A Bountiful Eye

Posted by on Sep 18, 2011

A Bountiful Eye

“A Bountiful Eye”

Scripture Text:  Proverbs 22:9

By Pastor Mike Withem
First Baptist Church
Ranson, West Virginia

Introduction:

A. I want to speak to you this morning on the subject of GIVING, but not so much on the blessings of giving.
1. Now to be sure, those who give WILL be blessed.
2. As we see in our text, this morning, Solomon said, “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed;” (Prov. 22:9)
3. In addition to that, many, if not most, of us here this morning have personally experienced the blessings of giving.
4. And so, those who give WILL be blessed, and these blessing will come in many different forms.
5. However, rather than focusing our attention this morning on the blessings of giving, I want us to think about the different LEVELS of giving.

B. What do I mean by “levels” of giving?
1. I simply mean that because giving is a SPIRITUAL exercise, and because there are different levels of spiritual growth, there are also different levels of giving.
2. (Illus.- Let me illustrate it like this. When it comes to education, as you know, there are different levels of education. First of all, there is the ELEMENTARY level [grades K-6]. After elementary school, comes HIGH SCHOOL [grades 7-12]. Then after high school comes COLLEGE [which is usually 4 years].  Then after college, comes GRADUATE school.  And so, when it comes to education, there are different levels of education.)
3. Well, the same thing is true when it comes to a believer’s spiritual growth (there are different).
4. The Bible says in 2 Pet. 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
5. Many believers are still “babes in Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:1)
6. Some believers have grown some, however they are still spiritual ADOLESCENTS.
7. A few believers have actually grown to the point that they have become spiritual ADULTS.
8. Now here’s the point that I am trying to make, as a believer grows spiritually, he also grows in his giving (in other words, he graduates to higher levels of giving).

C. Now what are these different levels of giving? There are at least four. The first level of giving is…

I. Tithing.

A. What is tithing?
1. Tithing is giving 10% of your gross income to the Lord.
2. When Jacob made his vow to tithe to the Lord in Gen. 28:22, he said this, “….of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
3. When God commanded Israel to tithe of the increase of their livestock, He said this, “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.” (Lev. 27:32)
4. And so, tithing is giving a tenth (10%) of your gross income to the Lord.
5. (Illus.- For example, if your gross income [before anything is taken out] is $ 1,000.00 per week, then your weekly tithe would be $ 100.00. If your gross income is $ 800.00 per week, then your weekly tithe would be $ 80.00. And so, it’s very easy to determine what your tithe should be, just take your gross weekly income, divide it by 10, and that’s your weekly tithe.)

B. By the way, tithing is the ONLY level of giving that is commanded by the Lord.
1. The Bible says in Lev. 27:30, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.”
2. Notice that God said the tithe BELONGS to Him.
3. This is why God said the following to Israel in Mal. 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.”
4. He went on to tell them that they had robbed Him by holding back their tithe.

C. But someone says, “Wait a minute. The command to tithe  found in Leviticus was a part of the LAW OF MOSES and is not binding upon believers today!”
1. It’s true that the command found in Lev. 27:30 was a part of the Law of Moses, however, tithing was practiced by God’s people LONG before the Law was given.
2. For example, Abraham practiced tithing when he gave tithes to “Melchizedek, king of Salem.” (Gen. 14:20)
3. As we saw earlier, Jacob practiced tithing.
4. And this was long before the Law was given.
5. The Proverbs, which were not a part of the Law of Moses, also commands us as God’s people to tithe.
6. Notice Prov. 3:9, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”
7. The word “firstfruits” literally  means the FIRST PART and is a reference to tithing.
8. The New Testament, as well, commands us to tithe.
9. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 16:2, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him,”

