South Sydney Anglican Church

“Vision 2024: A Community overflowing with Faith, Hope and Love in JESUS” – 6th Sunday

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 16:1-14

Scripture calls us to use our Money in Love.

Intro:    Well Morning South Sydney Anglican Church. My name is Matt Johnson and today we come to the end of our church vision series. The long and short of todays sermon is that we want to be “A community overflowing with faith, hope and love in Jesus” and that takes money. So let’s pray as we begin…

PRAYER:            Well how do you get Christians to generously give to Gods Kingdom? 1) Do you tell them: “Give and God will make you rich!” OR 2) do you tell them: “Give because it is an expression of true faith, hope & love in Jesus!Sadly, we often tell people; if you are generous God will bless you – either here and now or with treasures in heaven. But either way, we are then giving out of self-interest because we want God’s blessing both now and later. BUT AS I’VE POINTED OUT – Christian love is actually OTHER PERSON CENTERED. It’s like Jesus. Jesus didn’t GIVE in order to GET. Jesus gave because he loved…

The fact is South Sydney Anglican Church exists in an area of GREAT NEED – both material and spiritual. And MONEY (whether we like it or not) is necessary for nearly everything we do as a church. The government does not give us money. The Anglican Diocese of Sydney does not give us money. Our church financial resources solely come from A) managing the physical assets God has given us and B) the generosity of our church members.

Now thankfully, as a long-established church (started in 1885) we get to ride on the back of previous generations of Christian generosity. Because of the generosity of earlier generations we own a number of buildings that we now rent to others and this generates about $170,000 p.a. Now I know this sounds great. But we need to remember that all our buildings are now old. Last year we spent nearly $90,000 simply on maintenance of buildings. But we’re still $80,000 in front thanks to the generosity of previous generations.

IN TERMS OF CHURCH OFFERTORYwhat people put in the plate – we also received close to $200,000 in 2023. Again, you think WOW. That is great for a small church. And it is. But that number is A BIT INFLATED because one person gave us a $70,000 gift last year and two other people gave special one off – $10,000 gifts to finish the kitchen in the church house. Again, I praise God – because we have some very faithful, generous Christians in our church who believe our ministry is valuable.

But to give you some idea – it costs our church around $350,000 a year to pay 1) my, Seti and Mary Ann’s salary, 2) meet all the expenses that come with running a church; 3) support a few missionaries, 4) do evangelism and 5) pay for things like photocopier ink. Now it also gets a bit more complicated because we used to pay our chaplain Geoff Miles in peanuts and compliments. BUT now we have to pay Seti a real salary because he has a family. So Audrey our church treasurer thinks we are going to run about a $40,000 deficit in 2024. That means we are going to spend $40,000 more than we are going to take in income. So today I need to talk to you about MONEY.

Point 1:         Our Church Community needs Money to do Christian Ministry

Show:                        1Cor.16:1-3 (READ)

Explain:         Well after speaking about 1) life in the Christian church; 2) the importance of faith hope & love; 3) building the church through prophesy and 4) sharing the gospel – Paul goes straight into money. Paul says I need your money. Did you ever see the movie – Jerry Macguire with Tom Cruise? Jerry saysShow me the money. Show me the money.”  And Paul is saying much the same thing. He says; on the first day of the week – set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income and put it aside so that when I get to Corinth – you can show me the money.

Paul is raising money for Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. He speaks about this collection in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and Romans. Paul was heading to Jerusalem AND he wanted to take some money with him from the Gentile churches to address both physical and spiritual problems. In 46, 47 & 48AD Jerusalem went through a severe famine that left many people poor. Worst yet, THE JEWISH SANHEDRIN (the Jewish government) was also persecuting Jews who had converted to Christianity. Many Christian Jews had lost their jobs, lost houses and lost certain freedoms. So in love Paul wanted the Gentile churches to help their Jewish Christian brothers and sisters.

