Preached: LR What is Giving? (Christianity 101: Lesson 9) Introduction 1.

I have a wonderful little book in my office that I have referred to quite often as I have been studying for these basic lessons on worship. It is a series of lectures that was presented on the topic of worship. 2. While I love that book, it is amazing to me that there is not a single lecture on the topic of giving in worship! 3. People don’t like to think about giving, but it is as much a Biblical topic and an avenue of worship as is singing, preaching, or prayer. 4. We usually don’t like the topic for two basic reasons: (1) it hurts to give like we should, and (2) many of us aren’t. 5. We want to take a survey-style look at some NT facts about giving in worship. It is an act of worship, and it is not just a way for the church to “make money.” It is, rather, a way for us to thank God for the blessing He has given us, and a way to show our concern for the lost and needy in the world. 6. As we think about giving, I’m going to roughly use an article I read recently by a good friend of mine who gave three “P’s” of giving. I’m using his main thoughts, but most of the information has been added from other sources. We want to discuss People who gave, Principles of giving, and a Practical Point about giving. Body I.

People Who Gave A. God was and is the ultimate Giver. 1. God owns everything, since He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. The Psalmist wrote of God, “Every beast of the forest is mine,and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). That verse, though, just shows us a hint of all that is God’s, for not only is the cattle and beast his, so are the forest and the hills! 2. But God isn’t some miserly Beingwho isn’t giving. In fact, God is the most giving of all Beings. Consider the “golden text” of the Bible: a. For God [the greatest Being] so loved [the greatest of all things] the world [the greatest number] that He gave [the greatest attitude] His only begotten Son [the greatest gift], that whosoever believes in Him [the greatest faith] should not perish [the greatest tragedy] but have everlasting life [the greatest reward].” b. Notice that God doesn’t just give leftovers. God gives us so many wonderful things, from the air we breathe, to the food we

eat; but He also gives the greatest gift of them all: His Son, Jesus. 3. If we claim that we want to be more like God, then we will give, and give the best we have. B. The widow of Mark 12 was a giver. 1. In Mark 12:41-44, we have the pictures of Jesus and His disciples seeing a poor widow giving to the treasury. Notice the text: And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called His disciples to Him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. 2. While we don’t know much about this widow, we do know that Jesus praised her for her obvious trust in God to provide the needed things in life. 3. She was the living embodiment of Matthew 6:25-26: I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food,and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 4. I don’t know of anyone who thinks this giving woman left and starved to death. We need to trust that, when we give, God will give back even more and will truly take care of our needs. C. The Macedonians were givers. 1. In Second Corinthians 8, Paul wrote to a congregation at Corinth that, seemingly, struggled in the area of giving. To help them with this struggle, he presented a praise of a giving congregation in Macedonia. 2. While this section of Scripture is a sermon unto itself, for our thoughts this morning, just take a glance at it with me, and notice the different things Paul mentions in this glowing review of their giving: a. Verse 2: They gave even while under affliction. b. Verse 2: That gave with joy. c. Verse 2: They gave though they were deeply poor. d. Verse 3: They gave according to their power. e. Verse 3: They gave MORE than they were able.

II.

