McLaurin Memorial

The Three Dynamic T’s

MORNING MESSAGE – John Cline

Text:  2 Corinthians 9

Scripture Reader:  Keith Harcus

The original Greek New Testament has a phrase in 2nd Corinthians 9:6 that we will read later in the sermon, but it sets the theme for the sermon so I want to say it here, as well: “God loves the hilarious giver.” The New International Version of the Bible puts it, “for God loves a cheerful giver”, but the Greek word translated “cheerful” is “hilaron”, the obvious root of the English word “hilarious”. That word, “hilaron”, the “cheerful giver” or the “hilarious giver”, Scripture says is the kind of person God loves. When I preached on this 25 years ago, a lady angrily accosted me at the foyer door afterwards, saying, “God loves everyone, not just the cheerful giver”. I cheekily thought to myself, “well, I know what kind of giver you are”, but I verbally agreed with her, that, “of course, God loves everyone”. She never came back!

The type of giver being described is the person who enjoys giving so much that they are fun to watch, hilarious to observe. God loves that kind of giving and giver. This has to do with attitude. We have read in the last couple of weeks about the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who gave grudgingly, arrogantly, with little thought of blessing others. Jesus questioned their attitudes even as he approved of their tithe:

“For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” (Matthew 23:23)

Attitude was the key for Jesus, not some legal keeping of the law of Moses that people should tithe. Of course, people should tithe, Jesus would say but God is not impressed with someone’s tithing if they are grumpy towards others and self-centered or impressed by themselves. God loves a “hilaron” giver because He Himself is a “hilaron” giver.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:37,38)

Don’t be offended by this, but the mental picture I get when I hear these words of Jesus is that God is like a beloved clown at a children’s birthday party. He asks the birthday child, “Can I give you a balloon?” “Yes!”, the child answers. And, then the clown gives 500 balloons, cheerfully pulling them out of his pockets, from behind his ears, hair, shoes, and gloves, and pouring them into the child’s lap. It would be hilarious to watch. God is that type of giver and He wants us to be, as well. This brings us to today’s topic of “The Three Dynamic T’s”. This phrase was not drawn up originally by Christians, as far as I know, but by secular workplaces or motivators. Here is what it means:

“The Three Dynamic T’s”: Time, Talent, Treasure.

First “Dynamic T”: “Time”. We all have 24 hours in a day. Time is that indefinite continued progress of minutes of hours or days which relentlessly marches on towards the future. I have complained in the past that Sundays just keep on coming, every week, so I need to keep on being ready to preach every single week! I have not received any loving or compassionate responses to my whining. This is because of the second side of the meaning of time: it is an entity that is ours to decide about as in how we spend its minutes, hours, and days. Time is mentioned 733 times in the Bible. Here’s the most famous reference:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity

under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to

plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Both aspects of time are mentioned in this passage: how life and time bring to us things that are beyond our control. There is a time for all the good things and bad things that life will bring. But life is also filled with time that we can determine what to do with it. Our attitudes towards the time we have determines how we spend it. God gives us time; we should leverage it wisely and faithfully. It is all about attitude. We can all point to people who are incredibly self-absorbed and who would not give of their time to anyone else, while at the same time demanding that others step up to the plate to do whatever they want them to do (without themselves committing to doing that thing. For example, marchers in the USA for open borders and refugees who would not commit when interviewed on camera to taking refugees into their own homes). For us Christians, we need to not engage in public posturing but give of our time for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. How are you spending your time? The older I get the more aware I am of the time I waste doing things that are not helpful or profitable for the kingdom. We each have 24 hours per day, true, but we are not guaranteed tomorrow, so let’s spend the time we have wisely and faithfully, in service to God and others. Hear this word:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Let’s say it together, again, out loud…

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Sometimes, people have family obligations to send money back home to their impoverished families back in their native lands (God bless them for doing so), or are paying off debts to credit card companies after somehow getting themselves into financial difficulties, or of dealing with the high taxes that Canada inflicts on its citizens at a rate that was not present in the first century. Whatever it may be, some people feel that they have available money to give to God as they would like to, of a tithe or 10% of their income. To them I ask, “do you have time you can give to God’s work?” Think of the Mother Teresa’s of the world who may not have money to give but they effectively give of their time to God and others.

