. We have a tendency to give out of the leftovers, instead, the Bible says that we give first and live off the leftovers.
There’s no legalism here. It’s an attitude. We’re indebted to God and we’re appreciative.
3. Grace changes the benefits of giving.
Jerry Lewis said ‘If you give, you’ll be able to look in the mirror tomorrow and say ‘You are a caring person.” It’s true, and that’s about as great a benefit as you get if you’re doing it simply because Jerry Lewis got you to feeling guilty. There’s nothing wrong with what he does. The kids need the money, that’s the only way you can get it out of people who haven’t experienced God’s grace.
A billion years from now, your generosity can make a difference. Not because of a foundation or a college endowment, but because of Kingdom giving.
If you can’t give, then money has you by your throat. You’re worried. God’s grace changes that. He gave His son for you. Change your lifestyle…it may mean you can’t do some of the things you’re doing now. That will actually create freedom!
If you think this is a cheeky sermon or you’re irritated, you don’t need to give your money away. You need to find the Christ that turns you into a person of radical generosity.
We’re not primarily interested in getting your money…we’re interested in you being blessed. The Bible says it’s more blessed to give than receive.
God loves a cheerful giver.