GIVING Sermon Illustrations

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GIVING


Sermon Illustrations

GIVING

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.

Augustine.


If you give what you do not need, it isn't giving.

Mother Teresa.


In Matthew, Mark, and Luke 1 out of every 6 verses deals with money. Of the 29 parables Christ told, 16 deal with a person and his money.

Unknown.


The American industrialist, Henry Ford, was once asked to donate money for the construction of a new medical facility. The billionaire pledged to donate $5,000. The next day in the newspaper, the headline read, "Henry Ford contributes $50,000 to the local hospital." The irate Ford was on the phone immediately to complain to the fund-raiser that he had been misunderstood. The fund-raiser replied that they would print a retraction in the paper the following day to read, "Henry Ford reduces his donation by $45,000." Realizing the poor publicity that would result, the industrialist agreed to the $50,000 contribution in return for the following: That above the entrance to the hospital was to be carved the biblical inscription: "I came among you and you took me in."

Bits & Pieces, March 3, 1994, pp. 1-2.


A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church "Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself," she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. "Well," said the little girl, "I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I'd be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did."

Bits & Pieces, February 4, 1993, p. 23.


Charles Spurgeon and his wife, according to a story in the Chaplain magazine, would sell, but refused to give away, the eggs their chickens laid. Even close relatives were told, "You may have them if you pay for them." As a result some people labeled the Spurgeons greedy and grasping.

They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed. All the profits from the sale of eggs went to support two elderly widows. Because the Spurgeons where unwilling to let their left hand know what the right hand was doing (Matthew 6:3), they endured the attacks in silence.

Chaplain Magazine.


After Abraham Lincoln became president, before the days of civil service, office seekers besieged him everywhere trying to get appointments to various jobs throughout the country. Once, confined to bed with typhoid fever, exasperated, Lincoln declared to his secretary, "Bring on the office seekers; I now have something I can give to everybody."

Unknown.


I have tried to keep things in my hands and lost them all, but what I have given into God's hands I still possess.

Martin Luther.


I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.

C.S. Lewis.


"In Other Words," a publication of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, recently told a story about Sadie Sieker, who served for many years as a house-parent for missionaries' children in the Philippines. Sadie loved books. Though she gladly loaned out some, others she treasured in a footlocker under her bed. Once, in the quiet of the night, Sadie heard a faint gnawing sound. After searching all around her room, she discovered that the noise was coming from her footlocker. When she opened it, she found nothing but an enormous pile of dust. All the books she had kept to herself had been lost to termites. What we give away, we keep. What we hoard, we lose.

Larry Pennings.


He who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.

Sir Henry Taylor, quoted in New Beginnings.


In the latter part of the 17th century, German preacher August H. Francke founded an orphanage to care for the homeless children of Halle. One day when Francke desperately needed funds to carry on his work, a destitute Christian widow came to his door begging for a ducat--a gold coin. Because of his financial situation, he politely but regretfully told her he couldn't help her. Disheartened, the woman began to weep. Moved by her tears, Francke asked her to wait while he went to his room to pray. After seeking God's guidance, he felt that the Holy Spirit wanted him to change his mind. So, trusting the Lord to meet his own needs, he gave her the money. Two mornings later, he received a letter of thanks from the widow. She explained that because of his generosity she had asked the Lord to shower the orphanage with gifts. That same day Francke received 12 ducats from a wealthy lady and 2 more from a friend in Sweden. He thought he had been amply rewarded for helping the widow, but he was soon informed that the orphanage was to receive 500 gold pieces from the estate of Prince Lodewyk Van Wurtenburg. When he heard this, Francke wept in gratitude. In sacrificially providing for that needy widow, he had been enriched, not impoverished.

Unknown.


J.L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who had given approximately 25% of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, "The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord."

J.D. Rockefeller said, "I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week."

W. A. Criswell, A Guidebook for Pastors, p. 154.


Do your giving while you're living so you're knowing where it's going.

Unknown.


God judges what we give by what we keep.

