Stewardship of Your Love

Dr. Steve Viars October 27, 2019 Matthew 5:43-48
Outline

Stewardship is God-given responsibility with accountability

The Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you—He wants you to increase it.

4. God can call you into account at any time—it may be today.

3 essentials to developing extraordinary love

I. Understand the Context of Extraordinary Love

A. An acknowledgement of your spiritual need

Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

B. A recognition of the pressure you will face as a follower of Christ

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:11 - Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Matthew 5:12 - Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

C. An acceptance of a delightful calling

Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

D. A commitment to fulfilling God’s Word

Matthew 5:17-18 - Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

E. An avoidance of powerless religiosity

Matthew 6:5 - When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Matthew 6:7 - And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

Matthew 6:16 - Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

F. A focus on your and other’s spiritual destiny

Matthew 7:13-14 - Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

G. An avoidance of those who might lead you astray

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

II. Embrace the Challenge of Extraordinary Love

A. To not settle for “comfortable love”

Matthew 5:43 - You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”

B. To even love enemies and those who mistreat you

Matthew 5:44 - But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

C. To follow the model of our heavenly Father

Matthew 5:45 - …so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

D. To distinguish ourselves from those who don’t know the Lord and the way they show love

Matthew 5:46 - For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Matthew 5:47 - If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

E. To run to our Savior who makes this kind of stewardship possible

Matthew 5:48 - Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:20 - For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

III. Act on the Implications of This Call to Show Extraordinary Love

A. Identify the specific people in your life God may be calling you to love extraordinarily

B. Be thankful for those in our midst who practice extraordinary love

- last Saturday, Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a full marathon in less than 2 hours…an athletic accomplishment that many people believed was simply impossible…

- The story is amazing for all sorts of reasons…including the fact that back in 1991, a medical student named Michael Joyner wrote a paper where he calculated that the fastest marathon for the perfect athlete in optimal conditions would be 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 58 seconds…

- Joyner is now an anesthesiologist and exercise physiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN…and though many people disagreed with him at the time, it turns out he was right…

- in case you’re trying to the math – this means a pace of just under 4:35 per mile…

- experts suggest it would be hard for even an extremely fit person to maintain that pace for longer than 5 or 6 minutes in a row…he did it for 26.2 miles…nearly 2 hours…

- it’s also amazing because of everything the planning team did to try to achieve this record…

- they selected a closed 6-mile course in Vienna in part because it was only a few time zones different than Eliud’s home to prevent jet lag…

- he worked with a nutritionist to try to help him consume more carbohydrates and his used bottles were actually analyzed when he discarded them during the race to determine if he needed more…

- there was a pacesetter team of five runners in a V-shape just ahead of him to break the wind…they traded out every 3 miles…

- that created a wash of air around him to reduce drag and then there were two runners just behind him to create static pressure…

- he also had special shoes created by Nike…they have special foam and a springy carbon-fiber plate – they were called the Vaporfly 4% because they can increase efficiency by 4% over Nike’s next best running shoe…

- the run won’t be recognized as an official world record because it didn’t take place in an open event…but it was an extraordinary athletic accomplishment for sure…

- when you open the pages of the Word of God…we find the Lord calling us to lives that are unexpected and extraordinary…

- you see that for example in the sermon on the mount – where we find a series of statements that begin with the words – “you have heard it said, but I say unto you…”

- in other words – here’s what would be normal, here’s what would be expected, here’s what you may have heard or thought…

- but I say unto you…here’s what’s possible in the power and enablement of God…

- a number of those statements in Scripture are about as extraordinary as Michael Joyner’s original suggestion as a medical student that a sub 2-hour marathon really could be achieved…

- but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen…especially since the Sermon on the Mount was given by Jesus Christ Himself…

- now, what does that have to do with this time of year?...today we’re beginning stewardship month…I remember a conversation I had with Pastor Goode, our former senior pastor back when I was his associate pastor…

- he’s the one who along with his leadership team had initiated stewardship month when he first came…

