Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GETTING IN ON MISSIONS GIVING”

Second Corinthians 8-9

I am of the opinion that missions giving is more caught than taught. I am of the opinion that giving in general is more caught than taught. I am of the opinion that many aspects of the Christian life are more caught than taught. Therefore, this evening I want to relate to you how a number of churches caught a zeal for giving, in the hopes that each of you will be zealous to give for Christ’s sake.

Keep in mind that on the Day of Pentecost thousands of Jews from all over the world were converted to Christ and remained in Jerusalem under the tutelage of the apostles instead of returning home. Since there was no work for those thousands, they were kept alive by the sacrificial giving of those converts among them who lived and worked in and around Jerusalem. Acts 4.32-37 relates the circumstances of that time:

32     And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

33     And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

34     Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35     And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

36     And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37     Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

 

Some erroneously think that early Christians were communists, but that is a complete misread of the situation. Those early Christians were so committed to the cause of Christ and so earnest in their desire to advance the gospel that they willingly sacrificed what they had to benefit other Christians. As it turned out, when God scattered the multitudes of Christians in Jerusalem to the hinterlands, thereby setting off an explosion of church planting and evangelism among the Gentiles in the cities they fled to, those who lived in Jerusalem and who remained behind had given everything they had. Keeping in mind that many of the Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem were extremely prejudiced toward Gentiles, even Gentiles who were Christians (as we see from some of Peter’s difficulties with his prejudices that are recorded in the book of Acts), when the entire region of Judea was hit with a severe drought and resulting famine they were threatened with starvation, having no money left after their sacrifice to support the many Christians who stayed after being converted on the Day of Pentecost. Having dealt with these prejudices and the obstacles they posed to reaching Gentiles, Paul saw the drought and famine as a wonderful opportunity given by God. How could the Jewish Christians continue their revulsion toward Gentile Christians if those same Gentile Christians saved their lives by giving them money with which to buy good during drought?

Thus was born the idea of taking up a collection for the saints in Judea, with Gentile Christians giving money to help believers they knew they were never meet in this lifetime, but willing to help at great cost to themselves those who were blood bought children of God just like themselves. This collection was so important that the Apostle Paul delayed his long-planned trip to Rome so he could personally take the offering to the brethren in Judea. Romans 15.22-28 was likely written just before Paul’s departure to take the special offering back to Jerusalem:

 

22     For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.

23     But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;

24     Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.

25     But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

26     For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

27     It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

28     When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

 

What I have in mind for you this evening is an opportunity to look inside the mind of the Apostle Paul as he deals with the Corinthian Christians and on the occasion of dispatching Titus to collect the money they had promised to give about a year earlier. In First Corinthians 16.1-2, which was my text for this morning’s message, Paul gives direction to the Corinthians so they will begin to do what they had purposed to do, collect the money for the special offering:

 

1      Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

2      Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

 

Obviously, Paul wanted the money gathered up and ready to go when he got there. Time is of the essence. Brothers and sisters in Christ are on the verge of starvation. However, when we turn to Second Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 we realize that Paul will not be traveling to Corinth, but has sent Titus instead. Keeping in mind that our text does not deal with tithing, but with giving above and beyond the tithe, I want you to follow along as we rapidly surf through the text, picking up odd items here and there that shows the interplay between the giving of the Macedonian churches to the north, in such cities as Philippi and Thessalonica, and the Corinthians at the southern end of the Achaean peninsula.

 

First, PAUL SETS FORTH THE PATTERN OF GIVING HE WANTS EMULATED

 

Notice the example of the Macedonians, in Second Corinthians 8.1-7:

 

1      Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2      How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3      For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4      Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5      And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

6      Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

7      Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

 

Several things to take note of here:

First, the Apostle Paul describes the giving of the Macedonian congregations as the grace of God that was bestowed upon them. We know that you can minister grace to other people when you speak that “which is good to the use of edifying,” Ephesians 4.29. However, did you also know that when you give to and through your church you can be sure that God is thereby ministering grace to you?

Next, take note that the Macedonian churches actually pleaded with Paul to allow them to take part in the special offering to the Christians in Judea, and that despite their “deep poverty.” It is highly unlikely that you know anyone who is in deep poverty. Despite their “deep poverty”, they wanted to give and urged Paul to allow them to participate. How was this accomplished? Paul comments that they did not give “as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

For by grace are ye saved, Paul wrote the Ephesians. Now that the Thessalonians and Philippians were living by grace, they were transformed from being takers and moochers who only wanted others to give to them, to being Christ-like, to being godly, to being givers. They abounded in every other grace, so Paul wanted them to abound in this grace, as well.

Notice, too, the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, in verses 8-9:

 

8      I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9      For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

 

Please notice that Paul clearly indicates that giving offerings is nowhere commanded. No one had to give to this special project, just as no one in our church is required to give to our church’s missions outreach. However, we notice in verse 8 that the Christian’s giving, even when it is prompted by the forwardness of others who give, certainly does prove the sincerity of your love.

How like the Savior this is, Who was willing to become poor so that we might become spiritually rich. God gave His Son. Jesus gave His life. To follow Christ’s example, Paul urged the Corinthians to give. To follow the impoverished Macedonian’s example, Paul urged the Corinthians to give.

