ROBERT >> What do you think about when you think about giving to the Lord in worship? Do you think about dropping money in the plate? Does it seem materialistic and earthly and not very spiritual? Well, the Bible teaches us that giving is in fact a very spiritual part of our worship to the Lord.
>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> When we read about the beginning of the church in the Bible in Acts the 2nd chapter, the first thing that we find, that this was a worshiping church and that giving was a part of their worship. Let’s read together in Acts 2:42. Just after we learn that three thousand were baptized into Jesus Christ and the church had its beginning, the Bible says here in this verse, And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Now, you might underline and underscore that word fellowship, because it’s a word for giving. In fact, this verse tells us two things about their giving: Not only that it was a fellowship, as it’s called here, but that also it was a part of their worship, as it’s mentioned along with the apostles’ teaching, with the breaking of bread, which we learned about two weeks ago was the Lord’s supper, and it’s also associated with prayers. And so we see their fellowship was a part of their worship.
As in the Old Testament temple, the animal sacrifices were brought as an offering to God, so when we come together as God’s people, we offer spiritual sacrifices to God in the greater temple, his church. In 1 Peter 2:4-5 we learn that we are in fact as Christians a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, and we offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus. When we give, we make an offering to the Lord.
One of our members was telling me about the time she brought her nephew to church, and she explained to him that we were going to give to God. And when the man approached with the collection plate, her nephew asked her, Is that God? Well, though the offering is made to God, it is meant to be shared. Just as the offerings in the temple were shared by the priests and the people, our gifts are meant to be shared. It is a fellowship. It’s not only an offering to the Lord, but it is a fellowship, a sharing with one another and with others.
The word fellowship is the same word used for the communion, or the Lord’s supper. It’s a sharing in common. In the fellowship of Christ, we read about, for example, in 1 Corinthians 1:9, we share a common faith, Titus 1:4; and a common salvation, Jude 3. And so we also share in our worship, in the communion of the Lord’s supper, and in our giving we’re sharing.
In the beginning of the church, if you’ll look again at Acts chapter 2, notice what it says in verse 44 and 45. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. There’s the word translated fellowship in verse 22. There’s the word for giving. And they sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as anyone had need.
Look at this also in Acts 4:32: Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common. There’s that word fellowship again.
You see, by this time, they had grown from three thousand in Jerusalem to a multitude of Christians. And this is somewhat unique, something of a unique situation that we read of in the Bible, where all the church, as it had its beginning in
Jerusalem, was there. They had come from all over the world, but now they were together, and they needed to help each other and provide for one another’s needs.
In verse 34 and verse 35 the Bible says, Nor was there anyone who among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each one as anyone had need.
Look over in Acts chapter 6, and we see them distributing this gift that they had given to the church to the widows that were in need. It says, In those days when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And so we see as the church had its beginning they had all things in common. There was a fellowship, there was a sharing.
In Acts chapter 11, we go a little bit further, we see by this time the church had scattered from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, and they were beginning to go to other parts of the earth. And here in Acts chapter 11 we read about the church in Antioch, Antioch of Syria. And they were going to send relief to their brethren in Judea because there was a great famine there.
Let me read this to you, verse 29 and verse 30. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. And this they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
As we read on in the book of Acts, we see the apostle Paul would be journeying from place to place to preach the gospel. He’d be establishing churches. He would go back and he would strengthen those churches. But as he did so, he gathered a contribution, a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. We read about that in Romans 15:25-26.There the word fellowship is translated contribution.
He writes about this to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 8:4 he calls it the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And also in 2 Corinthians 9:13 he speaks of their liberal sharing with them and all men.
That word sharing, again, there’s the word fellowship. So when we speak of the giving of the first century church, we see it as a fellowship, as something they shared, something they had in common, a contribution. The church in Philippi, they shared with Paul to help him with his needs while he was ministering the gospel. Let’s read this together from Philippians 4:15-16.
Here the Bible says, Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving, but you only; for even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
And so you see the church helping those in need, you see the church supporting the preaching of the gospel. In Hebrews 13:16 he talks about being careful not to forget to do good and to share. There’s our word once again. And so every day and on the Lord’s day we need to be giving, contributing, and sharing with others. This is a part of our worship to the Lord. So I think we can see already that giving is much more than just putting money in a plate. It’s both an act of worship, an offering to the Lord, and a fellowship, a sharing with others. Now, there are two passages from Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth that are especially helpful in understanding how that church gave. And so let’s look at them more closely today.
