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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 23, 2006
God Does Not Need Your Money
In talking with our church leadership on Tuesday we decided that in view of the very large deficit that we currently have in our budget that we should address the issue directly with the congregation. We will be doing in some specifics tonight at the Quarterly Business Meeting, but we also thought that it would be good if I would address what the Scriptures say about finances. Therefore we are going to be taking a break
from our study of Acts for awhile.
When I was growing up I would become nervous when the preacher started to talk about money because it seemed like it always resulted in him sounding like he wants to get his hands in my pocket. Now that I am the preacher I am even more nervous about it because I do not want to sound in the least way like I am trying to get my hands in your pocket. So let me say up front that I am not interested in your wallet.
I do not have any idea what anyone here gives to the church and I do not want to know. The only ones that should know what you give are you, the Lord, and our treasurer if and only if you want a tax receipt otherwise he does not need to know either.
My interest is not your money but your heart. My interest in talking about money and possessions is because those things reveal your heart. I believe that there is nothing you will deal that will be more insignificant than money, but at the same time, nothing will reveal your heart more than your use of your finances. Today we are starting a series of sermons on what the Bible says about finances. This morning we will look that some general principles that will form a foundation for the rest of our study. Next week we will examine some very specific Biblical financial principles that if followed will remove anxiety and give us peace about our finances.
I entitled this sermon “God Does Not Need Your Money” for several reasons. One is that people get nervous when preachers start talking about money and I hope to put you at ease. Second, I hope that the title is intriguing enough for you to pay attention instead mentally checking out or getting up and leaving, which some of you may be thinking about doing already. But the main reason for the title is that it very clearly and simply states a foundational principle that takes into account the normal selfish perspective of man.
People in general tend to think that God is like they are and out to get something. We have needs such as food, shelter, clothing, relationships, etc., and we seek to meet those needs. Let me be clear that there is nothing wrong with trying to satisfy those needs and even desires as long as you do so in a legitimate and godly manner. Yet I find that even then selfishness usually marks our way in trying to get our needs met. I often tell people when I do marital counseling that when people are looking for a marriage partner they are usually like a tick looking for a dog. They are looking for someone to meet their needs. Again, that is not necessarily wrong, but the end result is that there are two ticks and no dog. Marriage works best when both strive to be selfless and give to the relationship and put a higher priority on meeting the needs of their spouse instead of their own.
Though the relationships of humans is largely based on getting our needs met, we must remember that God is not like us. God does desires a relationship with us, but He has no need to be met. God is self-sufficient.
THE SELF-SUFFICIENCY OF GOD
What does it mean that God is self-sufficient? God has no dependency on anything else. There is no need within God for anything other than Himself for He is complete within Himself. He has no need for anything to be given to Him or be done for Him because He already exists in perfection. If God had a need for anything it would demonstrate an imperfection within Him. The idea of God’s self-sufficiency is foreign to most people’s thinking, so let me expand with some examples.
In John 5:26 Jesus said that the Father “has life in Himself.” That is completely out of our frame of reference. Everything in our experience depends on something else for life to continue. All physical life needs oxygen, an energy source (food for animals, light for plants) and water to continue. If you removed any one of these things from the earth, life would cease. Does God need Oxygen? No. Does God need water? No. Does God need an energy source? No.
God is self- existent. He is the great “I Am.” He is omnipotent. God has no need for any material substance for He is not a created being but rather the creator of all. He does not need what He has created to sustain Him, rather it is He that sustains all that He has created in both material and immaterial realms. Psalm 136:25 says it is God, “Who gives food to all flesh, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Colossians 1:17 states that God is before all things and in Him all things hold together. The Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:28 that it is in God that “we live and move and exist.”
God does not need anything he has created including relationships outside Himself. What relationship could God have that could add anything to the perfect relationship that exists within the Triune Godhead. Could the cherubim or seraphim? The other angels? You or me? God has complete satisfaction within Himself. He did not create the universe because He was “lonely.”