G. Mueller.


It's not what you do with the million if fortune should ere be your lot, but what are you doing at present with the dollar and quarter you got.

Unknown.


The trouble is that too many people are spending money they haven't yet earned for things they don't need to impress people they don't like.

Unknown.


Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.

Peter Marshall.


In his book of sermons The Living Faith, Lloyd C. Douglas tells the story of Thomas Hearne, who, in his journey to the mouth of the Coppermine River, wrote that a few days after they had started on their expedition, a party of Indians stole most of their supplies. His comment on the apparent misfortune was: "The weight of our baggage being so much lightened, our next day's journey was more swift and pleasant."

Hearne was in route to something very interesting and important; and the loss of a few sides of bacon and a couple of bags of flour meant nothing more than an easing of the load. Had Hearne been hole in somewhere, in a cabin, resolved to spend his last days eking out an existence, and living on capital previously collected, the loss of some of his stores by plunder would probably have worried him almost to death. How we respond to "losing" some of our resources for God's work depends upon whether we are on the move or waiting for our last stand.

Eugene L. Feagin.


W.A. Criswell tells of an ambitious young man who told his pastor he'd promised God a tithe of his income. They prayed for God to bless his career. At that time he was making $40.00 per week and tithing $4.00. In a few years his income increased and he was tithing $500.00 per week. He called on the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, it was too costly now. The pastor replied, "I don't see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income to $40.00 a week, then you'd have no problem tithing $4.00."

W. A. Criswell, A Guidebook for Pastors, p. 156.


A fellow in our office told us recently of a household incident of which he had been an innocent but perplexed spectator. Our friend had called a Venetian-blind repairman to come pick up a faulty blind, and the next morning, while the family was seated at the breakfast table, the doorbell rang. Our friend's wife went to the door, and the man outside said, "I'm here for the Venetian blind." Excusing herself in a preoccupied way, the wife went to the kitchen, fished a dollar from the food money, pressed it into the repairman's hand, then gently closed the door and returned to the table. "Somebody collecting," she explained, pouring the coffee.

Caskei Stinnett in Speaking of Holiday.


Captain Levy, a believer from Philadelphia, was once asked how he could give so much to the Lord's work and still possess great wealth. The Captain replied, "Oh, as I shovel it out, He shovels it in, and the Lord has a bigger shovel."

Today in the Word, July, 1990, p. 28.


When you go to a doctor for your annual check-up, he or she will often begin to poke, prod, and press various places, all the while asking, "Does this hurt? How about this?" If you cry out in pain, one of two things has happened. Either the doctor has pushed too hard, without the right sensitivity. Or, more likely, there's something wrong, and the doctor will say, "We'd better do some more tests. It's not supposed to hurt there!" So it is when pastors preach on financial responsibility, and certain members cry out in discomfort, criticizing the message and the messenger. Either the pastor has pushed too hard. Or perhaps there's something wrong. In that case, I say, "My friend, we're in need of the Great Physician because it's not supposed to hurt there."

Ben Rogers.


When God's work is done in God's way for God's glory, it will never lack God's supply.

J. Hudson Taylor.


Lengthy Illustrations

The following article is based on a sermon by missionary Del Tarr who served fourteen years in West Africa with another mission agency. His story points out the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil. I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year's food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.

October and November...these are beautiful months. The granaries are full -- the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday's Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.

December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day.

By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don't stay well on half a meal a day.

April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel. Then, inevitably, it happens. A six or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. "Daddy! Daddy! We've got grain!" he shouts. "Son, you know we haven't had grain for weeks." "Yes, we have!" the boy insists. "Out in the hut where we keep the goats -- there's a leather sack hanging up on the wall -- I reached up and put my hand down in there -- Daddy, there's grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep! "The father stands motionless. "Son, we can't do that," he softly explains. "That's next year's seed grain. It's the only thing between us and starvation. We're waiting for the rains, and then we must use it."

The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.

The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, "Brother and sisters, this is God's law of the harvest. Don't expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears." And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don't mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, "I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this -- but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy."

Copyright Leadership, 1983.