D. Not only is tithing the ONLY level of giving that is commanded by God, it is the MOST ELEMENTARY level of giving.
1. (Illus.- Do you remember that TV show called, “The Beverly Hillbillies”? One of the characters was named Jethro. Do you remember how Jethro’s uncle Jed used to brag about how educated Jethro was? The fact is, Jethro had only graduated from the 6th grade. You know, I’m afraid that there are some Christians who think that they are so spiritual simply because they tithe, and the truth is, when it comes to giving, they have only graduated from the 6th grade!)
2. And so, the first level of giving is tithing.
3. The second level of giving is the…

II. Giving Of An Offering.

A. The Old Testament actually refers to this as a “freewill offering.”
1. The Bible says in Deut. 12:6, “And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings,”
2. The reason it is called a “freewill” offering is because it is not commanded by God. (In other words, we don’t give it because God commands us, but rather of our own free will.)

B. For example, God’s people gave “freewill offerings” to finance the building of Solomon’s temple.
1. The LEADERS led the way by being the first to give.
2. The Bible says in 1 Chron. 29:6-7, “Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly, And gave for the service of the house of God.”
3. The PEOPLE then followed the example of their leaders.
4. The Bible says in 1 Chron. 29:9, “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD:”

C. Not only was it a freewill offering, but it was an offering given out of their abundance.
1. When I think of giving an offering to God out of the abundance that He bestows upon us, I think of great Christian philanthropists like Henry J. Heinz, and Truett Kathy, and Robert G. LeTourneau, and James C. Penny.
2. These are men whom God blessed with an abundance of wealth, but who were extremely generous when it came to sharing their wealth with others.
3. These men were not only tithers, but because God had blessed them with wealth, they moved on to the next level of giving and gave FAR MORE than their tithe.

D. But someone says, “Pastor, this is all well and good, but I am no Henry Heinz, or Truett Kathy, or Robert LeTourneau, or James Penney. I don’t have the kind of wealth that these men had!”
1. That’s probably true, however, if you have the ability to give more than a tithe, if God has blessed you to the extent that after you have tithed, you still have the ability to give more without having to go without something that you truly need, then you are a candidate to move on to this next level of giving.
2. There are Christians who don’t stop at 10% when it comes to giving, but because God has blessed them with the ability, they give 15%, or 20%, or even 30% of their income to the Lord.
3. Why? Not because they have to (are commanded to), but simply because they have a DESIRE to do so!

E. And so, the second level of Christian giving is the giving of an offering (freewill offering). The third level of giving is….

III. Sacrificial Giving.

A. Have you ever heard the phrase, “give until it HURTS”?
1. Sacrificial giving is when you “give until it hurts.”
2. In other words, it is giving that requires us to make some personal SACRIFICE in order to give.
3. Jesus, of course, is the best example when it comes to sacrificial giving.
4. For example, before He could offer us the gift of eternal life, He had to sacrifice HIMSELF (his life) on Calvary’s cross.
5. The Bible says in Tit. 2:13-14, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.”

B. Another example of sacrificial giving is the early church (church at Jerusalem).
1. Do you remember how they provided for the poor and needy within the congregation?
2. Notice Acts 4:34-35, “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,….and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
3. These believers were not blessed with an abundance of wealth, so they sacrificed some of their material POSSESSIONS (lands and houses) so that they would be able to give towards meeting the this need within their church.

C. (Illus.- A couple of years ago I had a conversation with a brother in Christ on the subject of giving. The conversation began when this brother said, “Pastor, I would really love to be able to give more to the church and to missions, but I am just not able. I asked him, “Brother, would you be able to give more if you were willing to make some personal sacrifices in your life?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Would you be able to give more if you were willing to drive older used cars rather than buying a new car every two or three years?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Would you be able to give more if you were willing to eat out once a week rather than five times a week?” Again, he said, “Yes.” I said, “Would you be able to give more if your canceled your cable TV subscription?” Again, he said, “Yes.” I could have continued on, but I didn’t. The point I was making is this, we could all give more if we were willing to make some personal sacrifices.)
1. This is what’s called “sacrificial giving.”
2. The problem is, the vast majority of believers never reach the level spiritually where they are willing to make these kind of sacrifices for the sake of giving.

