Money Matters

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  3 : 10-14
Subject: Stewardship; Giving

Note: This sermon is ideal for churches and pastors who teach the Storehouse Tithe principle and wish to challenge the church in the weeks leading up to the Campaign Commitment time. It also includes helpful insight on the issue of the personal and church debt.

(All Scripture unless otherwise noted is from the New International Version)


The Church is God's forever family. And every family needs a place to live, or at least, a place to get together every now and then. Most of you know by now, we're getting close, very close, to breaking ground on our new church building.

Now the church building has yet to be built, but God's church is always under construction. While we're getting a building ready for the people, God is getting a people ready for a building. And the most important part of any building is the foundation.

Listen to what Paul said to the church in 1 Corinthians 3 beginning in V.10, "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." (NIV)

Now let me stop right there. Paul said you cannot build a church without starting with the right foundation. And that foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ.

V.12, "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward."

How many people here have ever built their own house instead of buying one already built? Actually, you probably didn't build a house, you had a house built. There is a big difference. Most of us are not builders. For most of us, if we had been Noah, the boat would have sunk!

If you've ever had a house built, you can relate to this. Having a house built is, at the same time, both fascinating and frustrating. One minute you are praising God. The next minute, in your mind, you are saying words you'd never dreamed you would say in your life. In fact, one of the ways you know your marriage will survive anything is because it survived building your house.

Now one of the things you learn when you have a house built, is this...the most important part of a house is not the brick, not the lighting, not the carpet, not the wallpaper, not the floor plan, not the landscaping, not the heating or air conditioning. The most important part of the house is what? The foundation.

Now Jesus knew that. He said in Matthew 7:24, "whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock."

Paul knew that here in 1 Corinthians 3:10 when he said, "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder."

Jesus said your life is just like a house.
Paul said your life is just like a house.

Now every one of us has in the house we are building certain rooms. For example, in every one of our houses, we have a family room. Now that family room has to be built on a solid foundation or the room will collapse. Your family room must be built on a stable marriage. It had better be built on parental leadership. It had better be built on mutual love and respect between the members in that family.

Our houses also have faith rooms. Your faith had better be built on a solid foundation or it won't last. If your faith is not built on the foundation of the Word of God and if it is not placed on the foundation of the Son of God, it will not last.

Likewise, your house has a financial room, and if your finances are not built on a solid foundation, your finances are ultimately going to collapse.

This message is called "Money Matters" because you know really does matter. It matters to your family and it matters to the church family.

Have you ever thought about this matters to everybody?

It matters to the government and that is why they tax it.
It matters to you and that is why you make it.
It matters to God because He is the one that gives it.

Money matters to everyone. But the sad reality is the majority of Christians have a weak financial foundation. The vast majority of Christians really don't have a clue on how to manage money the way God expects you to manage money.

There are 2 statistics that tell me that this is true: The average Christian gives less than 2% of his income to the Lord's work.
(Christianity Today, September, 1996)

Also, Between 30% and 50% of all Christians never give a dime to God's work. (Christian Index, December, 2000)

Those 2 statistics tell us there are many Christians whose finances are totally out of whack. So with that as a backdrop, let's talk this morning about how to lay a solid financial foundation for your family and also how we can lay a solid financial foundation for our church family.


Now if you don't mind leaving 1 Corinthians, let's turn over and look at something Jesus said about Money Matters. Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve 2 masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Now in that one verse Jesus really made 2 statements: He said 1st, - "No one can serve 2 masters." Nobody. You can't do it and I can't do it. No one can serve 2 masters.

But then He said this. - "Everybody is going to serve one." Nobody can serve two, but everybody is going to serve one.

Everyone in this building, including me, serves a master. Now hopefully your Master is Jesus. But for some of you it's not.

For some, your master is money,
For some, your master is popularity,
For some, your master is pride,
For some, your master is being accepted by all of your friends,
For some your master is personal ambition,
For some, your master is climbing the corporate ladder,
For some, your master is achieving some position or title.

But every one of us, Jesus said, serves a master. And Jesus said nobody can serve two, everybody serves one.

So when it comes to money it's very simple. Either you are the master over your money or your money is the master over you. Either you are allowing God to be the master over your money and you are serving Him. Or, you are serving your money and letting your money be the master, maybe even over God.

Now I'm convinced, everyone can get their financial house in order. You may be sitting there saying, "Pastor, I'm already on a guilt trip this morning. You just don't know what a mess my finances are in." I've got good news for you. I promise you that you can begin to rebuild a solid and secure financial foundation. When it comes to Money Matters, you can enjoy financial freedom.