I like what A.W. Tozer said about this, “The problem of why God created the universe still troubles thinking men; but if we cannot know why, we can at least know that He did not bring the worlds into being to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word necessary is wholly foreign to God.”
This thought makes us uncomfortable because it reduces us to insignificance, yet it is true. God is not some nervous being who is afraid of being rejected so that He must fawn over men trying to win their favor. God is not good to men in an effort to win their approval. His mercy and grace do not come so that you will like Him. God does not need you to like Him. He does not need your favor or your approval. In fact, God does not need you at all. God is merciful and gracious and good because that is who He is and what He is like. The fact that you & I even exist is completely of God’s free decision and not because somehow we deserve it or there was some sort of divine necessity for us.
Consider this a minute. If all mankind were blind the Sun would still shine. If all mankind were eliminated the Sun would still be part of the heavens that God created. Mankind benefits from the Sun, but the Sun exists apart from mankind. In a similar way God has no dependence on mankind. If every person on earth were to become an atheist that would have no affect on God, but it would have a great negative effect on man. God is who He is in Himself without regard to what He has created. Man’s response to God which includes believing, doubting or rejecting can neither add to or take away from God’s perfections.
Can the One who is supreme be either elevated or degraded from His position? Can the One who upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3) be either raised up or let down by the things He supports? Could man add to or take away from God?
Man’s pride often leads us to think and act as if God exists for our good pleasure. Tragically, too many Christians also act that way toward God. Religious people generally understand that we exist for God’s good pleasure, but pride enters here too because they also think God needs them to do things for Him. The truth is hard on our pride and the truth is that God does not even need our help. The God who does all things well does not need man’s help.
When we think, act or present God as being in need of man then we malign God’s character. Yet, men often view God as being frustrated and should be pitied because not enough people will serve or give to Him resulting in His plans failing. Frankly, that sort of thing is blasphemy. Too many people have gone into Christian service or have given their money for Christian work because they feel sorry for God and they are going to help Him out. What prideful arrogance!
Does God need your money? Absolutely not! He already owns everything because He created it all. Gold and Silver do not impress Him. Wealth does not move Him. Never think you are doing God a favor by giving to this church or any other organization that seeks to serve the Lord. If you think you are doing the Lord a favor by giving of your finances or your time, then be warned, that is pride and pride is an abomination to God. He does not need your money, and He does not need you either. The truth is the exact opposite.
THE DEPENDENCY OF MAN
It is we that need God. As pointed out earlier from Acts 17, it is we who live and move and have our very existence in God. Is there anything that you can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell that does not ultimately come from God? Our very senses that allow us to be aware of the world around us come by God’s design of us. He is the one that sustains our lives. Without Him we could not even exist, for He holds us together (Col. 1)
Man’s dependence upon God is absolute. The difference between the believer and the non-believer is that the Christian recognizes this truth and gives thanks and praise to God for what He has done while the non-Christian continues in either ignorance, defiance or both. The non-Christian gives praise to himself, not God.
As humans, we do not like this idea of being dependent, and as Americans in particular, we do not like it because our history has glorified the rugged individual. We want to think of ourselves as being autonomous to at least some degree. Because Humanists reject God they directly state that man is independent and self-sufficient and that he must solve his own problems. Others are not so blatant, but in practice they are the same. They want to be the captain of our own ship, set their own course, and do what is right in their own eyes. But when man tries to do it this way it is as Proverbs 14:12 says, “there is a way that seems right unto a man, but its end is the way of death.” Rejecting God does not reduce a man’s dependence on God. It only ensures a life lived apart from God’s plan and guarantees eternity spent in Hell separated from God.
Religious men, including Christians, recognize that they need God, but for the most part they still seek a certain amount of independence from Him. Even the Christian is too often set on seeking his own will instead of God’s. That will show up in their prayer life as they seek to manipulate God into getting what they want.
