Generosity is an Idol Killing Act of Worship

*from the Generosity sermon cutting room floor....

What is worship?  Worship is ascribing worth to something and giving yourself to it.  It is proclaiming that something is to be valued, treasured.  Worship is taking something - and there are many different things that can be worshipped -and putting that “something” in the place of primary importance in your affections.  

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says of worship,

“If (your worship) is not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own pride, lusts, or ego. You were designed to worship God and if you fail to worship Him, you will create other things (idols) to give your life to.”

Tim Keller points out that the great challenge of Christian living is to recognize and eliminate idols from our lives.  Now, very few people now days worship idols they way individuals did in the times of the Old Testament.  However, the practice of idol worship still abounds.  You see, idols are anything that we look to besides God for meaning, security, assurance, and value.  Our idols are the things we put in the primary place of our affections.  Idols, are anything outside of Jesus Christ that we worship, that we can’t imagine living without, things that define us, and give us meaning.

John Calvin once said that the heart is an idol factory.  This is a great observation because we make idols of all sorts of things - boyfriends, girlfriends, careers, reputations, sexual fulfillment, intellectualism, financial security, individuality, capitalism, even our children can become our idols when we orient out lives around them, and worship them rather than God.  This is the whole point of Romans 1.  Idolatry happens when we worship created things instead of the one who created everything.

One way to identify what you worship is to look at what you do with your time, talent, treasure - or rather, to look at your calender, your striving in the world, and your bank statements and possessions.  

When you look at your calendar what ‘god’ does it say you worship?  Has the pleasure and entertainment of your children become an idol?  My kids are still young and not that much into sports now, but through the years I’ve seen plenty of parents who actually make their children’s sports success into an idol.  They feed all their time, talent, and treasure into their child - trying to turn them into the next Joe Maurer  or Ricky Rubio.

What ‘god’ are your worshipping when you consider your career?  Has the desire to impress a boss or colleague, to climb the proverbial ladder, to strike it rich become an idol?  You know the use of your talent at work has become and idol when you’re absolutely devastated after a bad day at the office or after a deal going bad.

And ‘god’ does your bank statement say you worship?  Our bank statements reveal all kinds of idols - health club dues, weight loss fad related purchased, Botox injection payments all point to the idol of public beauty.  Massive IRA accounts, large stock purchases, winter homes in retirement communities all point to the idol of comfort and easy living.  Even a bank statement with no expenditures besides the basics can point to the fact that financial security has become an idol.  This is the one that I have to watch out for the most.  If I’m not careful I will worship a false sense of financial security, rather than trusting in God to meet all my needs in Christ Jesus.

When we live generously we strangle idols and we put our worship in the Lord.  

It is like the story in Mark 12 of the poor widow who gave just a penny to the offering plate.  While the religious folks scoffed at the tiny amount of her offering, Jesus praised the widow for showing her love and worship and affection for God by giving out of her poverty.  When we give generously of our time, money and resources what we are proclaiming to the world is that Jesus Christ is of supreme importance and worth to us.