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Summary: Planning our giving is taught in Scripture; it permits us to anticipate our worship.

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“It is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.” [1]

There is a place for spontaneous giving in the church of the Living God. The congregation is informed of needs and each responds through providing a gift. Together with the gifts of other believers, this generosity is intended to relieve the particular need that has been publicised. However, the vast majority of Christian giving is regular and planned. Week-by-week we receive the offerings of the people to be used for the ongoing work of the Kingdom of God.

A significant portion of our gifts underwrites the ministry of those individuals giving themselves to full-time service to the people of God. The funds set these gifted individuals free to fulfil the ministry to which God has appointed them. A portion of our gifts pays for the upkeep on the building and facilities in which we conduct our services. A portion of our gifts is distributed beyond our immediate congregation to advance the work of God’s Kingdom. A portion of our gifts is used in various relief ministries for members of the congregation and others who may have immediate needs. It is these ongoing demands that are underwritten through the regular gifts of the people of God.

The giving of God’s people should always reflect forethought and consideration by those sharing in this act of worship. The amounts we bring home as income is usually known to each of us; we are able to plan what our receipts will be in the most instances. Similarly, our giving should be planned, based upon anticipated income. In that vein, the message today is a study of the instruction Paul provided the Corinthian believers encouraging forethought and planning in giving to spiritual needs, which teaching applies to all Christians.

PLANNED GIVING IS GROUNDED IN A SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY — “I know your readiness.” Christians are a generous people; this is the earned reputation of the Faith and it is well deserved. Outsiders are quick to turn to the church when they have a need. In years past before the present boom in gas production, I could anticipate a variety of calls or visits from individuals seeking assistance during any given week. The calls ranged from requests for food or temporary housing to pleas for moneys for financial relief. As an aside, the congregations I have served have always declined to give out money to those requesting assistance. If investigation reveals a legitimate request, we provide limited assistance of food, clothing or shelter. The point of this discussion is to note that outsiders are quick to turn to the churches within a community whenever there is a physical need because the churches have a reputation of generosity.

Throughout the Word of God are found statements which speak of the spirit which should mark believers in Christ the Lord, and few are more pointed then the one found in MATTHEW 10:8: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” Though the context speaks of giving of ourselves in ministry, it requires no violence to the text to realise that it speaks also of our possessions.

Christian generosity is at once strength and weakness for a congregation. As Christians, we are to be compassionate. Our Saviour is compassionate; and if we will reflect His Spirit, we will be compassionate. We are to build the weak and the injured instead of taking advantage of them or inadvertently adding to their misery. Undoubtedly Christians are generous, responding quickly to hurt arising from the fallen condition we share with all humanity. Compassion eventuates in generosity; thus, our generosity is a reflection of the Spirit of Christ at work in us.

However, it is apparent that generosity exercised without discernment is disastrous. Undiscerning Christians are easy prey for unscrupulous leeches. Was I to contribute to every sad tale presented to me, either by phone, in person or through the medium of print, I would be perpetually impoverished. Perhaps scam artists have always sought to fleece churches. Nevertheless, ministers once were respected and church buildings were sacrosanct. Today there are people who will even steal even communion sets from a church, ministers are physically assaulted and Christians are thought to be gullible and perhaps even somewhat doltish.

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