“EACH ONE GIVING”
(A Series in I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 4/11/99 a.m. I Corinthians 16:1-4
PROPOSITION: That God’s plan is for every believer to be a giving believer, providing personally, systematically, and joyfully for the work of the Lord out of God’s provision in his/her life.
- THERE has been a consistent attempt among well-meaning Christians down through the years to disconnect finances from spiritual things.
- SOME of the reason has been a misunderstanding of verses like I Timothy 6:10,
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
- SOME of the reason that the subject of finances has been disconnected from spiritual things has been the way the church and Christian organizations have abused finances for the last 2,000 years.
- SOME of the reason has been the fear of man on the part of spiritual leadership. Finances are one of the most sensitive of subjects because it is one of the closest subjects to the heart.
- I BELIEVE that in all of the above cases the enemy has succeeded in keeping God’s people from dealing with true heart issues and obedience....that have ultimately hindered God’s people and God’s church.
- SO, I am going to be true to God’s Word this morning....
* Not because we need to increase the budget of the church.
* Not because we are in the middle of a stewardship campaign for our Community Ministry Center.
* But because we are wrapping up our study of I Corinthians and the first four verses of chapter 16 are on the subject of finances.
- PLEASE turn with me in your Bibles to I Corinthians 16 (page 1140).
ii. god’s purposes for your giving
- AFTER dealing with great theological issues such as the resurrection of Christ, seemingly without a breath in between (there were no chapter divisions in Paul’s original letters), Paul goes into the subject of finances.
- NO transitional phrases.
- NO apologies.
- NO lengthy explanations or disclaimers.
- NO pleading or coercion either.
- JUST plain and simple.....
“Now about the collection for God's people...” (I Corinthians 16:1a)
- WE have a giving God.
- EVERYTHING good gift we have is from Him.
- SO giving is as natural as breathing for the follower of Jesus Christ.
- THE church in Corinth is riddled with all kinds of problems that Paul has addressed at length in this letter. But giving is not one of their problems.
- GIVING is what transformed believers do. It is part of the Christian life.
- I HAVE got to stop being afraid of offending and start dealing with the subject if I am a true shepherd and genuinely concerned with your spiritual welfare.
- GOD has all kinds of reasons for you to be a giver.
- IN this case in I Corinthians, it was missions giving that was on Paul’s heart.
- THE believers in Jerusalem had gone through a famine and were under great persecution and needed help.
- SO, Paul writes,
“Now about the collection for God's people...” (I Corinthians 16:1a)
- BUT there are many reasons that God has given in His Word for you and me being givers.
- LET me go over some of them with you.
1. GIVING is for the ministries of God’s church in each of its local expressions.
* This is your storehouse.
* It is where you are taught, instructed, nurtured in the things of God.
* This is where your children are dedicated and taught the precepts of God.
* This is where your young people are discipled.
* This is where your young families are instructed in raising kids God’s way.
* This is where your sick are prayed for and visited.
* It is where your youth are married and your elderly are buried.
* This is where the needy of the congregation and the community are fed and clothed....Emergency Services feeds about 300 people a week right here.
* This is your storehouse.
2. GIVING is for the mission of the local church outside of its four walls.
* For Regional Missions, reaching out to the hurting in our community.
* For evangelistic ministries outside the walls of Westgate Chapel.
* For reaching the people of India, and Uruguay, and China as our missionaries carry the good news of the Gospel to other nations.
3. GIVING is for the benefit of the giver.
* A giver is living a life of surrender and obedience to God and obedience is better than sacrifice.
* A giver is living underneath the floodgates of heaven’s blessings and will receive a blessing that he/she cannot contain.
• In Malachi 3, God complains that His people have been stealing from Him. Then in verse 10 He gives a promise to the tither.
“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this’, says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” (Malachi 3:10).
• In Luke 6:38, Jesus Himself said,
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
* A giving Christian is a growing Christian, because God has been given access to the heart. Jesus said, in Luke 12:34,
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)
* So, giving is for your good.
4. GIVING is for the benefit of the church.
* By this I mean that the same principles that apply to the individual apply to the church. We must be a giving church.
* If a church does not give it will not grow.
• Which is why over $100,000 of your tithes go into missions each year....in addition to what you designate to missions above your tithes.
• Which is why we take offerings here as the Lord directs us for special needs outside ourselves.
- When Trinity Lutheran and Antioch Alliance was burned by a arsonists some years back.....we took an offering that amounted to +- $20,000 and sent it to them.
- When we heard that Jack Hayford’s church was housing and feeding earthquake victims, we took and offering and sent over $15,000 to help them.
- The first Sunday that we were back in this sanctuary after our arson fire, we heard that Brooklyn Tabernacle had taken a step of faith for a new building....and we took an offering and sent them $26,000.
• Are we to be congratulated about this giving? NO!! It is what we should be doing out of gratitude for what God has done for us.
5. GIVING is for the glory of God.
* Our giving is one of the proofs that God is alive and well within us....and that brings glory to God when people see our generosity and praise Him for it.
* Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 9:11, where Paul writes to the Corinthian church a second time about their offering, and says to them,
“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (12) This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. (13) Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”
* The world only knows how to get, keep and hoard for a rainy day. Their treasure is clearly in the things of this world and they hold those things in a death grip all the way to the grave. It is all they have.
* So, when they see you and me living the confession of our faith in generous giving to the cause of Christ....they are amazed and give God the glory.
