Hebrews Lesson 83 March 29, 2007
NKJ Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
We are studying the New Testament doctrine of giving. is a subject, sort of a secondary study, as we are coming out of Hebrews 7 where we have just about the only reference to tithing in the New Testament. Tithing is one of those subjects that for a lot of believers is extremely touchy. I have gotten into some very heated discussions with some people in certain denominations because they cannot understand what you mean when you say that tithing isn't for today. Part of that reason is because it has become almost synonymous with giving. They can't separate what they call giving. They have these rather legalistic notions about giving. It is amazing how people can't grasp the whole principle of grace giving. Now we have gone through Old Testament passages the last few weeks. We summarized those under about four basic summary principles.
The first of those was that giving even under the Mosaic Law was not a part of the means to spiritual growth. It wasn't the means to either salvation or to spiritual growth. You had two different types remember. There was mandatory giving which was for the support of the government which was the priesthood and the tabernacle and temple and in support of the widows and orphans. But there was also freewill giving. Freewill giving was an expression of gratitude to God and recognition within the Mosaic Law that everything that we have is really God's. God is the owner of the land that He gave Israel. They are in essence lessees of the land rather than permanent owners. But, they have a permanent agreement with God based on the Abrahamic Covenant. So within the Mosaic Law there is this attitude that everything that a person owns has God's name stamped on the title deed. In the concept of a sacrifice or an offering, you are simply returning to God that which is His. It is an act of recognition that God has ownership rights for everything in our lives. So giving was always based on the concept of grace.
The second thing that we noted was that grace doesn't mean that you don't have obligation or responsibility, but that it is up to our volition to participate in the way God has planned these things. We do have various obligations.
The third point that I made was that grace doesn't mean that it is free. It may be free to us, but there is still a cost. There is still a price attached. Jesus Christ gives us salvation at no cost. It is free to one and all, but there is a cost involved. He had to go to the cross and die for our sins.
A principle that we see developed even in the Old Testament is the principle of generosity.
Then we came over to the New Testament. I started going through the doctrine of tithing in the New Testament. Without going into a lot of detail, I will summarize those points.
The first point was that tithing is mentioned in the gospels only in reference to the practice of the Pharisees - the term that is. Tithing is only found with reference to the Pharisees. In that sense it was a legalistic practice. It was legalistic because they thought that by doing it, they could gain the approbation of God. You can have two different acts. You can have prayer that can be legalistic or grace oriented. You could have attendance in church or Bible class that becomes legalistic or it is grace oriented. You could have witnessing that becomes legalistic or grace oriented. Anything can become legalistic because you are doing it in order to get God's approval. You are doing it to get brownie points from God. Anything can be perverted. That is exactly what happened.
Remember Paul said in Romans 7 that the Mosaic Law was righteous, good, and holy. That means that the laws pertaining to tithing were righteous, good and holy. But, the way tithing was practiced (Remember a right thing done in a wrong way is wrong.) by the Pharisees was a way to manipulate the favor of God. So that's why it became legalistic. A lot of people throw this term legalism around in an inappropriate way. People say about someone perhaps who is very concerned about always doing things the right way, appropriate conduct, very sensitive to moral issues, and very sensitive to being obedient to Scripture.
There are those who would say, "They are just legalistic."
They aren't legalistic. They are just concerned about doing the right thing. Legalism has to be correctly defined.
Definition: Legalism is the attempt to gain God's favor on the basis of what we do.
It is opposed to what Paul says is that in response to what God has done we should live a life in gratitude to Him. In some ways it may look the same on the outside, but only God knows the heart or what the internal motivation is.
So the first principle was that tithing is mentioned in the Gospels with reference to the legalistic practice of the Pharisees.
