The Lord’s Day
October 30, 2005
II Corinthians 8:9-15
“What the Bible Says About Christian Giving”
Dr. J. Ligon
Amen. If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with
me to II Corinthians, chapter eight.
This is stewardship season. You have
already received in your mail from the church an outline of the church’s budget
for the year 2006 for ministry and benevolences. Many of you are already
involved in giving to the mission work of the church through the Faith Promise
Budget, and the next Lord’s Day, November 6, we will have an opportunity to
commit ourselves to the support of the church’s ministry and benevolent giving
for the next year, and so it’s appropriate that we pause and look at what the
Bible says about Christian giving.
I’ve provided you an outline this morning so that you
can follow along a little more easily, but this Lord’s Day we’re going to look
especially at II Corinthians 8, a few verses there, and also Matthew 6. The next
Lord’s Day we will look at the passage which has been chosen by our Deacons’
Stewardship Committee as the theme of our stewardship season this year,
pertaining to the idea of God’s love for a cheerful giver. We’ll see what that
means and what that entails for us.
But today I want us to look in outline at the Bible’s
teaching on the subject of giving. I was talking with one of the interns at the
church this week, and he said to me, “Boy, I’m glad that I don’t have to be
preaching on money and on stewardship this Sunday morning!” And I said to him,
“Actually, I don’t mind it at all. I’m rather excited about this particular
topic, because it’s an important part of the Christian life. It’s not something
peripheral, and there’s nothing unseemly about it. It’s at the very heart of our
expression of our gratitude to God for His love to us.”
A few years ago I had the opportunity to walk through
the Bible’s teaching on money, on material possessions, on our use of money and
material possessions, to see what the Bible had to say about those things; and
it took a number of weeks in the summer, on Sunday nights and on Wednesday
nights, and even then it was a survey. The Bible has a lot to say about money
and material possessions and about how we use them and what we give to the work
of the Lord’s kingdom, and today we’re going to look at nine particular
truths that the Bible has for us. Now, I’m not claiming that those are the
nine only truths, certainly; we’d have a very long list if we listed
every truth that the Bible gave us about money and giving. And I’m not even
saying that they’re the nine most important truths that the Bible teaches, but I
think some of these would probably make the “top five” list in terms of what are
most important for Christians to know about giving. But these are nine very
important Bible truths about giving that we’ll study together today.
Now before we read God’s word and hear it proclaimed,
let’s look to Him in prayer and ask for His help.
Lord, we do love You, and we love You for many
reasons, but one of the reasons we love You is You have given us Your word, and
in that word You reveal to us what You are like; You reveal to us the greatness
of Your love; You reveal to us the way You have saved all those who trust in
Jesus Christ. You have revealed to us the way of salvation which is through
trust in Jesus Christ, and then You show us how to live. As we think especially
what You teach us about our living in terms of giving, we pray that You would
cause us to not only to love You for this, but to follow in obedience. This we
ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hear the word of God in II Corinthians 8, beginning
in verse 9.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet
for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
And I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were
the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it.
But now finish doing it also; that just as there was the readiness to desire it,
so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness
is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what
he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your
affliction, but by way of equality–at this present time your abundance being a
supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your
want, that there may be equality, as it is written, “He who gatherer much did
not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
Amen. And thus ends this reading of God’s holy, inspired,
and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon our hearts.
Paul is speaking to the Corinthians in a very
practical situation. They had purposed in their hearts a number of months
before to give to the saints who are in need in Palestine, and they’re having a
little bit of financial amnesia. They had, with great desire, made a commitment
to give, and some of them are not coming through in their commitments, and so
the Apostle Paul has reminded them of a couple of things here.
