Three Steps to a Generous Life - Matthew 6:19-24 - Skip Heitzig
Here at Calvary Church, we have cultural axioms, statements that help us to be intentional about creating a biblically based culture. One of our cultural axioms is generosity multiplies capacity. What does that mean to you? We could tell you, but instead we'd like to show you. When you give here, here, or here, life change happens here in New Mexico, across the country, and around the globe.
But just how do we measure life change, the real result of your generosity? Well, in the case of Feed New Mexico Kids, life change is measured by the ton. And sometimes life change is measured in smiles.
Tonight we're at Emerson elementary over on the south side. We're doing a toy distribution because you guys are generous. It's been incredible to see the generosity of our church and see it multiplied here, as there are over 75 families that are being blessed by what you did and the gifts that you donated.
For others, life change is measured in one more life committed to following Jesus Christ, one more eternity rerouted to heaven.
My name is Suki, and I gave my life to Jesus February 16, 2019. So I had a knowledge of who Jesus was. I didn't have a realization or a revelation. And before that, I was heavily into Buddhism. That's where I felt aesthetically and culturally comfortable. And I didn't want anything to do with Christians. In fact, I thought Christians were kind of simple minded and not very intelligent. But I realized that Jesus is not a culture. He's not a denomination. He's not a nationality. He's just the truth.
Since I've given my life to Jesus, I have been able to do things I thought I never could do before. I don't live my life out of fear. I live a life out of faith, which it doesn't make sense in the natural terms. It's miraculous. And also I don't feel alone. And I feel hopeful. And I'm excited about living, and I know that life is still hard. But I know I have a purpose, and the best thing is I have something to look forward to, which is to be with Jesus for all eternity. And that's the best reward I could ask for.
And now I'm ready to get baptized and go public, and I'll let everyone know-- I'll scream it from the mountaintops-- that I belong to Jesus. And that is a privilege and a blessing.
Simply because of your faith in Jesus Christ, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. All right!
I'm so grateful for those who give to this church because it was this specific church that made me feel comfortable enough to come and be part of the body of Christ where I didn't feel like I was alienated or I didn't fit because the focus here is on Jesus and on the word of God. And because of your donations, I'm here and I'm saved and I'm going to heaven. And I'm going to be able to be a witness to others and spread the kingdom. And I just want to thank you so much. And it means everything to me. It means my life.
Hi, my name is Michelle Marcus.
My name is Ashton.
Hello, my name is Elija Quintana, and I gave my life to Jesus about two years ago.
My name is Ileana Sequentez.
My name is Rachel.
My name is Renee.
Hi, my name's Bethany.
Hello, my name is Christopher.
My name is Ryan Trujillo.
My name is John. This is my wife Janelle.
Hi, my name is Josue.
My name is Helena.
I'm ready to go public.
And I'm going public.
Today I'm going public.
Your generosity multiplies the ears that hear Pastor Skip's messages. So the same Bible based teaching that you get every weekend gets seen and heard all across the nation. On any given day, we receive emails and letters from across the country, letting us know how pastor Skip's teachings are changing lives. These listeners we've heard from recently testified to the impact your generosity is making.
My husband and I have had the pleasure to hear Pastor Skip teach the Word on several occasions when he travels with Franklin Graham. We love Pastor Skip's teaching. God speaks to us through Skip every time. With that said, when I saw Skip's resource, Jesus Loves the Broken, I jumped at the opportunity to donate in exchange for a copy.
You see, our 30-year-old son suffers from anxiety and depression. Praise Jesus that he's in a good place as I write this. I thank the Lord for Skip's ministry and a million thanks to you for your concern and service. In Jesus' name, Julie and Dave Owens.
The impact of your generosity doesn't stop where our borders end. Thanks to you, live change is happening across the globe. And that kind of life change can be measured in shoeboxes and in swing sets.
Calvary missions help support full time missionaries across the globe-- missionaries like Cathy, a physical therapist who mentors and disciples family practice interns and nurses and provides training opportunity for medical students throughout Albania and the Balkans.
My name is Kathy Scott. I am a physical therapist. And I live in serve as a missionary in Tirana, Albania. There is one patient that stands out in my mind, I met on a second exploration trip to Kosova. He had been told by doctors that he would be paralyzed and always be in bed. He had such severe back pain that nothing could be done.