When it came to giving, our Lord mentioned in Matthew 6:2-3 that the principle is that is to be a private matter. It is between the individual and the Lord. Not only should individual believers not know how much some believer is giving in terms of either amount or percentage, but it is no one's business whether you are giving. The whole thing is a private matter between the individual and the Lord. What you see in so many churches is where there is this emphasis to show giving. You have to be careful not to overreact and go in the other way as I pointed out last time. There are some churches who overreact in the other direction and they'll hide the offering box and stick it back in the corner of the nursery under a flower pot to make sure nobody can find it. (I am being a little facetious; but they make it almost difficult to give, impossible to give). It is hard to find how to give. You don't want to overreact because that is just as wrong in its way as what it is reacting against. You want to be relaxed about the whole thing. It is between the individual and the Lord remembering that God will always supply that which is needed.
The third principle is that the New Testament recognizes that free will giving is based on gratitude in the soul and not some prescribed percentage. I gave the reference from Luke 21:2-4 about the widow giving out of her poverty.
That brought us to the fourth point which dealt with our passage - specifically that Abraham's tithe when he tithed to Melchizedek (gave 10%) was a one time gift that is described in Hebrews 7:5-9. It came from the recovered plunder. It didn't come from all of his possessions. If you read the text it came from his plunder, not everything that he had before that. If we were to apply this passage the way the tithers want to apply it, they would get a lot less money than what they are trying to get. Unfortunately we used to manipulate people by guilt and that is a violation. If you are giving out of guilt, you are violating various passages of Scripture as we will see this evening.
The fifth point then is that tithing is not a synonym for giving and is not a substitute for grace giving. Tithing was a mandatory form of giving. Don't use the phrase or think of it as simply a synonym for giving. Tithing was something completely different.
Now that brings us to the sixth point which is that the New Testament principles for grace giving are located in three central passages that I want to look at this evening. The first is Romans 12:8. The second is II Corinthians 16:1-4. The third is II Corinthians 9:4-15.
So we will start with Romans 12:8. This sets a summary foundation for the principle of giving. It is talking about spiritual gifts in context.
NKJ Romans 12:8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
The context is talking about spiritual gifts. There are seven spiritual gifts are listed in verse 6-8. They have to do with prophecy and service and teaching and exhortation and leadership and mercy. I left out the one we are talking about which is giving. So it is talking about giving and it's talking about the spiritual gift of giving in this passage. That is specifically the reference because it is talking about how a person should exercise that spiritual gift. The principle still applies in terms of the use of the gift.
One thing that is interesting is that everybody has a spiritual gift. Most of the spiritual gifts (ignoring the sign gifts since they ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and by the close of the canon) – as with all the spiritual gifts, every Christian is expected to function within the category of all the spiritual gifts. Just because you don't have the gift of giving doesn't mean you shouldn't give. Just because you don't have the gift of witnessing, doesn't mean that you shouldn't witness. Just because you don't have the gift of leadership doesn't mean you shouldn't lead. In some realm of your life you are a leader either as a parent or as a husband or in participation of something at school or at work or in the military. You operate at some level in terms of leadership.
So the principle for giving is as it is translated in the New American Standard is "with liberality". Giving with liberality doesn't catch the meaning of the Greek word. If you look in a couple of basic Greek dictionaries you get something like what I have on the screen.
The Greek word translated "with liberality" is the Greek preposition en plus the noun haplotes. It has to do with single in the sense of being single-minded, not having an ulterior or double motive. It is used to indicate that which is simple or pure or sincere or faithful. It indicates plenitude. That is a fancy word for generosity. In the New Testament the writer says that it is only used in a moral sense as the opposite of duplicity meaning sincerity, faithfulness toward others, manifested in helpfulness, giving assistance to others. It is equivalent to being faithful and benevolent. When I think of liberality I don't necessarily think of being faithful. Benevolent yes, in the sense of generosity. However the basic idea of this word is of something that is done with a genuine sincere attitude. There is no sense of guilt manipulation. There is no sense of trying to impress God or anyone else with giving. It is giving the gift with no strings attached, without any reservations, without any hidden agendas.