First of all, he’s pointed them to Jesus
Christ, and he has pointed to Jesus as their example in giving. If Jesus
divested Himself of all the privileges and prerogatives that were His in glory,
and out of His poverty made us rich, how much ought we to desire to emulate Him
in our giving to those who are in need, to fellow Christians who are in dire
straits? How ought we to desire to give of our substance for the blessing of
others? He’s using Jesus as an example of Christian giving. That’s a very, very
important point. In fact, probably if we were to try and outline as best as we
could the Christian theology of giving, we would start right at that point: at
the giving of Christ as the fundamental truth which guides our own practice of
But he goes on to say–and furthermore, their
giving to these saints in need are not so that those saints can be at ease while
they are in dire straits, stretched because of their giving, but they are to
give to saints in need because of the need of those saints, and then there’ll be
a time when those saints are no longer in need, and they may well one day help
We are familiar with this in Mississippi right now.
Many of us are involved in helping saints who are in need on the Coast of
Mississippi and Alabama, and in Louisiana. And there may well be a time when
they come back and help us in need. One of the things that has touched me most
greatly over the last couple of weeks is the receipt of a check for $30 from
Christians in Zambia. Christians that you have been sending money to so that
mission work could be done in their midst, they have sent $30–an enormous
sacrifice for them, a huge amount of money–to First Presbyterian Church so that
we could use it to help those who have been affected by the hurricane.
That’s a tremendous example of just what Paul is
speaking about to the Corinthians. They’re helping these Christians who are in
very difficult circumstances, they’re giving sacrificially so that those
Christians can be helped, and one day those Palestinian Christians may come back
and bless them. And of course, the Apostle Paul is also reminding the
Corinthians it’s because of the generosity of the people in Antioch that he even
came to Corinth in the first place to preach the gospel. So these Christians in
their giving are being used as a blessing to others, and he uses these as two
prime truths that these Christians in Corinth need to understand about their
Well, I want us to look more broadly than even
that. I want us to look at nine particular truths that God gives us in His word
about giving, and to begin with let me just ask you to take your Bibles and
turn to Matthew 6, because the first three or four things that we’re going to
learn come right out of four little verses in Matthew 6–Matthew 6: 1-4.
I. Giving is an essential part of
the Christian life.
The first truth is this: Giving is an
essential part of the Christian life. (That’s the word that goes in that little
blank: giving.) It is an essential part of the Christian life. I say
this because many people think that it goes something like this — that in the
Old Testament people had to give, but in the New Testament we don’t have to give
any more. We’re no longer under the duty or obligation. We only give now in the
New Testament because we want to. In the Old Testament they had to: we no
longer have to, we just do it because we want to. In the Old Testament it was a
duty: now it’s voluntary, it’s optional. ‘Wrong!’ Jesus says.
Remember His disciples? They’re wanting to know
from Jesus how do you live the Christian life, what does the life of a believer
look like? Well, He starts out in Matthew 6:1,2, and notice what He says: “When
you give….” Notice what He didn’t say. He did not say, ‘If you give….you
know, if you decide to follow through in that optional aspect of the Christian
life which is giving, then do this.’ That’s not what He said. He said to His
disciples, “When you give….” In other words, Jesus is saying to His
disciples that He expected giving (and of course the whole context of Matthew
6:1-4 is benevolent giving, giving to the needy — we’ll get to that in just a
moment)…but he expects them to be giving. It’s not an optional part of being a
disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Giving is an essential part of the Christian life,
and that shouldn’t surprise us, because giving has been a part of being a
believer since Genesis 4. You remember Abel’s offering that acceptable
sacrifice in spirit and in truth to God, recorded for us in Genesis 4. Giving
has always been a part of the worship of the one true God.
Why? Because in giving we acknowledge first of all
that everything belongs to God. Secondly, we acknowledge that everything that we
have has been bestowed upon us by God. God has given it to us. Thirdly, we
acknowledge in our giving back to God that He is more important to us than
anything else. And fourthly, we acknowledge that because God has created us, we
belong to Him, and so our gift back to Him that acknowledges that He is more
important to us than anything else is also a pledge that the whole of ourselves
belong to Him.
