Sunday, February 18, 2007

At What Cost?

At What Cost?

The hymns To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, and He Hideth My Soul remind us that it’s never too late to begin serving Christ. Some people start as children, others as teens or young adults. But Moses was eighty when God commissioned him, and Paul was middle-aged.

So was Fanny Crosby, author of the above hymns.

Fanny was born in a cottage in South East, New York, in 1820. Six weeks later, she caught a cold in her eyes, and a visiting doctor prescribed mustard poultices, leaving her virtually blind for life. Growing into childhood, she determined to make the best of it, writing at age eight: O what a happy soul I am! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.

Fanny spent many years in New York’s Institution for the Blind, first as a student then as a teacher and writer-in-residence. Her career flourished, her fame swelled. She recited her poems before Congress and became friends with the most powerful people in America, including presidents.

But not until 1851 did Fanny met her greatest friend, the Lord Jesus. While attending a revival meeting at John Street Methodist Church in New York, she later recalled, a prayer was offered, and “they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, ‘Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?’ and when they reached the line, ‘Here, Lord, I give myself away,’ my very soul was flooded with celestial light.”

Fourteen years later she met the hymnist William Bradbury who told her, “Fanny, I thank God we have met, for I think you can write hymns.” Bradbury suggested an idea for a song he needed, and on February 5, 1864, Fanny Crosby, seizing his idea, wrote:

We are going, we are going, To a home beyond the skies, Where the fields are robed in beauty And the sunlight never dies.

It was her first hymn, and she was forty-four. But by the time she reached her “home beyond the skies” fifty years later, she had written eight thousand more..1

Fanny Crosby gave all she had – I want to spend the next few minutes looking at what God wants us to give.


  1. Proportional Giving

    1. Much of the church has lot tract of the concept of "proportional giving."

    2. For the Jews who lived before the coming of Christ, it was the standard – it was the tithe. “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

“You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be 1food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

    1. The giving of for the believers of the OT was to start with the tithe – the giving of 10% of their income to support the temple and the synagogue.

    2. The OT required a tithe of everything – if money was what a person had, that is what was tithed. But if it lands, flocks, herds, or some other commodity – it was expected to be tithed.

    3. The NT standard was a bit more relaxed – they asked all those who supported the church to give a proportion of the income -

    4. The beginning of the NT seemed to follow a similar pattern – but giving was was not a tenth, it was proportional. For some it was 5%, for some it would be 10%, but for others it would be 15 or 20%.

(Ill.) I was surprised to learn the average American gave 3.8% of their income in 2004 to various causes. What %age are you giving?

    1. There is a simple test to see if you are giving proportionally – as your income goes up or down, are you adjusting your giving? When you get a raise – do you increase your giving by a similar percentage? When your income goes down, do you reduce your giving by a similar percentage.

    2. Giving begins with a decision to give proportionally to our income.

  1. Offerings

    1. Early believers did not stop with proportional giving.

    2. They also made regular offerings over and above their tithe.

    3. The tithe was their regular and consistant giving – their offerings were to support the special needs that arose throughout the year that went beyond the expected expenses of the church or synagogue.

(Ill.) One pastor of a small church began the regular Sunday morning offering by saying, "I would like to remind you that what you are about to give is deductible, cannot be taken with you, is referred to in the Bible as filthy lucre, the love of which is the root of all evil."2

    1. There are lots of motives for responding to an offering – some of them good, some of them bad.

    2. But we must see the response to offerings as coming after whatever regular gifts we are making to the church.

  1. Everything

    1. Take a minute and close your eyes. Imagine walking in your front door. You take a look behind you to make sure your car has not left the driveway. Don't forget that it is not really your car – it is really God's car. Do you realize that the door belongs to God, but as you go in, you see your living room – all that furniture is not yours – it is God's. Then go into your kitchen – you go into your cupboard to make a cup of coffee. You see all that food in the cupboard – it, too, belongs to God. Then you turn around and glance at the shelf – look at all those pictures. There's your son, your daughter. Maybe a brother or sister or mom or dad. Do you realize that they belong to God, not you you.

    2. There is something really strange here – we talk about giving our tithes and our offerings. But in talking like this, we are missing an important point – and that is that everything we have, everything we call ours, is really God's.

    3. Psalm 24:1-1 reads: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

(Ill.) To see how well you understand this concept, think of the last time you miss-placed something – perhaps it was a piece of jewelry or an important document

(Appl.) So here is your assignment – as you return home this morning, as you go into your houses – look around. Remember that everything in that house is not yours – in fact it is all God's.

  1. Jesus Paid It All

    1. Tithing -- Offering -- Everything

    2. But there is another model of giving in scripture. It is a model that we cannot follow. It is a model that can never be repeated.

    3. Isaiah 53:4-6 reminds us the ultimate gift was given for us

Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

    1. I am reminded of a hymn that we have only in our Celebration hymnal – Jesus paid it all

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.


1Morgan, R. J. (2000). Real stories for the soul (electronic ed.) (132). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (350). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

1 comment:

John Wesley said...

Dear and Gentle Reader,

I offer one piece of advice: Make all you can, Save all you can and Give all you can.

Since I last had the pleasure of visiting ye, I have had many thoughts upon ye and your work in this, our online community. Keep hold the faith and continue to run the race! We will praise God for what he has done through your ministry and I cherish your willing spirit and compassion.

Who knows but it may please God to make ye an instrument in His glorious work? In effecting an union among the labourers in His vineyard? That He may direct and bless you in all your steps is the prayer of my heart.

Your affectionate and obedient servant,