Often you have people say, "I have given X number of dollars to the church. I don't like the way they painted the Sunday school building so I am not going to give them any more money."
They are doing something or not doing something the way you think they ought to be doing it.
Or in giving to a seminary they say, "Well, they are not teaching the favorite course that I think ought to be taught the way that I think it ought to be taught so I am not going to give any more money."
That is not grace giving. There is no Christian organization that is always going to do it right. The church leadership isn't always going to make wise decisions. We're not perfect. Seminaries don't to that. People are going to make mistakes. People are sometimes looking at things from a different perspective than we are. When we give we are supporting the mission of a ministry and supporting the leadership of that ministry. It is given as unto the Lord. Once it leaves our fingers, that's it. It is totally up to the Lord and we should forget about it once we make that decision. I am not talking about if a school or a ministry or church shifts their position or begins to teach that which is erroneous or their doctrinal position shifts or something of that nature. So we give freely as unto the Lord. That is the idea there. The person who gives, gives freely as unto the Lord without reservation. The concept of benevolence or generosity is also present there.
Now that is our first passage. That is a summary understanding of the concept of giving in the New Testament.
Now let's go to I Corinthians 16. Paul went on three missionary journeys and a fourth trip that I believe he went on as he was taken to Rome and then he went beyond there.
At the end of the first missionary journey (Now remember this. This is one of those teaching moments that you'll capture chronology of the New Testament). At the end of the first missionary journey he wrote one epistle. At the end of the second missionary journey he wrote two epistles. At the end of the third missionary journey he wrote (Anybody want to guess?) three epistles. Then when he was imprisoned in Rome he wrote 4 epistles. It is real easy. If you can count to four, you can pretty much remember all of that. It is not real tough. At the end of his second missionary journey was when Paul goes to Ephesus for a short time. It is from Ephesus that he writes back to Corinth. He writes I Corinthians. That is what he writes then.
At that time he has heard that there is a famine in Jerusalem. They are going through difficult times financially which was part of the fourth cycle of discipline as per Leviticus 26 coming on the nation Israel as God is getting ready to kick them out of the land under the fifth cycle of discipline which will come to a conclusion in AD 70. So the believers that are living in Jerusalem and in Israel at that time (in Judea) are having a difficult time. Paul is going to take up a financial collection from the congregations as he goes back through on his third missionary journey. He is going to go back to Jerusalem and take this money with him. This is what he says in I Corinthians 16:1.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:
What is Paul doing here? This runs counter to what some people think. Paul is getting ready to ask them for money. Paul is going to tell them that there is a financial need and that they have a responsibility to do something, no matter how little it may be, to help the needy. There are some people who get the idea that it is more spiritual not to ever mention that a ministry has certain needs. Paul clearly rejects that. He mentions the fact that there is a financial need in Judea.
He doesn't just say, "Pray about it."
He is going to give instructions about how to set aside the money on a regular basis so that when he comes there will be the financial resource there.
Instead of coming in at one time and saying, "We are going to have a big fund raiser today. When I leave next week I have to take $15,000 with me. Let's just surprise everybody next week. Everybody come up with $15,000."
He knows that it is going to be 5 or 6 months before he gets back to everybody. It might have even been longer.
So he says, "Start laying up money now. Take a little out of your paycheck each week and then by the time I get there, there will be a significant amount and it won't hurt."
It is very orderly. It is very precise. He is not afraid to mention a need.
In the middle of the 19th century there was a tremendous believer in Bristol, England by the name of George Mueller. George Mueller had an orphanage. (That is not the George Mueller that we support in Germany now. He isn't reincarnated. I know some of you were thinking that. This is the original George Mueller.) He had a tremendous gift of faith and trust in God. He made a decision for himself that he was not ever going to tell anyone about his financial needs. He would get up in the morning. He would tell stories about how they wouldn't have any bread or any food. He had this orphanage and he would have 40, 50 or 100 kids and no food. So they would pray and a bread truck would break down outside the front door so that they would have to give all of the bread to the orphanage. He had story after story after story like that.