I was working with a group of students at the University, and we had the opportunity to work with him as a practice patient. We worked with him several times, gave him exercises, did some corrections with him. And I never saw him again. And that was in 2006.
When I became a missionary and moved to Kosova, he made a point of finding me. And he told me that he was still doing my exercises. He was able to return to hard manual labor and that he was able to take care of his family. And he thanked me, because nobody else thought anything could ever be done. He was just a hopeless case.
I get to treat each of my patients with the care and the love of Jesus Christ. People think, with supporting ministries and stuff financially, that they have to give big amounts of money. And it isn't. It isn't about that. Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. And I think that is the whole essential in supporting ministries and missionaries-- to do small things with great love.
To the people in the church and people all over the United States that support me, they are such an integral part of the work that I get to be a part of. It's God's work. He works through other people to bring resources. He finds a way to get the work done. And I am greatly blessed. I consider them to be just as responsible for what happens and the fruit as what I get to do.
Generosity multiplies capacity, and the life change that results-- well, it might impact the person sitting right next to you, or it might impact a special needs child in Albania, because generosity changes people everywhere. Thank you for partnering with us to create life change right here and around the globe.
Good morning. Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Matthew chapter 6? Today we pause as we do twice a year, and we celebrate. We kind of catch our breath, look at what God has done and is doing through all of us together on this team, and we celebrate your generosity and God's work through that.
I know that I'm preaching to the choir today. I know that, as evidenced by these video clips, you are already generous. And for that, I want to applaud you. I want to clap for you. You don't clap. This is me clapping for you, thanking you for being a part of this team. I want to thank you for your support, for decades with OCC Operation Christmas Child, the shoeboxes we collect, as we're ramping up for that.
Thank you for the generous donations to the kids and families of this community that we took up last week, that special offering. Thank you for caring for the city's poor, the children at Christmas time, to get them those gifts. Thank you for, not just seven playgrounds, but altogether 42 playgrounds put throughout the world to spread the love of Jesus to kids impacted by terrorism. Thank you for that.
And again, I know I'm preaching to the choir. I know you're generous. This just is to reaffirm that and maybe challenge us in a new direction and remind us of some of the biblical principles. But generosity is not just about money. It goes far beyond that. You can be generous with your time, with your energy, with your talents, with your praise, with your encouragement. There's so many different ways.
You are generous in how you volunteer for watching our children. You are generous for being greeters as people come in, giving them a hug, giving them a bulletin, showing them around the campus. You're generous in being part of our security teams. There's many ways that so many of you serve in your energy, time, as well as treasure.
Basically, generosity is becoming an unselfish person. That's what it's about. Generosity is love in action. You can give without loving. But you can never love without giving. For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son. If I am not a generous person, then I am not a loving person. I might think that I am, but I am not. One shows the other.
Now, I don't know if you know this or not, but there are more promises in the Bible about generosity then about things that we perhaps think ought to occupy more attention. For example, the word love, that's a pretty important topic, and value-- the word love appears in scripture 714 times. That's significant, 714 times.
The word believe shows up 272 times. The word pray 371 times. But the word give shows up in the pages of scripture 2,152 times. Why is that? Because God is a giver, that's why. Because our God is a generous God and the Bible says he generously gives us every good gift, James said. James chapter 1, "Every good and perfect gift comes from God, from above, from God in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
Now I'm going to ask you a question, and I need your participation. I need a true show of hands. How many of you know of or have heard of a guy by the name of Humphrey Monmouth, Humphrey Monmouth? Oh, I know that name, raise your hand. So I hear some snickers because it's an odd name. One knows the name.
He cheated. Ushers. No, just kidding, just kidding, just kidding. I was here last night. Now I want a show of hands-- not you-- a show of hands. How many of you have heard the name William Tyndale? Raise your hand. Yeah, we have. He's the guy that brought us the first English Bible, William Tyndale.
I contend you never would have heard of William Tyndale were it not for Humphrey Monmouth. Let me explain. In the 1500s in England, William Tyndale wanted to translate the Bible into the English language. Why? There wasn't a Bible in English. That's why.
The Bible was translated from the original tongues into the Latin language. The Latin Vulgate by Jerome was the only extant translation in England. Well, the problem is English men, the common English person, did not read or speak Latin. So the Bible was trapped in the language of Latin. It was the vision of William Tyndale to untrap, unlock that and bring it to the common person so the common countrymen, country woman could read the Bible in their own language-- thus, meet the God of the Bible.
