Summary: The necessity of Giving Generously
The Grace of Generosity
Moving Ahead Together, Part 4
September 26, 2004
NIV Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
There is no such thing in the Christian life as maintenance only movement - forward or backward. There is no way getting around that reality. The nature of saving faith is perseverance or persistence in the Christian life. Perseverance does not mean perfection but it does means to continue pursuing the Lord personally, relationally, and in righteousness. It follows that as a church or a community of faith we are not created for maintenance either, we are created for movement.
We see in this passage of Scripture some qualities that characterize the Christian life - a radical devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and a radical devotion to community life, which I am describing in this series. This devotion, radical ness, or passion was evidenced by: had everything in common; selling possessions they gave to anyone as he had need. So what was happening was they so treasured Christ that it freed them from focusing on this life and freed them to freely give as people had needs. This is not isolated case. The Macedonian Christians who were experiencing extreme poverty and suffering pleaded with Paul to give. Paul tells us that this was the evidence of the grace of God working in their midst.
By contrast, nearly every study indicates that American Christians give 2-3% of their income. In 2001, Barna Research group published a report stating that among born again adults; there was a 44% rise in those who gave nothing in the last year. Compared to 1999, the mean per capita donation to churches dropped by 19% in 2000. 1/3 of born again Christians said they tithed in 2000, but a comparison of their actual giving and household incomes reveals that only 1/8 did so (Treasure Principle, p. 61).
Let’s read the text together.
We Must Support the Ministry of the Church
Throughout the NT, the giving that happened supported the church. There are three aspects of that support.
My giving supports ministry
NIV Philippians 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Paul is saying that he thanks God for the church at Philippi for their partnership in the gospel – their giving supported the work of the gospel. It was regular and consistent – from the first day until his writing. When we give, we are partnering with the church in the ministry of the gospel.