Too often we also find professing Christians who are trying to live by their own wisdom instead of the wisdom that comes from God. They live according to their own thoughts and the advice of their friends rather than believing what God says and trusting Him for the future. How many Christians do you know that really do seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness along with trusting Him to provide what they need for life (Matt. 6:33). Even most professing Christians put providing for themselves first and then seeking God and His righteousness with what is left over. Unethical business practices, cheating on taxes, and worrying over finances are all marks of someone who is trying to maintain independence from God by following their own plan rather than God’s.
Those who are wise will rejoice in their dependence upon God instead of fighting against it. Why? First, because that is the reality of the matter and it is always better to live according to truth than a fantasy. Second, because of God’s character which results in His way being so much better than ours.
Remember my first point is that God does not need us for anything. He is self-sufficient. Consequently everything He does for us is because He has chosen to do so out of His own love. His provision for us comes out of His goodness. All that God does is because it is in our best interest and not because He is trying to get something from us that He needs. He does not manipulate us for His own gain. He desires a relationship with us because it is to our benefit, not His. He does not need it. Yet, out of His love, He has chosen to provide a means to reconcile us to Himself through the grace and mercy that comes through Jesus Christ who died in our place for our sins.
I can rest in my dependency upon God because He has proven His love for me in all that He has done and especially in Jesus Christ. I can count on His faithfulness to His promises and provision for me. Paul put it this way in Romans 8:31,32 What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is] against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Jesus said in Matthew 6 that I do not need to be anxious and worry about clothing or food or shelter. Instead I am to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. I can trust Him to provide for me. I don’t have to worry about the future regardless of what may come. I can learn to be content in all circumstances the same way that Paul says in Phil. 4. I don’t know what the future holds, but do I need to worry? No. My God has said he will take care of my family and me. I am dependent on Him and I can trust Him without worry.
THE PRIVILEGE OF GIVING TO GOD
If God does not need us or our money then why should we serve Him and give our money? Because it is a wonderful privilege. As Tozer put it, “the blessed news is that the God who needs no one has in sovereign condescension stooped to work by and in and through His obedient children.”
It is a privilege to be able to serve and give to God. Serving and giving are displays of our hearts. They reveal what we really believe and feel toward God. They are ways to be a reflection of who He is and thereby bring greater glory to Him. They are ways to be included in His great work.
For example. Does God need men to preach the gospel? No. God could do it Himself or He could have the angels do it, and in Rev. 14:6 an angel will proclaim the gospel to the whole world. It is by His grace that God has chosen people to be His servants to carry out His plan and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:14 cf. 1 Cor. 1:21). The same is true regardless of what abilities you may have with which to serve the Lord. It is God that gave you that ability as a gift so that you might use it to serve Him by serving others (1 Cor. 12). If you fail to serve God you do not cause Him to suffer loss. He will still accomplish His will, but you will not have the joy of being a part of that.
This is also true when it comes to finances. You cannot thwart God from accomplishing His will by refusing to give to the work He has assigned to His people. To think that you can either hinder or help is the height of arrogance on your part, because again, God does not need you or your money. If you fail to give then God will still accomplish His work, but you will not be part of it. You will be cut out of His blessings, and you will not have shared in His work. The apostle Paul understood this and talks about it in Philippians 4.
In verse 10 Paul rejoices that the Philippians had “revived their concern” for him in sending a gift. In vs 11-13 Paul makes it clear that he did not have to have the gift for he had learned how to be content and trust the Lord in all circumstances. Paul understood that Christ would strengthen him to live in holiness and accomplish what God would set before him. In verse 14-16 Paul again commends them because through the gift they shared in what he was going through and in the ministry he had accomplished. Paul did not “seek the gift itself,” but instead he sought for their profit that came through the giving (vs. 17). In vs 18 Paul describes their gift as a “fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” He saw their gift as part of their worship of God for which they received a blessing by being a part of his ministry. Paul concludes by reminding them that “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” – is an infinite resource.
