“NEW TESTAMENT GIVING”
(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 1-20-08 2 Corinthians 8-9
Proposition: The New Testament principles of giving are based on grace and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all that God has done for us.
- THE context of the message for this morning, from 2 Corinthians 8&9, is the apostle Paul defending his apostolic authority, that has been challenged by false teachers who have infiltrated the church in Corinth and who are trying to turn the church against Paul….for one very important reason!
- THEY want the money.
- THE Corinthian believers represented a profit center for the false teachers, which is why Paul writes early in this epistle,
“For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
- SOME of Paul’s detractors were in the ministry for the money.
- THE Bible basically identifies three major problems with money:
1. The love of it.
“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
2. The deceitfulness of it in Christians who believe in Christ…
“…but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19)
3. The selfish motive behind wanting it.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
- WITH all that said, money in itself is not evil.
- IT is the gift of God to all of us.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)
- IF it is the God of heaven who has given us varying abilities and giftings to earn a living….what would be pleasing before the Lord concerning how we handle that living?
- PAUL covers a lot of ground in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 on the subject.
- THE subject at hand for Paul is an offering that he is receiving from the Corinthians for the Christians in Jerusalem because they have been slammed by drought and famine.
ii. motivation for giving
- LAST week we dealt with the subject of motivation for our giving:
1. The grace of God.
2. The bond and fellowship it provides with other givers…and with those who receive.
3. God’s story that gets written in our lives through trusting Him in our giving.
4. Thanksgiving that is offered to God by those who are the recipients of our giving.
iii. object of the giving
- THE next topic that the apostle Paul addresses in these two chapter is the object of our giving.
- WHO are we giving to?
- LOOK at 8:5 with me,
“Nor [was this gift of theirs merely the contribution] that we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us [as His agents] by the will of God—that is, entirely disregarding their personal interests, they gave as much as they possibly could, having put themselves at our disposal to be directed by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)
1. TO THE LORD
- FIRST, they gave themselves to the Lord. He was the object of their giving.
- WITHOUT this first step, our giving will always have strings attached…and do more damage than good.
2. TO LEADERSHIP
- PAUL and his companions in the ministry were the “agents” through whom the gift would be administered.
- AND Paul actually says that the gift is given “to us by the will of God.” (vs.5)
- IN this instance, the givers were entrusting their gift to the integrity and trust of the apostles for its administration.
3. TO THE NEED
- THEN, thirdly, the gift was given to the needy saints in the church of Jerusalem.
- MOST of our appeals for funds are need-based aren’t they?
- FOR Paul the need is only the third reason to give.
iv. spirit of giving
- THEN I noticed that Paul also talks quite a bit in this passage about the spirit of giving.
- WHAT is the attitude in which finances are given to the Lord?
1. SPIRIT OF JOY AND POVERTY
- LOOK at 8:2 with me,
. “For in the midst of an ordeal of severe tribulation, their abundance of joy and their depth of poverty [together] have overflowed in a wealth of lavish generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
- SEEMS like those would be mutually exclusive, doesn’t it? Joy and poverty!
- BUT both overflowed in lavish generosity, like the widow Jesus saw put a tiny coin in the offering at the temple….a coin that represented everything she had.
- I THINK that some of Rita’s and my most joyful giving has been when we could least have afforded it….joy because it represented a measure of abandonment to God in the act of giving.
2. SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY
- LOOK at 9:6 with me,
“[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously, and that blessings may come to someone, will also reap generously and with blessings.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)
- THIS verse is not some divine book keeping system for dollar in, two out return on investment that somehow puts God under obligation to you or me.
- THIS is a spirit that God blesses…..a spirit of generosity.
- WHY is this important? Because it most closely represents the spirit of God. That is His attitude in giving.
- HERE is the third attitude that Paul identifies in giving.
- I HAVE a few verses to show you on this subject.
“For, as I can bear witness, they gave according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily…” (2 Corinthians 8:3)
“That is why I thought it necessary to urge these brethren to go to you before I do, and make arrangements in advance for this bountiful, promised gift of yours; so that it may be ready, not as an extortion—wrung out of you—but as a generous and willing gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:5)
“Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (that is, He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, prompt-to-do-it) giver—whose heart is in his giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
- WHAT is the attitude common to all of these verses? That the giving that God loves is voluntary.
