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To Keep or To Give

Proverbs 11: 24-26, 28


Have you heard the fable about the dog, carrying a bone, who saw his own reflection in the water.
He thought it was another dog with a bone and attacked the reflection to get the other dog's bone.
In doing so, he dropped his bone into the water.
Losing both bones, the greedy dog ended up with none.
To keep is to lose; to give is to have.

Earthly thinking reasons, " Get all you can, and can all you get."
This results in the ultimate loss of what you accumulate.
Only other hand, divine logic says, " Share with others, and you'll be enriched."

Proverbs puts it, " One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds
what he should give, and only suffers want.
A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
The people curse him who pulls back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it…
He who trusts in his riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf
."
(Proverbs 11: 24-26, 28)

The more we keep for ourselves, the less we'll have in the end.
The more we give to the Lord, the more we'll ultimately own.

A person with $1000 spends his own pleasure and has nothing to show for it.
Another person spends his $1000 buying hundreds of Bibles, and distributes them to missions,
and later learns that many have come to Christ through the written Word.
Jesus warned against laying of treasure own earth by keeping it because thieves, moths,
and rust can make it disappear.
Jesus commanded us to " Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven (by using it for the lord's work)
Where nothing can destroy it." (Matthew 6: 19-20)

To keep is to lose

Why do people grab all they can?
It's human nature to acquire.
In a college course on Great Books, the professor asked a coed which book she would choose
if she could have only one.
Quickly, she answered, " A checkbook!"

Man's human nature does not tend toward giving, but rather toward grabbing and grasping,
having and hoarding.
Man will do most anything to hold on to his money, or retrieve it.

In a large city a friend was walking with a man, and they encountered several hoodlums
who intended to rob them.
They started running from them until they came to a high wall in their path.
The man said to his friend, " I'm in trouble; I cannot climb that wall."
His friend grabbed his wallet from his pocket, and tossed it over the wall.
In a flash the man scrambled up and over the wall and and recaptured his wallet.

The reason we are so touchy about money is that we are so closely identified
with our dollars.
Money represents us.
It represents our toil.
It represents our time.
It represents our talent.

Some one has said, " The most sensitive nerve in the human body is the one that leads
to the pocketbook."

We covet easily.

" How much money do you want?" a millionaire was asked.
His answer, " Just a little more."
Enamored of his first million, a man is looking to make his second million.

Solomon wrote, " He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver,
nor he that loveth abundance with increase
." (Ecclesiastes 5: 10)

The two words translated, " covetousness," in the New Testament are literally,
" to have more," and " love of silver."
Too often love of silver displaces love of God.
Perhaps, the most common form of idolatry is money worship.
Paul plainly calls covetousness, " idolatry". (Colossians 3: 5)

A little girl was asked, " What is money?"
She quickly answered, " Why, it is to buy things with!"
She hit the nail on the head.

Money is a medium of exchange.
Money represents purchasing power.
But the urge to have more and more can be destructive.

President Coleridge said, " Prosperity is an instrument to be used,
not a deity to be worshiped
."
A covetous nature makes it difficult for a person to be generous in giving to the Lord's work.

A denominational leader held a stewardship conference in a small village church to
present the theme of Biblical giving.
Most of those present earned a comfortable living.
The speaker talked about tithing, using charts and diagrams to show how the principle of each
member giving a 10th would easily double the financial income of their church.
They seemed to be unenthusiastic.
" There's a catch in it," responded one of the church members.

" I'm sorry, but I thought it was plain," said the speaker.

" Oh, it's plain enough," said the church member, " but there's a catch in it all the same.
I can see, if we adopt the plan, we'll be paying out more than we intend to give
."

Grasping soon shrivels the soul.
A hoarding spirit loses out sooner or later.
Jesus said, " It is more blessed to give than to receive " (Acts 20: 35)

The joy of getting is a momentary and minute pleasure compared to the delights of sharing.
Satisfaction comes more from outflow than from income.
Selfishness shrivels the soul.

Death strips us of everything.
We bring nothing into the world, and we take nothing out.
One word answers the perennial question, " How much did he leave?"
The answer is " everything".

When Alexander the great died, his hands were left outside the coffin,
He had conquered the world, but he carried nothing with him into the hereafter.

When a pastor invited a couple to attend his church, this couple in their forties told him
that they weren't interested.
They said, " We've set as our goal the accumulation of investments which will enable us
to build a spacious new home, and then to retire comfortably.
Both of us work hard during the week; then spend weekends working on our new house.
After we've saved all we need, then we'll consider church
."