But there was also a SPIRITUAL NEED. INITIALLY, the Jewish Christian church had been very intentional in loving and sharing the gospel with the Gentiles. But as the Gentile church became more established this love and evangelism was not being reciprocated to the Jews. So Paul knew that A LARGE FINANCIAL GIFT from Gentile churches to Jewish churches would not only build bridges, it would also be an evangelistic testimony to the many Jews in Jerusalem who were still not Christians. A kind of; “Look the Gentile Christians really do care about you. The love of Jesus is compelling them to love you and help you – even though you are Jews.” So Paul is encouraging the Gentile Churches to give – both to meet material and spiritual needs.

So please look at verse 2 (Slide 2; 1Cor.16:2; Read). So what can we learn from this? Well the first day of the week is Sunday. The early Gentile church usually gathered for worship on the SUNDAY because this is the day Jesus rose from the dead. And as part of their Christian worship – Paul tells EACH PERSON in the church to start setting aside a sum of money in keeping with your income. NOTICE they are to give in keeping with their income. The words “IN KEEPING WITH YOUR INCOME” – carries the idea of a proportion of their income. Now what proportion “in keeping with their income” may Paul have in mind as a Jewish Christian?

Depending on your Christian background, some of you may have been taught the principle of TITHING. In the Old Testament the Jews had to give 10% of their income to God to support the work of Gods temple. It was called a tithe or a tenth AND this was a command. This meant rich Jews gave more money to Gods work than poor Jews. But in another way it meant everyone gave the exact same amount in keeping with their income – ie 10%. Now did Paul have this figure in mind – when he told the church to give each Sunday in accordance with their income?

Well Christian scholars debate (often quite strongly) whether Christians should tithe or not tithe. Personally, I am reluctant to give a DEFINITIVE ANSWER to this question because no where in the New Testament are Christians told to tithe. Generally speaking – Christians are simply told to be generous. So many Christians go “PHEW” and they decide 1.2% is generous. Don’t laugh – because that’s how the sinful nature works and you know it. So what convicted me in my giving – is that THE STANDARD upheld in the Old Testament usually goes up in the New Testament, not down. While it was wrong in the Old Testament to commit adultery, Jesus says it’s wrong to even lust. While the Old Testament says do not murder, Jesus says do not even hate. THE MORAL STANDARD has gone up, not down.

So if the standard of generosity was 10% (or more) in the Old Testament, I find it hard to believe generosity would drop to 5% or 3% or 1.8% in the New Testament. But as the same time – I want to say that as Christians we are no longer UNDER LAW, but UNDER GRACE. So putting any legalistic amount on Christians can be unhelpful.

But can we really say giving 1% or 2% or even 5% of our income in Australia (one of the wealthiest countries on earth) is really sacrificial generous giving? I’ll admit that for many years as a Christian I was a 1% or 2% giver. But at a certain point – God convicted me to get serious about giving. So I started aiming for 10% (or better) and I found God started to teach me all sorts of things about giving and generosity and his providence. God started to teach and show me things – that I never would have learnt – if I didn’t take giving seriously.

Apply:            So I’d say Paul wants you to regularly give in keeping with your income. That means a proportion or percentage of your income. So I’d say – work out what you are currently giving as a PERCENTAGE of your income and decide whether you are happy with that figure. I think working out the proportion you are currently giving is important and it is often very humbling. (For many Christians I think it is often less than 1%). So to the young people in our church with good careers ahead of you – I’d also say – start doing this immediately even with casual jobs. Giving in accordance with our income gets harder and harder the wealthier you become. (Giving up a percentage of a small number doesn’t hurt as much as giving up a percentage of a big number). So work out a proportion (1%, 2%, 5%) and then set that amount aside for God each week and ACTUALLY GIVE IT. Don’t just intend to give, actually give. God wants us to be thoughtful, intentional, proportional and active in our giving because it is an expression of our Christian faith, hope and love in Jesus. Do you love people – well give. Do you have faith that God will look after you – well give. Do you have hope – that your giving may see people eternally saved – well give.

