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Living in the Kingdom

13. Kingdom Giving

(audio video page)

Kingdom Giving

Scriptures: Matthew 6:1-4, Matthew 23:23, Malachi 3:8, Deuteronomy 14:25-29, Matthew 6:4

Have you ever seen the Niki commercials that have the slogan "Just Do It" as there punch line? It's at this point in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus addressed the "Just Do It" attitude. We don't 'just do it' in the kingdom of heaven. We are required to investigate our attitudes. Just doing it means nothing to Father. Even if it's giving money. Jesus gave several warnings about the motivation by which we do acts of worship such as giving, praying, fasting, even concerns about life. The Lord is passionate about our not just doing "religious" or "spiritual" things, but that we do them with the proper attitudes.

So, before we begin this section, let's take a look at our hearts. How do you feel in your heart about giving? We had the opportunity a few minutes ago. Did you hate it, or did you enjoy the opportunity? Did you give any alms - anything to the needy? When was the last time you prayed when no one was around? Did you enjoy praying or disliked doing it? When was the last time you went on a fast and spent time with the Lord? These are some of the issues that Jesus will address in this section of the Sermon on the Mount.

Today's lesson concerns our financial giving. A large portion of the believers income is designated to the kingdom of heaven. It is amazing to the believer how much they have given to the advancement of the kingdom and to the needy at the end of the year. This lesson encouraged me. I trust it will encourage you too.

It's important to remember that Jesus has not left his thought about our righteousness surpassing the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. We are to surpass their righteousness in our giving, praying, fasting, and concerns about life.

Let's read our passage for today.

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

(NIV) Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Matthew 6:3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

Matthew 6:4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Jesus began to poke around in the hearts of people concerning their attitude toward giving. It was interesting to me that he didn't stop and give a teaching on the Old Testament command called tithing. In fact, he never did that teaching to my knowledge. The reason he never gave a teaching on tithing was because giving, just as everything else in the kingdom, must be from the heart, not from a command. If I need a law to force me to give to the advancement of the kingdom and to needy people, then I have a problem.

(KJV) Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms [NIV - acts of righteousness] before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

"Be careful . . ." (NIV) and "Take heed . . ." (KJV) are the translations given the warning of Jesus concerning how we give. Jesus said to take a look at your heart when it comes to giving. Interestingly, he did not give a warning about giving to unworthy ministries. The warning was concerning the attitudes of our hearts.

I become aggravated when I see and hear the solicitation of money for, what I believe, unworthy and sometimes deceptive ministries. I want to warn people about those ministries, but Jesus saw something far more serious than giving to unworthy ministries. He warned about the condition of our hearts toward giving. We can always find a reason not to give. We say, 'The preacher makes too much money.' Or, 'They spend too much on television ministry and camera stuff.' 'They spend too much on the building.' Or, 'I don't think we needed that.' Or, 'I think we should have spent the money on . . . ' syndrome. We can always find some reason not to give, but Jesus let us know that it's far better to give to something with a right heart than to not give at all, or give with a wrong attitude.

Jesus said to "Take heed . . ." and "Be careful . . ." of the condition of our hearts when it comes to giving. If our hearts are not right, there is no reward of your Father which is in heaven. The giving meant nothing except impressed some people who do not understand giving. My giving, and the way I give, have much to do with my reward.

Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Let's work through this verse and make application concerning our giving as we go.

SO WHEN YOU GIVE . . . In the thinking of Jesus, giving was an automatic response for the Christ follower. Believers give. If I don't give, the problem is the attitude of my heart.

Jesus talked frequently about giving. It didn't seem to bother him to talk about giving. He would stand next to the offering plate and see how people gave (Mar 12:41). I don't like to talk about giving. It makes me uncomfortable. However, it is an act of righteousness and must be talked about just as prayer is an act of righteousness about which we must talk. So, please humor me today and say, "He's just doing his job."

The New Testament teaches that we are to financially support in two areas. These two areas are giving to the advancement of the kingdom and giving to the poor.

