Treasures of the Lost Art - Attitude



In the spirit of every one of us is the kid who dug in their parents back yard for buried treasure or planned the storming of a great castle or dreamed of discovering a sunken treasure ship in the swimming pool. Where have the great adventures gone? They remain where they always have-in the heart of God who created us to dream and explore and discover. The art of stewardship has escaped our attention for too long and a recovery of its treasures are long overdue!

At its core, stewardship has very little to do with amounts of money. Biblical stewardship is a spiritual issue. Stewardship is simple in that anyone can learn how to do it and discover the treasures. The first is the treasure of attitude, the emotional impact on our lives. Those who live with an attitude of thankfulness and are appreciative of all good things that come their way live with an amazing calm and peace in life. BUT also a true reckless abandon owing to a trust in God.

Like Indiana Jones, to discover the most beautiful artifacts, we must know our history AND accept the risks. The first time we discover the art of stewardship in the history of the Christian faith, it is found in Genesis 4, the story of two brothers: Cain and Abel. The writer records no order by God, no command to give. Again in Genesis 14:20, Abram, gives one tenth of all his possessions from an attitude of thankfulness. His grandson, Jacob does the same thing in 28:22 for the same reason. These were acts of stewardship- people recognizing: these things, this money is really not mine-it belongs to God.

Later in Jewish history, the tithe becomes law but God always examines the heart. Matthew 23:23 records Jesus' words of challenge to those who neglect the true nature of stewardship, that it is a matter of the heart and its purpose is to shape us. " Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (23:23,RSV)

As my journey of faith began and I developed some habits which helped me grow in faith. One of those began when a Christian singer invited me at a concert to adopt a child, you know "for
the cost of a cup of coffee." As a high school junior, I took up that challenge and began to support a little boy named Eduardo in Rwanda. For the next 15 years I gave out of an appreciation for what God had done for me. About six years ago, I said my goodbyes to Eduardo when he turned 18 but I discovered this treasure of stewardship: a thankful heart!

25%, 1/4 of the top stressors which lead to depression relate to financial problems (Minirth & Meier). The number one reason cited by married couples for arguments is financial problems. (Life Innovations/ Prepare and Enrich) There is certainly something seriously wrong with our attitudes about money in our society.
The story of two brothers, Cain and Abel contrasts the two attitudes which are the results found when we give: the moral of the story if you will of first treasure o f the art of stewardship: attitude.

Gen 4:2b And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. Gen 4:3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Gen 4:4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; Gen 4:5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Gen 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? Gen 4:7 "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."


1. Cain and Abel, Cain was a farmer, working hard raising crops. His brother Abel was a shepherd, and worked with livestock. The Bible records that "In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, BUT Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. (Gen. 4:3-4)"

The word "but" indicates a contrast. Most commentators lean towards no judgements in the difference between gifts which Abel and Cain bring. It seems to me there is nothing inherently wrong in giving God fruits or sheep. But certainly there is a difference between "some" and the "first."

2. History again records a contrast in how God responds: "And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard." (Gen. 4:4-5)
John Wesley wrote in essence that it was a matter of character. God does not judge without cause, it is inconsistent with His demonstrated character.

At the heart of Cain's gift lies a resentment at God being Lord of the earth. Possession principle #1 How we use our possessions reveals whose possession we are. It seems Cain with Ids the First, the best for himself. It reveals his heart is not for God.

3. We miss the point of stewardship if we are hoping for mountains of gold, mansions, yachts and lifestyles of the rich and famous. It is out of thankfulness God desires us to give. It is out of concern for us; that we continue on the adventure of discipleship God calls us to give. It is in giving freely, out of a thankful heart we are accepted: it is an acknowledge of His leadership in our lives. Even in giving with the wrong attitude, God tells Cain there is still hope: sin can be overcome. If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. " (Gen. 4:7, RSV)

Do you live in thankfulness? Do you live with and appreciation of all you have? Do you give, holding back the best for yourself or do you give in the fullness of knowing God is your leader and and you give freely? Consider your story, your history and discover the TREASURE of a life being lived with an ATTITUDE of thanks. I want to live like there is still treasure buried in the backyard and sunken pirate gold to discover. There is more treasure to discover.

4 comments:

Russell Earl Kelly said...

Pastor Ken Hagler

http://jedipastorken.blogspot.com/2010/01/treasures-of-lost-art-attitude.html

Ken: The art of stewardship has escaped our attention for too long and a recovery of its treasures are long overdue!

Russ: We need a recovery of sound New Covenant giving principles which existed in the USA before the 1870s.

Ken: In Genesis 14:20, Abram, gives one tenth of all his possessions from an attitude of thankfulness.

Russ: This is not found in the Bible. It is far more likely that Abraham was obeying the law of the land of his time as all must do. All nations around Canaan had been practicing tithing to king-priests before Abraham from spoils of war.

Ken: His grandson, Jacob does the same thing in 28:22 for the same reason.

Russ: Not for the same reason. Jacob the supplantor set the conditions and told God what to do. Both Abraham and Jacob's tenth came from defiled pagan soil and was not considered a holy tithe under the law.

Ken: These were acts of stewardship.

Russ: Abraham was obeying the law of the land and Jacob made a freewill vow to set the conditions.

Ken: Later in Jewish history, the tithe becomes law but God always examines the heart.

Russ: This was not the same tithe as seen in Genesis. It was a holy tithe from God's holy land and it was only food from inside that land. The definition never changed to include money.

Ken: Matthew 23:23 records Jesus' words of challenge to those who neglect the true nature of stewardship, that it is a matter of the heart and its purpose is to shape us. " Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (23:23,RSV)

Russ: Mt 23:23 is in the context of "matters of the law" and was before Calvary while the law was still in full effect. Jesus would have sinned if he had told his Hebrew disciples to tithe to him or stop tithing. And he would have sinned if he had told his Gentile disciples to tithe because it was illegal.

Ken: … It is in giving freely, out of a thankful heart we are accepted …

Russ: This was not true of Levitical tithing.

2 Cor 8:12-15

12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.


www.tithing-russkelly.com

Ken L. Hagler said...

Russell,
Thanks so much for stopping by and posting your comments. I'm not really sure how to take your notes and comments though. Are they intended to be a rebuke? Is this simply you indicating how you would preach the sermon?

We could look at a lot of things here in our interpretation of the text and what was meant and what the cultural context was. However, I'm a bit confused again by the context you used in responding to my sermon notes. If you could clarify your goal, it would be much appreciated.

Russell Earl Kelly said...

Ken

I was answering the questions. I have a 20 poiint essay on my web site on page one. Would you like to discuss each point one at a time and tell me where I am wrong? I encourage a Berean debate.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Russell,

Thanks for the response. I'm not sure where I asked questions in my notes and I'm not sure if there is much point in talking about what is right or wrong in your essay.

I took a few moments to look at some of your points, which demonstrate a great deal of research and dedication I might add. I don't see there being much benefit in a debate.

However, my sermon series is more about stewardship than tithing. I think (only my thoughts at this point) we maybe looking at two sides of the same coin. I merely ask you consider the larger point that I'm trying to make (which I think is your point as well - maybe?)... giving to God should have no limit set upon it and no one should be guilted into it.

We may part ways here but I think it remains still, that we should teach on stewardship (for the good of the souls of followers of Jesus) and supporting the ministries of the Church for mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

I recognize I am not as well versed in the fuller understanding of tithing and acknowledge your fuller work. My goal is not to create tithers but good stewards of God's gifts.

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