Point 2:         Our Community needs to Give Willingly to Gods Work

Show:                        2Cor.8:9-10 (READ)

Explain:         Well I have now jumped to 2 Corinthians. Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth telling them to start putting money aside for Jerusalem in about 53AD. Then, he wrote his second letter to Corinth in about 54-55AD – saying “I’m going to be there soon – please have the money ready”. So in 2 Corinthians 8:11 (Paul says) – “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it, may be matched by your completion of it.Now notice Paul says; “FINISH THE WORK…” Give what you have committed to give…

THE PROBLEM is that as evangelical, born-again Christians I think many of us see the needs and we are willing to give. We hear about a really important Christian cause AND the Holy Spirit convicts us to help and we decide, yes I’m going to give. But then life gets in the way. As we leave church – we discover a parking ticket on our car for $300. Doh. Or we need a new car. So we borrow more money than we should and very quickly all our good intentions go out the window. So Paul says “FINISH THE WORK!” Hed wants our willingness to be matched by completion…

Now before we focus on finishing the work I want to think a little about our willingness to give. In verse 12 – Paul says if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable. Now why are you willing to give up 2%, 5% or 10% of your income for Gods kingdom. I mean you already all pay considerable amounts of money in tax. That already helps the poor. Your tax dollars also help with education, justice and hospitals. So why would anyone be WILLING to give more to the church? (Pause)

Well in the final verse of 1 Corinthians 16 – Paul wrote this; (Slide 5; 1Cor.16:13-14). Notice the words “do everything in love”. This includes our giving. FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE (and especially love) need to motivate our willingness to give. Christian activity is only acceptable to God if it is coming from a place of love for him and love for others.

The reason – I am asking you to give is that we are in a spiritual battle between good and evil. The word of God needs to be faithfully taught if  Christians are going to stand firm in the faith. Giving to uphold biblical truth is loving. We also know that without evangelism – people in the world are destined for judgment. Helping people stand firm in the faith and evangelising the lost costs money. So our willingness to give has to do with Gods Kingdom and love. When we willingly give out of love for God and love for our neighbour – our gift is acceptable to God.

Apply:            Now I know many people in our church already give generously. But have you REASSESSED your potential to give recently. I mean we all get pay rises from time to time, but has your church giving gone up? I know you may respond – “Yes I got a pay rise, but I can’t afford to give more because of inflation.” I get it. But sometimes our circumstances change because children move out of home or we finish paying off our mortgage and we can afford to give more. I recently heard of a Christian couple – who received a large inheritance – and the first thing they decided to do was TITHE that inheritance to Gods kingdom. They didn’t tithe because they are legalists. They tithed (and gave 10%) because they thought that was a good biblical starting point.

The reality our church faces is that many of our church members are on fixed pensions and they are not in a position to give much money. If that is you (and you are on a fixed income) I would still encourage you to give something – because regular, faithful giving is a biblical principle I think faithful, regular, proportional giving is also good for us because it liberates us from greed, materialism and the love of money. But for those of us who are working and have A GOOD STEADY INCOME – are we really giving in line with the sort of sacrificial, generous love Jesus showed us at the cross. What would that sort of giving look like for you?

Point 3:         Our Church needs to Sow Generously in order to Reap Abundantly

Show:                        2 Cor.9:6-8 (READ)

Explain:         Well, this is also 2 Corinthians, but Paul is still speaking about his collection of money for JERUSALEM. And Paul is picking up a common biblical concept that we reap what we sow. Sow generously, reap abundantly. Sow sparingly, reap little. Now of course this is a wisdom principle. Theoretically, God could take miserly, lack-lustre giving and miraculously turn it into a great harvest. But generally speaking – the more we invest and sow into Gods Kingdom – the more we can expect to see a harvest for Gods Kingdom.