- so the church had done this for over 10 years by time Kris and came in 1987…

- and Pastor Goode asked me one fall – if I thought the effectiveness of stewardship month had run its course…and whether I would recommend that we continue after we made a leadership transition…

- and my almost immediate answer was – I absolutely thought we should continue it under his leadership…and if the church elected me to be the next senior pastor, I had every intention of continuing it because I believed it was such a crucial aspect of us fulfilling our calling to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and then equipping them to be more faithful disciples…

- well, that conversation took place about 25 years ago…and I would answer the question now at least as strongly as I did then…so we’re now on our 43rd year observing stewardship month…

- Stewardship is God-given responsibility with accountability

- it encourages us examine all that God has given us and whether we are being faithful to the trust…that’s how you go from living an ordinary, man-centered life based on human resources and human expectations…

- to an extraordinary, God-centered life based on Christ’s resources and His expectations…

- see, we don’t want to live in the “you have heard it said” half of that equation – but the “I say unto you” half…

- if we can run a spiritual marathon in 2 hours…we don’t want to run it in 6…

- each year we have testimonies because we want to glorify God by hearing about how He has helped men and women in our church family grow in a particular area…

- we also work to memorize the four factors of stewardship as a church family…

The Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you—He wants you to increase it.

4. God can call you into account at any time—it may be today.

- the culmination of all of this is our Annual Stewardship Celebration – please mark your calendars for 5:00 on November 24th at the FE Community Center…

- that’s our opportunity as a church family to thank and praise the Lord for all He’s done among us and to commit ourselves to growing stewardship in the year ahead…

- for our Sunday morning messages, we’re going to be highlighting portions from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7…so please open your Bible there this am…that’s on page _____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’ve decided to study the Sermon on the Mount this year for a couple of reasons…

- one is, while we love all of the Word of God around here, we never want to get too far away from the Words and works of Jesus Christ…

- we also believe the Sermon on the Mount and stewardship dovetail so well together because of the extraordinary life the Lord calls us to, and enables us to live…

- read Matthew 5:43-48…

- we’re talking this morning about The Stewardship of Your Love

- there’s a sense in which all of stewardship flows out of a heart that is seeking to love God, and love others well…so we think it’s an ideal place to begin this discussion

- and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 essentials to developing extraordinary love.

I. Understand the Context of Extraordinary Love

- if we’re going to take seriously the words we just read, the response is something like – I think I’ve just been challenged to run a sub 2-hour marathon…

- and there’s a sense in which that’s true -- this is challenging for sure…

- but words like these aren’t given in a vacuum…

- so let’s step back and think about the overall context of the sermon on the mount…it’s starts with…

A. An acknowledgement of your spiritual need

- Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

- Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

- remember that many in Jesus’ audience would have believed that they already part of God’s kingdom because of their birthright, or their adherence to the law [albeit a truncated or perverted version of God’s law]…

- but these were people who were often self-righteous…and lest we become too judgmental about that…it’s easy for all of to fall in that trap as well…

- and Jesus instead explained that the starting point in establishing a true relationship with Him was recognizing our own sin…being poor in spirit instead of proud, and mourning over our sin instead of excusing it or blaming it on someone else…

- because it is impossible to develop the kind of love he calls us to later in the chapter without first establishing a personal relationship with Him…

- that’s a great way for us to begin thinking about stewardship – being a steward of the gospel message – do you know that you know that you are on your way to heaven?

- then the Lord practices full disclosure…there has to be…

B. A recognition of the pressure you will face as a follower of Christ

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:11 - Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Matthew 5:12 - Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

- please remember that this is all the very beginning of the book…

- the Lord was very clear about the conditions that some of His children would be called to serve in…yet, that does not in nay way diminish the challenge we’re given a few verses later about practicing not just ordinary love…but an extraordinary variety…

C. An acceptance of a delightful calling

Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- before any of us would say – the people around me are hard to love…

- but what if those are the conditions in which the love of God is best displayed?...

