I've had something to say on the subject of giving.
Two weeks ago it was basically an announcement
that I made after we had already offered our contributions.
Last Sunday it was a short statement
along with a prayer
just before we each gave our own contribution.
for the members of the church.
And that's true, because the contribution is basically the responsibility
of the church and it's members.
I'm sure it's not as often as I should.
But, today, I would like to devote my lesson to the subject of
"Positive Motives For Giving."
"Nobody does anything without being motivated."
True! We all have reasons for doing the things that we do,
whether we consciously realize what those reasons are, or not.
But how do you motivate people?
How do you move them to action?
In a very real sense you don't.
Each one of us actually motivates him or herself.
External factors can help
but our true and lasting motives come from within ourselves.
This is a proven fact.
Because of our own needs.
The need to survive physically.
The need to love and be loved
The need to feel significant.
The need for a clear conscience.
Because of what we value.
Because of what we hold to be important.
Sometimes it's the present situation.
Sometimes it's because of things in our past
that we have consciously forgotten about
but unconsciously they still motivate us
and move us to act in a certain way
in certain situations.
Sometimes it's in response to goals
that we have consciously and deliberately set for ourselves.
Really very important indeed.
"It is motive alone
that gives character to the actions of men."
"The morality of an action
depends on the motive from which we act."
2 Set your mind on the things above,
not on the things that are on earth.
7 For as he thinks within himself, so is he .
"What are my present motives for giving?
"How can I get my inner being, my inner self,
properly attuned and motivated for giving.
"Can I, or should I, be motivated to give more?"
"Are my present motives for giving
pleasing to the Lord"
These are very important questions for each of us to answer.
These things may move people to give,
but they usually don't endure for any extended period of time.
I'm not talking about anything from the Bible.
Instead, I'm talking about, what might be called arm-twisting.
Now that may work for the moment,
but then, when the pressure to give is off,
then the giving stops, or decreases.
Another wrong motive is
Now it's true that teaching from Bible
may make us feel ashamed if we are not giving as we ought.
That's a right response of a good conscience on our part.
But I'm not talking about that.
What I mean here as a wrong motive
is when the preacher get's up and creates a false sense of guilt
one that's not really based on God's word
This is an appeal to the letter of the law.
The Bible does teach the necessity of giving,
but the Lord gives us
much higher motives than that for our giving.
Now we are blessed that our government
allows us to deduct our charitable contributions
from our taxable income
if we itemize deductions.
As a matter of fact, that is so much of a standard,
that your automatically allowed to deduct 10%.
So if you don't have more than 10% to list in your deductions,
it's not worth the time and effort to do it.
Frankly, God is not interested in whether or not
you can take a tax break for your contribution.
A good question to ask yourself is
"How much would I give
if I couldn't subtract it from my taxable income?"
Some churches receive more that they know how to use for the Lord.
As a result, they take pride
in having many thousands of dollars in savings,
the more the better.
This is not good stewardship.
The Lord would have us to be using what we have
in service to Him.
Jesus said some people give in such a way
that they deliberately call attention to their generosity
He tells us their motives for doing that:
so "that they may be honored by men."
He also tells us the consequences for doing that:
"Truly I say to you, they (already) have their reward in full."
On the contrary, he says in verse 3
3 “...when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know
what your right hand is doing
4 that your alms may be in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me."
you have made a conscious and determined decision
to give Jesus control of your life.
You know that to decide the right thing in any matter,
you can ask,
"What would Jesus do?" and
"What would Jesus have me do?"