You see, every one of us in this room, starting with me, are going to stand before God and give an account for every dollar we have made. Whether you made it as a teenager at a gas station or a grocery store. Or whether you sit behind a corporate desk and draw a 6-figure income. Every single dollar that you have made, you will give an account for every bit of it.

Now if that's true. Don't you want to stand before God with a clear conscience? Don't you want to have God say to you, "Well done good and faithful servant."?

This morning, I want to give you some Building Blocks that you can use to build a solid financial foundation. I really want to help you. Now this first building block really is the cornerstone of all Money Matters.

Building Block #1

You must come to grips with the difference between Ownership and Stewardship.

If you want to get your financial house in order, you have to come to a clear understanding of these 2 words and what they mean: Ownership and Stewardship

Now most people never learn what these 2 words mean. And even if they do know what these words mean, they get them out of order.

Now the 1st word is Ownership and that's God's part. The Bible says in Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." In other words, God owns it all.

Now we still have a part. Our part is the 2nd word. Stewardship. The word steward means manager. God owns everything but what God has said to you and me is "I want you to manage everything I've given you."

There have been countless books written on the subject of money management. But if you think about it, there are only 4 Dimensions to Money Management: In other words, when it comes to money, there are only 4 things you can do with it:

1. You can make it.
2. You can give it.
3. You can save it.
4. You can spend it.

Now that's the only 4 things you can do with money. You can make it, give it, save it and spend it. Now since it's God's money, He is interested in all 4 of those things. He wants to be in control of all 4. How you make money, how you give money, how you save money and how you spend money. See, you will never have a handle on money if you do not look to the Lord for guidance in all 4 areas of money management.

You know, most people today are interested in investing. There are all kinds of investment opportunities out there. There's the stock market. There's the bond market. There's real-estate. There are commodities called "futures." All kinds of investments. Now there is one thing that's true about every kind of investment...when you invest money, you expect a return. Right?

Now can I tell you something that may surprise you? God expects a return on His investment too. God has invested His life in you. God has invested His love in you. And God has invested his money in you. And God expects a return on His investment. Now here is the big question you should ask yourself this morning...has God made a bad investment in you. He has if you don't know how to handle His money.

Now here is the second principle I want to show you. Now this principle will absolutely liberate you when it comes to Money Matters:

Building Block #2

The first thing God wants you to do after you make your money, is to give some of it away.

Now remember, I said that there are only 4 things you can do to manage God's money: Make It, Give It, Save It, Spend It.

Do you know why most Christians have totally fouled up their finances? Because they have gotten these 4 things out of order.

Here is what they do. They take priority #4 and make it priority #2. And they take priority #3 and make it priority #4. You see here is the way most people think of their money:

"First, I'm going to make it and then I'm going to spend it. And I'm going to spend it the way I want to spend it. Now if I have any money left after I spend it, then maybe I'll give some away. Then, if I have any left, maybe I'll have enough left to save it."

Can I tell you what God says about His money? The very 1st thing God wants you to do after you make your money is to give some of your money away. The first thing is not to spend it and the first thing is not even to save it. Now saving is important and we'll get to that in a minute.

But God says the 1st thing that you do after you make your money is to look for places to give it away.

Now let's just stop here for a moment. If what I've said so far has already upset you. And I think there are some people who are sitting there saying, "Man I wish I would have known you were talking about this, I would have stayed home today." If you are already sitting there saying, "I knew he was just interested in getting a hold of my money."

If you're thinking that right've already demonstrated that you don't understand the very first principle of Money Matters. You don't understand the difference between Ownership and Stewardship. Remember, it's not your money. You will never have a financial foundation if you don't understand the principle of ownership. It's not your money, it's His money.

If you're already upset that I am talking about God's money, then you have a problem bigger than money. Your problem is not money, your problem is Lordship. You have never surrendered your finances to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

I heard about a man who had become a Christian and it was time for him to get baptized. As he walked into the water he took his wallet out of his back pocket and held it up over his head. The pastor asked, "Why are you doing that?" The man said, "Well I don't want my religion to get in the way of my finances."

The first thing you do in managing God's money is to give some of it away. Look at what the Bible says in Proverbs 3:9, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops."

Now look at those words, "first fruits". Do you know what first fruits are? Now this is really profound. First fruits are the fruits that come first. Now isn't that deep?

Here is the picture God is painting. You've got an apple tree filled with apples. The first apple you pull off of that tree. Not the 2nd or the 3rd. But the first one...give it back to me. I want the very first fruit.