Now people read that and they say, "I need to do what George Mueller did. I am not going to tell anybody about my needs except God. I am just going to pray to God and He is going to answer that."
Well, God did not direct us in the New Testament to do what George Mueller did. There is nothing wrong with what George Mueller did. That fits under one of those areas that is a gray area.
While you are still in I Corinthians, I am going to flip back for a minute to I Corinthians 8. There is a lot of stuff here that flies in the face of certain sacred cows that we sometimes have. In the first part of I Corinthians 8 Paul is dealing with the principles of gray areas – the principle of liberty in the areas that are neither right nor wrong. He is going to deal with meat sacrificed to idols. He says at the beginning…
NKJ 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
Whenever you see (especially in the New King James or the New American Standard) this phrase "now concerning" which in the Greek is peri de, he is shifting to a new topic. That gives you your outline. So you have a topic shift at 8:1, but you don't have another topic shift again for several chapters - not until chapter 16. Actually, everything after that kind of floats together.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 8:2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 8:3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
He gets down here and he talks about the whole issue of doubtful things. He says…
NKJ 1 Corinthians 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
Where he is going to go with that is to warn them about whether or not they should eat meat sacrificed to idols.
Some people said, "No, you shouldn't."
That would indicate that you are validating the idolatry, so it is wrong.
Others said, "Idols are nothing. They are just stone. There may be a demon there, but they don't have any reality there. It is fine to eat the meat."
They were grace oriented. Others, it wasn't that they weren't grace oriented. They were immature. They were weak as Paul says here in the chapter. The principle is…
NKJ 1 Corinthians 8:9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
In other words, don't use your liberty in front of people that you know are weak and it will becomes a stumbling block for them to sin. In other words, be sensitive to people. It is the law of love. Recognize that some people may not be taught and it might be a problem to them, so don't use your liberty to put a stumbling block in front of others.
Now most people when they deal with this issue of gray areas and doubtful things or areas that are not specifically addressed in Scripture as right or wrong they go to I Corinthians 8. They talk about the meat offered to idols and they stop. They don't go into chapter 9. Chapter 9 is just as much a part of the discussion of doubtful things as chapter 8 is. But, it is a different area. It is an area of how the apostles conducted their ministry. Maybe that is a fresh idea for you. Some pastor may conduct his ministry in one way before God and another pastor another way and both are okay. Both come under the category of doubtful things.
That is what Paul says in verse 1.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
In other words, he is asking these rhetorical questions to emphasize the fact that he is an apostle and he has every right and privilege that belongs to someone who has been chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ to be an apostle. Then he follows that up with a couple of more rhetorical questions in verse 4.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:4 Do we have no right to eat and drink?
The idea there is, don't we have a right to enjoy life and to enjoy the fine things of life, to eat food, to drink good wine, to enjoy all the benefits and all pleasures of life?
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
So apparently all the other apostles, when they traveled, took their wives and children along with them.
They Paul says, "Wouldn't I have the right to do that as well?"
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
Then he goes on. I want you to skip down to verse 12.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
That is to accept money, payment, honorariums for ministry to have their wives and children supported in case of Peter and others when they travel.
He appeals to the fact because he has a relationship with them. He is still talking about doubtful things.
He is saying, "Look, it is perfectly legitimate for another apostle to bring along his family with him and to expect you as a congregation to house them and feed them and clothe them and basically pay them a salary. I have chosen not to exercise that right."
Let me put it in other terms. Some pastors out there for whatever reason decide that when they write material, they are going to go through the standard operating procedure of publishing books and selling books in the Christian book marketplace.
Some pastors say, "No, I am going to use a grace process and I am going to make them available and we are not going to put any price on it."
