Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by [your] letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
There is a story told about Ivan the Great who ruled Russia as Czar in the 15th century. He was a warrior, a fighter, and a conqueror of kingdoms. The Soviet Union as we knew it a few years ago was basically put into place by Ivan the Great.
Ivan was so busy doing battle that some of his comrades became concerned because he hadn't taken time to get married and have a family. They came to him and said “You've got to get married because you've got to have an heir to the throne.” But Ivan said “I want to do battle and to conquer more territory, you go find a wife for me.” So they did.
Ivan's men found a wife for him from the daughter of the king of Greece, a beautiful girl. They said to Ivan, “We found a wife for you, but there's one problem.” “What's that?” he asked. “If you're going to marry her, you have to be Greek Orthodox,” they said. Ivan the Great said, “Well, if you think she'd make a good wife for me, that's no problem, I could be Greek Orthodox.”
The king of Greece was thrilled with this because it meant that Ivan wasn't going to invade his territory. So the Greeks sent tutors to Russia to tutor Ivan and 500 of his elite soldiers, everyone a great warrior. The soldiers required tutoring because Ivan said, “If I'm going to be Greek Orthodox, they're going to be Greek Orthodox.”
They tutored all these men in the Greek Orthodox faith and finally Ivan and the soldiers went down to Greece for the wedding. But before the marriage they had to be baptized into the Greek Orthodox church. It was an incredible sight as thousands of people came to watch Ivan the Great and his 500 soldiers all wade into the water at one time to be baptized by immersion into their new church.
Five hundred soldiers with full armor and five hundred Greek Orthodox priests were standing in the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea for the baptism, when all of a sudden the king of Greece said, “We've got a problem.” The problem was that in the Greek Orthodox Church you could not be a warrior and a member of the church at the same time.
So they held a hastily-called diplomatic meeting in the water to ask, "How are we going to work this out?" They came up with a simple answer. Just before the priests immersed the soldiers, each man took out his sword, held it high above the water, and allowed the priest to baptize everything but his sword arm. This came to be known as “the unbaptized arm.”
There are many Christians today who have unbaptized checkbooks. They have dedicated every part of their life to God except their money. As someone has said, "The last thing to be converted is our pocketbook." Copyright 2006 Rod Rogers.
This is time of the year when we remind ourselves on Financial Stewardship. Also the time for the awkward silence when you can hear the grass grow.
• Of the five things we are stewards of – Truth; temple; talent; time; and treasure. It is “treasure” that we have most problems being held accountable to.
• Fifty-seven percent of divorced couples in the United States cited financial problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriage. according to a survey conducted by Citibank. – their wedding vow (woe) – till debt do us part.
• The article in BNet goes on to say Financial incompatibility comes from the way people are raised.
• Financial planning; spending less than you earn; living below your means are Biblical virtues.
• Abuse of living by faith: “Living by Faith” is not about spending unwisely and expecting God to provide- It is temptation that Jesus withstood, saying “you will not tempt the Lord your God”. It is a sin.
Today’s focus is about giving back to the Lord and for His work.
• The consecration that does not reach the pocketbook does not reach the heart.
• Parables of Jesus Christ: Of the 38 parables, 16 were related to material things.
• 500 verses of faith; 500 verses of prayer but over 2000 verses on stewardship.
• God is interested in the financial part of your life, not because He wants to get your money but because it is best for you.
Ps 50:12 - If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world [is] mine, and the fulness thereof.
E.g. A man who made his 2 boys work in the corn fields when the other boys were out fishing and playing was asked why are you so diligent with these boys, you can’t eat all the corn you are raising. He replied, “It is not corn I am raising, it is boys”. Think about it.
Five Principles about giving
1. Command: Vs 1. “As I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye...”
• Principle of giving.
• This is not a command as in the 10 Commandments – but setting of a right practice among the Churches in Galatia and now in Corinth.
• In context: Putting things in Order – To arrange, appoint, ordain, and prescribe. The order of giving.
Not under the Law?
• We don’t feed our children because of the law, but because we love them. However, if there is child abuse, the law steps in.
• We can’t be a law to ourselves. If we can’t live by grace we will be judged by the law.
• Rom 3:31 - Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
• If Jews under the law gave 10%, and if those under grace give less it is a disgrace.
We will not have problems with commands if we remember that we are not the owners. We are only giving back what belongs to Him.
When we give to God, we are just taking our hands off what already belongs to Him.
God doesn’t need your money, He wants you.
• Tithing is not God’s way to raise money. He does not work on your economy.
• 2 Cor 8:5- And [this they did], not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord,...
• 2 Cor 12:14 -- for I seek not yours, but you:
Command with a promise:
In the Old Testament, the phrase “windows of heaven” were first used during the flood (Gen 7:11), the last time was in Malachi (Mal 3:10).
• 2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity (not as a command): for God loveth a cheerful giver.
