Here’s a quick, powerful lesson on the purpose of financially supporting ministries. At this time of the year, many ministries are asking for your year-end gift. Once you’ve discerned which ministries to support (which I hope includes your church!), you need to make sure you have the right attitude when giving.
Philippians 4:17 says, ““Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
Paul made this statement after acknowledging the Philippians’ financial support to his ministry. Here’s the lesson: We give because we want to see fruitful ministry. It’s not about the money we give; our motivation should be the ministry fruit that will be produced.
A perspective for ministries:
Be good stewards. Don’t just seek the gift to say look at what we got, but set your hearts on how to use that money for the most ministry effectiveness.
A perspective for givers:
Don’t boast in your gift (the amount or the fact that you gave). Boast in what the Lord does (the fruit) with the gifts of the faithful.
Let’s be generous and see more ministry fruit!
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By Ryan Strother — 7 months ago
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”
― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
― Philippians 2:3-4
Pride is a topic in secular and Christian literature, but we find that the Bible is full of examples of pride and instructs us best in how to combat pride. Pride is at the root of any sin you will commit because ultimately you are acting on what you want more than what God desires and commanded.
We will use Judges 9 to identify key characteristics of pride in the life of Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons. Hopefully it will serve as a litmus test for your life and help you search your own heart to rid it of pride.
Today we will examine one characteristic of pride from Abimelech’s life: Pride Connives and Manipulates. Next week, we will see that pride disregards other people.
Abimelech was unique among all of Gideon’s sons because only he was born to a concubine who was from Shechem. The rest of Gideon’s 70 sons were born to wives who were from Ophrah.
Shechem was a city in the land of Israel, right on the border of the the land alloted to Ephraim and Manasseh, and chapter 9 records Abimelech’s wicked plan to become the king of Shechem.
His conniving begins by going to his mother’s relatives in Shechem. He manipulated them by creating a power struggle that might not have really existed between himself and his brothers. He told his relatives to tell the leaders of Shechem that Abimelech should be their leader, and he even adds what is so common in manipulation: guilt. The guilt trip comes through these words: “remember I am your bone and your flesh” (Judges 9:2).
The relatives were convinced and participated in Abimelech’s corruption by giving him money from the house of Baal-berith, a place of idol worship! The amount they gave (70 pieces of silver) seems to indicate that the leaders of Shechem knew what Abimelech was going to do. They basically gave him one piece of silver per brother, whom Abimelech planned on exterminating.
Abimelech then hires “worthless and reckless fellows” (v.4) to follow him. I imagine if you are worthless and reckless that you’ll follow anyone to do anything. This was basically a hit squad who went with Abimelech to Ophrah to kill his brothers–seventy men on one stone.
His selfishness throughout this plan reminds me of something I read about Ronald Reagan. When he was governor of California, Reagan made a speech in Mexico City. About that occasion, Reagan said, “After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish — which I didn’t understand — and he was being applauded about every paragraph. To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.‘”
Sometimes we applaud ourselves the quickest and longest. Abimelech was an arrogant man with a wicked plan. He manipulated the leaders of the town to equip him to carry out that plan, and then those leaders made him king.
My kingdom come, my will be done was Abimelech’s attitude, and he didn’t care what it took to accomplish his plan. Pride connives and manipulates, and next week we’ll see how pride disregards other people.Post Views: 515
By Ryan Strother — 3 months ago
Was that mingling into sin worth it?
- That outburst of anger that seemed to relieve some pressure;
- That venture into pornography that seemed to fill a need;
- That indulgence of pride that increased your confidence even at the expense of other people’s feelings;
- That bout of drunkenness that made you forget some of your troubles until you came to your senses with your troubles intensified;
There is pleasure to sin. But the Bible is clear that sin’s pleasure is fleeting. The writer of Hebrews uses Moses’ life to illustrate this point.
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24–26, ESV)
Moses could have continued to experience the lavish and at times unrighteous lifestyle of growing up in Pharoah’s court, but instead, he chose to fully associate himself with the people of God even though it would lead to mistreatment (since the Israelites were slaves at that time to Egypt). He considered mistreatment for the cause of Christ to be more valuable than all the treasures of secular Egypt.
The pleasure of sin is fleeting. It goes away. Then you’re back to where you started–the pressures, the needs, the confidence, the troubles–the things you desired or tried to eliminate are still there, and sometimes even more complicated because of the sin in which you engaged.
The problem is that you’re left with the same result after sinning than what you had before: the guilt of sin that has been passed down to every person since Adam (Romans 5:12), and the result of sin: spiritual death (Romans 3:23 & 6:23).
So how do you fight past the temptation of sin’s pleasure? You keep your eye on the reward. That’s what Moses did. He knew there was something greater coming in the Lord than what the world would offer. Moses wasn’t perfect, and neither are we. There will be times we give into sin, but remember that whatever you believe is being offered by that worldly temptation, there is something so much greater in Christ.
Look to the reward of Christ, not the fleeting pleasure of sin.Post Views: 331
By Ryan Strother — 7 months ago
I’ve heard it said that pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.
Last week, we saw how pride connives and manipulates. This week, let’s explore how pride disregards other people by returning to Abimelech in Judges 9 as an example. Specifically, he disregarded others by murdering and getting revenge. If you search your heart honestly, you might find yourself acting in the same ways.
Murder. Abimelech certainly disregarded his brothers by killing all but one of them who escaped. Jotham, the one who survived, gave a scathing prophecy to the leaders of Shechem in Judges 9:7-21. The “Fire from Abimelech” in that prophecy is exactly what happened. Not only did Abimelech murder his own brothers to gain power, but he even murdered people from Shechem to maintain that power (v.49), even using fire to accomplish the job.
Revenge. The leaders of Shechem eventually turned against Abimelech, especially when a man named Gaal moved into the city and took some shots at Abimelech. Shechem began trusting Gaal as a leader more than Abimelech. Abimelech wasn’t happy at all about that. An arrogant person can’t stand the thought of someone turning on him, so he unleashes his vengeance on Gaal and the people of Shechem, murdering many more.
You can read this and think that you aren’t that bad. But these actions (murder, seeking revenge) stem from motivations of the heart. Jesus taught this principle in Matthew 5 regarding murder:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21–22, ESV)
So, when you honestly check your heart, you will probably find more pride there than you thought. And pride will influence you to disregard other people, maybe through extreme ways of murdering and seeking harmful revenge, or by less subtle ways, like ignoring, gossiping about someone, acting in ways that purposely make life difficult for someone else, undermining authority, or destructively criticizing.
How else can pride influence people to disregard others?Post Views: 397