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II Corinthians 9:6-15
Before I read today’s scripture, I would like to do a little review of last week.
My goal last week was to get us thinking about ‘money.’
I challenged all of us to consider whether or not money is, for us, an idol.
We asked ourselves the question Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” where we saw the ‘these’ referred to Peter’s friends, boats and nets, in other words, his ability to make money.
I posed the question in the words of a song, “Do we love Jesus ‘more than anything, more than worldly wealth’?”
We saw that Jesus gives us a clear choice in the matter: Who or what gets first place in our lives? God or money?
And we talked about the signs that indicate we might be in danger of putting money first over our relationship with God.
If you missed that message, I highly encourage you to go to https://crosspointe.cc/more-than-anything/, plug in your headphones and give a listen.
I hope that message you got you to thinking about this subject. For I told you last week that today I would point us in the direction of dethroning money in order to give God His rightful place on the throne.
After all, “God is holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.” 1 and because He is, “It Is the Cry of Our Hearts to Follow Him.” 2
With that as a review, let’s read the scriptures.
From the Book of Proverbs, the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote:
The wise man saves for the future, the foolish man spends whatever he gets.
From the pen and hand of Luke as he quotes the Lord Jesus:
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God. (Luke 15:13-15)
And lastly from the Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians:
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! (II Corinthians 9:6-15)
Money is a tool. Money is a tool that God has entrusted to us. Money is a tool that God has entrusted to us to use for His glory.
Some of us might be uncomfortable with those three statements. Let tell me why I think that is.
I do have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The Ohio State University and I have been jokingly telling people for years I had just enough Psychology to make me dangerous. But I did learn something in my four years there that I believe applies to today’s message. It concerns the theory of cognitive dissonance.
Cognition refers to the process of thinking. Dissonance is defined as ‘lack of harmony among musical notes’ 3 and can be illustrated nicely on a guitar. I’ll play a natural C chord. There doesn’t that sound pleasing? But if I change this one little C note to a Bb, then it sounds dissonant.
The theory of cognitive dissonance says that if a person’s beliefs and behaviors don’t match up, there will be dissonance (a lack of harmony) in that person’s life. Dissonance expresses itself in a number of negative emotional ways: anger or frustration or guilt or remorse to name a few.
The theory of cognitive dissonance says that if I believe it would be good for my health to exercise but I don’t exercise, then I am going to in some way experience dissonance. In this case, I will probably feel a combination of guilt and frustration.
This theory says that we don’t like to live with those negative feelings and we will do one of two things if we wish to escape them. We will either change what we believe; “It really doesn’t matter that I exercise,” or we will change our behavior to reflect our belief: “I’m going to join the Rec Center tomorrow.”
If I choose to believe money is a tool entrusted to us by God to be used for His glory and then do not act on that belief, then I am going to experience dissonance as either anger or frustration or guilt or remorse and to escape those negative feeling I will either A. change my belief, “I don’t believe money has been entrusted to me for God’s glory,” or B. change my behavior and start using money for God’s glory.
Or we can do what some choose to do, and that is nothing. And whenever this issue comes up we will continue to feel either anger or frustration or guilt or remorse (Dissonance).
Little Timmy was feeling dissonance and didn’t want to put his money in the offering plate Sunday morning, so his mother decided to use some creative reasoning with him. “You don’t want that money, honey,” she whispered in his ear. “Quick! Drop it in the plate. It’s tainted!”
Horrified, the little boy obeyed. After a few seconds he whispered, “But, mommy, why was the money tainted? Was it dirty?
“Oh, no dear,” she replied. “It’s not really dirty. It just ‘taint yours, and it ‘taint mine,” she replied. “It’s God’s.”
How true! Recognizing and coming to grips with the Bible truth that, not just money, but everything belongs to God, is the first step in making sure that money has not become an idol for us.
If we cannot accept that truth, then we will never be in a position to acknowledge that money is a tool that God has entrusted to us to use for His glory.
So for now I am going to proceed under the assumption that all of us have embraced that belief.
So that now the question becomes, “What does the Bible say about using money for God’s glory?”
My intention is to help you grasp both Biblically and practically what I think is the greatest way to glorify God with the way we use money. It is known as the 10/10/80 Plan, where the numbers 10, 10 and 80 refers to the percentage of our income.
This Biblical plan advises us to take our paycheck and before we do anything else with it, we do what the Bible has told the people of God to do all along: Give the first 10% to God.
Yes, I know that the tithe is an Old Testament law and we are not under the law, but grace. But I want to remind you that Jesus taught that Christians living under grace should be enabled to exceed the requirements of the law. This is why for many Christians, 10% is just a starting point.