- when does the light shine most brightly?...when the conditions are especially dark…

- praise God that you and I could ever live in a way that would help others have a better understanding of God’s character…Jesus next speaks about…

D. A commitment to fulfilling God’s Word

Matthew 5:17–18 - Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

- all of our stewardship is based on the foundation of the revealed Word of God…

- it would be impossible to love the way this passage calls us to do apart from a belief that His Word is our standard and our guide…

- that’s why it is so important for churches to have doctrinal statements…here’s what we believe…

- and for those of you who still have children in your homes…it’s not an understatement, humanly speaking, to say that humanly speaking, the future of our church is dependent on the next generation having strong and growing convictions about the truth and authority of the Bible…

E. An avoidance of powerless religiosity

- it is interesting how frequently this sermon calls out hypocrisy and vain repetition…

Matthew 6:5 - When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Matthew 6:7 - And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

Matthew 6:16 - Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

- what was this have to do with our topic?...there’s at least 2 answers…

- if the motivation of a loving deed is the elevation of self – the action is self-contradictory on its face…

- but hypocrisy, vain repetition, and self-righteousness invariably look for the minimum standard…what’s the least I have to do and still receive the trophy I want?...

- it’s the polar opposite of seeking to live and love in an extraordinary fashion in the power and enablement of Christ…

- it’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no one is worried about who receives the credit…

F. A focus on your and other’s spiritual destiny

Matthew 7:13–14 - Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

- something that has motivated people in this church to think about stewardship every November for 43 years is the firm and growing belief that there really is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned…

- and if growing in biblical, extraordinary love positions us to be more effective ambassadors for Christ…then by all means that is the way we want to live…

G. An avoidance of those who might lead you astray

- Matthew 7:15 - Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

- there are a lot of different definitions of love out there…we’re going to have to stay very close to Scripture in order to test the various ideas to be sure we’re growing biblically…

- now, on the foundation of that crucial context, let’s zoon in the core passage, where we’re called to:

II. Embrace the Challenge of Extraordinary Love

A. To not settle for “comfortable love”

- verse 43 sets up the main conversation…Matthew 5:43 - You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”

- now we don’t know for sure where they would have “heard this”…

- several of the other places this construction is used in the sermon refers to words they would have found exclusively in the Bible – the problem was the way they had twisted or reduced what Scripture actually said…

- that’s not the case here…their rabbinic tradition added the notion that it was acceptable to only love people they considered to be neighbors…and their extra-biblical law had greatly reduced the definition of who actually constituted a neighbor…

- but that’s the whole point…there’s nothing extraordinary about only loving those around you who love you back, or who will appreciate what you’ve done, or who are easy to love…

- God has called us to a stewardship a whole lot higher than that…the challenge is…

B. To even love enemies and those who mistreat you

- Matthew 5:44 - But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

- now, can we all affirm that it’s hard to do what this verse is commanding?...

- we’re talking about “running a marathon in under 2 hors” type stuff…

- but please pause and think about all the people in your life that God has given you to love…and especially those who for whatever reason are hard to love…

- that’s a stewardship…that’s a trust…

- and some day that person will spend eternity somewhere…what is God calling you to do to love them?...

- this concept is embedded deeply in our church’s DNA…

- I’ve mentioned recently at a couple of our campuses that I had the privilege, along with several other members of our staff, to attend the board meetings and then the annual conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

- Pastor Goode and Doctor Smith received biblical counseling training just prior to the Goodes coming to Faith…

- Pastor Goode was actually looking for a church opportunity where he could implement a philosophy of ministry that was consistent with the doctrines of the sufficiency of Scripture and Biblical Progressive sanctification…

- after he accepted the pastorate here, he asked the Smith’s to give up Doc’s established medical practice in Lowell and move here to help him start the counseling ministry…

- and they did that not just because of the impact it would have on this church family…but also on other churches that might want to come here for training…

- it was all about helping churches glorify God by accomplishing the great commission in biblical, practical ways…

- and all of that counseling and all of that training, was built on the foundation of extraordinary love…

- because especially in the early days…there were a lot of enemies – both inside and outside the evangelical church…

- encouraging the church of Jesus Christ to Christ and His Word in counseling was very controversial…

