5) Somewhere within the body of the message you should address the primary objections in the minds of some concerning stewardship. How you do that is up to you.
Last Sunday, in the early moments of my message on stewardship, I played a small drama with the people. After reading the text, Matthew 6:19-21, I said, “I want you to imagine that we are in a church business conference with me as your moderator. We have a motion on the floor, it has been seconded, that the guest preacher–me–be asked to bring a message on money (stewardship, finances, tithing, greed, materialism, however you want to phrase it). Now, the floor is open for discussion, Person Number One arises and says…”
Earlier, I had arranged for two men and two women to stand and voice objections to the motion using sentences I gave them. “Do it vigorously,” I instructed.
Person 1 shouted, “We don’t like sermons on money!”
Person 2 shouted, “You preachers are just after our money!”
Person 3 called out, “Our church is doing all right financially. We don’t need a sermon on giving.”
Person 4 said, “Tithing is Old Testament. It’s of the Law and we’re under grace.”
Then, in the introduction, I took no more than 3 or 4 minutes to respond to those statements, beginning with, “Each of these has a point. Each objection is true in a way.”
It is true that we don’t like sermons on money when we are not giving. It’s human nature.
It is true that some preachers are just after our money. But because some get it wrong does not mean we shouldn’t do it the right way.
It’s good if the church’s finances are being met, but that is only one of a hundred reasons for us to give and the pastor to speak on stewardship.
And yes, tithing is indeed of the Old Testament. And the New Testament also. It’s all through the Old Testament Law, but grace is likewise all through the Bible, from beginning to end. We give because He first gave to us, not because He is exacting a tenth from us.
6. Watch the temptation to get legalistic here.
A tithe is one-tenth. This is the only area of our discipleship that has a specific number attached to it. We are not told to pray so many times a day, so many days a week. We’re not instructed to read our Bible a certain number of times or to worship so many times in any period. But we do have this number–one-tenth–to guide us in our giving.
Those who accuse us of over-emphasizing the tithe are often correct. We have been known to do that. While the tithe does figure into New Testament thinking at various times, it’s not a major player. But proportionate giving is (I Corinthians 16:2 and II Corinthians 8:3 for starters), and if that means anything to me, it surely says the “under-grace,” redeemed of the Lord should do as much or more than the “under-law” faithful of the former days.
7) Beware of the tendency in yourself–and help your people to do so–of trying to figure how little you can give.
Nothing is more foreign to the spirit of Jesus Christ than that. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
If you have been noticing a tendency within yourself to cut your giving, to figuring how to take a larger slice of the pie for yourself, I would say you have some serious giving to do. Your old nature–that grasping, greedy Scrooge nature that is never satisfied with all he has–needs to be put back in his cage, and nothing does that like a healthy dose of generous giving.
There are few joys in the ministry greater than striding to the pulpit on a Sunday morning knowing that your message on giving is from the Lord and that you yourself are illustrating its truths in your personal life. Go in His Spirit and trust Him for the fruit, and you will make a lasting difference in the lives of your people.