Church Growth: Giving

Introduction

I. Paul's farewell address to the Ephesian elders is both touching and revealing (Ax 20).

A. His message, his methods, and his motives all mark him as a true and faithful gospel preacher (Ax 20:27).

B. Paul met with them at a very critical moment.

1. He knew that in the future serious problems would face these men.
2. He told the elders that they must remain vigilant because "savage wolves" would come in "not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:28-29).

3. When Paul finished his prophetic, soul-stirring message, tears came to their eyes.

II. Interestingly, among the last words Paul said to them were these (Acts 20:34-35).

III. These words, perhaps more than any others, reveal to us the compassionate heart of the Apostle.

A. What caused Paul to go from city to city, forsake all that might have made life easy and give up hope of riches?
1. Paul lived a Christlike life, which is a life of giving.

2. He not only remembered but actualized the words of Jesus: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

IV. Christians today must adopt this philosophy so that the church of our Lord can grow as God expects.
A. Giving is a central part of Christian living.
1. The salvation of souls is built upon this foundation.
a. God gave His Son to die for lost souls, to build the church.

b. God's people must give to save souls, to realize church growth.

Discussion

I. GIVING IS A COLLECTION

A. The saints were to give (1 Cor 16:1-2).
1. The church in Judea had been impoverished.
a. Through the sharing with brethren (Acts 2:44-45).

b. Through the persecution of the church (Acts 8:1-4).

c. Through the famine which came during the days of Claudius (Acts 11:28-30).

2. Paul determined to raise money for the poor saints in Judea.
a. The money would come primarily from Gentile congregations (Macedonia, Galatia & Achacia.

b. This money was called "the collection for the saints" (Gal. 6:10)

B. The saints were to give obediently.
1. The saints at Corinth had been given "order."
a. There is an apostolic command to obey.

b. There is an authoritative arrangement to follow.

c. There is an absolute God-ordered plan for financing God's work to observe.

C. The saints were to give regularly.
1. There was a regular day of worshiping (Ax 20:7; Rev 1:10).

2. There was a regular day of contributing (1 Cor 16:1-2).

a. The words, "lay by him in store," are literally, putting it into the treasury.
(1) This seems to be a reference to a common fund.

(2) J.W. McGarvey wrote: The word thesaurizoon, translated "in store," means, literally, "put into the treasury; and the phrase par heuto, translated "by him," may be taken as the neuter reflexive pronoun, and may be rendered with correctness as "by itself."

(3) Giving was, and will always be, a part of the apostles' doctrine (Ax 2:42)

D. The saints were to give proportionately.
1. Every Christian is under heaven's imposed obligation to give as he has been prospered

a. The basis for New Testament giving is not a tenth.

b. In Proverbs 3:9-10, Solomon describes prosperity as what we possess and what we receive as increase.

E. The saints were to give preparedly.
1. This collection was to be made before Paul's arrival.

2. When we contribute weekly to the common treasury, the church has on hand the means to carry on the Lord's work.

II. GIVING IS AN ILLUSTRATION
A. Paul uses the Macedonian churches to illustrate true Christian giving (2 Cor 8:1-4).
1. Giving is to be a grace.
a. We are recipients of God's grace, and we administer grace to others by giving.
2. Giving is to be liberal.
a. Liberality of giving is a test of love.
(1) "Liberality" means single-mindedness, simplicity and sincerity.

(2) Jesus demonstrated His love for man by giving Himself (Phil 2:5-8).

(a) He became poor in order that man might become rich (2 Cor 8:9)
3. Giving is to be willing.
a. The Macedonian brethren begged Paul to let them be a part of this work.
4. Giving is to be a fellowship.
a. This fellowship refers to their participation in the collection (Phil 1:5; 4:15).
III. GIVING IS A MOTIVATION
A. Paul used the Macedonian churches to motivate the Christians at Corinth to give.
1. The reason the Macedonian Christians gave so liberally, willingly & sacrificially is because they "first gave their own self to the Lord" (2 Cor 8:5; Mat 16:24).
a. William Barclay noted: "No gift can be in any real sense a gift unless the giver gives with it a bit of himself.  That is why personal giving is always the highest kind, and that is the kind of giving of which Jesus Christ is the supreme example."
IV. GIVING INCLUDES DETERMINATION
A. Paul begins in chapter 9 by reminding the Corinthians of their determination to give to the needy saints a year ago (2 Cor 9:1-5).
1. Interestingly, Paul had used the zeal of the Corinthians to challenge the Macedonians, but now he was using the Macedonians to challenge the Corinthians.

2. Paul had boasted in Macedonia of the liberality and readiness of the Corinthians.

3. Paul was afraid that his boasting would be in vain.

4. To avoid this, Paul had sent Titus and his companions on ahead.
a. "Saints ought not give ‘leftovers' to God."

b. Christians need to determine to give and give with a determination.

V. GIVING INCLUDES DIRECTION
A. Giving has directed motives.
1. To fulfill our desire to obey the Lord (Matt. 7:21; James 2:10; 4:17).

2. To produce spiritual growth and development.

3. To show our love (2 Cor. 8:8-9, 24; John 14:21).

4. To provide means for carrying on the work which the Lord has ordained for His people to do (1 Cor. 9:13-14; 16:2).

B. Giving has divine directions (Jn 4:24).
1. (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
a. This is the law of the sower.
(1) Our blessings in life are determined by our liberality.
2. Those who give cheerfully imitate God (James 1:5).
a. Elders must provide direction.
VI. GIVING INCLUDES EXPECTATION
A. Christians who give as the Lord directs can expect to be blessed (2 Cor. 9:8).
VII. GIVING IS A CONFESSION (2 COR 9:12-14).
A. Giving was a way of confessing their obedience to the gospel of Christ.

B. Giving is something that will make many others thank God.

C. Giving is a "service."
1. Service - was not merely an act of humanity, but of religion, most pleasing to God and suitable to the Gospel."
Conclusion

I. Paul concludes by thanking God for His unspeakable gift ( 2 Cor 9:15).
 

A. God's "unspeakable" or "indescribable gift" is God's own precious Son (Jn 3:16)

B. God gave His best; He gave His all.

C. Christian giving should be a humble and joyful response of worship for God wonderful gift.


** If you have any questions or if you would like to become a Christian, please let us know.

     Alan C. Cole
     26th St. Church of Christ
     101-26th Street Huntington, WV 25703
     Phone - (304) 522-0717
     E-Mail - Cole8@marshall.edu
     Homepage - http://mupfc.marshall.edu/~cole8/