Summary: This message was taken from the author’s book, CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP
Introduction: May I say at the beginning that my definition of prosperity theology or prosperity giving may be much different than some of the TV religious charlatans, who are scheming to get your money, and the church’s money. The Apostle Paul gives us helpful insight, and instruction that pertains to Scriptural giving. As God prospers us, He gives us directions on how to use that prosperity. Keep in mind as the Lord does this, that He provides for our needs as we continue to meet the needs of others.
May we look at two different passages of Scripture that shows us the proper way of giving, and how God makes it all possible. First, we will look at, The Program That The Lord Gave For Our Stewardship; Then, The Provisions That The Lord Gives For Our Stewardship.
I. THE PROGRAM THAT THE LORD GAVE FOR OUR STEWARDSHIP. (1 Cor. 16:1-3)
A. When Should We Give? (V. 1) "NOW"
The word "now" is a word that moves with time. Obviously, when Paul wrote the church at Corinth, he was writing for the purpose of either instructing, or correcting their improper stewardship. The carnal Corinthians had many aspects of their ministry that needed correcting. The instructions that were given to this church were very valid for the day in which they were given, but the same must be said for today. This is based upon the concept that "Truth does not ever change". Realizing that the word, "now" may be applied to our church this morning, just as it was given to the Church at Corinth, we need to give great heed to these ancient instructions that are more up to date than tomorrows newspaper.
B. What We Should Give. (V. 1). "COLLECTIONS"
Within the context of our text, the collections were a form of giving that was to minister to saints who were not a part of the Church at Corinth. It would be similar to our faith promise mission giving in that it was given to be a blessing to those who had needs outside of the church. Yet, in the spirit of grace giving, it was to be done with not only a sensitivity involving saints who had needs, but in respect to the givers ongoing personal needs as well.
The word "collections" means that it was the actual taking up of money. The cornerstone word of the Christian faith is the word Give. No one illustrates a greater pattern for giving than did Christ Jesus when He gave Himself as a ransom for many. Obviously, the collections could never happen unless there were those who had the heart to give. Collections were not taken just to have collections. They were taken with purpose in mind. As we give, we should give with purpose just as Christ Jesus gave of Himself in such an unselfish manner.
A strong, and a healthy church is fired, and moved by great purpose. Purpose should be a major part of the churches passion. This purpose should originate in ones heart even as it did with Daniel, in Daniel 1:8. When either a church, in a collective sense, or a person in an individual sense loses its sense of purpose, that person or church is in a dying state. Our church not only needs to evaluate its reason for its existence, but should be exercising that reason through its giving. Before a person will give his money as a collection, he must have first given himself. Paul talked more of this in his second letter. We will examine this more later.
C. Who Should Give? (V. 1). "SAINTS"
Paul was using this word to describe believers. Saved believers are "saints". He was using this word to emphasize that saved people are sanctified people who have been set apart for the master’s use. Each one of us today is no different than those in Paul’s day. We too have been set apart for the Master’s purpose. This purpose involving giving is to be exercised by and through the local church. The systematic taking up of collections has been practiced for over 2000 years. It is still God’s way. The Lord’s work is to be done through the collection of offerings. We do not finance the Lord’s work through raffles, bake sales, car washes, etc. When our students in our school do this, they are doing it as a means to raise money for their school activities. When it comes to the church operations, we support it through the tithes and the offerings.
D. Where Should We Give? (V. 1) "CHURCHES"
We have already been emphasizing the importance of supporting the ministries through the local church. The instructions for doing this are immediately given in the very first verse. This is no accident; this shows the importance of our giving taking place in, and through the local New Testament church. God should have first place, and this will be demonstrated in a very practical way through your giving to the church. You support most what you love the most. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". (Matthew 6:21).