The advancement of the kingdom includes many things and varies from church to church. For example, our church has a television and radio outreach, but most churches do not. Jesus didn't have a television ministry, but he did have twelve men that he took care of for more than three years. He fed them, cared for them, clothed them and some of them had families. That was expensive, but that was what it took for him to advance the kingdom. Today, advancing the kingdom includes salaries, maintenance of the facility, utility expenses, insurance, telephones, mission outreach, and on and on. It's all expense incurred to advance the kingdom of heaven on the earth and it's never the same from one church to the next. It's expensive.

The other type of giving is somewhat more simple in definition. It is giving to the needy. The King James' version calls it alms.

At Life Gate, we emphasize both of these. Our mission that matters is to advance the kingdom of heaven in this entire northwest region of Georgia. That requires financing. It will never happen without financing. I want every single living soul in this region challenged by the gospel of the kingdom before I go be with the Lord. I'm not talking about a gospel. I am talking about the gospel of the kingdom. We also see the importance in the scriptures concerning giving to the needy. To accommodate both the area of advancing the kingdom and giving to the needy, we encourage you to give into both. We have a general account from which we primarily use to advance the kingdom and we have a mission account from which we give to the needy.

I thought we would take this opportunity to talk about a few things concerning our giving to advance the kingdom and giving to the needy.

In 1985, when I came to this city, I began to cast a vision to reach this region with the good news of the kingdom. When I would talk about television and radio and large outreach, people would say, "Delbert, you are crazy!" People laughed at me then. They don't think I'm so crazy today.

Today, at date, we have a weekly television program on two different stations that cover much of our region. Our financial air time cost alone for last year was more than $6,000.00. That's only air time. That is not including the equipment we have accumulated and purchased.

But my dream for that ministry is to be on television every day with an intense teaching about the kingdom of heaven. I don't only want to preach a twenty-minute message. I want to confront everyone with the good news of the kingdom. That's going to take a lot of money. If we did that on the two stations we are now on, it would cost about $40,000 a year.

We have a daily radio spot of one minute on the local radio station. The cost for air time is just under $3,000.00 per year. That's just one station, one minute a day, but I am constantly hearing comments about that spot.

My dream for that outreach is one minute prime time every day on every radio station from Summerville, Georgia (south), to Chattanooga, Tennessee (north), from Dalton, Georgia (east), to Trenton, Georgia (west). The cost would be approximately $50,000.00 per year.

We love to do quality mail-outs. For example, last year's Easter mail out alone, which went to 5,000 homes, cost $1,500. My dream for that is to get something in every home in our region no less than twice a year. That would be approximately 40,000 homes (160,000 people) and cost approximately $12,000. That would be reaching the region with the gospel of the kingdom.

Of course, we want a first rate facility and that is not only in this room. We want a first rate nursery facility, children's ministry facility, and student ministry facility. I would love to have two services every Sunday morning where we could minister to people and advance the kingdom.

If we could do those things, we will have preached the good news to this region. My point is that we are not giving simply for the sake of giving. We are giving to reach this region. We are giving to see the kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven. We are giving for the sake of souls and for the eternal sake of our loved ones. We are giving to do what Jesus did and that was to preach the good news of the kingdom (Mat 4:23).

As you know, we did the memorial service for the families of the crematory victims. I was interviewed by a radio station out of Atlanta and was asked why it was that our church was selected to do the service. I told the story about our outreach to those people and about the song "Goodbye Again" by Terry Williamson. Because we reached out to our region, we were on major television stations from Atlanta to Chattanooga. We were a light and a city on a hill to our region. We are doing it. We are advancing the kingdom of heaven.

I want to talk just a minute about our alms giving to the needy. We have a special account designated for giving to the needy. We use this account nearly every day. This past Thursday, one of our elders called me concerning a woman who was in need. She had been sleeping in her car. We were able to help her get her rent paid and back in her house. It's not for only our people. (Read the note from Country Side Hospice Care.) Our phone rings constantly with people calling and asking for help. We help many. Sometimes we know it is not a legitimate need. Sometimes there is no money. Last year, we were able to give $6,416 to the needy.