f. Verse 3: They gave willingly. g. Verse 4: They begged Paul to receive and use—administer—the gift. h. Verse 5: They surprised Paul with the giving, showing it was not out of compulsion. i. Verse 5: They gave this way because they had first given themselves to the Lord. j. Verse 7: They gave liberally. k. Verses 8-9: They had been moved by the example of others and out of their love. l. Verse 10: They were committed to liberal giving. m. Verses 11-12: They gave from a willing mind. n. Verses 13-15: They gave so there would be equality. o. Verses 16-17: They considered those who had urged the giving to be ones who truly cared. p. Verse 19: They realized that their giving would bring glory to God and meet the needs of others. 3. What an example! These people didn’t make financial excuses not to give; they gave in spite of their financial struggles. We don’t know if they were rewarded financially or in any other earthly way, but they were rewarded in a far more important way: God knew their giving and praised them for it! Which would you rather have? Particulars about Giving. Now that we have looked at some people who give us an example to follow, let’s turn our attention to one of the great texts on giving: First Corinthians 16:1-2. Those two verses give us five things to remember about giving as we worship God. A. Giving is obligatory. Paul began with, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed.” 1. Paul’s words here show that he was giving a command to be followed. 2. Giving is just as much a command as is, “Repent and be baptized,” and “Preach the Gospel to every creature!” 3. The word for “directed” is diatasso, and it not only carries the idea of a command, but an arrangement. In other words, God has given a commanded plan, an order, or an arrangement for financing the work of the church, and it is a collection from the saints (from Christians). B. Giving is specific, relative to time. Paul wrote that this was to be done, “upon the first day of every week.” 1. If you are reading from the KJV or ASV, you just have “the week,” but the original Greek phrase clearly and literally says, “The first day of every week.”

2. The first day is significant to Christians for many reasons, but no reason more so than that it is the Lord’s Day. Since it is His day, should we not enjoy giving to Him on His day? 3. Also, we are commanded to come together as the church on the first day of the week, so it only makes sense that we would follow this command on that day. It is one of those things that is inherently “decent and in order” (First Corinthians 14:40). 4. What if you are going to be gone on a first day, or what if you forget your contribution (like leaving a check at home)? The collection is taken—counted—on Sunday. There are ways to give so that your contribution is counted on that day though you cannot meet with this congregation. Make sure to give on the first day of every week! C. Giving is personal. 1. Verse two continues with the phrase, “each of you.” Other translations have “let every one of you.” 2. If you are blessed with money during the week—from income, investment earnings, gifts, allowances, etc.—you are subject to the command to give. 3. We often teach our children that every Christian should sing and every Christian should think about the prayer, but we must be reminded that the same God who commanded those things, also commanded every one of us to give! 4. The age doesn’t matter; nor does the amount with which you are blessed, you are to give. D. Giving is deliberate. 1. Verse 2 continues with the phrase, “Each of you is to put something aside and store it up.” We are probably more familiar with the KJ English, “lay by in store.” 2. The word literally means, “I set” or “I place.” It carries two connotations: a. First, the word is an imperative,again, meaning it is a command. We cannot fail to give and still say we are worshiping God properly. b. Also, the word is in the present tense, meaning it is something that is to be continuously done. This simply reinforces that giving is to be done every week. 3. But, notice, that it is to be “put aside” by each one. We see there that this is, again, a personal decision, but it is something that is given thought. a. To set something aside from our regular budget and spending takes thinking and planning. It is not something we can do on a whim.

b. It also implies that we think about it before we think about spending our money on other things! God should get the first, THAT should be set aside. E. Giving is proportionate. 1. Verse 2 also contains the phrase, “as he has prospered.” As you have seen before, our giving is reflective of our blessings NOW. If I am giving the same amount I was 10 years ago, though I have been given several raises at work, that’s wrong! 2. Notice I chose the word “proportionate.” Before our giving, we sometimes pray that we will give back to the Lord “a portion” of what He has blessed us with. Think about that. Folks, if I make $10,000 in a week and give ONE DOLLAR, that’s a portion! 3. The command given by Paul is that we give proportionately. If I have been blessed this week with more money for some reason, then I should give more. 4. So, let’s briefly take a look at the question, “how much should I give?” a. As we do, remember the admonition found in Luke 12:48: “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” b. When we come to the NT church, and we are confronted with passages about giving, there are exactly ZERO verses that tell us an amount or a percent to give. Every verse just tells us to give “liberally” or “as we have prospered.” c. There is one requirement, though, that cannot go unnoticed or unpreached: giving in the NT church is to be sacrificial. (1) Do I ever go without anything in order to give? (2) There are far too many Christians who spend more on their Sunday meal than they give. Others have a larger car payment than they give in a month (or even 2 or 3 months). (3) Now, before you get all upset with me, I have no idea how much any member of this congregation gives except my own family. I am not passing judgment on any family or individual. (4) I do know this, however. We have 201 households in our congregation. If every household just earned $30,000 per year (which is over $10,000 below the national average), and if we just gave 10% of that amount, our contribution every week would be over 11,500! (5) I’m just saying that it may be time for us to give up something in our lifestyle if we are going to truly sacrifice the way God asks us to. (6) If giving is always the last line on your family’s budget, then you need to do some soul-searching, Bible study and prayer.

