Summary: How to experience the grace of giving to the Lord.
I confess that there are some pastors who are afraid to talk about money to their churches. Their motives are right. They are not just comfortable with the topic. So, they would rather invite a guest speaker to talk about giving.
However, as your pastor, I believe if I can’t talk to you about giving, I can’t really talk to you about anything. As I have mentioned in a sermon before, our Lord Jesus Himself talk more about money than heaven and hell. There are more verses about possessions in the Bible than verses on faith and prayer combined. So, since this is what the Bible teaches, I have to share it with you. And I believe a straight talk on giving is better that not talking about it at all. Giving is both our privilege and our responsibility.
But first, let me clarify that this is family talk. In short, I am talking to our members and regular attenders of Makati Gospel Church. To our visitors, this is not meant for you. Though, of course, you are most welcome to listen.
When I was in the media, I learned to ask the 5 “W’s” and 1 “H.” That is, who, what, when, where, why and how. This morning, we will do just that.
Let us read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4... Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 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. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
Let’s first talk about the “WHY,” that is, the PURPOSE of giving. Note that Paul was talking about “the collection for God’s people” and the “gift to Jerusalem.” At that time, they were pooling their resources to help the needy believers in Jerusalem. And that’s the first reason why we give, to HELP the NEEDY. The early believers supported each other. “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” Now it was voluntary on their part. The apostles did not require them to sell their properties. So, you can all heave a sigh of relief. It was their way of helping the needy. You may be asking, “I only have limited resources. I cannot help all the needy. How can I do that?” I will talk about that later.
The second reason why we give is to HONOR the WORK OF GOD. Paul wrote that, “The elders [that is, the leaders of the church] who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” What did Paul meant by “double honor”? Connect it with “The worker deserves his wages.” Now you get the picture. That’s why the Contemporary English Version goes like this: “Church leaders who do their job well deserve to be paid twice as much”. We are not in the ministry for money. But the ministry needs money to fulfill its mission. Thus we are to give RESPONSIBLY.
Now, let’s talk about the “WHO,” the PARTICIPANTS of giving. Verse 2 says, “let each one of you”. Who was he referring to? Each believer! We are to give PERSONALLY. In 2 Corinthians 8:5, Paul commended the Macedonian believers for their giving: “they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” Note that “they gave themselves first to the Lord” before giving anything to anyone. That means that only believers in the Lord Jesus should give. That’s why we are against those who collect offerings in busses or in public places like the market. Baptism is only for believers. Communion is only for believers. Giving is only for believers. Giving is a family matter.
Also, being poor is not an excuse. Look at the situation of the Macedonian believers: “Although they were going through hard times and were very poor, they were glad to give generously. They gave as much as they could afford and even more, simply because they wanted to.” It’s not an issue of how you much money you have or how much you give. It’s an issue of how big your heart is. It’s a personal issue, between you and God.