For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:7-8
Romans 14:7 - 8 has a very interesting verse that applies to our heart before we think about passion. ‘For none of us lives to himself,’…Life is not about me. '...and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s...' (possessive). We are the Lord’s. We belong to him; we were bought with a price. We are not our own, we don’t live for ourselves. Our lives are not about how we look, how we feel, how we think. We want to be God’s. We want to belong to Jesus; we want to live for Jesus. We want to love Jesus and love like Jesus.
So, in the sanctified process of giving ourselves completely away to Him, in bringing everything of our life away to Him. Two things in our life don’t quite come under Christ easily, they don’t get sanctified easily.
Your wallet and your watch.
Those are the two things that don’t come close to the cross. You keep it far away from the cross, your wallet and your watch – your time and your money. And those two things we negotiate, we bargain, we try and figure out a way to rationalise spending that on ourselves. I want to spend my money on myself; I want to spend my time on myself. “I don’t have enough time, I’m busy, I don’t have enough time! I don’t have enough money, I wish I could give more ! I wish I could be more generous, but I don’t have enough money.”
My dear friends, whatever you’re in shortage of is what you need to release more of, because you are a conduit and not a reservoir. So, when there’s a block and whatever little is coming, if that’s all you have – it’s because you are blocked. And if you release, God will send a lot more through you. He says redeem the time, which means time can be bought back. He says give generously and I’ll always put you in a position to be more generous in everything. So, it’s a matter of mindset.
Reviving our passion for giving. Some of you never have enough money, and you know what? You never will. Because you haven’t understood how money works. Some of you never have enough time. You never will. The reason for that is because you don’t understand how time works, how sowing works. When you sow something, you reap back the same amount – correct? You never reap back the same amount. And the sowing principle is what God wants us to understand with resources that are in time-bound existence here on earth. Time and money are both seeds that can be sown, which you will get back in return. That’s why He says, ‘redeem the time.’ That’s why He says, “invest your money.” Whatever you’re in shortage of is what you need to release.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:10-19
In verse 12, Paul talks about how he knows how to live with little money and I know what to do with lots. I have learned what attitude to have when the bank is empty, I have learned what attitude to have when the bank is full. I have learned how to approach oppression and how to approach adversity, I’ve also learned how to approach abundance and blessing.
Verse 13 says, ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ We use this verse for every other situation, except money. Except the very context for which it was put there. Paul says, ‘I can do all things,’ – which means if I don’t have money, I’m fine. If I have money, I’m fine. If I have adversity, I’m fine. If I have blessing and encouragement – I’m fine. I can work with both. Why? Because, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
Apparently, when you don’t have money what you need is strength. ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.’ So, I’m okay, I got Jesus. I have His strength, I have learned and I know. I’m okay. But it was nice of you, it was kind of you to step forward in my time of need and to share that concern. So the beautiful, big verses in this passage - ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me,’ and ‘My God shall supply my needs.’ Those two verses don’t have to do with giving, they have to do with gratitude. He’s giving those verses to a crowd of people who have already shown concern.
So I (Paul), in my pastoral capacity, must also ensure that you are being blessed in the way you sow. I must teach you how to give, invest,not hold on. I must teach you to release. Because in giving there is a greater reward. And that is why I say to you that "my God" . The God who supplies me completely, the God who gives to me completely, the God who looks after me completely, the God who gives me strength in adversity, as well as in abundance.
So, let’s renew our passion giving.
Because when I don’t give God, I’m saying “your work’s not important.” So if I’m telling God, “your work’s not important,” God will tell you “your work’s not important.” Why shall I bless your work when you’re not blessing my work? Why should I prioritise your work when you don’t prioritise my work? We have this engagement with the grace of God and we abuse the grace of God.
You want God to bless your children but you don’t teach your children to prioritise God’s work, God’s worship and God’s word. Everything about your children’s life smacks of apathy when it comes to their spiritual life. Their spiritual life is not a priority either for you or for them. So, we’re growing a community, we’re growing a generation of younger people who will put all spiritual things aside first and give attention to all financial and physical things first. And then they come into God’s presence and say, “bless me.” How dare you ask for God’s blessing on your financial and physical life when you don’t submit to Him in your spiritual life?