And so giving acknowledges that God is the owner of
everything and we’re just stewards; and everything we have, God has given to us;
that we are devoted to God and we care about Him more than anything else,
because when you start giving of your material possessions, when you start
giving of your finances, that’s where it really begins to show. “Where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Jesus says. And so when we give
some of that treasure back to God, it’s a pledge to God that He’s more important
to us than anything else, and it’s also a pledge that really the whole of what
we are and have belongs to God. And so it is natural that giving would be an
essential part of the Christian experience. That’s why John Reed Miller, the
long-time pastor of this church used to say, “If you really want to know where a
man stands with God, touch his wallet!” Because giving is an index of how
devoted we are to God and His agenda, to His kingdom. Well, there’s the first
thing the Bible teaches: Giving is an essential part of the Christian life. It’s
not something peripheral, it’s not something that we do out of regretful
necessity — “Oh, we’ve got to raise some money, so let’s talk about
stewardship….” No, it’s something that’s part of the Christian life.
II. Christian giving must be done
with the proper biblical motivation.
Secondly (we see this as well from Jesus in
Matthew 6:1): Christian giving must be done with the proper biblical
motivation. (That’s the word that goes in that blank.) It must be done with
the right motivation. The Lord Jesus wants us to give, but He wants us to give
for the right reasons. It’s not enough to give — of course, we are to give —
but we need to give for the right reason, with the right motivation. And look at
what Jesus said to His disciples: “Beware of practicing your righteousness
before men to be noticed by them.” In other words, as we give our motivation is
not so that people will say ‘He is so generous; she is a wonderful
philanthropist; Oh, how generous and wonderful those people are; Oh, how
righteous those people are, because they give so much’. Our motivation is not
for anyone to praise us in what we give. Our motivation is an expression of our
devotion to God. We desire to show tangibly our devotion to the living God, and
we do not desire any recognition of this from anybody else.
If giving is designed to be an expression that we
are wholly devoted to God, then desiring in our giving for someone else to
praise us totally undercuts the purpose of giving in the first place. And so
Jesus says very importantly to His disciples ‘Give without any desire to be
recognized by other men and women. Give only out of devotion to the living
God.’ So we need also to give with the proper biblical motivation. But Jesus
doesn’t stop there.
III. Jesus commands us to have a
special concern for giving to the needy.
Notice again what He says in Matthew
6:2,3. The Lord Jesus commands us to have a special concern for giving to the
needy. Christians need to care greatly and to be zealous in our giving to the
needy. The Lord Jesus wants us to practice benevolent or charitable giving.
Notice His words in Matthew 6:2,3: “When you give to the poor….”
Jesus’ teaching here is especially about what used to be called “alms
giving” — charitable giving to the needy, aid or charity, or benevolent
offerings for those who are in need. Now, of course, He’s expecting these
Christians to give when the case arises, but our church also recognizes that we
corporately — not just individually, but corporately — have a responsibility to
give to those who are in need, and so we are corporately committed to obeying
this mandate from the Lord.
If you’ll go back and look at that budget that was
sent to you this week, you will see that almost a million dollars a year out of
the church budget is directly given to benevolent causes. That is, to things
like French Camp and Palmer Home, and Neighborhood Christian Center, and Gateway
Rescue Mission, and Friends of Alcoholics…these various kinds of benevolent
ministries that are designed to bless those who are in straits or in an
unfortunate circumstance, or who have been dealt a very difficult situation in
life and are in great need. We long to help those who are in need.
It’s very interesting. Just about three weeks ago a
man made a proposal to the major nations of the world, and he said that if the
major economic powers of the world would only give “point seven percent” —
seven-tenths of one percent of their gross domestic product to the relief of
hunger and poverty, that hunger and poverty could be eradicated in the world
today. Now, I don’t know anything about that particular proposal and its
validity, but it was interesting. All he was trying to get was the developed
countries to think in terms of giving seven-tenths of one percent towards the
eradication of poverty in the world. He said it would make an immediate
difference in the world today.
