SLIDE: At 1:25 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront building in Florida, collapsed. Sadly, 98 people died, others were injured, and many have been mentally scarred by the event. What caused this great loss? Engineers are still investigating the collapse, but their preliminary findings show that the building’s foundations were very weak. The foundation, the structure on which the entire building stood, was faulty.
Foundations are not seen, and rarely inspected. It is critical that we look at the foundations, because it is on the foundations that everything else stands.
Our spiritual foundations can be good or evil. The apostle Paul told Timothy that if we look at the foundation of “all evil” we find “the love of money” (1 Tim. 6:10). If we dig down to see the foundations of stewardship, which addresses one’s relationship with money, what do we find?
What is the foundation of stewardship, the foundation and heart of giving?
SLIDE: In speaking of the offering to be collected for Christians who were suffering during a famine in Judea, Paul appealed to the Corinthian church members, asking them for financial support. “Therefore show to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf” (2 Cor. 8:24, NKJV). Note that the members’ giving was proof of their love.
SLIDE: American author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ellen G. White, wrote much on the topic of stewardship. As we read her writings, we see the word “love” being used repeatedly. In Section 1 of her book Counsels on Stewardship Ellen White describes the foundation of stewardship, using the word “love” 36 times!
SLIDE: On page 19 we read, “Paul sought to uproot the plant of selfishness from the hearts of his brethren; for the character cannot be complete in Christ when self-love and covetousness are retained. The love of Christ in their hearts would lead them to help their brethren in their necessities.”
SLIDE: And again, on page 23, “In His infinite love He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature, and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those are brought nearest to their Creator who thus become participants in labors of love.”
SLIDE: Faithful stewardship can be summarized as “Loving God and people with all I have and all I am.”
SLIDE: It may come as a surprise to many people that the foundation of stewardship isn’t money, but love.
Christ’s gospel calls for an alternative way of living in the world that places love at the center—not money, not power, not possessions, not even security.
SLIDE: Paul reminds us of this again in Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. … “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (NKJV).
SLIDE: Of course, Paul was just sharing Jesus’ own words in John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (NKJV).
SLIDE: Where else do we see that love is the foundation of stewardship? In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul outlines it clearly:“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (NKJV).
Wow! Paul is saying that I can be a multilingual, prophecy-preaching, holder of seven university doctorates, a deeply self-sacrificing giant of faith who gives away everything to the poor, and even give my life as a martyr for the cause of God, yet the whole of my life can be wasted because I didn’t live a life of love!
SLIDE: In Counsels on Stewardship we read, “Christ came to this world to reveal the love of God. His followers are to continue the work which He began” (p. 24). Revealing God’s love through the Spirit-led management and giving of our time, talents, testimony and treasure is the heart of stewardship.
SLIDE: Again, we see this principle outlined beautifully in The Desire of Ages: “Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of glory became one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts” (p. 641).
SLIDE: The teaching that love is the foundation and heart of giving is outlined most clearly in the Bible’s most famous verse, John 3:16. “For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE . . .” (NKJV). The message is simple: LOVE GIVES!
SLIDE: It’s very important to remember that we can give without loving, but we can't love without giving. When we love God, we love His people, His mission, and His church, so we give. That’s what love does. Love gives.
We don’t give to be blessed; we give because we are blessed. Because we are loved, we love.
What a beautiful truth it is that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) and that we are created in His image. We are created in the image of perfect love!
The story is told of a man, let’s call him Peter, who received a new sports car as a gift from his brother. One day he drove it into the city and parked it on the street while he did some shopping. On returning to his car, loaded down with shopping bags, he saw a young homeless boy with wide eyes staring at the shiny, new vehicle.
As Peter approached the car the boy shyly asked, “Excuse me, sir; is this your car?”
“Yes, it is,” Peter replied. “My brother gave it to me. It was a gift.”
The boy’s eyes lit up with surprise at the thought of such a generous and expensive gift. “Wow!” he said. “That’s incredible! I wish . . . I wish . . .” But he didn’t finish his sentence, so Peter finished it for him.
“Yes, I know, son. You wish you had a brother like that.”
“No, no, sir. That’s not it,” the boy quickly replied. “I wish . . . I just wish I could BE a brother like that.”
So what is the foundation of faithful stewardship, the heart of our giving? It’s love. The heart of stewardship is LOVE.
Thank you for your faithful giving, in both the good times and in times of crisis. God’s vital work for this time is moving ahead mightily because His people love.