In the 10/10/80 plan, the second 10% goes into a savings/investment fund for our future. Many Christians are unaware that the Bible counsels saving. For example, Proverbs 21:20 “The wise man saves for the future, the foolish man spends whatever he gets.”
Don’t be confused though, this is not mad money. This is not to be confused with money we set aside to buy a cement pond, or a pool table, or any other toy we might wish to purchase. This is not travel money. This is 10% of our pay going into a long term account so that we can get some of our money working for us.
Financial counselors have been telling us for years that if we’d make a regular contribution to some such interest-bearing account, that it would make over a period of years an enormous difference in our future financial picture.
So 10% to God, 10% to our investment fund, and then we learn to live on the remaining 80% because these same financial counselors have been telling us that if could only learn to live within 80% of our income, we’d be able to adopt a plan like this 10/10/80 plan that would serve us famously! 80% then goes to housing, food, clothing, transportation, recreation, etc. And we’d feel free to spend the 80% because we’ve already honored God with His 10% and have another 10% working for our future, and so we enjoy the 80%.
If we are interested in financial freedom, we simply MUST adopt a plan similar to this. You know the old saying: “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”
Yet only 32% of wage-earning families in America have worked out a budget. 4 People who do not have a budget tend to live paycheck to paycheck. In other words, they spend everything they take in. It’s not very likely that we will adopt a 10/10/80 plan or any financial plan unless we create and live with a budget. If you don’t have a budget and would like to, simply google it.
Now to be sure, God does not want His children experiencing dissonance when it comes to giving money for the glory of God.
You know why I know that? Because according to II Corinthians 9:7 God wants to give with joy!
And He has given us the preferred method of avoiding dissonance in that same verse.
“You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give.”
What’s Paul talking about? Cognition; the process of thinking.
Make up your own minds about how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For in this way, you will be able to give cheerfully” (II Corinthians 9:7).
What’s the key to avoiding the dissonance and giving cheerfully? Making a decision and sticking with it.
Many of you know exactly what I am talking about. You have carefully considered what the Bible has to say about all of this, you have made a decision, you give regularly and you don’t lose sleep over it. In fact, when you hear that our church has been able to help people in our community in meaningful ways you feel a warm joyful glow inside because you know your sacrifice is honoring God and having an impact.
Perhaps it’s true that some of us don’t know what that’s like. Perhaps some of us are feeling a little dissonance. If so, then God, in Christ, is inviting us to make a decision.
We need to make a decision that reflects taking another step toward Christ in our walk with Him. Two weeks ago, Chuck Lemmon mentioned the importance of spiritual growth. I can’t think of a better way to measure our spiritual growth than by measuring what we give.
One more word of advice. As a result of being here today, I am sure that some of you are ready to embrace a 10/10/80 plan. But it might be true that when you go home and sit down whether you can do this, you might find you need 90% to live on. If this is the case, you might want to start with a 5/5/90 plan; or a 2/2/96 plan. Talk to God about it. Tell him what you have found and what decision you are making and then begin to live your decision. Then over time, you can raise your percentages until you are able to handle a 10/10/80 plan. Or perhaps a 15/15/70 plan. You get the idea.
For those who wish to eliminate cognitive dissonance from your Christian life, the Bible implores us to MAKE A DECISION!
Now, allow me to conclude by saying, if calling a gathering of Christians who have been saved by the precious and sacrificial blood of the Lamb to examine our faithfulness to Him and His Church in this regard in hopes that it will be yield a renewed cry of our hearts to follow Him more closely by consecrating ourselves and all that we have and all that we are to His Father’s Kingdom, then call me old-fashioned, put me on a shelf or out to pasture.
But if on the other hand, you don’t mind me reminding you about these things; if indeed, you sense that God is calling you to fall down on your knees before Him, to first seek His forgiveness for any lethargy and then recommit your life to Him in such a way that when He asks us as He did Simon Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” we will be enabled by His grace to triumphantly shout, “We do!”
If that’s where your heart is this morning, will you sing with me:
In moments like these, I sing out a song, I sing out a love song to Jesus,
In moments like these, I lift up my heart, I lift up my heart to the Lord,
Singing I love You Lord, singing I love You Lord, singing I love You Lord,
I love You.
1 Lyrics from the song, Holy, Holy, Holy. Words by Reginald Heber, set to Music by John Dykes in 1861.
2 Lyrics from the song, It Is the Cry of My Heart to Follow You. Words and Music by Terry Butler. [Nashville, Tennessee: Vineyard/Mercy Publishing, © 1991].