I. The Explanation of His Actions. 2 Corinthians 1:3-2:13
II. The Exhortation to Understanding. 2 Corinthians 3:1-7:1
III. The Earnest Desire for Unity. 7:2-16
IV. The Encouragement in giving. 8:1 – 9:15
A. Introduction in Giving.
We need to introduce this portion of Paul’s letter by defining the categories of Giving. We know of ourselves that there are different motives for giving. The Lord has identified for us some of these motives and it will be a help to us if we study and understand them. We will look at 4 motives today which have to do with this portion of Scripture –
1. The principles of giving.
a. Tithing. Paul is not instructing them in tithing here, but we should be familiar with what tithing is. It is giving ten percent of that which God has prospered us with. This tithe belongs to God and so it is not actually our giving it to Him as it is returning it to Him. God has always kept back for Himself of His own. In Eden, He kept a tree for Himself. Abraham gave a tithe to priest Melchizedek, Jacob promised to give God a tenth, the tithe, of all that God prospered him with. The Law set forth the tithes of the people, where and how they would be collected. The New Testament says little about the tithe, but that does not mean it has been done away with. It was before the Law, during the Law, and following the Law. We are to continue to bring the tithes to the place where God has designated them to be collected, the storehouse – the church.
b. Sacrificial. 8:3a “…for to their power…”. Once the tithe has been given, then we may give another offering out of that which we have. We look at our finances and we determine that, while I could use this money, I am going to give it to the use of others. I am sacrificing my use so that another may use it to meet a need. Many years ago, the missionary Bob Hughes, who ministered in Cebu, Philippines, was preaching at a church in Texas. He was speaking about giving. He said that the pastor told him that he had done some figuring on the amount the people spent each month on cigarettes and snuff, coming up with a thousand dollars a month! The pastor told Brother Hughes “Can you imagine, a thousand dollars going up every month in spit and smoke”. The people could give up something to give more!
c. Faith. 8:3b “… and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.” Have you ever done all that you could do, you had reached the end of your resources and to do more, you had to reach out to others for help? I was watching a television show called “funniest videos” last year. I suppose that they may be thought to be funny afterwards, but not so much in the moment! A young man had set up a weight bench in his room, prepared the weights, and set up a camera to document his achievement. He settled himself on the bench, looked at the camera, and then concentrated on the weights upon him on the bar. He carefully took hold and lifted them off the frame and tried to lift them straight above him. He struggled for a moment and then the weight pressed down on him. He was trying with all his strength to lift the bar but could not. He continued for a moment and then knew he had done all that he could do. He cried out “Mum! Mum! MUM! He had given all he could according to his power, and now he needed help to go beyond his power.
Our situation is not dealing with a physical situation, but the principle is the same. When we desire to give by faith, we need to cry out to God, “Lord please help me to give more” Lord please provide that I may give”. How often do these words come forth out of our hearts unto the Lord? “Beyond their power – giving by faith!
d. Abundance. Another category of giving is out of our abundance. You may be financially well off. You tithe and you give offerings cheerfully, but you have enough that you do not need to give up anything that you need or want – to give sacrificially. You have enough that you never come to the point of needing help to give more. How are you to give through the grace of God? A couple of weeks ago in the youth class, we spoke of Jesus commending the widow woman for giving her two coins in the offering. He also spoke of the wealthy giving much in the offering. Note carefully that Jesus did not condemn the wealthy for giving much. He was speaking to his disciples and sharing that the widow had given more than the wealthy – she gave all that she had while they gave and still had wealth in abundance. He was commending her trust in God. The wealthy can give out of their abundance, knowing that they will not be exalted by how much they give, but with how much they love!
2. The practice of giving. We will examine the practice of giving and the results that follow through the accounts of an honest man and a dishonest couple as recorded in Acts chapters 4 and 5.
a. The Honest givers. Acts 4:36,37
1). The purpose. Acts 4:34a Members of the church had needs, as well as others in the community.
2). The practice. Acts 4:34b,35 Sharing what they had with others.
3). The Praise. Acts 4:36 The love for God and for the people is seen through the actions of Barnabas.
b. The Dishonest givers. Acts 5:1-11
1). The purpose. To received the praise of the people.
2). The presumption. They lied to the church about the offering.
3). The punishment. They lied to God when they lied to the church. They were punished accordingly!
4). The Principle.
“…Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power”?
The money belonged to Annanias and Saphira. God promotes private property and the opportunities of ownership. He did not make a demand upon them. They desired the praise of the people and determined a price they were willing to pay for it. God did not judge them because they did not give. He judged them because they lied about giving.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
We can understand the instruction that Paul gave to the church, as we will see more of as we continue through this letter, that offerings that acceptable to God begin in your hearts and develop into actions. God looks at the reason that you give to determine whether the offering is acceptable or not.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Today, how is your heart? I pray today that each one of us will serve the Lord with a pure heart and that we give ourselves unto Him completely. When He has us, He has all that we are and all that we have.
It begins with salvation. Have you trusted Him as your Saviour?