- and Pastor Goode and Doctor Smith and the church family here at the time had to endure a fair amount of criticism, and even some ridicule…

- but what does this passage call upon us to do?...to practice extraordinary love…so that’s what they did – loving their counselees, and loving their trainees…

- that was a stewardship that had been entrusted to them – and it involved a lot of sacrifice to patiently love people just like this passage says…

- and this church family had to decide if they would allow all of that to happen here…and it did…and God blessed…

- and then in the mid-nineties – the certifying organization that had been started – it was called NANC at the time, was really struggling and they asked Pastor Goode to be the Executive Director…

- and he accepted that responsibility…and the offices were moved to this church…

- and people loved and sacrificed like crazy…

- we would do mass mailings after prayer meeting…peeling those labels and sticking them on newsletters and then organizing everything and stuffing them in those big white post office bags…

- here’s why I mention all of that…it’s amazing how the Lord has blessed that organization…

- at our board meeting – our new Executive Director Dale Johnson reported that in the last 12 months, our website has received 1.6M hits…

- there’s a map on the website where people can search for a counselor or training in their area of the country…

- those pages are being hit 1400 times per week…

- I believe all of that glorifies God…when loving counsel is given, sometimes to people who used to be God’s enemies…and loving training is given, sometimes to people who used to ridicule it…

- well, how did that happen, humanly speaking – by a group of men and women who allowed Jesus Christ to develop in them not just normal love, or comfortable love…but extraordinary love regardless of the condition of the person who walked through the door…

- and the fact that this church family in the early days was willing to love people like that is a cause for great celebration of God’s grace and goodness among us…

C. To follow the model of our heavenly Father.

- Matthew 5:45 - so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

- the Lord gives us opportunities in all shapes and sizes each and every day to show love to people who think differently than we do, and talk differently than we do, and act differently than we do…and then calls upon us to steward those opportunities by showing faithful and sacrificial love…

- and when we allow Him to work in and through us in that way – we are choosing to be just like Him…

- he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good…

- he sends rain for the righteous and the unrighteous…

- this explains much of our church’s community-based outreach ministry philosophy…

We want to bless our neighbors with the resources God has given us in as many ways as possible…

- [develop trunk or treat…]

- [develop the issue of why so many people in our culture believe God is either dead or really mad at them…]

D. To distinguish ourselves from those who don’t know the Lord and the way they show love

- Matthew 5:46 - For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

- Matthew 5:47 - If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

- see, there’s nothing extraordinary about loving people who love you back…or only greeting your brothers…even tax collectors do that – the Gentiles do that…

- we’re moving into that time of year where we’ll be having special time with extended family members…not all of whom know the Lord…

- and some of those persons may purposely say things or do things just to irritate you…

- do you know what that is?...it’s a stewardship…it’s a trust by our sovereign God…

- it’s an opportunity to run a sub-2-hour marathon…

- to demonstrate extraordinary love…

- the question you and I have to face is – are you going to be faithful to the trust?...

- now, can we all acknowledge that this does not come naturally?...it’s not automatic…it’s not easy?...

- that’s where verse 48 fits in…leading us…

E. To run to our Savior who makes this kind of stewardship possible

- Matthew 5:48 - Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

- now you might say – what does that mean?...take it in tandem with what Jesus had said back in verse 20 - Matthew 5:20 - For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

- where do you get that kind of righteousness?...from someone a whole lot more righteous than you…

2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- everything we’re talking about this am, and throughout stewardship month – finds its power in our triune God…

- so, where does all of this leave us?...

III. Act on the Implications of this Call to Show Extraordinary Love

A. Identify the specific people in your life God may be calling you to love extraordinarily

- it’s time to sign up to run a sub-2-hour marathon…

- for you, that might be someone in your home…

- it might be a neighbor…

- it might be a co-worker or extended family member…

B. Be thankful for those in our midst who practice extraordinary love

- deacons election…the way our deacons and their families show love…

- foster parents…

- persons married to spouses who do not yet believe…

- community “conversations”

- those who have gone before us – now it’s our turn…


Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video