This is a powerful principle you find all the way through the Bible. God has always set aside a portion of everything He gives us as something reserved for Himself.

For example, the Bible says every day is a gift from the Lord. He gives us 7 days in a week. But remember, the first day is to be kept separate and special for the Lord.

In the Garden of Eden, you remember, God told Adam and Eve they could take from any tree in the garden. But he said, "There is one tree that is reserved for Me, and I don't want you to touch that tree, it is Mine."

Now in this building block you find a very practical principle that will change the way you look at your finances. Now buckle your pew belt for this one...the very first check you should write when you receive your salary is a check to the Lord. Now I didn't say that, God said that.

Why does God say that? I'll tell you why I think He says that. Because if we can dedicate the First is evidence that we are thankful for every fruit on the tree. But if you're not willing to give him that first apple, then it's proof positive that you're not really thankful for that apple tree.

But here is another reason I think God says, give me the first fruit. If we learn to start with that first apple, it proves that we would be willing to surrender every other apple to Him as well, if He asked for it.

That's why you really have to laugh when you hear someone say, "Well Pastor, I can't give because I just don't make enough money. I can't afford to tithe. If I made more money, then I would be able to tithe." Listen, my friend, if you can't give God the first portion of $100 per week, you wouldn't give God the first portion of $1,000 per week.

Now let's talk about tithing for just a moment. Many Christians have heard the word. In fact, there is probably not a person here who has not heard the term tithe. But sadly, most Christians don't even know what it is.

The word tithe literally means "tenth". And the Bible teaches a principle called "storehouse tithing." The Bible says in Malachi 3:10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house..."

Now the storehouse was a place in the temple where all of the people would bring their tithe. And in an agricultural society, that was usually fruit or crops or produce. It was received by the Levites and it was then administrated by the Levites to carry out the work of the temple and provide for the needs of the people.

Now you see when it comes to managing His money, God leaves nothing to chance. He not only tells us what to give, He tells us where to give it. A tithe is one 10th of what we make, and it is given to the storehouse, which today represents the ministry budget of the local church.

Now there are some Christians who think, now I will give part of my tithe to Campus Crusade and part of my tithe to Billy Graham and part of my tithe to charity and part of my tithe to benevolence. Now friend, listen to me - that's not tithing. That's robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Now there are some Christians who don't believe in Storehouse Tithing and some Christians who have never practiced this principle. All I can tell you is, based on personal experience, don't knock it until you've tried it. Listen to what the principle of Storehouse Tithing has done for me.

(This is an excellent place to insert the Pastor's personal story of what Tithing has meant to him. Or, someone from the congregation could share the blessings of tithing.)

Now I can tell you from personal experience God honors His Word and God honors His promise and God honors His principle.

In fact, listen to what Proverbs 3:9-10 goes on to say, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."

Now I want to make a statement right now and this statement will make you mad, sad or glad. It really depends on whether or not you're an owner or a steward. The first check you write from every paycheck should be a tithe and that tithe should go to the ministry budget of this church.

Now you may say, "But Pastor, I give my tithe to charitable organizations." That's great, but that's not a tithe. "Well I give my tithe to the building program." That's great, but it's not a tithe.

Now all of those other things are good. But let me tell you what those other things are - they are offerings. You see, I believe that the tithe is a place to start but not a place to end. If you want your financial house to be in order, tithing is the floor you stand on, not the ceiling you live under.

I know some of you may be thinking, "See there, he just wants to get some of my money." Once again, it's not your money, it's His money. But if you'll listen to the rest of this message, you'll find out, I'm not trying to get money from you, I'm trying to get money to you.

Building Block #3

Because the next principle I want to talk about is Building Block #3. When it comes to saving, interest should be working for you instead of against you.

You see, right behind giving God's money, the next priority is saving God's money. You ought to learn to save money.

One of the greatest lessons you will ever learn about saving money is the lesson of compound interest. Every first year economics major learns this lesson. It's called the rule of 72.

The Rule of 72
Take whatever interest rate you can make on money, divide that into 72, that will tell you how many years it will take for the money to double.

For example:
72 ( 8% interest = 9 years to double)

Now that's an incredible reality but it's called The Principle of Compound Interest. Now here is the incredible thing about compound interest. It will either work for you or it will work against you. But it's never neutral.

Now there are some of you here, when you hear a pastor talk about tithing and giving, you start feeling incredibly guilty because you are chained by the handcuffs of debt. Now if you'll listen to me for a moment, I can help you.