Matthew 6:3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

Matthew 6:4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

LEFT HAND - RIGHT HAND: We are to give to advance the kingdom and we are to give to help the needy. Jesus used an absurd illustration to show the extreme secrecy we should use when we give. Our other hand should not even know we are giving.

I will never forget once when a man who attended our church at that time came to me and gave a large check. I thanked him. Then he just stood there. I could tell he wanted to say something else, but was having trouble getting it out. Finally he said, "Don't tell my wife that I gave that." He said laughingly, "I don't want my left hand to know what my right hand is doing." I don't think that was exactly what Jesus meant, but it may be close.

The way we do our giving to the needy at Life Gate is as close to a 'right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing' that I know.

FATHER WILL REWARD YOU: The amazing thing is that without exception, every person, I repeat, every person that gives to alms regularly live blessed lives. That is exactly what Jesus said. Father will reward you!

Obviously, we are not to sound a trumpet. Neither are we to tell others about it. Neither are we to make a big deal of it to ourselves. We are not to keep a diary of how much we gave to someone. I occasionally get around people that must talk about what they have done for people. Some of the things are very nice. I remember one person who gave someone a very nice car. I had already heard about it, but the person sounded their trumpet again as they told me. I smiled and said that was very nice of you, but in my mind I was thinking, "You have gotten your reward. I wish you hadn't needed to blow your own horn."

I want to close by talking about the amount to give. First, start somewhere. Give something. Though Jesus didn't teach tithing per say, neither did he disagree with it.

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

We ought to at least tithe. Jesus said our righteousness must surpass what they did in the Old Covenant. I am going to share some things and I am going to run through it as quickly as I can. It's how I operate in my giving. If you need more information about it, there is a tape series and booklet available.

The scriptures talk about different types of giving called tithes as in plural. It is also called the whole tithe (Mal 3:8-10).

Malachi 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings.

Just as there was more than one type of offering, there was more than one type of tithe. There is a tithe singular given to God that we are all familiar with and that Jesus said we ought to do (Mat 23:23). That one is clear in many passages such as Nehemiah 13:12. That tithe was to primarily go to the maintenance of the facility and the care of the ministry. Another tithe taught is what I call "my tithe." This one is hardly every taught, but is one of the tithes plural of Malachi 3:8-10 (whole tithe). It was to go to the individual giving the tithes. We read about it in passages like Deuteronomy 14:23-26.

Deuteronomy 14:25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose.

Deuteronomy 14:26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like [KJV - for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after]: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.

This was also a tithe, but was kept by the tither and spent on whatever the tither wanted.

The third tithe singular is the Alms tithe, or what Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount as giving to the needy. This tithe singular was totally different from the other tithes and was to be given by the tither every third year according to Deuteronomy 14:28. It is clear that this giving was to go to help needy people.

Deuteronomy 14:28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns,

Deuteronomy 14:29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherlessand the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

The way I work that tithe into my giving is to add one-third to my giving. I receive a salary weekly. I give my tithe and also write a separate check every week that goes specifically to what we call our "Missions" account. That way I make certain that I give to the needy. All our money is combined. The left hand doesn't know what the right is doing and we bless hundreds of people every year. I encourage you to give to our alms account or find some way to give to the needy.

What do we learn from this lesson? We give to help the advancement of the kingdom and we give to help people. We do not give to bring glory to ourselves. God will reward us. The King James' Version says,

Matthew 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

In closing, I want to ask a few questions. How much would you give if no one but God knew you gave? If your wife didn't press you to give, would you? If you were not trying to be an example for your children, would you give? If the pastor didn't know, if no one knew but God, how much would you give to advance the kingdom and to help the needy? Would your giving change if no one knew? What is the attitude of the heart?


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