Summary: In this last lesson from the series we look at some princples of giving found in Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian church, and I try to inspire us with the joy of giving.
A. One Sunday a preacher told his congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate that morning.
1. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns.
2. After the offering plates were passed, the preacher glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 check in offering.
3. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he’d like to personally thank the person who gave so generously.
4. Rosie was sitting way in the back, but the preacher invited her to come to the front.
5. As she came, he expressed his appreciation, and reminded her that she could pick out three hymns.
6. When she arrived at the front she turned and looked over the congregation, pointed to the three most handsome men in the building, and said, “I’ll take him and him and him!”
B. Unfortunately, over the years, many preachers and churches have used unspiritual and manipulative methods to induce people to give.
1. I know that God is not pleased when that occurs.
2. Preachers have promised health and wealth and all kinds of other things, if people will just send in the cash.
3. There are actually documented cases of televangelists encouraging people to give large amounts of money from their credit cards, with the promise that God will send them all the money they need to get out of their credit card debt.
4. They tell them, “Get some Jesus on that credit card!”
5. But none of this abuse and manipulation, nullifies the true, God-given principles and promises about giving that we want to talk about today.
C. We are in the fourth and last lesson in our short series called Spiritual Dollars and Sense.
1. In first lesson we talked about where our money comes from and how to have the right perspective about money.
2. In the second lesson we talked about how to control our spending through contentment and containment – learning to live on a budget.
3. Last week we talked about borrowing and saving.
a. We learned that we should be cautious about borrowing, and that some debt is better than other debt.
b. And we learned that the wise person is the one who saves.
4. If you missed any of the sermons, I would encourage you to get a copy or listen to them at our website on line.
D. Today we want to talk about Giving – With What Kind of Giver Is God Pleased?
1. Why should we give?
2. What does the Bible really say about giving?
3. What does God expect from each of us with regard to giving?
4. How much of my income does God really expect me to give?
5. These are all very good questions, and I hope to answer them in this lesson.
6. Let’s look at several principles of giving that come right out of our Scripture Reading for today.
I. Principle #1 - Give Whole-heartedly
A. As a backdrop for our study today I want us to look at Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian church about giving.
1. There was a severe famine occurring in Judea, and Paul was encouraging the Christians from other regions to provide relief for their brothers and sisters being affected by the famine.
2. So Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and told them about the positive example of the Macedonian believers and how they rose to the occasion and helped their brethren.
3. 2 Cor. 8:1-5, “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”
B. The important principle that I want to address first, because it is the foundation for everything else, is that God is ultimately interested in us, not in our money.
1. God wants us to have a relationship with Him, one that is based on our whole-hearted devotion.
2. So the Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord.
3. If we are not whole-heartedly devoted to God, then the money we give to God has little meaning.
4. If we receive a gift from someone, but we know that they really don’t care about us, or that they are doing it just to pacify us or manipulate us, then it has little meaning.