There are some people in the church that have a strange idea about could call them "debt-ites". And they'll say, "It's wrong for a church to be in debt." Now you can feel that way and that's OK if it's the way you feel about your personal finances, but you don't get that philosophy from the Bible.

Think about this, if paying interest is wrong then collecting interest is also wrong. The Bible is not against debt, but it is against financial bondage. Let me tell you what bondage is. You see, some of you are in bondage and you don't realize it.

Let me tell you what bondage is. You are in financial bondage if any one of the following 3 things is true about you.

Financial Bondage:

1. If you owe money that you cannot repay on are in bondage.

If you have a mortgage, or a car note, or a credit card bill but you can pay it off every month on time, you are not in bondage. But if you owe money you can't repay, you are in bondage.

Now there are some of you sitting right now saying, "Give it to them Pastor. Because I'm not in bondage. I pay all my bills on time and I have for years." Wait a minute, you may still be in bondage.

2. If, after you pay what you owe, you cannot give God His're in bondage.

You may pay all of your bills on time, but if you still can't afford to give God His first fruit, you are in bondage. Now there are some of you saying, "Give it to them pastor, give it to them. Because I not only pay my bills, I give God His tithe." Wait a minute, you still may be in bondage.

3. If, after you pay your bills, and after you pay your tithe, you still can't afford to're in bondage.

Remember, after you make it, God 1st wants you to give it, then He wants you to save it.

Sadly, there are some people today who have learned to depend on the government to take care of them. Some of them have been put in a position where the government has provided for their needs so they are very loyal to certain politicians. We call it an "entitlement philosophy". But let me remind you, the government in general and politicians in particular, have no money. The government doesn't make money, the government takes money.

Now the same is really true for you. You don't have any money. All the money you have is the money God has entrusted to you and made you a steward or a manager over it. It belongs to God. And one of the reasons God may not have given you more, is because He can't trust you with more.

And that leads me to the last principle of Money Matters:

Building Block #4

God never minds it if you own nice things, but nice things should never own you.

Don't get the idea that God is only interested in what you give. God is also interested in what you spend. And there is nothing wrong with having a nice home, driving a nice car, having nice clothes. As long as you remember who gave them to you and as long as you honor him with everything you spend.

Remember, God owns it all. Therefore, God is very interested in how you make His money, how you give His money, how you save His money and how you spend His money.

Now I know some of you are saying, "Why are you dealing with money at church. Why don't you just stick to talking about what Jesus talked about."

Let me remind you of something. Jesus told 38 parables and 16 of them dealt with money. Did you know that Jesus taught more about money than any other subject? He taught more about money than He did heaven. More about money than He did hell. When you talk about Money Matters, you are talking about what Jesus talked about.

There are about 500 verses in the Bible on prayer. About 500 verses on faith, but there are 2,350 verses on money found in the Bible.


Now I said all of that to say this. There are some of you who desperately want God to bless you and bless your family. And do you know something. God wants to bless you. The Bible says, "God delights in the prosperity of His people." God doesn't want His people in bondage. God doesn't want you stressed out over money. God doesn't want your family to do without. God wants to bless you. But the truth is, God can't bless some of you because you will not do it God's way.

And I believe that in the same way God wants to bless your family, God wants to bless this church family. He wants us to be able to meet our financial obligations. He wants to be able to expand the ministries of this church. He wants us to be able to build our buildings when we need them. But the sad truth is, we will never be able to do what God wants us to do, if we don't practice good financial stewardship.

Now as your pastor, I'm supposed to help you and encourage you and teach you. And I know some of you don't believe this but it's true. I'm not trying to get money from you, I'm trying to give money to you. I want every member of this church to enjoy financial freedom.

(This is another excellent place for the Pastor to explain how he practices stewardship and how he plans to give to the campaign. Be as specific as you can)


Next Sunday, let me tell you what I'm going to challenge every person to do. We're going to give you an opportunity to begin to put your financial house in order.

I am going to encourage some of you to start with the first fruit. If you have never tried to tithe, I'm going to ask you to begin next week to set aside God's portion and bring a tithe to the storehouse.

And for those of you who may have tithed, but never given above it, we're going to give you the opportunity to give an offering. We are going to have next Sunday a "love offering" for ____________ Church.

Remember, there's 2 kinds of giving in a church. There is what I call Grunt Giving and there is what I call Grace Giving. Have you ever seen anyone who gives with a grunt? The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. I'm excited to give to God's work. Now God will honor Grunt Giving, but He will doubly honor Grace Giving.