The point I am making is that one is not right and one is not wrong. It is an individual decision of whoever that pastor is depending on what the circumstances are in his particular life and ministry. That is the principle here. Paul says…
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
That could relate to publishing through a standard publishing house or operating on a grace ministry. It can go either way. The point I am making is that too often we come along and we look at the way somebody did something. Paul did it where he did not ask for support in Corinth. What people forget is that he asked for support in Ephesus where he is writing the letter.
So we look at somebody and we say, "Look they did it this way. Look how God blessed them. Now let's make this an absolute way and we all have to do it that way. George Mueller never mentioned that he had a financial need. Let's all do it that way."
The Scripture doesn't say that. That was George Mueller's decision between him and the Lord. That was how he wanted to conduct his ministry. It was fine and it was wonderful. It is an incredible testimony. It is wonderful to read the stories of how God provided. But that is not the only way that God provides. He wasn't following any mandates from Scripture when he did it that way. It was just a decision that he was making that was between him and the Lord.
I think there are those who have misapplied some things here. Obviously we live in an age when you go to many churches and they ask for so much money and they sell everything. I have been places were you preach the morning message and the tapes are duplicated and for sale for $10 apiece on the way out the back door before you are ready to go home. There are all kinds of ways that people do things.
I think that there is an overreaction to that when people say, "Oh, we are so tired of hearing everybody trying to twist our arm about money and always taking up a collection and putting a price tag on everything that we are going to hide the basket back in the nursery somewhere."
They never mention money and never tell what is going on because if you even do that you have got to be wrong. It is an over reaction in the other direction. It is legitimate to I think on the basis of what Paul does right here in I Corinthians 16:1 to tell people about legitimate needs as we did at the congregational meeting in February. We let people know that we have a plan. Our plan is that we would like to buy land and we would like to buy a building. It is not going to be free. It is going to cost something. We put that out and the Lord is going to provide. The Lord provides through people. It is legitimate for ministries like Jim Myers ministry or Moses Onwubiko or any number of other missionaries to let people know what it is that they need.
How many of us have ever seen any headquarters operations of any of these ministries? How many of us know how many computers they need, how many printers they need, how much it costs for them to have internet hookups, how much secretarial help they need? We don't have any idea because we aren't local there. Some of these places have been given houses. I know of ministries that have houses and yards and they have to pay landscapers to come in and cut the grass and everything else. We don't know what is needed.
It is helpful for ministries to say, "Pray for us about these things."
There is nothing wrong with doing that. Some people have reacted to that. That is exactly what Paul is doing here.
He is saying, "There is a legitimate need in Jerusalem. There are fellow believers who are starving who don't have the money. There is no food there. We need to not only pray about them, but when I come I will take up a collection for them."
So he is identifying a need and telling them ahead of time that he will be taking up a specific collection for them. In verse 2 he gives them the principle.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
Notice he didn't say, "Lay 10% aside."
He didn't give any qualifications – just something. It is between you and the Lord how much you are going to set aside. This wasn't for the support of the local congregation. This was money that was to be taken back to Jerusalem to help fellow believers there. This would come under the category perhaps of a benevolence fund or missionary giving.
In other words, it is not on the basis of a percentage. It is on the basis of how God has provided for you and how God has taken care of you and how you handle it.
In other words, he is not going to take up a collection when he comes. The money is already going to be set aside.
What is interesting to me is sociological studies. They are interesting every now and then. You don't make policy as a church based on those. You don't base your evangelism methodology on them which is the standard operating procedure in church growth today. But it is interesting.
