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Stewardship Sermon Illustrations
Subjects as immediately practical as generous giving often are difficult to teach without illustrations to connect the discussion to everyday life. The following collection of stewardship illustrations has been gleaned from various sources as examples that present giving as more than a mere idea.
In using these as samples when writing their own illustrations, pastors and teachers will be able to move, challenge and even entertain their audiences with concrete situations to illuminate the meaning of God’s word in the lives of their people. You may wish to see a shorter list of key illustrations.
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Confederate Currency Worthless at War’s End
Imagine you’re alive at the end of the Civil War. You’re living in the South, but you are a Northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war is over. While in the South, you’ve accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now, suppose you know for a fact that the North is going to win the war and the end is imminent. What will you do with your Confederate money?
If you’re smart, there’s only one answer. You should immediately cash in your Confederate currency for U.S. currency—the only money that will have value once the war is over. Keep only enough Confederate money to meet your short term needs.
As a Christian, you have inside knowledge of an eventual worldwide upheaval caused by Christ’s return. This is the ultimate insider trading tip: Earth’s currency will become worthless when Christ returns—or when you die, whichever comes first. (And either event could happen at any time.)18
Temporary Hotel Stay
Suppose your home is in France and you’re visiting America for three months, living in a hotel. You’re told that you can’t bring anything back to France on your flight home. But you can earn money and mail deposits to your bank in France.
Would you fill your hotel room with expensive furniture and wall hangings? Of course not. You’d send your money where your home is. You would spend only what you needed on the temporary residence, sending your treasures ahead so they’d be waiting for you when you got home.19
Hiding Symptoms from the Doctor
There can be no significant spiritual growth in your life, unless you put your money and what you think about your money into God’s hands, because it’s just too big and too pivotal an issue.
If you went to a doctor because of a general need to improve your health and said, “Doctor, I am just not healthy. I’m always tired, and I’m constantly getting sick. Can you help me?”
What would the doctor say? She would look at you and she’d say, “Listen, you’re going to have to tell me everything because I can’t just give you a physical check up. You’re going to have to tell me how you’re sleeping, how well you sleep, and how many hours you sleep. You have to tell me what you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. You need to tell me about your work. How many hours are you working, how satisfying is your work? You have to tell me about personal stresses that may be happening in your life, you’ve got to tell me everything.”
And if you looked at her and said, “No wait a minute, you’re a doctor, you stick to the physical. I don’t want to talk to you about my personal stresses, and I don’t want to talk to you about the personal problems I have at work. That’s not your department; you help me with my health,” what would she say? She’d say, “I’m sorry, they’re all connected. You can’t break your life into departments. Maybe the reason that you’re always getting sick is because there’s some kind of psychological strain on you. And the physiological effects are real, they’re not psychosomatic, but they’re being caused by something [else]. You might need counseling as well as my treatment, and therefore you’ve got to tell me everything.”
Of course that’s what the doctor’s going to say. And in the same way God says, “You come to me because you want meaning, because you want renewal, because you want strength, because you want forgiveness. If you want me in your life, then you’ve got to let me talk to you about your money.”
You see, if I want God in my life but I don’t want anybody talking to me about what God says about money, that’s impossible. Just like the doctor, who will kick you out after a while and say, “I’m sorry, what you want is impossible. You want me to deal with your health, but you won’t tell me everything, and you won’t see that you are an interconnected whole,” God says, “Unless you’re willing to talk to me about your money, unless you’re willing to put your money and your attitude toward your money in my hands as well, we can’t do business.”13
The Plane Crash Victims
Or picture 269 people entering eternity in a plane crash. Before the crash there is a noted politician, a millionaire corporate executive, a playboy and his playmate, a missionary kid on the way back from visiting grandparents. Then after the crash they stand before God utterly stripped of every MasterCard, checkbook, credit line, image clothes, success books, and Hilton reservations. The politician, the executive, the playboy and the missionary kid on level ground with nothing, absolutely nothing in their hands, but only what they brought in their heart. O how absurd and tragic the lover of money will seem on that day like a man who spends his whole life collecting train tickets and in the end is so weighed down by the collection he misses the last train. Don’t try to get rich, “for we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of the world.”20
The Art Collector
Suppose someone passes empty-handed through the turnstiles at a big city art museum and begins to take the pictures off the wall and carry them importantly under his arm. You come up to him and say, “What are you doing?” He answers, “I'm becoming an art collector.” “But they’re not really yours,” you say, “and besides they won’t let you out with those. You'll have to go out just like you came in.” But he answers again, “Sure they’re mine. I’ve got them under my arm. People look at me as an important dealer in the halls. And I don’t bother myself with thoughts about leaving. Don’t be a kill joy.” We would call this man a fool—out of touch with reality. So is the person who spends himself to get rich in this life. We will go out just the way we came in.24
The Eager Sunday School Children
The Junior Sunday School Teacher asked her eight eager 10-year-olds if they would give $1,000,000 to the missionaries.