But there was a problem. During that time, Bible translation was illegal in England. You could be arrested for it. You could be thrown in jail for it. You could be killed for translating the Bible. So a businessman by the name of Humphrey Monmouth met with Tyndale, gave Tyndale his protection, provided for him financially, including the translation of that Bible, and then used his own boats, his own ships, his merchant ships to smuggle English Bibles from where they were translated at that time on the European mainland all throughout England.
So when you hold your English Bible in your hand, you should thank God for William Tyndale and Humphrey Monmouth, because one had the spiritual burden and the other provided financial backing. That's a partnership. That's generosity.
When my son Nate was a boy, I really wanted him to know stories in the Bible. And so to do that, we would have him and we would dress up like Bible characters and we'd act the stories out, act the parts out. And we had a lot of fun doing that. We did it just about every night. We'd go through a little section in the Bible.
But there are parts of the Bible that are narrative, that don't have-- you can dress up, but if you read it, it's still boring to a kid. So I remember going through this text with him in Deuteronomy 15. It says if there is a poor man among you, among any of your brothers in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard hearted or tight fisted toward your poor brother. Rather, be open handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.
So I remember-- I think I was kneeling at the time because Nate was about that tall. And I said, oh, so, Nate, the Bible tells us, don't be-- and I had him do this, make a fist-- don't be tight fisted. Be open handed. And so he did that, and then he'd memorize that. So he started walking around the house going, don't be tight fisted. Be open handed. Mom, don't be tight fisted. Be open handed.
So he memorized that. He got that. We wanted to cultivate a heart of generosity in him, and it worked. In fact, maybe it worked a little too well. Because we started noticing that he would be giving away his toys that we just bought him for Christmas. So he'd want something and his grandmother would give him a shirt. I remember the year he got two shirts from Hollister. They were really important to him. His grandmother gave him one. I think his grandfather or we gave him the other one.
And so we see one of his friends walking out the door with his brand new shirt. He goes, what's up with that. He goes, well, I had two. He had none. Or his little tape player that was by his bed where he'd listen to little Bible stories at night, he gave it to his friend across the street. And so he started giving stuff away, and I thought, I gotta stop this. So I remember going to him, and then it was like the Lord come. He goes, wait a minute. You taught him that. You really want that generous heart.
Well, the Bible has a lot to say about generosity. The Bible has a lot to say about materialism, our relationship, our value of it. In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about money itself-- earning it, spending it, saving it, investing it, losing it, giving it, and wasting it. But we're in Matthew chapter 6, Sermon on the Mount. But get this-- one sixth of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, one sixth of those three gospels deal with our relationship to money, and in particular, what we value.
So what I want to share with you out of Matthew chapter 6-- actually, the whole chapter has something to do with our relationship to the material world. But I want to give you three steps to a generous life. The first has to do with your heart. Second has to do with your eye. The third has to do with your hands, or your strength, your service.
So keep your heart pure. Keep your eye clear. And keep your hand strong. First we go to Matthew chapter 6 verse 19. "Keep your heart pure," Jesus said. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys, where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Now I'd like to clear up an issue. Money is not evil. Money is not evil. I've heard people say, money is the root of all, evil the Bible says. The Bible does not say that. The Bible says money is a root-- that is one of many-- is a root of all kinds of evil. It's a very different meaning. So money is not evil. Money is not good. Money is neutral. It all depends on what you do with it, how it is used.
Many people in the scriptures who were godly people were quite wealthy. In fact, Deuteronomy says it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to get wealth. Abraham, who is called a friend of God, the only person who is called a friend of God, had a wealth that was on the par of the kings of Canaan. He had 318 trained servants who served as his private militia in one case. So he had 318 families that he was sponsoring, very wealthy in flocks and herds.
Job was also very wealthy. We know he went through trials and we know he lost all of his wealth. But we also know in Job 42 that, at the end, God blessed him and multiplied that wealth more than the beginning. Then there was Joseph. Joseph was second over all of Egypt, which means he was second in command over the world, which I think is fair to assume then he was the second richest man in the world. And yet he was a very godly young man.