Look in 1 Corinthians chapter 16, the first couple of verses, where the apostle Paul writes and talks about the orders that he had given to the churches of Galatia in regards to giving and how he wants the church at Corinth to do these same things.
Here’s what he writes: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also. On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. I notice a few things from this simple passage. First of all, they gave upon the first day of the week. This was the Lord’s day, when the Lord’s church met to partake of the Lord’s supper. And certainly this emphasizes that giving is an important part of the Lord’s day worship.
Every first day of the week we’re reminded that all we have comes from God, that it belongs to God. And so we come to make an offering to him upon the first day of the week. Notice also from this passage that they gave individually, personally. It says, Let each one of you give. You see, we’re all responsible to participate in the giving. I cannot give for you and you cannot give for me. And as we noted earlier, it is a fellowship, a joint participation, a sharing. Each one of us must do his part. Now, there is a third point I want to make here. They gave into the treasury of the church. Their offerings were to be stored up, to be reserved, to be kept in a common treasury so that when Paul came, no collections would have to be made.
They would lay something aside, they would store it up, they would reserve it in this common treasury of the church. And then fourthly, they gave as they prospered. Some are going to be able to give more, or less, than others. It all depends on what you have. There was no required tithe or a tenth portion of what you have in the new covenant of Jesus Christ for his church. That was a part of the law of Moses, and they had many tithes which probably totaled up to least a third of their income to be given to support the temple and the government of the nation of Israel. But in the church, we are to give as we have prospered.
So don’t concern yourself with how much everybody else is giving, but with what you are giving. Now, there’s a second passage I also want us to look at in 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9. These two chapters are the most lengthy discussion of the subject before us today on giving. And there’s a number of principles that we draw from these two chapters to add to the things that we learn in 1 Corinthians chapter 16. Notice here in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 a number of these things that will help us in determining how and how much and what we should give to the Lord.
I want to begin by reading the first five verses of 2 Corinthians chapter 8; then we’ll go back and look at them more closely. In these first five verses, the apostle Paul is telling us about the giving of the churches of Macedonia, and he’s telling the Corinthians about that to encourage them to complete their giving in being a part of this collection he’s taking for the needy saints in Jerusalem. Notice what he says about the gift of the Macedonians. Moreover brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded inthe riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we should receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. Well, this is a tremendously challenging and inspiring example we have from the churches of Macedonia. Notice, they gave liberally. Look again at verse 2, That in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. This church gave out of great affliction.
This church gave out of deep poverty. That abounded in the riches of their liberality. He’s talking about the generosity of this persecuted and poverty-stricken church. You might not think they would give much, but here he says they gave liberally. Notice, their generosity was measured by the sacrifice they made, not by the amount that they gave.
I’m reminded of that moment in the life of Jesus that we read about in Mark 12:41-44. We see him sitting by the treasury of the temple. And he sees the people coming by and putting in their monies. And the rich were putting in very much. But then a widow came, a poor widow, and she dropped in just two mites. Just two small copper coins probably not worth more than a penny, if that much. And he told his disciples that she gave more than all. She gave more than the rich because they gave out of their abundance, but he said she gave out of her poverty. And not only that, she gave all that she had. She gave her whole livelihood.
So you see, God is not looking to see how much we’re giving, but what kind of sacrifice are we making when we make our gift to the Lord? Notice also concerning the churches at Macedonia that they gave willingly.
It says in verse 3, I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing. Oh, it was not easy for them to give in their persecution, their affliction, their poverty,, but nobody had to twist their arm to do it. No, they gave freely, willingly. This is what they wanted to do. And they gave eagerly.
Look at verse 4. Imploring us with much urgency, that we should receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. You see, instead of Paul begging them to give, they were begging him to receive their gift, to be a part of this great service to the saints in Jerusalem. There’s only one thing that can explain this kind of liberal, this kind of willing, eager giving: They first gave themselves to the Lord.
Look at verse 5. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. Folks, that’s what God wants. He wants our hearts. He wants our lives. And without this, oh, our gift may help meet some church budget or do some good for somebody, but it’s not worship.
Notice also that we are to give lovingly. Look at verse 8, where Paul writes to the church at Corinth, he said, I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. You see, this whole thing was a big test to prove their love. Love must motivate all that we do.
