Giving

Click here for more messages from The Challenge and Power of One series.
Click here to return to the Sermons page.

(1 Corinthians 16:2)

With God’s help I commit to do the following this year:
   1) Worship one day weekly with my church family;
   2) Serve in one ministry capacity in my church family;
   3) Cultivate one friendship with a non-believer for Christ;
   4) Give one regular portion of my income for the work of the church;
   5) Participate in one regular small group setting for prayer, growth and fellowship.

INTRODUCTION: We have been considering five commitments together as a church this fall, and we have called these five commitments “The Challenge and Power of One.” We call it the challenge of one because each commitment challenges us to make a commitment to one thing in a certain area. We call it the power of one because only as each one of us takes up the various challenges will we see the power of these commitments unleashed in the church. The body of Christ grows and builds itself up in love as each one does its part.

The first commitment we looked at had to do with weekly worship, and we saw that if everyone who currently attends Plantation Community Church took this commitment to heart, that we would immediately grow from a church of about 250 in attendance on a Sunday morning to over 400 in attendance. That’s the power of one, each one committing to being here with their church family for Sunday morning worship. The second commitment we looked at had to do with service. 20% of the people do 80% of the work in the average church. If each one of us committed to at least one place of regular service in the church, it would ease the burden of the 20% and open up new opportunities for ministry in our midst. The third commitment had to do with making friends for Christ. Once again, if each one of us committed to cultivating even just one friendship with a non-believer for Christ this year, what a difference it would make in our church and community. That’s the challenge and power of one.

Today we come to the fourth commitment which is this: Commitment #4: “With God’s help I commit to giving one regular portion of my income for the work of the church this year.” Giving to the church relates directly to both the local mission of this church as well as our global outreach through missions.

Last week we looked at the more local aspect of sharing the gospel in our community by making friends for Christ. This week I want us to look at the more global aspect of sharing the gospel throughout the world through missions. And this ties in with giving because while it does not take a whole lot of money just to make friends with someone for Christ locally, taking the gospel to the world takes tremendous financial resources, more than any one individual or church could ever provide.

But that’s where the challenge and power of one comes in again. If each individual or family gave to the church as God directed them to give, and if each church gave to missions as God directed them to give, the church of Jesus Christ worldwide would have all the financial resources necessary to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, people and tribe in the world. Once again, the body of Christ only grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work. (Read 1 Corinthians 16:2 and pray)

——————————-

As we come to this fourth commitment of giving, I want us to look at God’s mandate for world missions first, and then we will look at some important aspects of what the Bible says about giving.

I. Fulfilling God’s mandate for world missions (Matthew 28:18-19)

God’s mandate for world missions can be found in numerous places in the Bible, but perhaps the clearest expression of this mandate is found in what we call the Great Commission in Matthew 28. Here Jesus tells his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18-19)

   A. Jesus’ authority extends over all the world (18)
      – 1 Peter 3:22

Note that Jesus begins the Great Commission with a statement concerning his own authority. Look at verse 18: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) This is a powerful, sweeping statement. It is staggering in its universal scope and implications. Most of us would have been impressed if Jesus had claimed authority in all of Jerusalem or even all of Israel. For a single person to claim absolute authority in an important city or a whole nation would be quite remarkable. But Jesus does not just claim authority in the nation of his own people Israel; he claims authority over all the earth. Jesus’ authority stretches from pole to pole, from east to west, over land and sea, from nation to nation, from continent to continent. There is not a square inch of this planet that can claim sovereignty or independence from the authority of Jesus Christ.

And lest we think Jesus’ authority is limited just to this planet, Jesus claims authority “in heaven and on earth.” The phrase “heaven and earth” is an expression of totality. It means all things everywhere are under Christ’s authority. The entire physical world is under Jesus’ authority. That means if you join the first colony on the moon or if you travel to a distant galaxy on the far reaches of the universe, you will still not escape the authority of Jesus Christ. And the entire spiritual world is under Jesus’ authority. 1 Peter 3 says that Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand — with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:22) That means that angels and demons and whatever other creatures may exist in the spiritual realm must also bow to Jesus’ authority.

What kind of authority does Jesus exercise in heaven and on earth? Jesus said, “All authority.” Jesus has complete moral, political, spiritual and whatever other type of authority there may be in heaven and on earth.