Now notice that we never give a "Love Tithe". Why is that? Because the Bible says the tithe already belongs to the Lord. (Malachi 3:10) Some people only give a tithe because they realize that they are supposed to. And that's very important.

But when you give above the tithe, it's a sure indication that you've moved to the level where you're giving out of a heart of love. And next Sunday, we want to give everyone the opportunity to do both. Can you imagine what could happen if everyone tried to apply these principles next week?


If you ever get a chance to go to Orlando, FL, there is a hotel down there called the Peabody Hotel. It's a very lovely hotel. It is world renowned. Not because it's a nice hotel, but because of something that happens every afternoon at 3:00 p.m. They have something that no other hotel in the world has. They have a duck parade inside the lobby.

(How many of you have ever seen this?)

It is an incredible thing. You can be standing around the fountain at about 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, ducks start coming from every corner of the lobby. They begin to waddle over to the fountain. Now the amazing thing is, they are very quiet. They're not quacking, they're not flapping their wings. Just quietly waddling toward the fountain.

Then the most amazing thing happens. Over the intercom system they play John Philips Souza's march, "Stars and Stripes Forever". And they roll out this red carpet. Now I am not making this up.

Those ducks, single file, begin to march down that red carpet. They are not quacking or flapping their wings or talking to one another. The music is playing and they're just marching down the red carpet. And they go behind the curtain at one end of the building.

As you can imagine, people come out of their rooms and waddle, I mean walk, to the lobby to see this. But most people never walk behind the curtain and follow the ducks all the way. If you go behind the curtain, you'll see the most amazing thing. When the ducks get behind the curtain, those ducks start acting like ducks. They started flapping their wings and quacking and get with it like ducks get with it.

Do you know why they get so excited behind that curtain? All over the floor is duck food. And they gobble up that food and get so excited. Just like that duck on the AFLAC commercials.

Now you may be wondering where I'm going with all this. Think about it, even though the hotel guests make a big deal out of the duck parade every afternoon, they're really not doing it for the guests. They're not parading just because everyone is standing around and clapping. They're doing it for one very simple reason...because of what's behind that curtain. The duck food is behind the curtain.

Now listen to me carefully. I'm asking everyone who's a member of this church, to begin to put your financial house in order. To be right with God financially. Not to let money be your master, but let money be your servant. To put it in the proper perspective in your life.

I'm asking you to first of all, give a tithe, and give it to God's New Testament Storehouse, the budget of this church. And beyond that, to give it regularly and consistently and faithfully.

And secondly, I'm asking that every family in this church family, be willing to give a sacrificial offering to this campaign that we've started called__________________________.

But let me remind you of why I'm asking you to do that. I'm not asking you to do all of that to please me, or to please our finance committee, or our campaign leadership team, that's not the reason. The reason I'm asking you to do that is that one day when the curtain of your life has been drawn, and you get on the other side of that curtain. When God, your heavenly Father, looks at your checkbook and looks at your bank account and He reviews how you made it, and how you gave it, and how you saved it, and how you spent it, your heavenly Father will reward you and He will say to you, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."


I want to make 2 statements and one is going to sound like I am going to contradict everything I just said. The 1st statement is this, God doesn't want your money. Because ultimately it's not your money, it's His money.

But let me also say this. Do you know what God wants? He wants your heart. And do you know why He wants your heart? Because if He gets your heart, He gets your money. The Bible says, "Where your heart is, there your treasure is."

Now you're going to make a terrible mistake this morning if you say, "See there, the one Sunday I decide to come to church, this preacher is confirming everything I've ever thought about church. They just want my money. All they care about is money." And I know the Devil has already said that to some here today. But if you let the devil convince you that's a good reason not to give your life to Christ today, you've made a terrible mistake.

And let me tell you why...this church, believe it or not, is not about money. And this Pastor, believe it or not, is not about money. We are about the Good News of Jesus Christ. We want to see people come to Christ. But God uses money to get His work done. Tithing and Campaigns and Church Budgets and all that stuff is not God's way of raising's God's way of raising Faith. See, our church doesn't have a money problem, we just all have a Faith problem sometimes.

If you came to me this morning and said, "Pastor, I want you to know, I am never giving a dime to this church." I would look you right in the eye and say, "That's fine. But I still want to know, do you know Jesus as your Savior and as your Lord." That's what we are about. And that's what's most important.

Money Matters. It always has and it always will. But it doesn't matter as much as just one soul. The Bible says that God would leave 99 sheep and search for just 1 that was lost. That's how much you matter to God.