So it's not money that is evil, but how we handle any material thing, whether it's money or investments or a thing we want. Our relationship to the material world is a barometer of spiritual growth and maturity. In fact, one of the first thermometers Jesus sticks in the mouth of his followers to see if they get it is their finances. That's why he says so much about. Verse 21-- "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If Jesus can get that, he can get anything. If he has your treasure, he has you. So that is the barometer.
Now it says, do not lay out for yourselves treasures. Literally, it's do not treasure treasures. And it's the idea of stacking up, of hoarding for yourself. It's a show of wealth. The same idea is fleshed out for us. So we understand its meaning. In one of the stories, Jesus gives a parable-- I'm going to read you out of Luke chapter 12. If you're quick with your thumbs, you can turn to Luke 12 for a moment.
Verse 15, Jesus said to them, take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man's life does not consistent the abundance of the things that he possesses. Then he spoke a parable to them saying, The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully." So here's a business guy, made good on his investments. He's getting a lot of return from his crops. And he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do since I have no room to store my crops. So he said, I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build bigger or greater barns. And there I will store all my crops and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, soul-- I like that for some reason. Hey, soul, I'm talking to you. And he said to his soul, soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, fool-- some of you are saying, I thought you were not supposed to say that word fool. You're not, but God can say anything he wants.
God said to him, fool, this night your soul will be required of you. Then whose will those things be which you have provided? Listen to his closing statement. So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. Here's a story about a successful business guy who is planning his future wealth investment without thinking of God, without thinking of eternal matters.
Now notice back in our text, the stark difference between two types of treasure-- treasure on earth versus treasure in heaven. One is temporary, one is eternal. One decays and needs maintenance. The other defies decay and is immortal-- laying up treasure on earth, laying up treasure in heaven.
Compare two different tombs in the Middle East, very famous tombs. Let's think of the tomb of King Tut. We all know of King Tut. Actually, we know that all the pharaohs were buried with lots of stuff. If you walked into the tomb of King Tut, you would see porcelain and gold on the walls. You would see jewels bedecking everything. He was buried in several caskets called a sarcophagus. So I guess the plural is sarcophagi. And one of them was gold, solid gold. And that is because King Tut and all the pharaohs believed in an afterlife. But they believed you can actually take stuff with you from this life into the afterlife. So they were buried with it all.
Compare that tomb to the tomb of Jesus Christ, also in the Middle East-- simple rock hewn tomb, no jewels, no treasures, no corpse. He got up and left. And when he went to his father's house, that's where all of the glory, all of heaven's wealth he enjoyed. Timothy said, we brought nothing into this world. It is certain we can carry nothing out. Or as you've heard it put, you have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.
And actually John Wesley, the great reformer, said that he had three great principles regarding money. Principle number one, earn as much as you possibly can. Principal number two, save as much as you possibly can. Number three, those first two so that you can give as much as you can for God's work. That is the principle of money that governed his life.
Now let me give you an example of laying up treasure in heaven. I've already given you one. Humphrey Monmouth was a guy who was laying up treasures in heaven and saw the value of William Tyndale. Let me give you another one. You've all heard of Paul the Apostle. Don't need a show of hands. I know you have.
But do you ever think much about Phoebe? Some of you are going Phoebe? What does Phoebe have to do with Paul? Everything. When Paul writes the 16th chapter of the book of Romans, he lists names. And he lists a woman by the name of Phoebe. And he says this. She is a servant of the church in Centuria, a helper of many and myself also.
That word helper, the Greek word prostatis. It means a patroness or a benefactress-- in other words, a woman of financial means who supported Paul the Apostle in his ministry. Now wouldn't you love to support Paul the Apostle? Who wouldn't write a check for that? Here's Paul the Apostle. Anybody want to support him? Yeah. Sign me up, no-brainer, a lot of fruit there.
Let me give you another example. Luke and Theophilus-- we know Luke. He wrote the Gospel of Luke. He wrote the book of Acts. But when he wrote Luke and wrote Acts in chapter, 1 of both of those subsequent books, he talked about Theophilus, oh most noble Theophilus. We don't know a lot about Theophilus, except it seems pretty evident that he funded Luke's research. He gave the financial backing for Luke to research the life of Christ and put it into the Gospel of Luke in the first 30 years of church history in the book of Acts, the spread of Christianity.
I am sure that Theophilus, when he was funding Luke's research, never imagined that he was underwriting two books of the Bible. That's fruit. That's laying up treasure in heaven. One person said, money is like manure. If you stack it up, it stinks. If you spread it around, it makes things grow. By the way, that was an oil billionaire named J Paul Getty who said that. Spread it around, make things grow.