   B. Therefore, our commission extends to all the world (19)
      – Genesis 12:2-3; Isaiah 49:6; John 3:16

So, because Jesus’ authority extends over all the world, therefore, our commission extends to all the world. The mandate of world missions grows directly out of Jesus’ worldwide authority. Look at verse 19. After Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” he went on to say, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)

When it comes to salvation God has always had the whole world in mind. Even when God first chose Israel as a nation, his purpose was not just to save Israel, but through Israel to bring salvation to all the earth. When God originally made his covenant with Abraham, he told Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you . . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3) Later God spoke to Jesus his Son through the words of Isaiah the prophet: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)

As followers of Jesus Christ we must have a worldwide vision for missions. Worldwide missions is not an option for the church. It is a necessity. God calls us to share the gospel not just locally and at home in our own communities, but throughout the entire world.

II. Giving regularly and proportionately to God’s work (1 Corinthians 16:2)

So, how does the church fulfill this mandate? The biblical answer is that the church sends workers or missionaries into the world to share the gospel. This is the pattern that we find throughout the New Testament. The church is responsible to send missionaries into all the world with the gospel of Christ.

Now in order for the church to send missionaries there must be those who are willing to go, and there must be those who are willing to support those who go. That’s why we are often told that there are three things you can do when it comes to world missions: you can pray, you can give, or you can go, or any combination of the three. This morning, in keeping with Commitment #4, I want us to focus on the importance of giving as it relates to the church and world missions.

There are many important aspects of giving that we find in the Bible. The Bible teaches us that we should give voluntarily, unselfishly, generously, sacrificially, cheerfully, and as an act of worship. But the particular aspect I want us to look at this morning is that of giving regularly and proportionately to God’s work in the church.

So let’s go back to Corinthians 16:2 where Paul outlines this principle for us: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1 Corinthians 16:2) I want us to look at three principles of Biblical giving from this verse.

   A. Each one should give (2b)

First of all, each one should give. Everyone should give something for the work of the church. This is part of our worship before God. You may be able to give a little, or you may be able to give a lot. The amount doesn’t matter to God. What matters to God is that each one gives from the heart, that each person brings an offering before him. Children, if you receive an allowance from your parents, you should give a portion of that allowance as an offering to God. Teens, if you have a part-time job, or you do babysitting on the side, you should give a portion of what you earn as an offering. When it comes to giving, each one should participate – children, teens and adults.

How does this relate to the challenge and power of one? The church only reaches its full potential for giving to the Lord as each one participates. One or two families cannot carry it all. If only half the people give, the church is not doing all that God calls it to do. Each one should give to the Lord.

Once again, the amount you are able to give does not matter. Think of the boy who brought Jesus the two small fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus fed five thousand people with that offering! God can do great things even with the smallest offerings we bring to him. The important thing is that we give to him, and that each one gives in obedience to the Lord.

   B. Each one should give regularly (2a)

The second principle is this. Each one should give regularly. 1 Corinthians 16:2 says, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money.” The first day of the week was Sunday. As the church gathered for worship each Sunday, Paul instructed each one to set aside a sum of money. Our giving to the church should not be haphazard or random. If we are to give as God directs us to give, our giving must be purposeful, intentional, regular.

We can see God’s wisdom in this when we look at other financial practices. When you are trying to save money for something, whether college or retirement or a new car, what is the best way to save? You set something aside every week. You may not have much to set aside, but when you discipline yourself to set it aside regularly, that something begins to grow.

When our boys were young, Rosi and I set aside a small amount each month for their college funds. It wasn’t much, but it was something. And over time those college accounts began to grow. That’s the power of regular saving or investing.

It’s the same thing with giving to the church. When you give regularly to the church, even a small amount adds up over the year, and your contribution will have an important effect on the church’s overall financial resources for ministry.

It’s when each one of us gives regularly to the church that the power of one really comes into play. Each one giving regularly to the work of the church is a powerful principle in biblical giving. Regular giving also helps the church to be a better steward of its funds, as the church can budget and plan and prioritize more effectively when there is a regular stream of income.

