Summary: Why should I give to the support of God’s work through my local church?
Over the last several weeks we have been taking a “Dragnet” approach to the subject of giving to God’s work. We have considered what the Bible tells us about the way God works. We have seen that Scripture teaches that God is at work in our world today to accomplish His purposes through His people through means of His provision. In other words, God has entrusted to you and me as His children, the means whereby His work through the local church can be funded. The funding of God’s work, of course, happens when we give.
We have seen that the Bible says we should give our tithe (10% of our income) to the general support of the work of the church. The tithe is an undesignated gift. Beyond the tithe, I am to give offerings as God directs. This is a gift that is designated, for example, to missions to the youth program, to the building fund, to a love offering, etc.
Finally, last time we talked about the importance of attitude in giving.
We made the point that God is far more concerned about the attitude with which I give than He is about the amount I give. We looked to the father’s example in giving His only Son for our sake as recorded in John 3:16, and found that if we are going to give in a godly way, we should give lovingly - as an expression of our love for God, generously - seeking to give our very best to the Lord, and purposefully - desiring to support the work of the one institution established for the sole purpose of reaching others for Christ, the local church. Today, we will answer the final of our “Dragnet” questions, “Why should I give?”
As we have said, the primary focus of the church and the reason for its existence is to fulfill the Great Commission, which means the church must give priority to the work of evangelism. If this is to occur, I have heard it said, there are five ships that must be sailing if a church is to stay afloat and accomplish its primary purpose:
1) Leadership - The church must have leadership that is visionary. Leadership that can not only point people to the task at hand; but who can lead them to trust God to enable them to tackle the task at hand.
2) Worship - The church needs to worship “in spirit and truth.” through worship, we maintain our vertical relationship and make sure we are in a position to hear from God.
3) Fellowship - The church is made up of people who are all different. We must celebrate our differences! Just as God, for Christ’s sake, loves us as we are; we, for Christ’s sake, must accept each other, encourage each other and love each other.
4) Discipleship - Believers must be committed to becoming more like Christ. In fact, evangelism alone does not fulfill the Great Commission. Christ calls us not just to lead folks to make decisions for Christ but to lead believers to become disciples of Christ.
5) Stewardship - If the church is to fulfill its ministry, then each member must answer the call to ministry. In answering the call to ministry, I must recognize that my time, my talents, and my treasure have been trusted to me by God and he expects me to be a good manager, or steward of them and surrender them to be used in His service. All that I possess belongs to God and is mine to enjoy because of His grace.
In recognizing this, I must choose to let Him guide me in how it is to be used for his honor. He will then direct me as to how I am to give my time, talent, and treasure to His service through his church.
Here in our text, Paul cites the example of a congregation that had all its “ships’ sailing in the right direction. In telling about the Macedonian believers, Paul deals with the question of “Why should I give?” as he identifies three reasons why every believer should give of their time, talent, and treasure to God’s work through his church.
1. Give as a personal expression of your devotion to the Lord - v. 5
We note that the Macedonians had first given themselves to God and then gave of themselves to the support of Paul’s ministry. In effect then, the generous support given to the ministry of the Apostle Paul was a personal expression of the Macedonian believers’ devotion to the Lord.
It must be pointed out, however, that the generosity of their support was not found so much in the amount they gave, as it was in the attitude with which they gave.
“They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.” - 2 Corinthians 8:4 (NIV)