Second “Dynamic T”: Talent. God has given each of us natural aptitudes or skills or talents. In Jesus’ day, a “talent” was a form of currency, a weight of 75 pounds of gold or silver, representing a very large sum of money. Each talent represented the salary of 6,000 days’ work, 16 ½ years of salary for each “talent” of gold or silver. A “talent” was thus a sizeable amount of money to be given by someone else if a person chooses to give you such. Now, the word “talent” appears in the Bible 100 times. Let’s listen to a parable by Jesus about how God – who is called the “master” in this parable – gave “talents” to three individuals. I should add that the word “talent” is transliterated in the New International Version of the Bible as “bags of gold” so you won’t hear “talent” mentioned in this passage. By the way, the King James Version of the Bible stuck with the proper word “talent”. Jesus said,

“Again, the kingdom of heaven will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So, I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So, you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned, I would have received it back with interest. So, take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:14-30)

God gives talents – in this parable “talents” the word referred to its first century usage as a form of currency, but it is acceptable for us English speakers to used our language’s meaning of the word “talents” as special skills or abilities, because the point of Jesus’ parable was not about money but that God gives us each stuff for us to put to work, to use and grow. Thus, He gives each of us special, unique skills, talents, and abilities. In his parable, Jesus says that for us to not use a talent God has given to us is not pleasing to God, to put it mildly. But, to the person who wisely uses the talents God has given them, God will bless with even more. What talent, what natural ability, what special gifting or skill has God given you? I encourage you to use it or them, giving of it as well as your time for God’s kingdom work. Let’s say out loud that verse by the apostle Paul, once again.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Third “Dynamic T”: Treasure. “Treasure” is a word that appears 98 times in the Bible. Christians are challenged to give generously of their “treasure” to God and His kingdom work. We are about to come to that “God loves a hilarious giver” passage, which was written by the apostle Paul in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. There, Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians – Corinth being a city in southern Greece, a city in which the residents commonly thought of themselves as being urban sophisticates to give from their treasure a generous financial gift to the impoverished Christians back in Jerusalem and Judea. The reason for this is that a famine has swept through Judah and the religious leaders blamed the Christians for it. They claimed it was God’s revenge upon their land for so many Jews leaving Judaism to follow Jesus.

Now, Paul was writing the Christian and sophisticated urbanites of Corinth, from where he was in Macedonia, a place that Corinthian sophisticated urbanites typically dismissed as being filled with rural hicks, country cousins, brutish goat herders. In fact, many of the Macedonians probably were goat herders as the capital city of Macedonia, “Aigai”, meant, “Goat-town”! In Canada, we have “Cowtown” for Calgary, and “Hogtown” for Toronto. In Macedonia, their capital city was “Goat-town”.

In a previous letter, Paul had asked the Corinthians to take up that famine relief offering for the Christians of Jerusalem and Judea, but he had been delayed in coming to collect that offering because the Lord Jesus had sent him to do ministry in Macedonia, instead. While in Macedonia, though, Paul had told the Christians there about the offering that he had asked the Corinthians to give for the mother church and Christians in Jerusalem and Judea. The Macedonians, living in a region of high taxation and harsh persecution by the ruling Romans, had given Paul a huge gift out of their treasure for him to take to Jerusalem, a thing that the Book of Acts tells us he later did. But, it was not the massiveness of the financial gift that so impressed Paul, but the attitude of the Macedonians. They were “hilaron”, cheerful, hilarious-to-watch givers.

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5a)

Paul used the Macedonians’ generosity to encourage the Corinthians to likewise give generously. And, as a sign of how important this task was, Paul sent three Christian heavyweights ahead of him to prepare the people to give: Titus, Luke, and Apollos. Imagine having those three Christian leaders show up at your church! Impressive. Paul goes on:

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we — not to say anything about you — would be ashamed of having been so confident. So, I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. (2 Corinthians 9:1-6)

Paul next writes his famous phrase on giving of one’s “treasure”.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:7-15)

To repeat some of those encouragements of Paul: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly” (think about that), and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (think about that). Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (are you a cheerful, hilaron, hilarious giver?). And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (God will meet all your needs if you give as He wants you to).

So, friends, there you have it: The “Three Dynamic T’s of Giving – Time, Talent, and Treasure”. Sharing a little personal history here, to close: When I realized the joy of giving of my time to God’s kingdom work, God had me meet the most incredible people who blessed and changed my life for the better (the cerebral palsy victims and Christians at Pearson Hospital). When I realized the beauty of giving of my talents (e.g. my musical ability), I was surprised that others were blessed by it, but their response to me sharing of it built me up, helping my self-confidence and assurance to grow. When I realized the satisfaction of giving to God of my treasure, of the tithe, the 10% of whatever salary I made, I experienced God’s providing for all my needs. Will you give in the way God wants? Time, Talent, Treasure. Let’s pray.

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