I am familiar with this situation that is not too far from here. There was a church for sale. They had about 3 ½ acres and they had 5 buildings on it and a parking lot. They were asking around $4 or $4 ½ million for it. It was a tremendous set up and a nice church plan. A couple of those buildings had been built within the last 15years or so. One was their office building. I think it was three floors. It was a nice set up. It was bought for I think $3 ½ million recently by a Korean Baptist congregation that has been meeting for a number of years over at Tallowwood. Now this church that was for sale had a membership. I know at one time they ran three services in their auditorium and that auditorium holds about 800. The church that bought it had 100 people in it. They paid cash. Why did they do that? Because they were Koreans and Koreans give percentage wise about 6 times more than what Caucasians do. Blacks give two or three times. It is interesting. Different ethnic groups give differently in their congregations just because the way they approach from their worldview and in their culture how they handle money and prosperity and personal and material possessions. It is interesting. Here is a church that is about 15 years old and 125 members and comes up with $3.5 million cash to pay for this church. I think that is fascinating.
The principle is as He may prosper. Every person and every group is going to handle that somewhat differently.
Paul says in verse 3…
NKJ 1 Corinthians 16:3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.
So we see a couple of important principles here. First of all there is a principle in verse 2 of regular giving. Now that may be weekly. Maybe you get paid twice a month. Maybe you get paid once a month. But, there is regularity to it. There is a decision beforehand. You sit down and budget and analyze your finances. You make a responsible decision before the Lord and pray about it. Then you lay it aside, set it aside for the Lord. The principle of the percentage is as the Lord prospers you.
Then there is a responsible handling of the money by a responsible individual chosen by the congregation. We have a treasurer. We have a policy that when money is collected it always goes back and two of the deacons are together and they are back there to witness each other to make sure that they double count the money. All of these safeguards are in place. I know of some cases where the collection is taken up and the money is taken back and put on the pastor's desk. I know in this one particular case that the pastor goes in and takes all the cash out and puts it in his pocket. He deposits the checks in the bank. It is a doctrinal church. I won't say anything more about that. That is what happens.
When Jim Myers put the slide up (if you missed it) the second morning of the conference, $16 billion a year is embezzled in churches by deacons and pastors and elders. $15 billion is given to missions. So, you have to have safeguards. A church has to have men who have integrity who are appointed to handle the money so that it is all done in an honest and above board way where there are checks and balances. Everybody has sin natures and can be tempted, especially in the area of finances.
It has to be somebody with honesty so that they don't decide to take a vacation to Rome or to the French Rivera for a while on their way to Jerusalem. They want to make sure that it gets to Jerusalem.
Then Paul says…
NKJ 1 Corinthians 16:4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
"If you think it is necessary, I will go in attendance."
That is I Corinthians 16:1-4.
Now the longest passage, the most detailed passage on giving in the New Testament is in II Corinthians 9. Again this is dealing with the same basic background issue of giving to the churches and their need in Jerusalem. Chapters 8 and 9 actually deal with the whole pattern of giving. For example in chapter 8 Paul says…
NKJ 2 Corinthians 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia:
NKJ 2 Corinthians 8:2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
In other words the Christians were going through persecutions.
Paul doesn't just say, "Their poverty."
In the depth of their generosity, they didn't have much to give; but they gave a tremendous proportion of it. It wasn't based on the fact that they were wealthy and that they had plenty. They had very, very little yet they gave a tremendous amount. So Paul appeals to that as an example of giving.
He gives another pattern in verse 9 of chapter 8.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
So the standard for grace giving always goes back to that great gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. He goes on to talk in verse 16 of that chapter about the collection that he had taken up before that was taken to Jerusalem. Then in chapter 9 he comes down to talk about the giving of that particular gift.
In verse 5 he says…
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
That is referring to the collection of that which he had instructed them about in I Corinthians 16. He sent men ahead in order to collect that gift. It was made up of money which we might call pledges. Sometimes that is a very abused system in the way a lot of churches give. But it is not necessarily or inherently wrong. Paul points out here that it is a gift that they previously promised.
"It was based on your generosity."
It wasn't based on guilt or arm-twisting or any of that. That is what happens too often in situations today.
Then he gives a principle related to giving in 9:6.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
That is in terms of giving remember.