 

Next, PAUL SETS FORTH THE PURPOSE OF GIVING

 

10     And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

11     Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

12     For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

13     For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

14     But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

15     As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

 

Of course, there is much to each of these passages we are looking at, though there is only time for some passing comments:

First, notice in verse 10 that Paul reminds the Corinthians that what he wants them to do is only what they had decided for themselves they wanted to do the year before.

Next, and this is important to keep in mind, verse 11 shows that you can only give what you have. Verse 12 rehearses the same point again. You must be willing to give, as well as able. If you do not want to do it, then don’t. However, even if you want you, you cannot give what you do not have: “it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”

Keep in mind, however, that if you do not give the burden will fall on others to do more than their fair share. It is not right that others are eased while you are burdened. Of course, the opposite is also true. It is not right that others are burdened while you are eased. Those Jewish Christians in Judea had freely given so those who were converted on the Day of Pentecost could be housed and fed while being trained for the gospel ministry by the apostles. The Corinthians and Macedonians were saved, humanly speaking, as a result of others willingness to give to those who brought them the gospel. Now, Paul reminds them, it is their turn to give back to help those who first helped them. That is the purpose of this special gift Paul is collecting.

 

Third, PAUL SETS FORTH THE PROCEDURES FOR GIVING

 

16     But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

17     For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

18     And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

19     And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

20     Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

21     Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22     And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

23     Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

24     Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

1      For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2      For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

3      Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

4      Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

5      Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

 

Just enough time for five short things here:

First, Paul informs them that Titus is coming to them instead of him. That is in verse 16. Later on, in verse 23, he makes sure they know Titus is his partner in the ministry and fellowhelper, so they will not feel slighted as a result of Paul not coming.

In verse 19, he once again reminds them that giving is a grace. In verses 21 and 22, he points out that by sending Titus and another man he is providing for things honest. In other words, Paul was very careful with accountability, to make sure everyone was satisfied that the money being given was handled properly and above board. Friends, I assure you that annual audits and reviews verify that 100% of what we send to our missionaries actually gets to our missionaries.

Verse 24 shows us two things: First, Paul reminds them once again that giving shows the proof of their love for Christ and His cause. Do you get the idea that is an important point to Paul? Additionally, Paul informs the Corinthians that their giving will show that his boasting of them to other congregations is shown to be for good cause.

Now, look at Second Corinthians 9.2: “. . . I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.” He is telling them that those Macedonians are giving because of your decision to give a year ago. I bragged to them about you, and your zeal provoked a whole bunch of them to give.

Then, in verses 3-5, he points out that if they do not come through with what they said they would do it would shame him, not to mention shaming them. Here is the thing: The Corinthians got everyone excited about giving when they said they were going to give. However, now, if they do not come through as they promised, it will be a catastrophe.

 

Finally, And With This We Conclude, THE PROMISE OF GIVING

 

6      But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7      Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

8      And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

9      (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

10     Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

11     Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

12     For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

13     Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

14     And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

15     Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

 

Not only does the Apostle Paul once again remind the Corinthians that giving is a grace, verses 8 and 14, but he also points out to them in two different places that the law of sowing and reaping applies to giving: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”

As well, he takes note of the thankfulness to God that will result from their giving, verse 11, and his own thanks to God for their giving and “his unspeakable gift” (an allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ) in verse 15.

 

When the Corinthians found out that the Christians in Judea were in dire straits, they became excited at the prospect of raising money from their abundance to be a blessing to the same people who had initially underwritten the bulk of those first Christians who later went everywhere preaching the gospel and starting churches. How thrilled they were that God had given them the opportunity to come through for those Jewish Christians in a time of great need. When Paul related their enthusiasm and determination to the extremely poor Christians to the north in Macedonia, they became so thrilled at the thought of it that they begged Paul that he might allow them to give as well, giving sacrificially for their love of Christ and the brethren.

Well, it is now a year later and the Macedonians have come through. They dug deep and gave abundantly. However, the Corinthians, who really got things going by their commitment to give, had not yet come across with anything. Paul is all ready to sail, but the ones who started it all still have not given anything. So, he writes a second inspired letter to them, and in chapters 8 and 9 he reminds them that giving is a grace, he reminds them that the whole thing was their idea and they did not have to give anything, but he also points out that if they do not come through with what they committed to doing a year ago both he and they will be shamed, him for bragging on a church that blew it, and them for making a commitment they did not keep.

My friends, those poor Macedonian Christians saw something the Corinthians initially saw, and then lost sight of: Giving is a grace, an incredible privilege granted by God to participate in the advance of the gospel. Second Corinthians was written, in part, so the Corinthians would catch the vision once again. In like manner, our stewardship month, and especially our missions conference starting Wednesday, is a challenge for each of us to renew and reinvigorate our commitment to the grace of giving. Keep in mind that it is voluntary, that it is not something anyone has to do (since it is above and beyond the tithe), but that once a commitment is made it brings shame on a person to not follow through, provided he has the funds to give what he committed to giving.

Paul’s project was a relief project to help Christians in Judea avoid starvation. Our project is different. It is missions beyond the reach of our church people, giving to strengthen churches and to start new churches, both here in the United States and around the world.

My prayer, as your pastor, is that you will become so excited about starting churches, about supporting missionaries and pastors, about personally experiencing this grace called giving and giving other Christians cause to thank God because of you, that you will continue giving to Calvary Road Baptist Church missions, and that as God enables you you will give more this year than you did last year.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org