Volume. XXX, No. 13
Sunday, 27 September 2015


From the Pastors Heart: Thoughts about Giving


Last week, the message I shared with you was about gratitude, which is expressed in the form of giving. In addition to the points I made through that message, there are a few more things I’d like to share with you. The reason that I think it important for me to repeat the same topic on giving is because of its importance in the believers’ life. If we truly believe that giving is more blessed than receiving, we ought not to be shy to talk and hear about it. The biblical exhortations about giving also imply that the depraved human nature is inclined to accrue rather than to disperse and share. The Bible puts covetousness on the same level as idolatry, which is the most heinous sin against God. Thus, it will benefit us to know more about giving.  

First, let us learn a few lessons about giving from Paul’s fund raising efforts. Most of us are too shy to talk about money. One of the tasks I have as a pastor is to teach people about giving. Giving is an important part of Christian life and practice. One of the purposes of writing letters to the Corinthian believers was to appeal to them for giving.  Thus, giving is also an apostolic teaching. I am going to talk about a few things in relation to Christian’s giving, mainly from 2 Corinthians 8-9. (1) Paul tells the Corinthians that giving is the same as grace, the grace of God.  8:1-2 says, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” Paul tells them that according to the grace of God, the Macedonian believers have given abundantly and liberally to support the apostles’ ministry and the needy brethren in Jerusalem. (2) Paul tells them that the Macedonians did their very best to give. They were willing to do so. 8:3, “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.” (3) Paul tells them that giving is unto the Lord, though it ends up with other people. Thus, their giving benefits others, though they give their gifts to the Lord. 8:4-5, “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” It implies that (a) the Macedonians were not arrogant because they gave, for they believed that they gave to the Lord; (b) the benefits were given to other people.  In such a way, God uses the faith and dedication of one group of believers to assist and help the other group of believers in need.  (4) Paul tells them about giving boldly and confidently. (a) It is because he knows that their giving is in accordance with the grace of God.  8:6 says, “Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.” The same grace Paul is talking about is the practice of giving. (b) It is also because giving has to be abundant like all other spiritual abundance and liberality. As they should be abundant in faith and knowledge, they should be abundant in giving.  It is what 8:7 says, “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” We cannot find any degree of coercion in Paul’s appeal. There is no hesitation on his part when appealing to them for giving. (c) It is because giving is a natural response and way of life of the believers.  8:8 says, “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the willingness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” Paul speaks like John at this point. 1 John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” The believers are not to love only with words but with deeds and actions. One of the most outstanding ways to prove their sincere love is to give to God and their neighbors. I think that there is an interesting mixture of words in verse 8, “prove the sincerity of your love.”  (i) Love requires to be tested, which is implied in the word, “prove.” It is because love is the message we have heard from the Lord. 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (ii) There are counterfeits of sincere love like insincere or hypocritical love. The presence of lies, deceit, insincerity, and hypocrisy, requires love to be tested. 1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Thus, proven love should be sincere love. (iii) Giving is a way to demonstrate sincere love. 8:24 says, “Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (5) Paul talks about giving, without feeling ashamed of talking about it.  In other words, he is not self-conscious and is not shy to talk about giving.  Instead, he challenges them not to change their previous desire to give but to perform it, in 8:10-11, “And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be willing a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.” (6) Paul speaks about giving as if it is a sign of a healthy body of Christ. 8:13-14 says, “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.”  As every member of the body is required for a healthy body and contributes to each other to keep the body strong and sound, so every member of the body of Christ must provide for each other’s needs. In this regard, Paul explains that there is no reason for the giver to be arrogant and for the receiver to be ashamed.  Both must give thanks to the Lord.

Having studied Paul’s philosophy of giving, we do not find any trace of worldliness, materialism or profanity but confidence, faith, and graciousness.  

Second, Paul glorifies no man but God in giving. (1) One remarkable observation from Paul’s attitude toward giving and givers is that he encourages the givers to think of themselves only as agents sent by God.  Paul was able to collect gifts from the Macedonians and he also encouraged the Corinthians to give to the needy brethren in Jerusalem.  However, he does not say to them that the recipients send them words of thanks. He does not tell them how the people in Jerusalem speak of their thanks for the gifts they have received. I am sure that they were very thankful for the gifts. The point is that Paul does not speak about their thanks in his letter.  It indicates that the words of thanks were not the causes of giving on the part of the Macedonians. They did not give in order to hear how grateful their recipients were. (2) Instead, Paul speaks about the thanksgiving offered to God through their giving.  2 Corinthians 9:11-13, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.”  Thus, the Corinthians are giving, and God receives thanksgiving!  Praise the Lord!  (3) It prevents human agents from being proud. It is easy to be proud when we are in the position of giving.  Paul wrote a thank-you letter to the Philippians for their faithful financial support. Philippians 4:18, “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” Paul gives thanks to the Lord not to the Philippians! Does it hurt them? It does not mean that Paul is an ungrateful person. It means that he recognizes them as the channels of gifts from God for the sake of the sacred ministry.  

Well, I’ll talk about it a bit more next time.

Lovingly,
Your pastor

More Lively Hope

 

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Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: others arriving safely at their destinations.

Church activities, & working bees in the past week.

Visitors & new worshippers.

God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

God’s provision - temporary place for worship.

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren (Holland);& others in affliction.

iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne & Missions work in Malaysia.

House of Hope, Cebu - Pastor Roel M Allocod, staff & volunteers; treatment & salvation of drug addicts; Provision of car & sufficient funds for ministry.

New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.

Covenant BPC (Perth) - purchasing of church property.

Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

Journey mercies:  Rev Hyun Choi (Adl); & those who are travelling.

Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

Persecuted believers in Islamic countries.

God’s guidance: purchase of new church property.

Australia: God’s wisdom for our political leaders. People to repent and turn to God.

God’s guidance & provision of temporary office space & fellowship activities while looking for a permanent location for our church.

Sparks4Christ & YAF Retreat next week. Speaker, Rev Hyun Choi; organisers & participants.

 

 

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