Humphrey Monmouth, Theophilus, Phoebe-- spread it around. Make things grow. So keep your heart pure. That's the first step. Second step, keep your eye clear. Verse 22, Jesus continues, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore, your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
In other words, the eye is the organ of the body that allows light to come in. It is, so to speak, the window to the body. Just about everything we do in life depends on our ability to see. You drove here today. You could not get your driver's license if you were impaired in vision. Walking jumping, running, bicycling, everything we do depends on what we see.
Well, Jesus said, the lamp of the body is the eye. The condition of a window determines the quality of light entering the room. The window is clear and undistorted. The room will be bright. If the window is colored or frosted, dirty or obscure, the light will be dim and dull in that room.
So here's the question. How clearly do you see? How clearly do you see? Is there anything blocking the light of spiritual values? Are you clouded by spiritual cataracts? Are you nearsighted? That is, preoccupied with stuff, with self, with indulgence. Focusing on treasures, on material stuff can fog your spiritual window. It can dim the light.
Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, who believed that materialism was all good and money was good and an evidence that God was blessing a person is that he would bless them financially and that, if a person was poor, they were being cursed by God. They had a warped theology, just like modern day faith theology.
Jesus said to these very wealthy Pharisees, woe unto you, blind guides. And he called them blind fools and blind men, blind, blind, blind, triple blind. Peter spoke to his church or the church he wrote to about growing spiritually. But then he warned them, he who lacks these things is short sighted even to blindness and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Materialism can blind us. You've heard stories about people during a fire who ran back into the house to get something, some item that they value, that they treasured and they were killed because of it, or people who were killed because they stubbornly resisted armed robbers. You're not going to get a hold of this. You're not going to take this from me. Or people who lost their wealth in an investment or a stock market investment, and they lost it all. And they lost it, and they despaired of life, even to the point of suicide.
I remember many years ago I read a story about a bank that was held up in London. I think the guys got away with $7 million of money and items. And one of the items that they took was a box, a safety deposit box with jewels. A woman owned $500,000 worth of jewels that were in this box. When she found out the box was taken, her words were this-- everything I had was in there. My whole life was in that box. That's one of the saddest things I've ever heard. My whole life was in that box.
Somebody once said, there's no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself. It's true. Now the question then is, how do I clear my eyesight. How do I get a clear eye? Answer, a singular focus. Notice the word good. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
If you have an old King James Bible-- anybody here with an old King James version? It's says single, right? And that's really a better translation in this case. If your eye is single, the idea is that you are focusing on one thing. That is, you have an undivided loyalty. You're keeping your eye on the right thing. It's good. It's single. It's like in sports. They tell you, keep your eye on the--
--ball. Why? Because you're sure to hit what you're aiming at. Look at, focus on the right stuff, because materialism can blind you from that single undivided loyalty to God, to Christ. We all know from our history that Helen Keller was blind. Somebody walked up to her, somebody that knew her, and said, I think it's terrible-- don't you-- that you were born blind.
Now let me just say-- when you talk to somebody who is impaired, never say that. But this person said, I think it's terrible that you were born blind. Helen Keller's response was classic. She said, better to be born blind and to see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing. She was speaking about spiritual blindness.
So the quickest way to a clear focus, or a single eye, is to relax the grip on stuff. We grab the other so tightly. Don't be tight fisted. Be open handed. You're tight fisted. You get blinded to it. When you're open handed, and you relax that grip. You start seeing clearly. A man went to a counselor and said, he was increasing in his wealth. He said, when I only had $50,000, I was a very happy man. I now have $500,000, and I'm miserable.
The counselor said, it's an easy fix. Give away $450,000. You'll be back to your 50. The man said, it's not that easy. He said, having money is like grabbing an electrical wire. The more the juice, the tighter the hold. So be intentional about letting go of things that you treasure on this earth so that your heart doesn't get [BUZZ] shocked. Keep your heart pure. Keep your eye clear. And finally, keep your hand strong.
Verse 24, "no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon," or money. No one can serve two masters. That's an axiomatic truth. It's a self-evident truth. The imagery is that of a master 2,000 years ago with slaves. People owned people in those days. It was very common in the Roman Empire.
