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Biblical Advice on Giving (A Bible Study)

PREVIEW: What the Bible Says about Stewardship  Judson Press

Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The greatest surprise of Mary's short life was receiving a dollar on her fourth birthday. She carried the bill around the house and was sitting on the stairs admiring it. "What are you going to do with your dollar?" her mother asked. "Take it to Sunday School," said Mary. "To show your teacher?" Mary shook her head. "No. I'm going to give it to Jesus. He'll be as surprised as I am to get something besides pennies."

The question we derive from the story for our time is: "Does the Bible tell us how much money (and time) we are to give to the work of the church?" This is the issue we will examine today.

Text: The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6) {Prayer}

 

1. Three factors in the law of radiation and attraction, biblically known as "sowing and reaping" - what you sow, what you sow into, and what may be then reaped.

Sow             sow into          reap
seed            a flower pot      posies
good ideas      open mind         positive reality
time & money    business          profit / loss
prayer          ear of God        answers
evil dealings   lives of others   whirlwind
12 gal gas      87 Maxima         one-way to Chipley
12 gal gas      open fire         fatal explosion
time and gifts  church            people explosion

2. Specifically, biblically, once again -- the question is,

(1) "Does the Bible tell us how much money and time we are expected to give to our church?" Other related questions that spring from that one are:

(2) "How am I to know my money is being used appropriately?" and

(3) "What am I to reap?"

3. Let's start with the second question: "How am I to know my money is being used appropriately?"

2 Cor 8:20-21 We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, {21} for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of others.

Paul and Titus plus others, trustworthy men and women, well-known stewards of integrity, were given the job of administrating the Corinthian Church's missions offering.

In our church we elect a finance committee to oversee the expenditures of the church funds. The minister does not spend the money; the treasurer doesn't either. But the stewardship of the money is entrusted to those of the church who have proven good stewarship and have been elected by the people who give.

4. The third question was "What am I to reap?"

Gal 6:{7} Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.

2 Cor 9:{10} He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. {11} You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; {12} for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.

a) God will multiply your "seed" - that is, whatever you sow, be it money or time. God does not "add to," but multiply, as scripture says, "10-fold, 100-fold, 1000-fold."

b) God will "increase your harvest" - from whatever you sow into, your church, business, your family, your results will be greater than you can ever imagine, again,"10-fold, 100-fold, 1000-fold."

c) You will be "enriched in every way" - made more valuable in your home, your church, your business.

d) Because of you increased value, others will be interceding before God.

5. Biblical Models for Giving Money - The Old Testament

a) The Tithe: Deu 14:22 Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field.

The First-fruits: Num 18:12 All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee.

Tithing our Firstfruits is still used in one form or another for giving. Tithing means 1/10 of our income. The Firstfruits that we give the tithe "off the top." We are blessed by tithing in seven ways:

1. It blesses the heart by making it receptive to God's will.
2. The life by lifting it to a higher plane of grace.
3. The hands by making them willing to do God's work.
4. The mind by giving it the satisfaction of doing the right thing.
5. The 9/10ths remaining because God has been honored.
6. The individual by giving him a part in God's work.
7. The church by enabling it to carry out a greater ministry.

b) The Offering - Deu 14:27 As for the Levites resident in your towns, do not neglect them, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you.

Levites were the ministers to the congregation. They were not given land, but were to live from the generosity of God's people.

New Testament Parallel: Gal 6:6-7 Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. 
Pastors, teachers, missionaries are to receive generous offerings up and above the tithe for their service unto God and the people.

c) The Alms - Deu 15:11 Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, "Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land." 
The truly poor and dispossessed are to receive an offering called an alm.

6. Biblical Models for Giving Money - The New Testament

a) The Common Fund and Distribution - Acts 2:44-45 All who believed were together and had all things in common; {45} they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

The Bible tells us that the people of the community of faith sold their properties and "laid the money at the feet of the Apostles," or the heads of the church. The Common Fund was created to redistribute the wealth of the church as the Apostles saw fit. Through the Apostles, the wealthy provided for the needs of the poor in the community of faith.

Acts 6:2-3 And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. {3} Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task..."