Well, this congregation gives one-seventh–not
seven-tenths of one percent, but one-seventh–of its budget every year to
benevolent causes. We do that on purpose. Now, by the way, if you add in what
we give to missions, what we devote to missions out of the budget, what we give
to benevolent causes, and what we do give to our outreach in Twin Lakes,
basically just looking at those things in our budget…you add in the missions
budget with our over-all budget and our ministry budget…then about forty cents
of every dollar that’s given by the congregation is given away. In other words,
we give it away somewhere else to benefit somebody else with the gospel. So
we’re meeting spiritual needs or through physical needs that are being met, or
both. The church does that because we are committed corporately to heeding
Jesus’ words to give to those who are in need.
Now, it’s very important that we give to the
discipleship of this congregation, that we give to the edification of our
children, to the doing of ministry to the support of the means of grace–those
things promote the health of the church so that we’re able to give to others–but
we’re also very committed to giving away what the Lord has given to us in order
to bless those who are in need.
There was a very interesting thing that happened in
the nineteenth century. Our favorite Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon, was
walking along the streets in London, and an atheist challenged him, and
challenged him about the existence of God — how could Spurgeon believe in this
ridiculous God? Well, you remember the great challenge between Elijah and the
prophets of Baal when Elijah said, “Let Him be God who answers with fire, let
Him be the Lord.” So the prophets of Baal tried to call down fire and they
couldn’t, and God answered Elijah with fire and thereby proved He was the true
and living God. Well, Spurgeon said to this atheist, “Let God, the God of
orphanages, answer by orphanages. Let Him be God.” In other words, he was
saying to the atheist ‘How many atheist orphanages are there in London?’ And of
course the answer was ‘None.’ Well, how many Christian orphanages were there in
London? You couldn’t have counted them all!
What was the point? These Christians were proving
the truth of the one true and living God through their giving to these who were
in need, through the following of James 1: “Pure religion and undefiled is to
help widows and orphans and those who are in need.” These Christians were
demonstrating the reality of God through their benevolent giving.
Well, we want to do that corporately, too, and
that’s why we give to people in need on the Coast, that’s why we’re involved in
giving to Gateway Rescue Mission and the Center for Pregnancy Choices, and for
the Neighborhood Christian Center, and Palmer Home, and French Camp: in order to
follow this directive from the Lord.
IV. We must never forget to Whom
we are giving.
But fourthly, and I want you to see this also from
Matthew 6, we must never forget [five words] to Whom we
are giving. We must never forget to Whom we are giving. (That’s what
goes in the blank there under Point 4.) The Lord Jesus reminds us in Matthew
6:3,4 that all of our giving is ultimately given to the all-seeing heavenly
Father. Notice what he says: “When you give, your Father who sees what is done
in secret will reward you.”
It’s so important for us to remember that. When you
give to First Presbyterian Church, you’re not just making a contribution to the
church budget. You are literally giving to the Lord.
There’s a very interesting passage in Matthew 25,
where he records pronouncements of God on the Judgment Day. And on the Judgment
Day, He says to all those who are His children that they have fed Him and
clothed Him, and visited Him in prison. And they all respond to Him, ‘Lord, when
did we do this?’ And Jesus says, ‘When you fed the least of these My brethren,
when you clothed the least of these My brethren, when you visited the least of
these My brethren…these poor Christians in distress…when you showed mercy to
them, you weren’t actually showing it to them, you were showing it to Me. Every
act of benevolence, every act of charity, every act of giving, it was actually
to Me,’ Jesus is saying.
Of course, in Matthew 6 He makes it clear that
everything we give, we’re actually giving to our all-seeing heavenly Father, so
that when I give to First Presbyterian Church, in the final analysis I’m not
just giving to the church budget. I’m giving something to God that He will
never, ever forget.