“YES!” they all screamed!!
“Would you give $1,000?” Again they shouted “YES!”
“How about $100?” “Oh, YES we would!” they all agreed!!
“Would you give just a dollar to the missionaries?” she asked.
The boys exclaimed “YES!” just as before except for Johnnie.
“Johnnie,” the teacher said as she noticed the boy clutching his pocket, “why didn’t you say 'YES’ this time?”
“Well,” he stammered, “I HAVE a dollar.”16
At a church meeting a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith. “I'm a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember the turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.” He finished and there was an awed silence at his testimony as he moved toward his seat. As he sat down a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said to him: “I dare you to do it again.” 17
The Concept of ‘Limited Good’ among the Mazatec Indians
For the past forty years Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in Southwestern Mexico. During this time she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, “Who taught you to bake bread?” the village baker answers, “I just know,” meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help. Eunice says this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of “limited good.” They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well—“Have a good day”—means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired.1
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The Two Cows
I remember once hearing a preacher tell a story which he assured us was simple, literal truth. It illustrates perfectly the point which we are considering. It is the story of a farmer who one day went happily and with great joy in his heart to report to his wife and family that their best cow had given birth to twin calves, one red and one white. And he said, “You know I have suddenly had a feeling and impulse that we must dedicate one of these calves to the Lord. We will bring them up together, and when the time comes we will sell one and keep the proceeds, and we will sell the other and give the proceeds to the Lord’s work.” His wife asked him which he was going to dedicate to the Lord. “There is no need to bother about that now,” he replied, “we will treat them both in the same way, and when the time comes we will do as I say.” And off he went. In a few months the man entered his kitchen looking very miserable and unhappy. When his wife asked him what was troubling him, he answered, “I have bad news to give you. The Lord’s calf is dead.” “But,” she said, “you had not decided which was to be the Lord’s calf.” “Oh yes,” he said; “I had always decided it was to be the white one, and it is the white one that has died. The Lord’s calf is dead.” We may laugh at that story, but God forbid that we should be laughing at ourselves. It is always the Lord’s calf that dies. When money becomes difficult, the first thing we economize on is our contribution to God’s work.15
Giving Alms to the Owner
Suppose that a company of merchants in the city should employ a number of agents to transact their business in India, with an immense capital, and suppose these agents should claim the funds as their property, and whenever a draft was made upon them, should consider it begging, and asking charity at their hands, and should call the servant by whom the order was sent a beggar; and farther, suppose they should get together, and form a charitable society to pay these drafts, of which they should become “life members,” by paying each a few dollars of their employers’ money into a common fund, and then hold themselves exonerated from all farther calls; so that, when an agent was sent with drafts, they might direct the treasurer of their society to let him have a little, as a matter of almsgiving. Would not this be vastly ridiculous! What then do you think of yourself, when you talk of supporting these charitable institutions, as if God, the owner of the universe, was to be considered as soliciting charity, and his servants as the agents of an infinite beggar? How wonderful it is, that God does not take such presumptuous men, and put them in hell in a moment, and then with the money in their hands execute his plans for converting the world.