Commentary

Take a look at your own heart, and you will soon find out what has stuck to it and where your treasure is. It is easy to determine whether hearing the Word of God, living according to it, and achieving such a life gives you as much enjoyment and calls forth as much diligence from you as does accumulating and saving money and property.

Martin Luther.


In II Cor. 8-9 giving was: and it:

Church centered (8:1) Blessed others (9:1-5)
From the heart (8:2-9) Blessed the giver (9:6-11)
Proportionate (8: 10-15) Glorified God (9:12-15)
Handled honestly (8:16-24)

Lloyd Perry, Getting the Church on Target, Moody, 1977.


Statistics and Research

Charitable giving per capita 1980: $214, 1990: $490
U.S. charity that got the most private donations in 1990: The Salvation Army, $658 million.
Americans who never give to Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas: 5%. Those who always give: 23%.
Age group that gives the highest percent of income to charity: Ages 65 to 74 is 4.4%. The lowest: Ages 18 to 24 is 1.2%
Personal income Americans gave to charity last year: Poorest households: 5.5%. Wealthiest households: 2.9%
Estimated value of time volunteers gave in 1989: $170 billion.

U.S. News and World Report, December, 1991.


The average church member contributes between 1.5% and 2.5% of his total income specifically to the Lord's work.

Lloyd Perry, Getting the Church on Target, Moody, 1977.


We'd all like a reputation for generosity, and we'd all like to buy it cheap. There is a recent study that seems to affirm the effectiveness of this priority system by demonstrating that church dollars accomplish far more than television dollars. Robert Polk, director of the Cooperative Program Promotion for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, came to this conclusion after analyzing the 1986 expenditures of leading TV ministries as compared to the Southern Baptist Convention.

First, he studied how the $684 million given to six leading TV ministers was used. Beside paying for TV time, he discovered that the donations supported 4 schools, 1 hospital, 3 churches, 2 ministries to needy children, 1 ministry to others in need, and 1 home for unwed mothers.

He then studied how the $635 million given to the Southern Baptists was spent. The contrast is startling! For the Baptist donations supported 52 children's homes, 48 hospitals (including 23 overseas), 67 colleges and universities (enrolling over 200,000 students), and 33 nursing homes; it also supported 3,756 foreign missionaries, 3,637 missionaries in the USA, and ministries to students on 1,100 campuses. These funds also supported six seminaries (enrolling a fifth of this country's seminarians), and the ACTS television network carried on cable in many cities.

Robert Polk.


American church members may be getting more selfish as their incomes rise according to a recent survey of 31 denominations. Funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., Empty Tomb, Inc., a nonprofit research and service organization in Champaign, Illinois, contrasted changes in per-member giving patterns with changes in U.S. per-capita disposable income. The report points out that although income after taxes and inflation increased 31 percent from 1968 to 1985, per-member giving as a percentage of disposable income was 8.5 percent less during that same period. "People are objectively richer, but the wealth is not expanding the ministry of the church," said Sylvia Ronsvalle, who founded Empty Tomb with her husband, John, in 1970. Their study further reports that most of the money donated by members to their churches stays within the local congregation. "We may be seeing an accommodation to lifestyle expectations among evangelicals that will rob them of their commitment to the church," said Ronsvalle. According to the survey, 24 of the 31 denominations showed a decrease in giving as a percentage of disposable income.

Christianity Today, September 2, 1988, p. 47.


The U.S. Department of Commerce has recently released statistics on American churches, clergy and church schools. Church Law & Tax Report gave some interesting figures:

Number of U.S. congregations: 294,271
Churches with fewer than 100 members: 60,300
Churches with fewer than 500 members: 205,556
Churches with 1,000-1,999 members: 21,691
Churches with 2,000 or more members: 13,958

Last year churches received $49 billion in revenues, of which $40 billion came from contributions, $1.4 billion from wills and estates, and $2.5 billion from fees or charges for services. There are a total of 348,000 clergy employed in the United States, and they have served an average of 15.8 years in each position.

