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THE KEPT BACK PART OF THE PRICE

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    Most members of the church are familiar with the account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.

1.      Many within the early church were in need of financial assistance.

2.      Those who had lands and houses sold them and laid the money at the feet of the apostles (Acts 4:34).

3.      “…and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:35).

4.      Ananias and Sapphira sold a possession that they had (Acts 5:1).

5.      However, they kept back part of the price of the land (Acts 5:2).  Yes, rather than giving it all, they kept back part of the price.

 

B.      This morning, I want us to consider the question:  “Am I keeping back anything that the Lord deserves from me?”

 

C.     There are many things that we might keep back from God.  Let’s look at a few in this lesson.

 

I.                   WE CAN KEEP BACK PART OF OUR HEART

 

A.    The heart of man is the control center.  It governs and guides all that the body does (Matt. 15:34b-35).

 

…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things;  and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things.

 

B.      A blessing is pronounced on those who seek God with their whole heart (Ps. 119:20.

 

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

 

C.     When we love God, we are to love Him with “all” of our heart (Matt. 22:37).

 

D.    It is possible to keep back part of our heart from God.

1.      Example:  The Jewish leaders (Matt. 15:8)

 

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

 

2.      Evidences of a distant heart:

a.      Something else in our life is more important than God.

b.      God seems to take a backseat in our life.

c.       When God and spiritual things are mentioned, and spiritual things are engaged in, we are not excited and energized by them.

d.      We easily allow other things to get in the way of our duties to God.

3.      Exhortation (Prov. 4:23)

 

Keep thy heart with all diligence…

 

 

 

II.                WE CAN KEEP BACK PART OF OUR TIME

 

A.    Time is a gift from God.  It is also one of our most precious assets.  Once time is used for one thing, it can never be recovered.

 

B.      God wants us to be good stewards of our time.

1.      Psalm 90:12

 

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

 

2.      Ephesians 5:16

 

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

 

C.     Time can be given to several things:

1.      Time for God

2.      Time for self

3.      Time for others

4.      Wasted time

5.      Time for Satan

 

D.    God’s time can be divided into several sections:

1.      Time for worship

2.      Time for personal devotion

3.      Time for family devotion

4.      Time for service (Note:  Time for others can fall into this category)

5.      Time for growth

6.      Time for personal evangelism

 

E.      Time for God is often put in the category of discretionary time instead of mandatory time.

1.      This is time left to be used as we so desire.

2.      Sometimes, we choose to allow God’s time to be used for other things.  When we do, we keep back part of our time from God.

 

F.      Exhortation (Rom. 13:11)

 

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep:  for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

 

1.      We need to know the time.  We have less time now than ever to serve the Lord.

2.      We must awake out of our sleep.

3.      We must understand the urgency of the time.  Our salvation grows nearer every day that passes.

 

III.             WE CAN KEEP BACK PART OF OUR TALENTS (SKILLS)

 

A.    The Parable of the Talents teaches us that God has given to every one of His servants at least one talent (Matt. 25:14-15).

 

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.  And unto the one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

 

B.      This same parable teaches us that God expects us to use our talents in His service (Matt. 25:16-23).

 

C.     It is possible for us to keep back part of our talents from the Lord.

1.      We could teach, but we don’t.

2.      We could take on more roles in the worship service, but we don’t.

3.      We could be more active in the works of the church, but we don’t.  (NOTE:  There are some works of the church that do not take a lot of skill:  preparing the Lord’s Supper, picking up trash, being a part of the Outreach Teams, helping on special days like the Clothing Drive or on Spring Cleaning Day).

 

D.    Examples of those who used their talents:

1.      The soldiers who broke through enemy lines to get David a drink from the well near the gate of Bethlehem

2.      The couple who prepare a room for Elisha the prophet

3.      The widow who cast in two mites

4.      The woman who anointed Jesus’ body for burial

5.      Jesus who washed the disciples’ feet

6.      Tabitha who made coats and garments for others

7.      Lois and Eunice who taught their child the truth from a babe

 

E.      Exhortation (Mark 14:8)

 

She hath done what she could:  she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

 

IV.             WE CAN KEEP BACK PART OR OUR GIVING

 

A.    God is a giver (John 3:16), and He expects us to be givers (II Cor. 9:7)

 

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 

B.      It is easy for us to keep back part of our giving.

1.      We are absent and do not make up our contribution.

2.      We use our contribution for other things:  purchases, bills, or a vacation.

3.      We just skip a week or two of giving.

4.      We just give God the leftovers.

 

C.     Let’s be reminded of one giver:  Jesus Christ

1.      “Who gave himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4)

2.      “…hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph. 5:2)

3.      “Who gave himself a ransom for all…” (I Tim. 2:16)

4.      “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity…” (Tit. 2:14).

 

D.    Exhortation (Luke 6:38)

 

Give, and it shall be given you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to your again.

 

V.                WE CAN KEEP BACK PART OF OUR ENTHUSIASM

 

A.    Enthusiasm:

1.      Literally:  “en” = in and “theos” = God                         God in us

2.      Ardent and lively interest or eagerness

 

B.      God wants us to put our all into His service.

1.      Romans 12:11

 

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.

 

2.      Colossians 3:23

 

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.

 

C.     For some reason, we keep back part of our enthusiasm when it comes to the work of the Lord.

1.      We start strong and end weak.

2.      We look for all the reasons something cannot be done.

3.      Our worship often seems tired and uninspiring.

4.      We find ways to constantly short-cut things rather than actively engaging in them.

 

D.    Exhortation (Phil. 4:13)

 

I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.    Let’s go back to our introductory discussion about Ananias and Sapphira.

1.      We noted that they kept back part of the price of the land they had sold.

2.      One point we did not make was that their keeping back a part of the price of the land was not sinful.  What was sinful is that they lied about it.

 

B.      On the other hand, the things that we have talked about keeping back in application to our lives are sinful:  heart, time, talents, giving, and enthusiasm.

 

C.     Question:  “Am I keeping back anything that the Lord deserves from me?”