READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l On this Pledge Sunday, we are reminded that financial giving is an essential part of our intentional discipleship. We may, however, be giving for the wrong reasons. These incorrect postures include investment (that as we give, God will give returns on this investment); atonement (that we ‘buy’ forgiveness of our sins); bargain (in return for our gift, God grants our request); obligation (we are told we need to give); and leftover (whatever is left after we spend on ourselves). What then is the right posture for giving? 1 Chron. 29:1-20 lays out the correct reasons for giving. David had been told by God that he would not be the one to build the temple. Instead, this privilege would be given to his son, Solomon. In response, David set out to prepare for the building by gathering the resources needed. To do this, he could have taxed his people or offered benefits for them to give or invested the nation’s wealth. Instead, he organised a spectacular pledge day!
The correct posture for giving as shown in the passage are:
- High Vision – give because God is great (vs. 1-2;10). The Temple signified God’s glory and His holy presence with His people. They gave so much because they respected not the building but the Builder of all things. Hence, they gave willingly. Similarly, when we give, we must have this high vision of God. It is not about the physical structure or programmes of the church but in recognition of His presence and power. We give for His glory. This coming fiscal year, our church will have a budget of $19.6 million. This represents an increase from the previous year and poses a challenge. However, we trust God to provide. For we have been blessed to be a blessing, not just for our church but in our nation and beyond.
- Humble Privilege – for what we have already belongs to God (vs. 14) and hence, it is a privilege to give a portion back to Him. We have such a generous God. “He who did not withhold his own Son but gave him up for all of us, how will he not with him also give us everything else?” (Rom.8:32). We cannot outgive God. Instead, as we give, we partake in His nature. As Billy Graham said, “God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing. If we fail to fulfil this divine duty and privilege, we have missed the meaning of Christianity.” Give as God has bountifully given to us.
- Honest Devotion – give with integrity of heart (vs.17). David must have been disappointed that his request to build the temple was denied but he still freely gave towards the project. 2 Cor.9:7 reminds us that “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not regretfully or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Our Lord commended the poor widow who gave out of devotion (Mark 12:41-44). It is not how much we give but how much love we put in the giving (quote by Mother Theresa). Let us give from the bottom of our hearts instead of from the top of our wallets. Give sacrificially and not what is convenient or leftover. As we prepare to pledge, ask ourselves where our treasure is. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:21). Let our lifestyle enable and not hinder our giving. May we emulate John Wesley in earning all we can, saving all we can and giving all we can.
As we make our pledges, let us consecrate ourselves, showing our devotion and dedication to God and may our giving be an expression of our faith and trust in God.
(Sermon notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What are some possible motives one may have when giving to God?
- Read 1 Chronicles 29:1-20. What are your impressions about the Israelites when they gave towards the work of the temple?
- What is the high vision the Israelites had when they gave? What is the high vision we are to have when we give to the work of the Lord?
- How did David express a humble privilege to give? How does the fact that the Lord owns everything we have humble us to recognize that we are privileged to give?
- How did David express his honest devotion to the Lord when he gave? What is the condition of your heart when you give?
- How can our giving be a check for what our treasure may be?
- Is your lifestyle prohibiting or encouraging generosity?
- How is our giving a consecration of ourselves to the Lord?
- Take time to pray for each other to be a generous and cheerful giver.