Of special interest are the statistics on who is supporting these churches. Persons 65-74 years of age donated the largest percentage of their income (3.1 percent) and those 18-24 the least (0.6 percent). Increasingly, those with lower incomes gave a higher proportion of their income to charity than higher income individuals. Persons with household incomes of under $10,000 gave 2.8 percent of their total incomes, while those with incomes over $100,000 gave only 2.1 percent. The average annual contribution to the church was $715 per household.

Pulpit Helps, August, 1992, p. 8.


The study found that households with incomes below $10,000 give away an average of 2.8% of their income, while households with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 give away only 1.5%. Nearly half of the total contributions to charity in the U.S. comes from households with incomes below $30,000. The average total giving to charity per household was $790. From Independent Sector, a Washington based nonprofit organization that recently conducted a study on provate giving to charity.

"Confident Living," February, 1989 p. 20.


Percentage of personal income the poorest households in America gave to charity in 1992: 5.5 percent. Wealthiest households: 2.9 percent.

Youthworker Update, quoted in Signs of the Times, March, 1993, p. 7.


In 1983 U.S. churchgoers donated $21.5 billion. But if churchgoers had donated 10% of income, they would have given $134 billion. 80% of the money given paid the congregation's expenses.

Unknown.


Humor

Martyn Lloyd-Jones told a story about a farmer who went into the house one day to tell his wife and family some good news. "The cow just gave birth to twin calves, one red and one white," he said.

He continued, "We must dedicate one of these calves to the Lord. We will bring them up together, and when the time comes, we will sell one and keep the proceeds and we will sell the other and give the proceeds to the Lords work." His wife asked him which he was going to dedicate to the Lord. "There's no need to bother about that now," he replied, "we'll treat them both in the same way and when the time comes, we'll do as I say."

A few days later, he entered the kitchen looking unhappy. "What happened?" his wife asked. "I have bad news," he replied, "The Lords calf is dead." "Wait," said his wife, " you didn't decide which calf was the Lords." "Yes" he said," I decided it was the white one, and the white one died. The Lords calf is dead."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones.


A missionary, speaking of the need on the foreign fields, was to receive an offering to help out with the work. A man was sitting next to the aisle about halfway up. He had folded his arms and sat with a grim look, a scowl and a frown. He evidently didn't want to be there. Perhaps his wife had made him come. When the usher held the plate in front of him, he just shook his head. The usher jiggled the plate invitingly. Still the only response was the head shake. The usher leaned over and whispered, "It's for missions, you know." Still the scowl and a mumbled sentence, "I don't believe in 'em." This usher was a sharp man. He leaned down and said, "Then you take some out. It's for the heathen, anyway."

Unknown.


A fellow in our office told us recently of a household incident of which he had been an innocent but perplexed spectator. Our friend had called a Venetian-blind repairman to come pick up a faulty blind, and the next morning, while the family was seated at the breakfast table, the doorbell rang. Our friend's wife went to the door, and the man outside said, "I'm here for the Venetian blind." Excusing herself in a preoccupied way, the wife went to the kitchen, fished a dollar from the food money, pressed it into the repairman's hand, then gently closed the door and returned to the table. "Somebody collecting," she explained, pouring the coffee.

Caskei Stinnett in Speaking of Holiday.


A man had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He could receive little company and was not to be excited. While in the hospital a rich uncle died and left him a million dollars. His family wondered how to break the news to him with the least amount of excitement. It was decided to ask the preacher if he would go and break the news quietly to the man. The preacher went, and gradually led up to the question. The preacher asked the patient what he would do if he inherited a million dollars. He said, "I think I would give half of it to the church." The preacher dropped dead.

Unknown.


Poetry

Leftovers are such humble things,
We would not serve to a guest,
And yet we serve them to our Lord
Who deserve the very best.
We give to Him leftover time,
Stray minutes here and there.
Leftover cash we give to Him,
Such few coins as we can spare.
We give our youth unto the world,
To hatred, lust and strife;
Then in declining years we give
To him the remnant of our life.

Author Unknown.



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