God showed love by giving. Jn 3:16
“You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.”
— AMY CARMICHAEL (1867-1951), MISSIONARY TO INDIA.
2. Commitment: Vs 2. “Upon the first day of the week...”
• Priority of giving.
• Sunday is the first day of the week, not the weekend. That’s the lie of the commercial man.
Give to God what's right--not what's left.
Take out what you want to give God as the first thing – the first fruit principle.
• We never serve leftovers to anyone, yet for God we give the very least.
When it comes to giving, some people stop at nothing.
• Christian giving is a planned giving- first day of the week.
• It is consistent and continuing.
1 Cor 16:2 at there be no gatherings when I come.
• No emergency collection. Planned and consistent giving is Biblical.
3. Contributory: Vs 2: “Every one of you lay by him in store...”
• Personal in giving. There is a role for everyone.
• April 30th – we filled in tax papers. “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
• We never think of not paying the government what we owe, and God says, “You have robbed me” (Malachi 3). We fear Caesar, more than we fear God.
Giving is for everyone.
• Many families have “money for God” jars, where they teach their children to give to God – even though the money does not belong to them.
• Tithing is a taught habit. It is intentional. By nature and by habit, we like to spend money on ourselves.
Giving is how we grow.
The Dead Sea is the dead sea because it continually receives and never gives.
Lay by him in store
• It is not only a planned giving but a purposeful giving.
• 1 Cor 16:2 / Mal 3:10 –“in store” – same word.
• Bring God’s part, to God’s place, so that God’s work can be done in God’s way.
4. Corresponding: Vs 2: “ As God hath prospered him...”
• Proportion in giving.
E.g. The Concept of ‘Limited Good’ among the Mazatec Indians
For the past forty years Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in South-western Mexico. During this time she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, “Who taught you to bake bread?” the village baker answers, “I just know,” meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help. Eunice says this odd behaviour stems from the Indian’s concept of “limited good.” They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well—“Have a good day”—means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired.
• We do carry the scarcity mentality. The “what if” mindset. What if there is an emergency; what if ...
• “As God has prospered”. By not acting, we accuse God of not prospering us.
Should it be 10%?
• Giving as the Lord has prospered you.
With the price of everything else going up these days, aren’t you glad the Lord hasn’t increased the
tithe to 15%?
• We are particular to give 10 or 15% gratuity or tips to the server and when it comes to God we don’t even treat him like a server at Dennys. Shame on us.
You should give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.
5. Cause: Vs 3: “...them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
• Purpose in giving.
• Mal 3:10 – That there be meat in my house...
• Meat is the resource to do God’s work
• We don’t give because there is a need, but because it is right. When you give because it is right, you meet a need.
God does not need your money.
by Annie Glasel
What good is money? It is worthless unless it is exchange for something useful. And what it can buy determines not the value of the item but rather the worth of the dollar.
The Bible has given fabulous examples that money is worthless. Crossing the desert to the promise land, the Israelites were laden with gold, silver from their Egyptian masters. But what good were those gold, silver when they were hungry and thirsty? God did not need that money, silver or gold. God simply sent manna, flew in a few thousand quails and made water burst from rocks.
What about that famous feeding the thousand story in the New Testament. The disciples did not have enough food. And they did not have enough money. And they knew that even if they had money, there were no place to buy enough food to feed that large of a crowd. What did God need at that time - all but 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread.
So I think that the argument that God needs our money to do the works of the kingdom is quite ridiculous. This is the Alpha and the Omega. He can make rocks sing, smite an entire city in single breath, make a tree grow overnight and then wither just as quickly, cast nets where there is no fish until the nets are breaking with a catch. So let's get real for a minute. God does not need our money.
If he really wanted to feed a nation of hungry people, he could simply make fertile where once barren, rain down more manna was, more quail or turn an entire contaminated river into the best purified water.
Why he doesn't do that, I don't know.
But what I do know is that money is something He allows me to have for a specific period of time to do works that would be pleasing to Him.
I should not be so arrogant as to see that "my money" makes all the difference. But that I should be humbled enough to say that God has given me this opportunity to make a difference. To share in His joy, to share in His compassion, to share in His triumph, to share in His love.
It is a privilege to have anything to give. And how I spend what God has allowed me to manage during my short stay here on Earth is a reflection of my priorities.
When I get to heaven, God is going to open the accounting book and show me all the times that I have squandered, cheated, stolen, withheld and I will weep. I will see how little I truly believed him, loved him and followed him. And how I thought was so important at that time was really not that important. And how that little black dress that I did not need could have translated to food for a family of four, bolstering their faith for another day.
He will surely wipe away that debt and then show me where I have given as I ought. And how that has pleased him. I want that to be a long list.
So it is true. God does not need our money to complete His work. But what awesome honour it is to participate, even with something as worthless as money.
• If we are going to become like Jesus, and be a true reflection of His image should be giving.