- THERE is no place for trickery or high pressure tactics in the work of the Kingdom of God when it comes to finances.
4. CONFIDENT IN LEADERSHIP
- HERE is the fourth and final attitude in giving…confidence in leadership.
- NOW, this is a confidence that is earned and not blind.
- BUT, listen to the pains Paul goes to, to ensure the Corinthians’ confidence in giving. I am going to just give you some highlights from 8:18-24,
“But we are sending along with Titus that brother [Luke?] whose praise in the Gospel ministry [is spread] throughout all the churches; 19 … he has been appointed by the churches to travel as our companion in regard to this bountiful contribution which we are administering for the glory of the Lord Himself. 20 [For] we are on our guard, intending that no one should find anything for which to blame us in regard to our administration of this large contribution….(2 Corinthians 8:18-24)
- THIS is why the vast majority of Rita’s and my giving stays right here….for tithes, for missions, for New Heart Place…because the people who administer the funds have proven themselves and we can have confidence in their handling of the giving.
- THIS is why the by-laws of the church give the elected elders and deacons the authority to oversee the budget and finances of the church.
- THIS is why no pastors ever have access to the offerings or the check book.
- THIS is why we have our own CFO and staff who administrate the budget.
- THIS is why Westgate Chapel has an independent accounting firm do an annual full audit of all aspects of our finances and management.
- THIS is why you as a member of this church are given a financial report each quarter and vote on each year’s budget.
- WHY do we do all of this?
- YOU should be able to have confidence in your giving.
V. amount of giving
- ONE last thought…and it is the one you have all been waiting for me to address.
- HOW much should you give?
- TITHING! 10% of your income to your storehouse. Is it New Testament?
- WELL, let’s see what the apostle Paul has to say about how much we should give….keeping in mind that the offering in question is a mission offering for the church in Jerusalem, and not tithes.
- LOOK at 8:12-13,
“For if the (eager) readiness to give is there, then it is acceptable and welcomed in proportion to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For it is not [intended] that other people be eased and relieved (of their responsibility) and you be burdened and suffer (unfairly).” (2 Corinthians 8:12-13)
- FIRST of all, while the verse is still on the screen, there is an interesting comment on fairness….and it has to do with how many in any local church are carrying the financial load of that church.
- PAUL’S clear implication is that it is not fair that, as is typical in most churches, that 20% of the people are carrying the budget of that church and 80% are “eased and relieved.”
- SECOND, Paul comments of the proportion of our giving.
- PAUL’S plan is that each one give in proportion to their ability, which represents equal sacrifice in giving in the local church.
- PROPORTION, or another way of saying percentage, lets everyone participate and share equally in the load of ministry.
- AND frankly, I think that is why the Old Testament used a tithe or 10% as the starting place for giving.
- AND while there is no clear command in the New Testament for tithing, I am persuaded that the tithe, or 10%, is a great place to start our giving.
* It honors God as the Source of everything He has given us.
* It celebrates our dependence on Him.
* It opens the window through which God can pour His blessings on our lives.
* It funds the ministries of your storehouse, your local church.
- THE tithe is a number we do have from the Bible…and even if it is Old Testament it should at least be our starting point, for those who are recipients of God’s amazing grace!
- UNLESS, as Dr Jeremiah points out, you are really committed to the numbers we find in the New Testament:
* The widow in Mark 12:44 was commended by Jesus because she put two small coins into the temple offering that represented all she had to live on. That would be 100% giving.
* In Luke 19:8, Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions. That would be 50% giving.
* The little boy in Matthew 14 gave five loaves and two fish that represented all of his lunch. That would be 100% giving.
- ANYBODY comfortable with 10% as a starting point of everyone sharing in the load in proportion to what they are able to give?
- LISTEN to how Paul ends these two chapters on giving,
“Now thanks be to God for His Gift, [precious] beyond telling—His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
- HOW can you and I not be givers?
- CAN I encourage you to start today?
- IF you are here with your spouse, and have not taken this step in your discipleship of Jesus….take some time to pray together after the service is over and start your journey of faith today.
- LET God write His story including every aspect of your life….including your finances.
- AND yes, the church also provides classes periodically, offering help with budgeting and other helps in what can sometimes be the most stressful part of living. Check your bulletin or ask at the information booth.
- GOD bless you!
Next steps in discipleship