Nor is it less ridiculous for them to suppose that by paying over the funds in their hands for this purpose, they confer a charity upon men: for it should all along be borne in mind, that the money is not theirs. They are God’s stewards, and only pay it over to his order—in doing this, therefore, they neither confer a charity upon the servants who are sent with the orders; nor upon those for whose benefit the money is to be expended.12
The Movie Set
According to a January 15, 1989, article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the family living in a home in West Palm Beach, Florida, told a film crew it was okay to use the front lawn as a set for an episode of “B.L. Stryker” television series. They knew cars would be crashing violently in front of the house.
While the front yard was being blown up, the owner of the home was tipped off and called from New York demanding to know what was happening to his house. It seems the people who were living in the house were only tenants and had no right to allow the property to be destroyed as the cameras rolled.
Many times we live our lives under the mistaken impression that they belong to us. Paul tells us we were “bought with a price.” We must live as those who know God will call us to account for the ways we have used this life entrusted to us.5
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The Left Hen and the Right
Charles Spurgeon and his wife, according to a story in the Chaplain magazine, would sell, but refused to give away, the eggs their chickens laid. Even close relatives were told, “You may have them if you pay for them.” As a result some people labeled the Spurgeons greedy and grasping.
They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed. All the profits from the sale of eggs went to support two elderly widows. Because the Spurgeons where unwilling to let their left hand know what the right hand was doing (Matthew 6:3), they endured the attacks in silence.14
The Two Foster Twins
Don Carson, the great New Testament scholar from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, tells the story of one of his colleagues who was a foster parent. He and his wife would take children into the home and keep them until they could be placed permanently in loving homes. And one day he received a call from the agency. And the agency said, “We want you to keep two twin boys.” And he and his wife said, “We’ve never kept twins before. How old are they, and how long are we going to keep them?” “Well, they’re 18 months. And we’d like for you to keep them just for 6 weeks. “OK. As long as it’s just for six weeks, send them on over.” It turned out that those little boys had been in 9 different homes in their first 18 months. And they had been severely abused in most of them, having been abandoned by their parents. The first night they put the little boys down, they didn’t make a sound. Perry and his wife were curious. They went into the room, and they found their boys in the bed weeping uncontrollably but muffling the sound of their cries in the pillow because, because in some of the previous homes where they had stayed, they had been beaten when they cried. The psychologist told them that these children would never, ever be psychologically and emotionally normal and whole. They were irremediably affected by this experience. Two years later a home was found for those twins. And the social worker who provided the psychological analysis before the boys were sent on to their new home said that, “Inexplicably and miraculously those boys were now normal, having experienced the love of a family that cared.” How much did that cost that family in time and in energy? But I want to ask you, “Was that stewardship worth it?” what value do you put on a human life?9
The Consumptive Servant
Archdeacon Hare was giving a lecture at Trinity College when a cry of “Fire!” was raised. His pupils rushed away, and formed themselves into a line to pass buckets of water from the river to the burning building. The tutor saw a consumptive student standing up to his waist in the water, and cried to him, “What! you in the water, Sterling?” The reply was, “Somebody must be in it, and why not I as well as another?”10
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The Swimmer Bargaining with God
Burt Reynolds starred in an old film entitled The End. In the film he decides to commit suicide by swimming out as far as he can until he is exhausted and then just go under. But after going under he is looking at the surface from the underside and decides not to go through with it. As he breaks the surface of the water he screams: “I want to live! I want to live!” He then begins to try to swim to shore, but it is a very long way off. As he begins to swim he talks to God. He promises to obey all of the Ten Commandments, and then realizes he doesn’t know what all of them are so he promises to learn them. Then, in his panic, he says, “Lord, if you get me out of this, I will give you 80% of everything I have.” But time passes and he is still going strong, and besides he can just begin to see the shoreline. But as he continues to swim he feels his strength holding out and says, “Lord, if you help me to get to shore alive I will give you 10% of all my earnings.” And, finally, he struggles to the place where he sees that he is just going to be able to make it to land and says, “Well, Lord, let’s just forget about what I said before. I think I can make it from here on my own.” Reynolds’ attitude is reflective of the attitude of many people today. Giving to God or living for God are sometimes thought of as “paying our dues,” or fulfilling an obligation. What should our attitude toward giving be? What is the proper way to give and think about giving? The first point we need to understand is: Giving is an act of worship. It is an expression of gratitude to a faithful God for all his goodness to me. Giving is not just a response to a need in the church, it is a response of gratitude.7
