Worship by the Book: Giving

[8:1] We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, [2] for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. [3] For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, [4] begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—[5] and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. [6] Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. [7] But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. [8] I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. [9] For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:1-9 ESV)

  1. Giving is Proportionate (3) 10% is a good starting point. I testify: Paul commends another Macedonian church for their giving. Philip. 4:15-19 (ESV)  “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.  [16] Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.  [17] Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.  [18] I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.  [19] And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
  2. Giving is Sacrificial (3) 2 Cor. 8:12 (ESV)  “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
  3. Giving is Voluntary (3) Of their own free will; there will be no joy in giving when you think that someone is making you do it. You need to know that I have no idea what you give, nor do I ever want to know what you give, because right now I respect all of you, and I wouldn’t want to begrudge that respect to you on account of your giving, etc.
  4. Giving is Privilege (4) The Macedonian believers thought it was a privilege to give to the work that Paul was doing. They saw it as a favor Paul was doing for them to be involved in his ministry. They had personally been changed by the power of his ministry and they wanted to be a part of taking that ministry to others.
  5. Giving is Worship (5) They gave themselves to the Lord first. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  6. Giving is an act of submission and trust of pastoral leadership (5-6) After they had sacrificed their own agenda and renewed their minds, the will of God for them was clear and they went to Paul and begged him to be a part of the work he was doing. I don’t want your money. I want you to be faithful to the Word of God in every area of your life. I’m not in this for $30,000.00 toilets and such. Rather, I am, as 2 Corinthians 1:24 says, I am working with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
  7. Giving is a normal part of Christian growth (7)
    1. Faith: Trust in God
    2. Speech: Bridle your tongue
    3. Knowledge: Knowing the truth
    4. Earnestness: Sincerity
    5. Love: Patient and caring towards your fellow men
    6. GIVING: A part of your lifestyle and growth in Christianity. Christ talks more about money in the gospels than he does about heaven and hell. Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  [20] but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  [21] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:24 (ESV)  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
  8. Giving Proves our Love for Christ (8): Proof that our love is genuine comes when we use our money in a surrendered way. If we are unable to turn loose of our money for Christ and his church, guess what we worship? I surrender all…except for my money…
  9. Giving is a Joy because of all Christ has given us (9) This is the key for the whole passage. Giving is fundamentally tied to my relationship with Christ. The gospel is the focus of my understanding of giving. Look at it this way, we are all the church, right? The church isn’t a building, its people, right? Well, we are the church, and another term for the church is the bride of Christ, right? So, you can see giving as proper care for the bride of Christ. Derek Webb has a song with a great line in it: For money cannot buy a husband’s jealous eye, when you have knowingly deceived his wife. Christ cares deeply and jealously for his bride and it is our job to take care of her.

Conclusion: Well, what am I supposed to do? I want to take care of the bride of Christ, his church and I want to use my money in a God-glorifying way, but it is so hard, and I have never done this before! What I want you to do is to look over your finances and if you have never given before or if you give all the time and would like an opportunity to exercise a little faith and give more. Pray for God to give you strength and wisdom and earnestly seek to honor him with your finances first and then watch what God does in your life as you submit to his Lordship over your money. Practically, there are many ways you can do something to care for the bride of Christ financially: 

  1. Get your offering envelopes out and use them
  2. Get your kids offering envelopes out and show them how to use them. Give your kids three envelopes at home too: give, save, spend. When they get birthday money or an allowance or chore money, divide it up between the three envelopes and then when Sunday comes, have them sit down and take out money from the give envelope and put it in the offering basket in Sunday School or the plate in church just like you do. In this way you will be teaching your kids about the importance of care for the church and honoring Christ at the same time.
  3. Give your stuff away. Clean out the basement or the garage and give your stuff away to those who need it. You are showing yourself as an extension of the body of Christ and you are also declaring to yourself that you own things, but things don’t own you.
  4. Get out of debt. I have heard this quote and I agree with it: Too often Christian people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like. Why are you do ing that? Get rid of the debt, take Financial Peace University and get out from under consumer debt so you can be free to give generously to the work of the Kingdom. These simple ideas are just a few ways we can care for the body of Christ financially.
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