Summary: Part 1 of 3: Five lessons to learn from the Macedonian believers.
Where Giving Begins
Woodlawn Baptist Church
January 8, 2006
Today we are going to begin a three part series of messages about giving as it is taught by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8-9. January is a wonderful time of year as it brings in a new year with new possibilities, new hopes and expectations and renewed commitments. Like many areas of our lives, we make commitments to ourselves and to God to do a thing like lose weight or pray more, but then as time goes on we lose momentum. This month as we renew our commitments to the Lord in the area of missions giving and to giving in general, I want you to pray with me that we would be a people who are willing to be sensitive to God’s leadership and how He might be directing us.
If you are a guest with us today, I want to invite you to spend some time with us and prayerfully consider joining with us as we labor for the Lord to reach our world for Christ. If this is your first time with us I do not want you to go away with the idea that all we talk about is money. Of necessity we do and will talk about money, and I have tried to make it a practice to spend every January dealing with this particular subject, but ultimately I know that anyone’s financial support of this ministry is a matter to settle with the Lord in accordance with His Word.
If you have your Bibles with you today I would like for you to turn to 2 Corinthians 8:1-7. This is not the first time Paul has addressed the matter of money to this congregation. In his first letter to them he addressed their need to be faithful to support the work of the ministry. He told them that they needed to be receiving offerings on the first day of every week. Everyone was to participate by setting aside a portion of their income before they assembled together, so that when they did assemble together they would be prepared to receive regular, sufficient offerings to carry on the work.
I also want to point out that the passage we’re going to deal with doesn’t have anything to do with tithes. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a tithe is an offering that is equal to 10% of your income. As a child of God and particularly as a church member, it is your privilege and responsibility to give a tithe of your income to the Lord as an act of faith and worship. That’s the beginning place. If you are not currently giving a tithe, then that is where you need to begin. Having said that, our passage today addresses special offerings over and above your tithe, given as God leads you to carry out His work.
That’s what Faith Promise Giving really is. It is you giving some amount of your income in addition to your tithe to support the mission work being carried out by your church body. It might be an additional percent or two, or it might be more than that. You might give $1 each week in addition to your tithe, or you might give $20 a week. It is between you and God.
Now, for many people, regardless of whether we’re talking about the tithe or this increased giving for missions, giving is a difficult matter. But today I don’t just want to talk to you about giving. I want to talk to you about giving sacrificially. The difference between giving and sacrificial giving is that when you are giving sacrificially you really feel it. Paul makes an appeal to this church to give sacrificially and generously, and uses the Macedonian churches as an example. Today I want to share with you five lessons from what Paul was trying to teach the Corinthian believers and make an appeal to you to trust God and give sacrificially and generously, not only for the support of this church and its ministries, but also for the sake of every missionary and mission church we support through Faith Promise.
Give! Even When It’s Difficult
“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”
The three Macedonian churches we know about are the churches at Thessalonica, Berea, and at Philippi. In all three of these places the believers faced severe persecution. As they turned their lives over to Christ and began to experience biblical life change they realized what it meant to suffer in the name of Christ. Jesus said that we ought not be surprised if the world hates us. It hated Him too.