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We’re living in the era of big bailouts. It seems like there is a plan for everyone to help us avoid change and the consequences of our overspending and greed.

Jim and Joweena Sanders have taken the bailout plan to the neighborhood level. They are broke and up to their eyeballs in debt. Do they sit down and figure out a budget? Do they get rid of the luxuries in their lives that are costing them so much? Oh no. They come up with a bailout that helps them avoid all responsibility – even if it shoves it off on the neighbor.

[Watch the VIDEO: "Meet the Sanders: The Bailout"]

The Sanders wouldn’t give up their stuff. So, they couldn’t give in to their fellow Christians, they couldn’t give out to help others, and they certainly couldn’t give up to God. All because they couldn’t give up their stuff.

The video is funny – maybe because it is true. Would it surprise you to know that this is exactly what God’s people were doing at a critical time in their history?

Rebuilding the Temple (Haggai)

Haggai – It is the 6th century BC. The Persian king has just released the captives who were taken from Judah by Babylon. The nation that was to be a light to the world is in ruins. God’s Temple, which was dedicated as a house of prayer for all nations, is destroyed. Now God’s people can get back to their mission and restore the temple.

Building the temple was central to the restoration of a nation that would glorify God. They were to be a light to the nations. But the people became consumed with their own houses rather than the house of the Lord. As a result, the mission was delayed for 14 years. Enter the prophet Haggai who holds the people accountable ...

Haggai 1:1-11 (they respond 1:12-14)
Haggai 2:8-9

  1. Giving Up means Giving Up on Stuff ...

    The people were not giving up to God because they wouldn’t give up their stuff. The irony is that the more they try to hold on to their stuff, the less they have.

    Do we ever feel like that? So much work, so much toil, so much effort to acquire more stuff and we are never satisfied.

  2. Giving Up means Giving Up to God ...

    Discipline is the antidote to dissatisfaction. See Malachi 3 ...

When we give in order to win God’s favor, we fail to recognize two things:

  1. God doesn’t need an allowance from us. When we give him 10%, that’s not his cut. He cares about the 90% he has given us as well as the 10%.
  2. God doesn’t change. We don’t give to change God, we give to God so that we might be changed.

When we give up on stuff and give up to God, we develop the heart, the mind, and the culture that resists the influence of the false God mammon. We practice our service to God rather than money.

All giving is giving to God. Don’t play games that leave us in control – those are ways that serve mammon. When you give, give to God. Trust that He will do whatever He wants with your gift. Learn to let go of it and don’t demand a receipt. We wouldn’t want God to hand us a bill would we?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 14 June 2009

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