I'm not going to justify that. That was a worldwide phenomenon. But the point of the passage is, when a master owned a servant, the master was in total control of the servant. You don't have a part time servant. A servant doesn't say, well, I worked part time for that guy and part time for that guy. A master owns you. He is your lord. You are in servitude to him.
So he says, you cannot serve God and mammon. That's the Aramaic word for money or wealth or possessions. It's OK to have it, but don't serve it, because stuff is a cruel master. It enslaves the heart and the mind and the will. You'll get shackled. So the question is not just what you own, but who owns you. Who do you serve?
Now do you know-- I hope you do-- that the New Testament regularly calls our relationship to God, He is master and we are servants? Now we don't like to think about that in modern America. Jesus is a friend. He likes to just hug me and carry me through life. That's how we'd like to picture it. All that's true, but never forget you are a bond slave of your Lord and master Jesus Christ, who bought you on the cross. So you belong to him.
In almost every letter Paul writes, he begins by saying, Paul, a bond slave of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord. Romans chapter 6, "You are free from the power of sin and have become slaves to God." 1 Corinthians chapter 6, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." You can never say, I'm my own person. No, you're not. You've been bought. You've been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Nothing wrong with owning things. Question is, who owns you. John Calvin said, where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost his authority. My wife and I, when we got married, decided that we would-- it was one of our first discussions-- regularly give 10% of our income to our church. That's what we did, plus other support of missionaries, et cetera. We just made-- that was our covenant, the first check we write.
I remember the very first time, though, that I tithed. I was single. And I remember it because I remember sitting in the pew and I was sweating. I was very nervous to do this. I had not done it yet. I was growing in the Lord. But my relationship to churches-- I would go and I would sit and I would listen. And I would evaluate if I liked the sermon or not. That was my contribution, which is that much. I was just taking it all in, taking it all in, taking it all in.
And the Lord just said, wait a minute, you should be a part of this. You can help get the word of God out in a number of different ways. So I knew it was right. But I was sweating. I'm writing the check, and I'm sweating because I'm thinking, man, there's a lot of things I could do with this money. There's a lot of things I could buy with his money. And then I was sweating because I was rationalizing, there's other people around me. They don't have the same situation I have. They're not in the same financial predicament I am. They can afford it. I can't. I did it. It wasn't easy.
But I discovered I wasn't the only one. I discovered that the average church member gives between 1.5% and 2%, not even the minimal Old Testament 10%. The average church member, like I used to be, 1.5% to 2%-- I bring that up, because that is below giving during the Great Depression. During the Great Depression, the average giving in churches was 3.3%. Today with a prospering economy, it's 1.2% or 1.5% to 2%. So that was me.
Then I discovered something else. Not only where other people like that. I discovered this great truth. 10% doesn't belong to God. How much of it belongs to God? All of it. Say, all of it. All of it, 100%. And I turned it around. God is so generous to let me keep 90% of it. I'm getting most of it. He's just asking me to be faithful with that.
Now I understand there's contingencies. You might say, but I'm barely making it. Let me just tell you this. 90% with you and God will go off a lot further than 100% with you alone. Well, how do I know that? Well, that's why you gotta trust God. And by the way, God says, that's the only place he asks you to test him in.
The Bible says, don't test the Lord your God. But one place he invites you-- he says, bring it on, bring it on, bring it on. Test me. Try me. Try this out. See if it works. Run a test. See if you can outgive me. Malachi chapter 3 says, when it comes to tithes and offerings, I want you to test me and see if I won't open the windows of heaven and pour out on you a blessing you can't contain. That's the test. You say, God is testing me. God asked you to test him in this.
So I know I'm preaching to the choir. Again, I want to thank you for your generosity. I want to thank you for showing that your heart is owned by God. You repeatedly show that throughout the years at this church. Thank you for demonstrating that mammon is not your Lord but that Jesus is your Lord. Thank you for that.
Father, thank you for your generous heart toward us. Lord, thank you for the fact that you so loved this world that you gave your only begotten son. You gave the most precious one to us. And with him, the Bible says you will freely give us all things. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from you, from the Father of light, in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
You give us air to breathe. You give us shoes to walk in. You give us friends to embrace. You give us memories of those that we've lost. You give us food to eat. You give us every good and perfect gift. Thank you, Lord. And thank you for a generous group that believes in investing in the kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.