Summary: The example of the Macedonian church can inform and inspire us to give in the way God would have use give.
We’re focusing on our need to recognize God as owner and how we’re to manage what He’s entrusted to us. In so doing, He’ll direct us to give a portion of what He has entrusted to us in such as way as to bring Him glory, provide for His household (His church) and expand His kingdom. Today, I want us think further about giving. (READ TEXT)
The Bible speaks about giving in two way: tithes and offerings. Since God is the owner and we are His managers, we should follow His direction and make sure we don’t misappropriating His funds. How might we do this? By not giving to His work in the way He desires. Malachi addressed this problem in his day, when he said:
“‘Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.’ But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings.’” - Malachi 3:8 (NIV)
Because people weren’t seeking God and obeying Him in their giving, they were misappropriating what God had entrusted to them. And we can do the same if we aren’t prayerful and intentional in our giving.
What is a tithe? A tithe is 10% of your income given to God’s work, which is centered in your local church. So when I tithe, I give at least 10% of my regular income to the support of God’s work through my local church. We know this by God’s Word. Some important points:
A tithe is not a designated gift. A tithe is given to support the ministry budget of my church without designation. So giving 10% to the building fund or the youth ministry isn’t a tithe.
A tithe is at least 10% of my income. 2%, 5%, or 8% isn’t a tithe. “Tithe” literally means “10th.” Anything less than 10% isn’t a tithe, though God may lead you to give regularly from your income an amount greater than a 10th of your income.
Since a tithe is 10% of you income, it is measured in money. So giving 10% of your time or your talents is not a tithe.
Tithing was created for our benefit. It teaches us how to put God first and how to be unselfish. Unselfish people make better spouses, friends, etc. And they usually have better finances, because God can teach them how to live better on 90% as they follow His direction than on 100% left to their own wisdom. When I give 10% and live on 90% I am living on a very basic budget. When live on a budget, I tell my money where to go, rather than wonder where it went.
This is why Dave Ramsey, who is famous for helping people get out of debt, doesn’t recommend you quit tithing to do so. He recommends the opposite. When he teaches budgeting to get out of debt, the first item he says you to include in your budget is your tithe to your local church.
What is an offering? It is given at God’s direction beyond my tithe.
“After you’ve tithed, you can give in other ways: Giving a cash offering to your church above and beyond the tithe, giving money to a charity you support, giving to a friend or neighbor in need, or giving of your time or talents. Not only does giving of your money or other resources generate good in the lives of others, it also generates contentment in your heart.” - Dave Ramsey
Some important points:
An offering is given at God’s direction. Arrived at through prayer.
An offering can be anything of value.
An offering is given to a designated need.
Paul spent close to ten years receiving an offering from among the Gentile churches to help Jewish believers who faced hard times due to famine. Paul and Barnabas made an initial visit to Jerusalem in 46 A.D. and delivered a gift from the church at Antioch (Acts 11:29-30). The Jerusalem church expressed hope the Gentile believers would continue to remember them, and Paul was eager to help. The collection was completed in 57 A.D. and funds were delivered by Paul and delegates from the contributing Gentile churches, including Corinth.
In our text for today, Paul refers to this offering, but what he shares also applies to tithing as well, as he sought to motivate the Corinthian believers to “excel in this grace of giving” (v. 7).
1. How the Macedonian Christians gave - vs. 1-6
A. They gave willingly - vs. 3b-4; 7
Paul emphasized that any contribution was to made with a motive of love, not a sense of guilt (v. 7). He repeats this later on when he says:
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” - 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)