III.

God comes first, and if that means that something else has to be sacrificed, then so be it! Two Practical Pointers on Giving A. Now that we have looked at the basics, I’d like us to make two more observations before we close. B. First, notice that love and giving cannot be separated. 1. Why did God give His Son? Because He loved us. “For God so loved the world that He gave” (John 3:16). 2. Why did Christ give His life for the church? Because He loved her. Paul concluded a thought in Ephesians 5:25 with these words: “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” 3. Why would a husband be willing to give his life for that dear spouse? Because he loves her! The beginning of Ephesians 5:25 commands husbands to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church. 4. Why would a mother be willing to die for a child? Because she loves that child. 5. Why will a young man be willing to work an extra job to purchase an engagement ring for that sweet lady who has moved his heart? Because of love for her. 6. Why would a parent risk financial ruin in order to invest money in the business of a child? Because of love for that child. 7. Why would a child spend hour after hour at a hospital with a parent who no longer can even say his or her name when that child could be anywhere else? Because of the love for that parent. 8. Folks, you get the point. When we love, we give. When we love more, we give more. When we love deeply, we give sacrificially. Do you ever think, when you put that check or those dollars into the plate, that what you are really saying is, “God, I love you this much”? 9. Listen to the words of one author: “When our hearts are filled with love for the Lord, for his church, for the teeming numbers lost in sin and for the countless numbers of widows, orphans, hungry, homeless, inadequately clothed and abused, we will have no trouble with our giving” (Wendell Winkler, Giving: The Unrecorded Beatitude, page 17). C. But what if we don’t give as we should? Then, to make our second practical point, we are robbing God and do not love Him as we should. Turn to the OT book of Malachi. 1. Malachi contains four distinct things: Israel’s Privilege as God’s people, Israel’s Pollutions (or sins), Israel’s Prophets (which told of the coming of John the Baptist), and God’s Promises to Israel. It is one of these pollutions that continues to plague people who claim to be devoted to God even today.

2. In Malachi 3:8, the prophet gave this stinging rebuke: “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me.” I don’t know of any of us who would want to be confused with being a thief, but that was the charge. So, the people asked the question, “How have we robbed you.” And notice God’s response through the prophet: “In your tithes and contributions.” 3. It’s obvious that the people were bringing something. They didn’t fail to give, but they were still robbing. How? Chapter 1:6-8 tells us that they weren’t bringing the best. Under the old law, the Jews were told to bring the best of whatever they brought, from animals to grain, but they were bringing polluted sacrifices. 4. I think we are given a hint as to why in 1:2. God said to the people, “I have loved you.” Notice, now, they had to ask, “How have you loved us?” They had forgotten God’s love, but it was really they who had lost their love. And, when that occurred, they failed to give as they should. 5. So, we see again, love and giving are tied together and cannot be separated. Conclusion 1. Giving is a difficult topic to speak on, because it always seems to cause people to be angry. 2. But when we think of all the wonderful things God has blessed us with, we should give our best and we should give sacrificially to His cause as a tribute to Him. 3. An unknown poet wrote: Leftovers are such humble things, We would not serve to a guest, And yet we serve them to our Lord Who deserve the very best. We give to Him leftover time, Stray minutes here and there. Leftover cash we give to Him, Such few coins as we can spare. We give our youth unto the world, To hatred, lust and strife; Then in declining years we give To him the remnant of our life. 4. Let’s give God our best. It is a way with which He has blessed us to honor Him as we worship in spirit and in truth. 5. He certainly gave His best [invitation].