Now again, as we sow, we need to be wise stewardship. If you sow lots of money into Christian ministries that don’t really preach the gospel or teach Gods Word – the harvest will be affected by a lack of faithfulness. Even if there is lots of SPLASH AND BUBBLES – if the ministry is not really operating in love; not being faithful to Gods Word OR the gospel – there will be very little real fruit. But I think our small church has many of these fundamentals in place. AND I have done this sermon series on our church vision – so that you can make an informed decision about your willingness to partner with our church. I think our biblical, evangelical, church-based ministry to the poor is a fairly unique Christian ministry – not just in Sydney, but the world. Lots of churches do stuff for the poor. But much of it is not gospel centered. Many of these ministries stop being biblical. And very few of them actually supply a church family for the poor to call home. I also think the work 1) VIORICA is doing with women enslaved in Greece and 2) the ministry of BISHOP CHRIS in Kenya and Uganda is also special. We are literally setting women free from slavery. We are literally helping to shape a whole Christian denomination in Africa. And in both contexts – we are working with people who are committed to the gospel, committed to the Bible AND are so loving, they are willing to suffer sacrificially for other people’s salvation. These are Jesus sort of people and this is some of the ministries I am asking you to support in 2024.

Apply:            So as I finish today – let me remind you yet again – what Jesus was willing to give in love – for our salvation. (GOSPEL) Jesus gave up his life. He didn’t give 2% or 5% or 7.8% – he gave his very life for Gods glory and our salvation. We were sinners. We were greedy, materialistic, lovers of money destined for hell. But in love Jesus gave his very life to pay for our sins and to bring us peace with God. As Jesus died on the cross – he was paying for everything we have done wrong. The good news is that if you believe Jesus died for you and you accept Jesus as your Saviour and Lord – you will NOT perish, but have eternal life. The good news is Jesus is NOT CALLING YOU to give up your life to save 1) women in Athens, or 2) orphans in Kenya or 3) the broken and hurting in South Sydney. Jesus has already done ALL the heavy lifting. All he is asking is that in love for a broken world – you give your TIME and MONEY and SPIRITUAL GIFTS (as you are able) to share the good news of Jesus and teach the truth of God’s Word.

Now maybe today, my preaching has made you uncomfortable. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is convicting you. So let me say that if you are not giving to God’s Kingdom in a regular, proportional and cheerful way it is a sin of omission. It is sin. And it’s often a sign that other sins are lurking – perhaps of laziness, or greed or selfishness. So like all sins – what do you do? Well you begin by ADMITTING the sin to God, ASKING for forgiveness and then TRYING to repent. That’s what we are all called to do with the sins of commission and the sins of omission in our life.

Now if you are time rich and money poor – (like many people on pension payments) give a little of your money and a lot of your time to help our church. If you are money rich and time poor – (like many people employed in Sydney) – give more of your money and perhaps less of your time. Give what you have to give so that we can be a Community overflowing with faith hope and love in Jesus. WHATEVER BLESSINGS you have from God, please remember – God has blessed you – so that you can be a blessing.

So right now (SLIDE 8) – I’m putting our bank details up on the screen – because the best way to give to our church on a regular, thoughtful basis is by setting up A PERIODICAL PAYMENT. Set up a direct transfer each week or each month to South Sydney Anglican Church – BSB 032-023 (that’s Westpac) and account 209-997. And please know – I’m not just talking to people in our church. I’m also talking to the many people watching on YouTube. (Look I’m being a true tele-evangelist. I’m on your screen and I’m asking for money). BUT SERIOUSLY – I know some of you online already give. Thank you! But if you benefit from the ministry of South Sydney Anglican Church and you are not currently supporting another church – please consider giving to us.

I think we are going to need about $40,000 extra in our church offertory in 2024. That may seem like a lot. But it’s just 15 people committing to give $50/week (OR an extra $50/week) and we’re there. And what’s $50 these days in Sydney. Its like two beers and a burger. What’s more, $50 a week is only $2600 p.a And $2,600 p.a is only 3.25% of an average Sydney income of $80,000. 3.25% from 15 people (here or online) – and Seti keeps his job. Let me assure you I give a lot more than that every year. I’m not asking you to do something I don’t do myself. So the bank details are there and I’m asking you to support our ministry – because 1) we have a good biblical vision, 2) our methods of ministry are faithful and 3) our gospel is true. So how can you help?


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