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The Orphan and the Soldier
Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities. Early on chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window he could see the mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the over, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully. The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him. “Son...would you like some of those?” The boy was startled. “Oh, yeah...I would!” The American stepped inside and bought a dozed, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: “Mister ... are you God?” We are never more like God than when we give. “God so loved the world, that he gave ...”21
Born to Fly; Born to Give
In his book Run with the Horses, Eugene Peterson tells how he saw some birds teaching their young to fly. Three young swallows were perched on a dead branch that stretched out over a lake. “One adult swallow got alongside the chicks and started shoving them out toward the end of the branch—pushing, pushing, pushing. The end one fell off. Somewhere between the branch and the water below, the wings started working and the fledgling was off on his own. Then the second one. The third one, however, was not to be bullied. At the last possible moment his grip on the branch loosened just enough so that he swung downward, then tightened again, bulldog tenacious. The parent pecked at the desperately clinging talons until it was more painful for the chick to hang on than risk the insecurities of flying. The grip was released and the wings began pumping. The mature swallow knew what the chick did not—that it would fly—that there was no danger in making it do what it was designed to do.” Peterson writes, “Birds have feet and can walk. Birds have talons and can grasp a branch securely. They can walk; they can cling. But flying is their characteristic action and not until they fly are they living at their best, gracefully and beautifully. Giving is what we do best. It is the air into which we were born. It is the action that was designed into us before our birth. Some people try desperately to hold on to themselves, to live for self. They look so bedraggled and pathetic doing it, hanging on to the dead branch of selfishness and self-centeredness, afraid to risk themselves on the untried wings of giving. Yet many people don’t think they can live generously because they have never tried.” We were created to live generously by giving generously of our time, talents and finances. We were meant to soar.
Howard Hughes certainly illustrates this biblical truth. In his youthful days, he was a typical playboy, with a passion for pleasure seeking and “an aversion for giving. As he grew older and turned an inheritance into a vast fortune, he became more and more closed-fisted. He was stingy, selfish and self-centered. He let his wealth create an ever-increasing barrier between himself and other people.” Needless to say, he died a hopeless, miserable recluse. Without question, we were created to soar on the wings of giving. In sharp contrast to Hughes was George Mueller who, like Hughes, inherited wealth, but established a lifelong pattern of generous sharing. His life was characterized by serving the needs of others. He was not stingy, selfish or self-centered. He poured out his life and wealth caring for thousands of orphans in London during the war. His life was marked by joy, fulfillment, meaning, purpose and contentment. Giving leads to life itself.8
The Widow and the Orphanage Director
In the latter part of the 17th century, German preacher August H. Francke founded an orphanage to care for the homeless children of Halle. One day when Francke desperately needed funds to carry on his work, a destitute Christian widow came to his door begging for a ducat—a gold coin. Because of his financial situation, he politely but regretfully told her he couldn’t help her.
Disheartened, the woman began to weep. Moved by her tears, Francke asked her to wait while he went to his room to pray. After seeking God’s guidance, he felt that the Holy Spirit wanted him to change his mind. So, trusting the Lord to meet his own needs, he gave her the money. Two mornings later, he received a letter of thanks from the widow. She explained that because of his generosity she had asked the Lord to shower the orphanage with gifts. That same day Francke received 12 ducats from a wealthy lady and 2 more from a friend in Sweden. He thought he had been amply rewarded for helping the widow, but he was soon informed that the orphanage was to receive 500 gold pieces from the estate of Prince Lodewyk Van Wurtenburg.