According to 1 Corinthians 16:14, when Paul closed this letter, he said, Let all that you do be done with love. So we need to check our motivation. Why do we give? Is it to be seen by men? Is it simply to ease our conscience? Or is it out of love for God and love for the church and love for lost souls?
Still, this church gave purposefully. We look at the Bible in chapter 9 verse 7 and Paul said, Let each one give as he purposes in his heart. We are to give only after carefully considering what we are doing, to give purposefully from our hearts.
Some give no thought to it until the plate is passed. And they’ll reach in their billfold or they’ll reach in their purse at the last minute to see what’s left over and give the scraps to God. But then notice also as you read on in this verse, verse 7, that they gave cheerfully.
It says, Not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. That word translated cheerful is the word from which we get our English word hilarious. It means full of joy. They were happy to give because they wanted to honor God and they wanted to help in the work of God. Let me remind you before we leave this lesson today that God blesses this kind of giving.
When we give as they gave in the Bible,
as Paul showed them to give, as God would have us to give, God will bless the church with all that we need, he’ll bless our lives with all that we need and much, much more. Look at chapter 9 and verse 8. Here it says, And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Did you notice the superlatives in that verse? God is able to make all grace abound, always, all sufficiency, all things, an abundance for every good work. God says I’m going to take care of your needs. I’m going to bless you in ways that you could not imagine. And look at the results of their giving, giving like this. It led to thanksgiving to God. It led to God being glorified. That’s why we’re here on this earth. It led to the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles with prayers being offered.
Let’s read it in verse 11. While you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. Verse 12 says it not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God. And in verse 13, While, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God. And then verse 14, And by their prayer for you.
You see, as Paul took the gospel around to the world and many Gentiles were converted to Christ, now many of these wanted to give back to the Jews who had sent the gospel to the world, give back something physical to help their needs. And so as a result of that, the relations between the Jews and the Gentiles were strengthened, and there was reconciliation where before there had been division. As the Jews had blessed them spiritually, now the Gentiles were blessing them physically. You see, the church you read about in your Bible, it gave both by sharing and by making an offering to God.
To be that church, you must first give yourself to the one who gave himself for you. There’s a beautiful passage here in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where the Bible says, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
Oh, he was rich. He had everything with God in heaven. But he gave up all of heaven to become one of us. Born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, he lived a perfect life on this earth in the flesh, being tempted and tried. And finally, having lived that perfect life, he laid it down at the cross of Calvary. It cost him his blood so that you could have the riches, so that I could have the riches of salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
And if you believe him for it, turn from your sins, give yourself to him in baptism. As he died to pay for your sins, you must die to sin to live in it no longer. As he was buried, your old sinful self must be buried with him. And as he was raised to life again, so you must be raised to live a new life, just as Paul described in Romans chapter 6.
Will you not be baptized into Christ today, baptized into his death, buried with him and raised with him? And if you have already given yourself to Christ in this way, are you still giving yourself to him? Will you not rededicate yourself to him today? Are you struggling with temptations and trials of this life so that you need the prayers of God’s people? Are you looking for a church home where you can grow and you can serve and you can worship in the fellowship of Christ? Whatever your need today, we want to encourage you here at The Truth In Love to let us know how we can help you towards heaven today.
>> On Zion’s glorious summit stood a numerous host redeemed by blood. They hymned their king in strains divine. I heard the song and strove to
join. I heard the song and strove to join.
While everlasting ages roll, eternal love shall feast their soul, and scenes of bliss forever new rise in succession to their view. Rise in succession to their view. Holy, holy, holy Lord. God of hosts on high adored. Who like me thy praise should sing, oh Almighty king. Holy, holy, holy Lord. God of hosts on high adored. Holy, holy, holy.
ROBERT >> Thank you for watching our program today. Unlike many other religious television programs, we will never ask you for any money. Everything is provided by churches of Christ and individual Christians who support us so that we can bring it to you absolutely free of charge. So feel free to let us know if you have any questions, comments, or requests. E-mail us at email@example.com. If you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, whatever you need, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053. You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966. And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv. Again, remember that you’ll never have to pay for any of our materials and services. God bless you today, and please join us again right here on The Truth In Love.
>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace, from the toils that bind me it will bring release. Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so, showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all. Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low, till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go. When my heart is weary, when the day is long, sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.