The people then elected a "finance committee" to oversee the collection of the common fund and the distribution of it. These were people of well-known integrity, honesty, and faith in God.

b) The Offering - Like the offering of the Old Testament, that in the New was to be funds or goods given up and above the Common Fund for the benefit of the ministers, missionaries, teachers, and prophets of the church. The offering is also used for special programs or ministries. Items such as programs and ministries were not to come out of the Common Fund, but from offerings!

See how the people of the Philippi Church supported the ministry of the missionary Paul:

Phil 4:15,16,18 You Philippians ... no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. {16} For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. {18} ... I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

7. Biblical Paradigm for Giving Time -

Acts 2:46-47 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, {47} praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

According to the Bible, when there are church-based activities, all the people are to be involved all the time. Anytime the door is open, according to the Bible, the people should be there. (Bill Keller and the support of the church.)

8. A Model of Compromise, Based on the Bible, That Will Work for Us

Now that we have seen what the Bible says concerning giving, we need a standard model based on the Bible that all members and friends of our church can use to rule our giving. "GO 55 With an Attitude"

First) Generous Offerings for people and programs {The Missionary's Clothes} Second) 5% - 10% of income (increase from 5% as blessed) - Income includes wages before taxes, tips, disability checks, commissions, welfare checks, ADC checks, food stamps, student loans, gifts, pensions, social security.

If you make $10,000 per year, 5% to start is only $1.40 per day, the cost of a snack or two from that machine at work.

If you make $20,000 per year, 5% to start is only $2.74 per day, about the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

If you make $40,000 per year, the average income of this church, 5% to start is only only $5.60 per day!

Third) 5% - 10% of time - If you sleep 56 hours per week, that means you have 120 hours of time. 5% = 6 hours per week. That might break down like this: 1 hour for Sunday School, 1 for Church, 2 for helping with church projects, 1 for Bible Study, 1 in prayer

Fourth) All Given With Cheerful Attitude

9. Some will say, "I'm on public assistance. I can barely get along now. How can I afford to give $2 or $3 per day?" But we remember the blessings - God will give back more abundantly to you, because God wants you to be able to increase your giving from 5% to the tithe of 10%.

The fact is, if every church member in the United States were to suddenly be on public assistance, and yet were willing to tithe from the minimal amount received, giving in the nation's churches would immediately increase over 30%! Love of the right use of money is the root of all good.

Others will say, "I'm on a fixed income. That won't leave enough for me and my bills." Some of you who are saying this have enjoyed expensive vacations in the last year, and you deserved them. Think of the luxuries you've enjoyed:

C.S. Lewis comments on such: "If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc. is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures exclude them."

10. God admonished the Israelites - "Your houses are lavishly furnished, while my house lies in ruins." What is our priority as Children of God? Our will or our Father's?

Calculate how much you give now and how much you need to give. If you will be honest with God and follow the giving guidelines, our church will thrive. Otherwise, at the present level of giving and expenses, we will not be able to maintain our church more than six months. God needs everyone to get aboard and excited about sowing and reaping.

Because of the great stress of the job, the finance committee chairperson resigned. The "board" asked the manager of the grain co-op to take over. He agreed on two conditions. (1) No financial reports would be given for the first year. (2) No questions be asked about finances during that year. The people were surprised but finally agreed since most of them did business with him. At the end of the year he gave his finance report:

* The church indebtedness of $228,000 has been paid.
* The minister's salary had been increased by 8%.
* The Apportionments have been paid 200%.
* There were no outstanding bills.
* And there was a cash balance of $11,252!

The shocked congregation asked, "How did you do it? Where did the money come from?" He quietly answered: "Most of you bring your grain to my elevator. Throughout the year I simply withheld five percent on your behalf and gave it to the church in your name. You didn't even miss it! Do you see what we could do for the Lord if we were all willing to give at least a half a tithe to God, who really owns it anyway?" And so the new finance chair had made his point.

Now we will allow our old finance chair to make his report: (Give 2 the Church every 7th Day 4 your Benefit = $2.74 per day.)

 

Jackson Snyder, November 11, 1996

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