When he heard this, Francke wept in gratitude. In sacrificially providing for that needy widow, he had been enriched, not impoverished.4
The Building Fund
The outstanding Baptist preacher, Dr. George W. Truett, was helping a struggling congregation raise money for their church building. They still needed $6,500. Truett found the response weak. With only $3,000 pledged he said in exasperation, “Do you expect me to give the other $3,500 needed to reach your goal? I’m just a guest here today.” Suddenly, a woman near the back stood. Looking at her husband seated on the platform recording pledges, she said in a shaking voice, “Charlie, I wonder if you would be willing for us to give our little home? We were offered exactly $3,500 cash for it yesterday. If the Saviour gave His life for us, shouldn’t we make this sacrifice for Him?” Truett reported that the fine husband responded with equal generosity. “Yes, Jennie, I was thinking the same thing.” Turning to Truett, he said, “Brother Truett, if it’s needed, we’ll raise our pledge by $3,500.” Silence reigned for a few moments. Then some of the folks began to sob. Those who fifteen minutes earlier had refused to do more now either added their names to the list or increased their donations. In a short time, their goal had been achieved, and Charlie and Jennie didn’t have to forfeit their home. Their willingness to sacrifice had stimulated others to similar generosity.6
A Joyful Machine?
The act of the individual, in what he does or suffers, is in every case looked upon, not as the act of a lifeless engine or machine, but as the act of an intelligent, voluntary, moral being. For surely a machine is not properly capable of giving anything; and if any such machine that is without life, being moved by springs or weights, places anything before us, it cannot properly be said to give it to us. Harps and cymbals, and other instruments of music, were of old made use of in praising God in the temple and elsewhere. But these lifeless instruments could not be said to give praise to God, because they had no thought, nor understanding, or will, or heart, to give value to their pleasant sounds. And so, though a man has a heart, and an understanding, and a will, yet if when he gives anything to God, he gives it without his heart, there is no more truly given to God than is given by the instrument of music.11
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John Wesley’s Example of Generosity
Take John Wesley for example. He was one of the great evangelists of the 18th Century, born in 1703. In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds. He said that he seldom had more than 100 pounds in his possession at a time.
This so baffled the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776 insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.”
When he died in 1791 at the age of 87 the only money mentioned in his will was the coins to be found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his life had been given away. He wrote,
I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.
In other words, I will put a control on my spending myself, and I will go beyond the tithe for the sake of Christ and his kingdom.22
The Seed Grain
The following article is based on a sermon by missionary Del Tarr, who served fourteen years in West Africa with another mission agency. His story points out the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil:
I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year’s food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.
October and November ... these are beautiful months. The granaries are full—the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday’s Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.
December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day.
By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don’t stay well on half a meal a day.
April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel. Then, inevitably, it happens. A six- or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. “Daddy! Daddy! We’ve got grain!” he shouts. “Son, you know we haven’t had grain for weeks.” “Yes, we have!” the boy insists. “Out in the hut where we keep the goats—there’s a leather sack hanging up on the wall—I reached up and put my hand down in there—Daddy, there’s grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!”
The father stands motionless. “Son, we can’t do that,” he softly explains. “That’s next year’s seed grain. It’s the only thing between us and starvation. We’re waiting for the rains, and then we must use it.”
The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.
The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, “Brother and sisters, this is God’s law of the harvest. Don’t expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears.” And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don’t mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, “I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this—but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy.”3
William Carey’s Example of Generosity
In October, 1795, William Carey received a packet of letters in India. One of the letters criticized Carey for “engaging in affairs of trade” instead of devoting full time to his missionary work. Carey was hurt and angered by the accusation. If he had not worked, he and his family would have starved since the support from England was so slow and small and sporadic in arriving.
He wrote back these words which describe the William Carey wildcard,
“It is a constant maxim with me that, if my conduct will not vindicate itself, it is not worth vindicating ... I only say that, after my family’s obtaining a bare allowance, my whole income, and some months, much more, goes for the purposes of the gospel, in supporting persons to assist in the translation of the Bible, write copies, teach school, and the like ... I mention ... (this) to show that the love of money has not prompted me to pursue the plan that I have engaged in. I am indeed poor, and shall always be so till the Bible is published in Bengali and Hindosthani, and the people want no further instruction. (Mary Drewery, William Carey: A Biography, p. 91).