Paul rejoiced in their giving because it reflected their spiritual maturity and allowed them to take part in his ministry. At the same time he reminded them that their dependence was also on God who would meet their needs.
God does not need your money, but He does want you to give part of what you earn back to Him as an expression of your thanksgiving and desire to serve Him. That was true then and it is still true today.
In Gen. 14 as Abraham was returning from defeating Chedorlaomer who had taken Lot captive, Melchizedek, king of Salem and a priest of God Most High met him. Melchizedek brought out bread and wine for Abraham and blessed him saying, (vs. 19) “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” Notice that in this blessing Abraham is reminded that God owns it all and that it was God that brought about Abraham’s victory. At this Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils. He was not required to do this, he did it simply as part of an offering of thanksgiving for God’s blessings upon him.
The same is true today. There is no command in the New Testament that you must pay a certain percentage of your income to God. God does not ask for tribute and you cannot bribe Him. The very idea that you could appease God with your money is ludicrous. God already owns it all and that includes you. You were purchased with Christ’s blood. You cannot buy God off with what He already owns.
Instead the New Testament principle seen in 2 Cor. 9:6f brings out your heart. Paul says here, 6 Now this [I say,] he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountiful shall also reap bountiful. 7 Let each one [do] just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
What you give to God is a reflection of your heart. It is your thanksgiving for what He has given you and your desire to be a part of His work. He does not want you to give because you are forced to do so. He wants you to give because you love and trust Him. He wants you to give cheerfully, not grudgingly or under compulsion. In fact, if you cannot give cheerfully, then please do not do so for it would be false worship.
That is why we use the “Faith Box” in the back of the church instead of passing a plate. It is a practical expression of our effort as a church to live according to this principle. We do not want anyone to be coerced into giving, and we know that if we passed a plate to collect the offering, then people would feel a sense of obligation and compulsion to put something in it. We want you to give because you love God and are thankful for all He has done for you. We want you to give because you want to share in His work in this place. By using the “Faith Box” we have left it completely between you and God what you give. In fact, it even places the responsibility to remember to give in your hands too.
Yes, we are seriously behind in our budget, and Yes, we are looking to you to give, but we trust God’s provision. We also trust His providence in this to lead us in knowing His will.
Does God need your money? or you? No. He will accomplish His will regardless of what you do. Do you need to give? Yes, You can either be part of His work through serving and giving and receive His blessings, or you can forfeit all of that for whatever substitute you are pursuing in trying to give meaning to your existence. But be warned, the first is eternal and the latter is not only fleeting, but it ends with this life.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch.
Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times money is referenced. Talk with your parents about the how God wants you to use your money.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
How do you spend your money? What principles do you use in making financial decisions? What do you think God thinks about your use of your finances? What are your needs? How do they differ from your wants? What needs does God have? What does it mean that God is self-sufficient? Explain. How does that make you feel? How does man’s pride effect His relationship with God? How does your pride affect your relationship with God? What could any creature add to God? Describe the nature of man’s dependence upon God? Why does man – even professing Christians – resist that dependence? Describe that resistance for various groups. What are some reasons that man should rejoice in being dependent on God? What are your priorities in life? What are the priorities God wants us to have? Does God need man’s help? Why or why not? Does God need man to preach the gospel? Why did God give man the responsibility to preach the gospel? Will God accomplish His will even if you resist or disobey Him? Explain Philippians 4:10-20. What does that passage teach us about giving? What do we learn from the example of Abram in Genesis 14? Explain 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. How does the use of your finances reflect your spiritual maturity? What level of maturity would you say that you have? What blessings have you received by using your spiritual gifts and taking part in the ministry of others through financial giving?
Sermon Notes – April 23, 2006
God Does Not Need Your Money
The Self-Sufficiency of God
The Dependency of Man
The Privilege of Giving to God
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