- THAT is the why of giving, but what about the how?
iii. god’s plan for giving
- NOW, in our passage in I Corinthians 16, Paul goes on to tell us how to give.
- PAUL has a plan for giving for the Corinthians.
* He is not leaving it to chance.
* He is not leaving them to do whatever they feel like doing.
* Paul has a plan.
- ONE of the greatest men of faith since the times of the Bible was George Muller, who raised up orphanages all over Great Britain. He ran them by faith. He prayed. He trusted God.
* His memoirs and the book about him tell of his tremendous exploits and that he never asked for money, which was true. He lived by faith.
* But he didn’t just pray. He had a plan. He had one of the first mission news letters that went around the world.
* And in this newsletter he would tell the miraculous stories of God’s provisions....and people all over the world would read the stories and be moved by God and send him money.
* He may never have asked for money, but he had a plan.
- WHAT was Paul’s plan for giving?
- LOOK at the rest of verse 1 and verse 2 with me,
“Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.”
- OBVIOUSLY, it was a plan that Paul had used before for God’s people to give.
- IN fact, when you study Paul’s plan on stewardship you will find that....
* When he wrote the Corinthians about giving, He used the testimony of the Galatians to encourage them.
* When he wrote the Macedonians about giving, he used the testimony of the Corinthians.
* When he wrote the Romans, he used the testimony of the Macedonians and the Corinthians to encourage them in their stewardship.
- SO, here is Paul’s plan for giving. Verse 2,
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (I Corinthians 16:1b-2)
- NOW, if you just run quickly past those two verses, you miss the plan.
- HERE it is!
1. EACH one of you give.
* This was a personal plan.
* Everyone was to participate, regardless of how wealthy or poor they were.
* Why? Because everyone has received from the Lord in some measure.
* Every Christian should be a giving Christian.
2. SET aside your giving every week.
* Your giving and mine must be frequent and regular, until it becomes a godly habit, a way of life and not an occasional emotional impulse.
* It should be frequent because it is a form of worship unto God and is best not neglected.
* It should be regular so that you don’t forget and neglect this high calling.
* One 19th Century commentator that I read on this passage said that giving frequently helps you to know how much you are giving because it is fresh in your mind. He said, “Those who do not know how much they are giving think they are giving three times what they really are.”
3. BRING your offering on the first day of the week, Sunday.
* How appropriate that Sunday is called the Lord’s day, and that it is set aside, not to please ourselves, but to honor Him!
* It is a day set aside to worship Him.
* It is a day devoted to being instructed in His Word.
* It is a day to listen to His voice.
* It is a day to be together as the family of God.
* It is a day devoted to thanking God for His wonderful gifts to us.
* His giving inspires us.
* How could we refuse Him?
* How could we give grudgingly?
* So, it only makes sense that Sunday be the day that we bring our tithes and offerings in to the Lord....in gratitude for all that He has done for us.
4. THE amount of your giving is to be in proportion to your income.
* Our giving is in proportion to the provision of God in our lives. That way all gifts have equal value before the Lord.
* It starts with a tithe, which is a tenth of your income, given off the top to the Lord.
• It is what you and I owe God in acknowledgment and gratitude for His provision of a job and a salary.
• It is a practice that is endorsed by Jesus in the New Testament.
• If you withhold the tithe you are robbing God, and will be playing catch up in your finances all of your life because you have removed yourself from His protection.
* When you give your tithe, however, you have just stopped robbing God.
* What Paul was receiving from the Corinthians was not a tithe, but an offering above and beyond their tithe.
* And he told them to gauge the amount based on what God had blessed them with.....that way it would be equal sacrifice, even if it was not equal giving.
* Saints, our prosperity is from God.
• If we keep it to ourselves, we are robbers, not Christians.
• If we commit ourselves financially to the point that we can’t give to God, we are still robbers and without before Him.
• He has trusted you and me with so much, let’s not abuse that trust.
• We are stewards, not proprietors free to do whatever we choose with our finances.
5. GIVING is to be voluntary.
* If it is a shake-down, it is not giving and therefore not pleasing to the Lord.
* When compulsion starts, giving ends.
* Your giving and mine is to be joyful and unto the Lord.
iv. god’s accountability for the gift
- AND lastly, there is the matter of accountability for the handling of the finances given.
- THIS is the part of the subject that has also been neglected and abuses have crept in for the last 2,000 years.
- VERSE 3,
“Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. (4 ) If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.” (I Corinthians 16:3-4)
- THE Corinthians would be selecting men who would be responsible for seeing to it that the gift would get to its destination and be properly distributed.
- PAUL, if he did not go himself, would write letters of introduction for the men from Corinth, so that they would be accepted in Jerusalem.
- THERE was to be accountability all around for the finances given.
- PAUL had enough enemies trying to destroy his ministry without giving them ammunition by soppy handling of the finances.
- IT is why we have a board treasurer and monthly financial reports that the board pours over.
- IT is why we have quarterly membership meetings with financial reports.
- IT is why we have people from the Senior Adult ministry counting the offerings.
- IT is why pastors have no check signing authority or direct involvement with the money.
- IT is why we have an annual audit of our financial records and practices by an independent accounting firm.
- THERE must be every assurance that your giving does exactly what the leadership says it is going to accomplish.
- THERE it is!
* God’s purposes for giving.
* God’s plan for giving.
* God’s accountability for giving.
- ALL in four short verses.
- ARE you and I going to obey God?
- THAT is the only question.
- HE has designed it for your good.
- AS a shepherd, I must lead you into this critical area of your discipleship.