By the way, that puts a tremendous burden of
responsibility and accountability on all of those who have responsibility to be
good stewards of that giving that you make. That means that when I pick up a
pencil in the church office, I have to remember somebody in this church has
sacrificed so that I can write with that pencil. When I take out a staff member
to talk about ministry, I have to remember, “Lord, You’ve enabled me to take
that staff member out to lunch through the giving of Your people.” I wouldn’t
be able to do that unless they had given. When we’re able to give gifts to
people who are in need, out of the Pastor’s Special Fund or through the Deacons’
Fund, to bless someone who is down and out — we all remember, we couldn’t do
this unless the people of God had given that money, ultimately not to us, but to
God; and that means we’re profoundly thankful, and we’re very careful.
V. Christian giving is worship.
Fifth principle of giving: Christian giving is
worship. Now we go to a principle that is especially made clear in I
Corinthians 16:2. The Apostle Paul is talking to the Corinthians about their
giving, and he says that on the first day of the week they are to set aside that
money that is going to be given to the offering. Why does he say the first day
of the week? Because that’s when they gather for worship! Their giving itself
is to be an act of worship. Christian giving is worship. All of the Christian
life is about glorifying and enjoying God, and therefore all the Christian life
is about worship.
A special part of the Christian life is gathering
together on the Lord’s Day, morning and evening, to worship Him together: to
lift up our voices in praise, to hear His word proclaimed. All of life is about
worship, and we especially gather to worship God. Well, giving is one part of
the whole of the Christian life in worshiping God, and it’s one important part
of what we do when we’re together. We worship God even with the giving of our
tithes and offerings. It’s an expression, again. It’s an expression that God is
more important to us than anything else.
The one thing in this world that perhaps tempts more
people than any other to trust in it is “stuff”– material possessions, financial
resources. We are tempted to find our security in them. That’s why Jesus would
say you cannot worship God and stuff. You will either love the one and hate the
other, or you’ll hate the one and love the other. You can’t worship them both,
and so Christians have to learn to use the stuff but to love God, to care more
about God than we do about the stuff. We need to learn how to use the stuff
wisely, but not to love the stuff like we love God. In giving in worship, we
are literally practicing that week by week. As we give week by week, we’re
saying ‘Lord, we love You more than the stuff. That’s why I’m giving some of the
stuff away. All the stuff comes from You; You own it; I’m just Your steward.
But I love You a lot more than I love the stuff, and even if You took all the
stuff away from me, I’d still love You.’
That’s the story of Job, isn’t it? Satan says,
‘Take all the stuff away, he’ll stop loving You, God.’ God takes all the stuff
away, and what does Job do? “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be
the name of the Lord.” He says, ‘Lord God, You can take all the stuff away,
just don’t take You away.’ So in giving we’re actually practicing that every
week: ‘Lord, I love You more than the stuff.’ And so giving is actually an act
VI. The example of Jesus’
self-giving informs our standard of giving.
Sixthly —now we finally get to II Corinthians 8!–the
example of Jesus’ self-giving [that’s what goes in that blank] informs our
standard of giving. You know, you can’t talk with Christians very long about
giving before somebody raises the tithe question: “In the Old Testament, they
gave ten percent, but in the New Testament that command isn’t repeated. So do we
have to tithe?” the question goes. It’s almost like a student in the back of
the class: “Is this going to be on the test?” which means, you know, do I
really have to learn this or not, because I’m really not that interested in it,
but if I have to I will. Lord, do I have to do ten percent, or can I get by
with less? That’s the idea of this. Does the tithe still apply for us? Is it
still required for us?
Well, the Apostle Paul scuttles that whole debate
with II Corinthians 8:9. He says this: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you
through His poverty might become rich.” In other words, everything else that
Paul tells the Corinthians about giving in this passage is based on their
understanding that Jesus divested Himself of His glory and His prerogatives. He
became poverty stricken in order that He might make you surpassingly rich, and
the Apostle Paul says that ought to motivate every Christian in our attitude to
giving, so that the emulation of Jesus’ self-giving now becomes that which you
desire to do.