We must understand the grace of God is not up for abuse. The grace of God must bring us to a point where we’re ready to give absolutely everything, including your children. And we understand this about our work, but we don’t understand this about our worship. We do everything else. There’s a mentality, a perception, a philosophy of prioritisation of the things of God. You can see it in the way people make decisions, in the way people approach matters of the church, matters of worship, matters of time with God, matters of money with God, matters of the things of God, the work of God. You can see the way they prioritise it; you can see how quickly they’re going to drop this for that and by that you find out where their heart is. And if you put a stethoscope to their heart, you will find their heart does not beat for God. It beats for everything from God. And I’m just talking on a human level – brother to sister, brother to brother, I’m saying that’s not okay. Let’s put a stethoscope to our heart and say “it’s not okay, let’s renew our giving, let’s renew our gathering, let’s renew our growing.” Spiritual health-checks are good and this is one of them.
So how do we do that? What are the three things we’re looking for? Verse 17, ‘Having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent me, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God’
1– a pleasing to God offering.
Ephesians 5:2 says, ‘And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering,’ – how did Jesus give himself for us? A fragrant offering. He died on the cross, how is that a fragrant offering? Well, total love, sacrificial love gets the aroma of your sacrifice all the way to heaven and it is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. It is a sweet- smelling sacrifice to God. And God, that is the worship that we give to you.
2– a sacrifice acceptable. Is your giving sending an aroma of worship to God? Is your giving sending a sacrifice that’s acceptable to God?
Romans 12:1- 3, ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable’ (he doesn’t use this word once, he uses it twice)
‘to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable.’
So here I’m giving a sacrifice, but I’m also ascertaining the acceptability of my sacrifice. When you give your offering, do you ask God if it is an acceptable sacrifice/ gift? Would you call it a sacrifice? God who knows your finances, God who knows your giving, God who knows your capacity, God who knows your heart.
Jesus sat on the side-lines and he pointed to the Pharisees and he said, “look at that woman, she has given everything she’s got.” He was talking percentage, not quantity. And he said, “out of the sacrifice of what she has, she has sacrificed everything.” And that’s God’s perspective on the whole matter.
2– Lord, is it pleasing to you? Have I been generous? Have I been grateful? Do I show gratitude in my giving? Do you sense grudging in my giving? Lord God, do you sense grudging? Are you pleased? Now the question is – what pleases God? When you give like He gives, you show that you’re like Him. And when he sees that you’re like Him, it pleases him. It pleases any father when their child is like him. (In most cases). But it pleases God when you act like Him. This is not about rupees or about quantity. It’s about the heart behind the deed. Generosity is a heart issue. It’s not a bank balance issue.
So, I am challenging you -
Give money to God’s work like it’s your business.
Give time to God’s people like it’s your family.
How do you spend time with family? You don’t think about it. How do you spend time with a client? You don’t think about it. “It’s my client, it’s my business. I have to do this business.” And you come home and say, “what can I do? The meeting went on. How else am I supposed to put food on the table?” And yet, when it comes to the matters of God and his people, worship and the word, disciplines of the faith, giving to God’s work. All the excuses, in its most rational and educated frame, come to us. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 2 Corinthians 9:10-12
You sow and then you reap and I’ll increase your ability to sow because God seems to believe more in the principle of sowing and reaping than you and I do.
Why do you not have enough time? Because you don’t give enough time to God. Why do you not have enough money? Because you don’t give enough to God. It’s as simple as that. You want blessing on your money? Give it to God. You want blessing on your time? Give it to God. Whenever it comes to God’s work and God’s family – never cringe. It’s my business; I’m going to spend more time in eternity than I’m going to spend on earth. That’s my business. I’m going to spend more time with this family in eternity than on earth – that’s my family. Give money to God like it’s your business.
…begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 2 Corinthians 8:4-5
Paul is talking to the Corinthians and he said “not only did the Thessalonians give generously, but they gave themselves first.” When Jesus hung on the cross, it was full time. He did not just hand in a cheque and say he was busy.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 24-25
With every passing day, fellowship will become more and more important.
Take it forward
Whatever you give your money and your time to, that’s what’s going to become important in your life. It’s not a money problem, it’s a faith problem. You’ve been lied to that if you don’t have enough you can’t give enough. It’s not a time problem, it’s a love problem. Will you ask God to renew your passion for giving.
Will you ask God to renew your passion for giving? Giving money to God like it’s your business, giving time to his people like they’re your family.
"God, in my spiritual renewal, will you renew a passion for giving? I want to be a giver; I want to give easily. I don’t want to give grudgingly; I want to be generous. I want to experience this conduit velocity – of the more I give; the more God makes me able to give. The more I’m generous, the more God puts me in a position of generosity to give. The more I sow, the more He puts in my hand seed to sow. God, I want to see a renewal in my passion for giving. I want to give to people, I want to give myself to people. Lord God change my heart. Correct the lies, give me faith. Give me love."