He is expressing the principle once again of generosity in giving in support of local church ministries. As we give we become partners with those ministries and we can have a special blessing and privilege to watch how Jim Myers ministry grows and expands or watch how Chafer Seminary grows or expands or when another missionary goes somewhere and we read the reports of how so many people and so many pastors were instructed and so many people learned the Word. So many were saved that we had a part in that. The reality is that every ministry runs on money. It would be nice if it didn't, but every ministry runs on money. It is even more so today.
I was having a conversation with someone this week who was commenting in observation on how many different ministries that we have seen over the past 10 or 12 years sort of merge together so that they can benefit from the finances because of the cost of computers. Every ministry has to have computers and internet and printing and all of these overhead costs that soar. If you could combine some so that if they could combine their overhead then it would make things a lot more efficient. So we always have to be mindful of all of those things. The government comes along and you have to do all of the accounting and bookkeeping and all the things related to taxes. Even if you are a non-profit organization, there is always paper work. You frequently have to hire the professionals to come in and do that. So, all of that is part of overhead and doing business in today's world.
In verse 7 Paul makes the statement that we are all familiar with.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
That is, in his thinking. It is not emotional. It is a thought concept. It is thought out ahead of time.
This is a problem that you have in the way money is raised for too many ministries. Guilt is put on people or there is some other kind of manipulation that goes on. This is very objective. This is where the individual should go home, look at their finances, look at their budgets and think about their own spiritual life, their gratitude. All of these things come into play. Then make a decision about how much they are going to give in support of local church, missions and how they are going to plan it out.
The bottom line is that God loves a cheerful giver. The idea translated "cheerful" is the idea of someone who is grace oriented and generous. It is a synonym for the word we saw over in Romans and it has that idea of liberality to it, of generosity and benevolence. It's given without any strings attached.
Verse 8 is the underlying principle that God owns everything that we have.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Notice how many times you have the word related to "all" here. In Greek the root word is pas. Sometimes it has a different ending so we have the phrase pante pantote pas right in a row.
Remember the exercise we did when we went through Genesis 8 and we circled every time there was a use of "all" or "every" during the time of the Noahic flood and all the mountains were covered and all life was killed. It indicated universality there. That is the same idea here. God's grace is sufficient for everything. He will provide for the believer who is involved in grace oriented giving.
This isn't to be taken to the irresponsible extreme of the health and wealth crowd that says, "If you give so much, God is going to be obligated to give it back to you ten-fold."
But God is going to supply the need for the believer. That is exactly what Paul is saying in this particular verse. There will be a provision, abundance for every good work. God will provide that which is needed. Then he quotes from the Old Testament in verse 9 from Psalm 112.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:9 As it is written: "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever."
So in verse 9 and on we see the principle that God is the one who ultimately supplies the gift.
In verse 10 we read…
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,
So the giving is under the category of a fruit or production of righteousness. That means it flows out of the integrity of the believer's soul, not manipulated, not out of guilt, not out of any of these other false motivations.
In verse 11 he concludes by saying…
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
So what we see here is that Paul is not afraid to talk about giving. One reason I want to make that point is that I also see that in some pastors, especially in young pastors. I know when I was young I had a certain hesitancy about ever talking about money. One reason is because we live in this culture where you have a lot of preachers who are always talking about money. So we have this problem of going to the other extreme. But what we see in Paul is that when it is time to talk about giving and money and there is a need, then you need to talk about money and giving and what the need is. There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. There is nothing wrong with challenging people to the fact that there are financial needs.
God doesn't drop money out of heaven. God supplies the need through believers who are grace oriented and are responding to that particular need. There is a responsibility on the part of believers to be involved in giving. That is not legalism. That is still part of grace. Nobody is telling you how much. Nobody is looking over your shoulder. Nobody is twisting your arm. Giving is part of the responsibility of the spiritual life of every believer.
Now the problem that we have in our culture is materialism. Paul addresses this in I Timothy 6:6-11, 17-19.
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
This is really addressed to people who have a trend in their sin nature toward materialism lust and a desire to amass possessions.