In other words, you long to follow His example, so
that your question is not ‘Lord, how little can I get by with giving?’ but you
remember that the One who had everything gave everything so that you
could have everything. And when you realize that, it frees you to strive for the
utmost in your giving. So when you think of those Zambian Christians who
gathered together $230 and sent it to seven churches in Mississippi, and you
start thinking of how much money that was for those Zambians, you need to start
thinking ‘Lord, in light of what You’ve given in the incarnation, there’s no way
I can let those Zambians out-give me. I’ve got ten thousand times what they’ve
got. There’s no way I’m going to let those Zambians out-give me.’ They gave from
an overflowing of love to you who have so much, because they realized what
Christ had given to them. We ought to have the same motivation. We look at
Christ: Lord, you gave everything; I want to aim for the emulation of what You
So, Jesus’ self-giving informs our standard of
Let me just ask you to take your hymnals out and
turn to No. 230. We sing this every once in a while at Christmastime. It’s a
beautiful hymn. The Anglican bishop, Frank Houghton, wrote it, and I just want
you to look at the first phrase:
“Thou who wast rich beyond all
All for love’s sake becamest poor.”
You see, Frank Houghton is actually just paraphrasing II
Corinthians 8:9, and Paul is saying ‘Look at that. This One who was rich beyond
all splendor accepted poverty so that you could be rich. Now give in light of
that.’ Nobody could possibly say in response to that ‘Well, Lord, in light of
Your incarnation how little can I give this year?’
VII. We are to give in proportion
to what we have; not what we don’t have or may get.
Seventh biblical truth about giving: Paul makes it
clear here in II Corinthians 8 that we are to give in proportion to what we
have, not in proportion to what we don’t have or may get. In other words, when
that televangelist tells you ‘Take out your credit card! I know you don’t have
it, but sow a seed of a thousand dollars and it’ll return to you!’ The Apostle
Paul is saying ‘No, no, no, no! You need to understand the generosity of your
heavenly Father. He doesn’t say ‘Bribe Me into being good to you.’ He says
‘I’ve given you this; you give back to Me out of what I’ve already given you.
You give back to Me in proportion to what I’ve already blessed you with.’ Our
heavenly Father doesn’t operate by extortion, and anybody who tells you He does,
doesn’t know our heavenly Father. He says ‘You give back to Me out of the riches
that I’ve provided you. You just give proportionately to what I’ve already given
you. You’re not going to trick Me into giving you more.’
But this is what he also makes clear in this
passage: that we are to give proportionately. Those who have more are to give
more; those who have less, give less. We’re to give proportionately. Now the
interesting thing is, my friends, and you can ask any charity in the world and
they’ll tell you this, that what we find in the Christian community is this:
that those who have less give more. And the Apostle Paul is saying it shouldn’t
be that way. Those who have more ought to give more. It’s interesting — I said
this in the first service, and one of the Gideons in our congregation came up to
me and he said, “It’s interesting. We go to these little country churches, and
they give more than the wealthy churches give to send Gideon Bibles around the
world.” I said, “You can find the same thing from every charity that you ask:
those who have less in the Christian world tend to give more.”
Now, the Apostle Paul is saying ‘No, no, no, no!
That’s not the way it ought to be. Those who have more ought to give more.’
It’s very simple, friends! For a person who makes $27,000 a year, giving ten
percent and offering over and above that — boy, that hurts! It’s a real
challenge to do.
For the person making $270,000 a year to give ten
percent and a little above in his offerings, that doesn’t hurt nearly as much as
it does for the person with less, but the Apostle Paul says ‘Look, if the Lord
has given you much, you’d better make sure that the one with less doesn’t
out-give you! You give proportionately. As the Lord has prospered you, so you
give.’ There’s the principle that Paul sets out here in II Corinthians 8.