D. Now someone says, “This has to be the HIGHEST level of giving!”
1. I’m afraid you are wrong.
2. There is at least one level of giving that is higher, that requires a higher level of spirituality, and that is…

IV. Faith Giving.

A. One of the best examples of “faith giving” is found in Mark 12.
1. Notice Mark 12:41, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.”
2. By the way, what level of giving were these “rich” people practicing?
3. Because they were giving of their abundance, and because they were no doubt giving much more than a tithe, they were practicing the giving of an OFFERING (freewill offering) to the Lord.
4. They certainly were NOT making any kind of a personal sacrifice in their giving (they had plenty to give).
5. But notice what happened next.
6. As these rich people were casting their offerings into the treasury, we are told that “…there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.” (Mark 12:42)
7. I am told that a “mite” was a small brass coin, the smallest in use among the Jews of that day, and that the value of a “farthing” was less than ONE CENT.
8. When Jesus saw this widow woman put her offering into the treasury, He gathered his disciples around him and said this to them, “….Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:43-44)

B. Now let me ask you a question.
1. What on earth would possess this poor widow woman to put her last two mites into the temple treasury? (Why did she do it?)
2. I believe there are two answers to the question.
3. First of all, I believe she did it because GOD LAID IT UPON HER HEART to do so.
4. Do you think it was just a coincidence that this woman just happened to enter the temple and just happened to put her last two mites into the offering while Jesus and His disciples were there watching?
5. I don’t believe it was a coincidence at all.
6. I believe God had laid it upon her heart, and that she was simply being obedient, doing what she believed God wanted her to do.

C. But I believe there is another reason she did it.
1. She did it because she was CONVINCED (had FAITH) that even though she was putting her last two mites into the treasury, God was going to replenish it and in doing so make sure that her needs were met.
2. Talk about faith!
3. This is what I call “faith/grace” giving, giving to God that which you need to live because He has laid it upon your heart to do so, and because you are convinced (have faith) that God will replenish it and in doing so make sure that all of your needs will be met.
4. Let me ask you another question.
5. How do you think this widow fared after this incident? (How many of you think she starved to death?)
6. Personally, I think she fared very well.

Conclusion:

A. Four levels of giving (that correspond to four levels of spirituality).
1. Level 1 – TITHING (Elementary School)
2. Level 2 – OFFERING (High School)
3. Level 3 – SACRIFICIAL Giving (College)
4. Level 4 – FAITH Giving (Graduate School)

B. Let me ask you a very personal question.
1. As a Christian, what level of giving have you reached?
2. Remember, your level of giving will most likely correspond to your level of spiritual growth.
3. The sad truth is, many believers have yet to attain the first level (they do not tithe).
4. Where are you, this morning?

C. Perhaps you are not saved. Let me tell you how.
1. First of all, you must realize that YOU ARE A SINNER. (Rom. 3:23)
2. You must also realize that because you are a sinner, YOU DON’T DESERVE TO GO TO HEAVEN. (Rom. 6:23a)
3. In fact, there is nothing that you can do to earn the right to go heaven.
4. That’s the bad news, now let me tell you the good news.
5. The good news is that even though you are a sinner, and even though you don’t deserve to go to heaven, GOD STILL LOVES YOU.
6. In fact, He loves you so much that He sent his only Son, Jesus, into this world so that He could DIE ON THE CROSS FOR YOUR SINS. (Rom. 5:8)
7. When the Bible says that “Christ died for us,” it simply means that He PAID THE PENALTY for our sins in full, and in doing so, purchased for us THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE. (Rom. 6:23b)
8. How does one receive this gift?
9. By simply BELIEVING IN JESUS (putting all of your faith and trust in Him and His sacrifice on the cross to get you to heaven). (John 3:16)