That is spiritual growth, spiritual maturity. That word eusebeia in the Greek has to do with god-likeness (which the old English had). God-likeness is to have the image of Christ in you. So it is the concept of spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity with contentment or happiness is great gain - to be happy with your circumstances. Paul addresses that in Philippians 4 when he talks about...
NKJ Philippians 4:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
NKJ Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Now a lot of you memorized that verse all by itself. I remember singing that as a chorus in Sunday school.
You think that the "all things" means anything I want to do. Right? No, if you look at the context what Paul is saying in verse 12 is that he knows how to be poor.
"I know how not to have anything. I know how to have prosperity. I know how to abound."
What is the "all things" in the context?
"I can handle prosperity or adversity. I can handle abundance or need. I can handle wealth or poverty because I can handle every situation through Christ who strengthens me."
He goes on to say in verse 19 a great principle related to giving.
NKJ Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Now when Paul comes to I Timothy 6, he is talking about that spiritually mature attitude that we can relax because we know that God is the one who supplies all of our financial needs.
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Now he is not contradicting the proverb that says the wise man leaves an inheritance for his children's children.
He is saying, "Don't try to keep it all."
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Notice it is desire to be rich here. It is a desire to be wealthy for the sake of being wealthy because you are placing your happiness in a detail of life. Why? Because, they are thinking that something in the cosmic system will give them happiness and meaning and purpose. They make an idol out of money. In Colossians 3 Paul calls that greed idolatry.
Now this isn't talking about men who desire to be successful. There are many men who desire to be successful and amass incredible amounts of wealth for the sake of supporting the local church and missionaries. I had the privilege to know some men like that. Recently I was introduced to another individual like that. He is the president of his own company. He builds some kind of machinery and is very wealthy. He has no children. He lives to give. He and his wife love to give money to missionaries and various ministries. Paul is not talking about that. He is not saying it is wrong to amass wealth or to be wealthy. He is saying it is wrong to have the wrong attitude toward it. There have been men of tremendous wealth that God has used to supply the needs of local churches and ministries and missionaries. It has been a wonderful thing. But he is warning there. Don't put your focus on the wrong thing.
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The love of money – not money – that materialism lust, greed is the root of all kinds of evil.
It is a warning against putting your emphasis on the wrong thing. He warns Timothy as any pastor not to focus on wealth but to pursue …
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
Then at the end of the chapter in verse 17 he says…
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
That is the problem as you start trusting in your money rather than in God. I remember a number of years ago a man who was listening to doctrine and studying the Word for many years told me to make sure to tell people that the biggest test, the toughest test is the test of prosperity.
Most people think, "Ah! Just give me the test of prosperity."
He said, "When I didn't have anything and I wasn't sure if I could pay my bills or pay my employees at the end of every month, I listened to a tape or two a day and I prayed a lot. I depended upon the Lord conscientiously day-by-day. But when I got successful and had one of the biggest companies of my kind in my state and had a tremendous amount of wealth, I forgot to listen to a tape everyday. It was hard. I didn't feel like I needed to do that every day."
It is hard to keep those priorities straight because your survival isn't dependent upon it. But the reality is when you are wealthy, your survival depends on it even more because you need to pass that prosperity test."
In verse 18 Paul puts the focus on the right thing.
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
That is that grace orientation.
NKJ 1 Timothy 6:19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
That is the issue of utilizing our resources. Whatever that treasure is whether it is our homes, our talents, or finances whatever it is to further the ministry to minister to the body of Christ and to support one another in the correct application of doctrine. The ultimate reality is what happens at the Judgment Seat of Christ, not what happens at the bottom line of the bank account at the end of life.
This is the biblical doctrine of giving. It is not based on tithing. It is not legalism. It is based on grace. I remember years ago reading a book on giving by Dr. Ryrie.
He said, "The person who believes in grace giving really ought to give more simply because they understand the dimensions of what happened at the cross."
Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.