Several years passed.
The couple prospered.
Their savings reached a substantial figure.
Their mansion-like house was nearly complete.

The week before they were to resign their positions, and move into their new home,
The husband, just 50 years old, dropped dead of a heart attack.

The day the rich young ruler of the gospel story died, he gave up all the wealth
he wouldn't give up to follow Jesus.
" Lay up for yourselves…"

To give is to have!

God has a way of rewarding us when we share with others.
Giving lays up a treasure in heaven.

I've read of a man who gave several thousand dollars to help build a church.
Then, he lost all he had it economic crash.
Someone said, " Had you kept that money you gave to start the church,
you would have had enough to set yourself up in business again."

But he answered, " I would have lost that too. As it is, it is now out in the bank of heaven
yielding interest which will accumulate till eternity.
Hundreds have come to know Christ and have joined the church it helped build."

John bunyan wrote:
" A man there was,
Some call him mad,
The more he gave away,
The more he had."

An old gravestones said:
" What I spent, I had;
What I saved, I lost;
What I gave, I have."

Giving brings blessings now!

Though giving lays up treasure for future heavenly blessings, the act of unselfish giving
and sharing brings immediate joy.
A sense of satisfaction accompanies a genuine act of sharing.
A poor man who worked hard for his money gave a week's pay to a family who had just
lost their home.
When asked how he could afford it, he replied, " It was worth it all to see their smile."

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, " The joy that you give to others.
Is the joy that comes back to you."

Jesus says in Luke 6: 38: " Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure,
pressed down, and shaken together, and running over… For with the same measure that
ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

A legend tells of a man who lived on the main highway through a busy town.
One day an angel visited him with this message,
" Someday the King of the Celestial City will call you to come and live with him."

The man thought, " I must have the finest suit to wear when I enter that holy city.
And I must save my gold so that I shall have money when I arrive there
."

One snowy night a stranger in ragged clothes knocked at his door.
Through chattering teeth, he said, " The King of the Celestial City has asked me to visit him
and I'm on my way, but I don't have a suit to wear. Besides, I am shivering.
I wonder if you could spare some clothes to keep me warm and help me look nice
when I see the King
."

The man fault of his smart new suit, but shook his head, "No", for he thought,
" What would I wear when I myself go to see the King?"

The next night came another knock.
This time a poor woman stood there.
" Please, sir," she said, sobbing.
" I am a widow. My husband died last year, leaving me with an only child -- a little girl.
She's so sick that only an operation can save her life, but I have no money
for the doctor or hospital.
Could you loan me some gold?
I'll work hard to repay every ounce. Please help me
!"

The man thought of his gold, but turned the weeping woman away thinking,
" What money would I have to buy things in the Celestial City if I gave her my gold?"

One day word came that the King of the Celestial City wanted to see him.
So, he ran upstairs to put on his new suit, but when he opened his closet, he found that moths
had eaten gasping holes in both the coat and the trousers.
When he looked for his gold, it had turned to brass.
He had to make the trip to see the King in his moth-eaten suit and without any gold.

The next day he saw his neighbor approaching the Celestial City.
He was also wearing an old suit, and was penniless.
But when he neared the gate, the King ran to meet him.
The minute the King touched the neighbor, his worn suit was miraculously transformed
Into a handsome new suit and his pockets were immediately filled with gold pieces.

When the man looked astonished at what was happening to his neighbor, the King explained,
" Remember, the night you turned away and the shivering beggar, and did not
give him your suit, he went next door to your neighbor, and he gave him his finest suit.
The next night when you refused to give any gold to the poor widow to save her sick
daughter's life, your neighbor gave her the little gold that he owned.
You kept your treasure down there, but your neighbor sent his on ahead."

The Holy Land has two large seas.
The Sea of Galilee is sparkling and lovely, and is used today by fishermen as it was
in the days of Jesus.
The Dead Sea is polluted and saturated with chemicals so that nothing can live in Its waters.

Why is one fresh, and the other stagnant?
It is because the Dead Sea gives nothing out.
No river flows from it, though the River Jordan flows into it.

In contrast, the Sea of Galilee not only has the Jordan flowing into it, but also flowing out.
The Sea of Galilee is alive because it gives.
To keep is to die!
To give is to gain!

Helen Steiner Rice wrote:
" The more you give, the more you get,
The more you laugh, the less you fret.
The more you do unselfishly,
The more you live abundantly.

The more of everything you share,
The more you'll always have to spare.
The more you love, the more you'll find
That life is good, and friends are kind.
For only what we give away
Enriches us from day to day."

To keep is to lose!
To give is to have!

Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L. White