   C. Each one should give in keeping with his income (2c)
      – Genesis 4:4; 2 Corinthians 9:7

And then the third principle is this. 1 Corinthians 16:2 says that each one should give “in keeping with his income.” The phrase literally means “as you have prospered” and means that you should give in proportion to the income that you have received. So biblically, not only should each one give, and each one give regularly, but each one should give a regular portion of their income for the work of the church. If we are going to be obedient to God’s word in this area of giving, we should give regularly and proportionately to God’s work.

Notice that we are to give in keeping with our income – not in keeping with our attendance, or how much we liked the sermon, but in keeping with our income. In other words, you should prayerfully consider what proportion of your income you will give to the work of the church, and then give that portion regularly, whether you are here or not, whether you particularly cared for the sermon or not.

Some people attend church occasionally, and when they attend they throw something into the offering plate. And if they really liked the sermon they might throw in something extra. That is not biblical giving. That is like paying admission to the movies, and it cheapens the whole aspect of purposeful, meaningful, worshipful, regular giving in proportion to your income.

Of course, the question then comes up, what proportion of my income should I give to the church? 2%? 5% 10? 20? In the Old Testament the Jewish people under the law were required to bring a tithe, or ten percent of their income to the Lord. As Christians we are no longer under the Jewish law, so people sometimes wonder, “How does the tithe apply today?”

Actually, we first find the tithe mentioned in the book of Genesis, long before the time of Moses and before the Jewish law ever came into effect. And we find people bringing offerings to the Lord as early as Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.

One of the distinguishing marks of Abel’s offering was that he offered the Lord “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” (Genesis 4:4) Biblically, giving God the first portion and tithing go together. The tithe was not just a tenth, it was the first tenth of all that God gave you, and it was understood that the first tenth belonged to God. So, although the law of tithing, the legal requirement from the Old Testament no longer applies to Christians, the principle of tithing and of giving God the first portion predates the law and continues today.

As Christians we do not give God the first portion because the law demands it. We give God the first portion because it belongs to him, and it is part of our worship. We begin with the tithe, but then we also give in keeping with our income. That means that many people give God far more than a tithe. For a person on a low or limited income, giving God 10% is a huge sacrifice financially, whereas another person with greater financial means wouldn’t even miss it if they gave it away. That’s one of the problems with approaching giving from the legal standpoint of the tithe. The tithe can actually become a limiting factor in our giving to God.

Christian giving is not about the tithe. It is about giving to God generously and even sacrificially because we have a heart for God and because we desire to see our resources used for his kingdom. There are Christians who give anywhere from 20-90% of their income back to God, in keeping with their income. They recognize that it all comes from God anyways, and so they give back to God, praying that God will use what they give to further the gospel and advance his kingdom here on earth.

So, back to our original question, what proportion of your income should you give back to God? 2 Corinthians 9:7 says this: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) In other words, no one can tell you what you should give. That is between you and the Lord. It is something that you need to pray about, and then you should give as God directs you to give. I believe you should begin with a tithe. But God may lead you to give well above that in keeping with your income.

What are the three principles of giving we learn from 1 Corinthians 16:2? 1) Each one should give. 2) Each one should give regularly. 3) Each one should give in keeping with his income. And then the church should wisely use the resources it receives in order to fulfill God’s purposes for the church. And as we have seen from today’s message, fulfilling God’s mandate for world missions is at the heart of the church’s mission, because world missions is at the very heart of God himself.

CONCLUSION: We are now ready to consider Commitment #4: “With God’s help I commit to giving one regular portion of my income for the work of the church this year.” If you make this commitment today, it means that you will first of all pray and ask God what portion of your income he would have you give for the work of the church. Then, once you have decided in your heart what to give, you will give that portion regularly in faith, trusting God to provide for all your needs and asking God to use what you give for his kingdom and glory.

God has given us a great vision as a church for missions and local ministry. But it will take each one of us doing our part in order to fulfill that vision. That’s the challenge and power of one. As each one of us gives to the church as God directs us, we will have all the financial resources necessary for whatever God has planned for us, and for doing our part as a church in supporting missions around the world. Will you make Commitment #4 this morning?

© Ray Fowler

You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this message provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and that you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For any web postings, please link to the sermon directly at this website.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copies:
By Ray Fowler. © Ray Fowler. Website: http://www.rayfowler.org

Click here for more messages from The Challenge and Power of One series.
Click here to return to the Sermons page.