The William Carey Wildcard is not some little gimmick to get you to give another $6.89 to [the local church]. It is a radical call to remember that we are fighting a war for the eternal lives of men and women and to use your possessions like you really believe it. “After an allowance for me and my family, my whole income goes for the purposes of the gospel.” That’s the William Carey Wildcard. And I believe that’s the call of Jesus to all his disciples.23
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The Pianist and the President
There were once two young men working their way through Leland Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to one of them to engage Paderewski for a piano recital and devote the profits to their board and tuition. The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of two thousand dollars. The students, undaunted, proceeded to stage the concert. They worked hard, only to find that the concert had raised only sixteen hundred dollars. After the concert, the students sought the great artist and told him of their efforts and results. They gave him the entire sixteen hundred dollars, and accompanied it with a promissory note for four hundred dollars, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. “No,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then tearing the note to shreds, he returned the money and said to them: “Now, take out of this sixteen hundred dollars all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work, and let me have the rest.” The years rolled by—years of fortune and destiny. Paderewski had become premier of Poland. The devastating war came, and Paderewski was striving with might and main to feed the starving thousands of his beloved Poland. There was only one man in the world who could help Paderewski and his people. Thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution by the Polish premier. After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Herbert Hoover for the relief sent him. “That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was Mr. Hoover’s reply. “Besides, you don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college and I was in a hole.”2
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1 Bernie May, Learning to Trust (Portland, Ore.: Multnomah Press, 1985).
2 Edward W. Bok, Perhaps I Am (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928).
3 Del Tarr, God’s Ways Are Unreasonable, sermon published in Leadership, 1983.
4 Don J. Gettys, God’s Almoner, sermon preached at McDonald Road Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Collegedale, Tenn., April 26, 1997.
5 Bruce S. Bidwell, quoted in Stanley Baker, Investing Someone Else’s Resources, sermon preached at Berean Bible Church, Greene, N.Y., June 9, 2002.
6 Allen F. Harrod, Letting the Lord Have Your Lunch, sermon published in Miracle of Expansion: Four Stewardship Sermons (Jacksonville, Fla.: Florida Baptist Convention, 2003), 7-9.
7 Rodney Buchanan, Where Your Treasure Is ..., sermon preached at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, November 12, 2000.
8 David Swensen, Grace Gives, sermon preached at Winthrop Street Baptist Church, Taunton, Mass., n.d.
9 J. Ligon Duncan, A Kingdom Perspective on Stewardship, sermon preached at First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Miss., November 1998.
10 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Stewards, presidential address delivered at an annual conference at the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London [ca. 1872-1890]; chap. in An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, Texas, n.d.).
11 Jonathan Edwards, All That Can Be Done or Suffered in Vain Without Charity, or Love, sermon 3 in Charity and Its Fruits: Christian Love Manifested in the Heart and Life, Tyrone Edwards, ed. (n.p., 1851; reprint, Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.).
12 Charles G. Finney, Stewardship, from Sermons on Important Subjects (New York: John S. Taylor, 1836).
13 Tim Keller, Radical Generosity, sermon preached at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, November 10, 1991.
14 Chaplain Magazine, n.d.
15 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God or Mammon, from Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1959).
16 J. David Hoke, A Great Church Is a Generous Church, sermon preached at New Horizons Community Church, Voorhees, N.J., June 15, 1997.
17 Brad Munroe, One Voice, Two Hearts, sermon preached First Presbyterian Church, Pueblo, Colo., April 13, 2003.
18 Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving, Generous Giving Special Edition (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, 2001), 13.
19 Alcorn, 45.
20 John Piper, Money: Currency for Christian Hedonism, sermon preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn., October 9, 1983.
21 Charles R. Swindoll and Lee Hough, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living: Bible Study Guide (Anaheim, Calif.: Insight for Living, 1993).
22 John Piper, Toward the Tithe and Beyond: How God Funds His Work, sermon preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn., September 10, 1995.
23 John Piper, Loved Flock, Do Not Be Afraid to Give It Away, sermon preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn., May 16, 1993.
24 John Piper, Money: The Currency of Christian Hedonism, chap. in Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, 1996).