VIII. The Bible teaches that there
are divine rewards for faithful giving.
Eighth point of Christian giving: The Bible teaches
that there are divine rewards for faithful giving. Now, I know again that this
is always misused by the preachers of the prosperity gospel, by the people who
are all over the television promising you riches if you’ll only send their
ministry a few thousand dollars or make a pledge this week.
But notice what the Apostle Paul says — it makes so
much sense! In II Corinthians 9:6 he’ll say, “He who sows sparingly will also
reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” In
other words, the heavenly Father is saying that this is the one investment that
you make that will always make a return.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you get richer. It just
means that that investment will never ever be wasted. There’s no investment in
this world that’s a sure bet. You can get wise advice from your financial
planners, you can carefully invest in the market and sometimes you get a good
return and sometimes you don’t, but what the Apostle Paul is saying is that
there will never be a cent that you invest in the kingdom that will not reap the
benefit of blessing which God intends.
The Lord Jesus Christ stresses this beautifully,
doesn’t He, in Mathew 10:42? Jesus tells His disciples there that He will not
forget so much as a cup of cold water given in His name. In other words, no
matter what you give, no matter how small that gift — whether it’s the widow’s
mite or a cup of cold water — that the Lord Jesus Christ will reward that gift.
He will remember that gift, He will see that gift, He will reward that gift,
because as we’ve already seen from Matthew 25 ultimately that gift is given to
Him, so that your investment in the kingdom will always reap a reward. It’s a
IX. Though giving is an essential
of the Christian life, it must be willing.
And one last thing I want you to see, and you’ll see
it there again in II Corinthians 9:7: Though giving is an essential of the
Christian life, giving must be willing. It must be willing giving, free giving.
If our attitude is ‘Oh, the church is after my wallet again!’ then we’re not
giving in the spirit that the Apostle Paul speaks of in II Corinthians 8 and 9.
It is vital that we want to give, and that we delight in giving. Our giving
should not be drudgery. Our giving shouldn’t be done grudgingly. It should
come freely and willingly from our heart.
You remember in Matthew 11, at the end of the
chapter Jesus tells the story of going to a Pharisee’s home. There are Pharisees
at the house, there are a number of other disciples and people from the town in
the house, and Jesus is reclining at the table having supper with them. And a
woman comes in who is known in that community as a sinner. She was a notorious
sinner, and she takes perfume and she pours it on Jesus’ feet, and she begins to
wash His feet with her tears and that perfume, and she begins to dry His feet
with her hair. And the Pharisees are thinking to themselves, we’re told in
Matthew, ‘If Jesus really understood who this woman was, if He was really a
prophet, then He wouldn’t allow her to do that, because He’d know what kind of a
woman this was.’ Well, the irony was He knew exactly what kind of a woman she
was. This woman was a sinner who had placed her trust in Him and He had saved
her by His grace, and she had so much gratitude that the only thing she could
think to do was to take the most valuable possession she had and waste it on
Jesus. And you remember what Jesus says in that passage? He turns to the
Pharisees and — let me just paraphrase — He says He who is forgiven much loves
much, but he who is forgiven little loves little. In other words, they didn’t
think they needed to be forgiven, and so they weren’t showing Jesus a lot of
love; but this woman knew that she needed to be forgiven, and she knew that she
had received the grace of Jesus Christ, and so she expressed her love tangibly
in giving the most valuable possession that she had to Jesus and just pouring it
out on Him. And the Lord Jesus says to us ‘Your giving is an index of how much
you realize you have been forgiven by Me, because My forgiveness will provoke
your grateful giving. And those who love little haven’t realized how much
they’ve been forgiven, and those who give little aren’t showing that they
realize how much they need the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ.
Let’s look to Him in prayer.
Lord God, thank You for Your word. Make us, we
pray, willing, free givers. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Grace to you. Amen.
© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.
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