Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ABHORRING THE OFFERING”

Second Corinthians 9.1-5 

In six weeks, the greater part of our Church’s membership will participate in what we call PayCheck Sunday. PayCheck Sunday is the one Sunday of each year in which we reverse our pattern of giving. Instead of giving God a 10% tithe and offerings above the tithe and keeping 90% of our income, we are urged to consider giving God 90% and keeping the tithe for ourselves. This annual offering is so wonderful for us at Calvary Road Baptist Church, and yet there are so many people who are so hypersensitive about the issue of giving money that I have decided to speak about abhorring the offering of the LORD.

Let’s face it. Sometimes people conclude that the negative attitude many non-Christians have about giving to the Lord’s work is the result of a grisly affair related to some shyster preacher aunt Mae or uncle Will were once taken in by, or some money-raising scheme cooked up by Benny Hinn or some other Christian television con man. But you need to realize that there were a great many people who hated the offering of the Lord a long, long time before there were country shyster preachers or television evangelists like Oral Roberts or Jimmy Swaggart. How many of you remember Reverend Ike or Leroy Jenkins? Well, I’m talking about thousands of years before those crooks.

As far back as the times of Israel’s judges, before Israel ever had her first king, some people despised the offering of the LORD. Would you please turn in your Bible to First Samuel 2.12-17, where we will discover what caused the men of Israel to abhor the offering of the LORD? When you find that passage, please stand for the reading of God’s Word: 

12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;

14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.

15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.

16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.

17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. 

Remembering that Eli was the high priest of Israel at the time and that the phrase “son of Belial” was a derisive term applied to wicked and ungodly men, we notice that the men of Israel began to abhor the offering of the LORD when Hophni and Phineas, Eli’s sons, who were priests in their own right, and who should have conducted themselves as men of God, greatly misused their office and the offering of the LORD.[1]

God had ordained that the priests, such as Eli and his sons, descended from Israel’s first high priest, Aaron, were to have their material needs met through the offering of sacrifices that God’s people made. When certain things were done just so, the priests were allowed to take a portion of the sacrifice to feed themselves and their families.

But a careful reading of First Samuel 2.15-16 reveals that the sons of Eli abused their position as priests and not only took what was forbidden for them to take but also took it at the wrong time. In other words, they completely disregarded the guidelines established by God. The result? The men of Israel abhorred the offering of the LORD.

Have you ever observed that? Many families have at least one member who abhors the offering of the LORD and is not shy about expressing his opinion that “All they care about is your money.” Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever reached a point in your life that you despised offering time at Church? It can happen. It is possible that one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling times of worship can be reduced to something despicable.

There are two reasons such a thing can happen: Either your heart begins to harden toward the things of the LORD, and you grow unconcerned about His ministry and getting folks saved, or spiritual leaders, such as Hophni and Phineas did, behave in such a way as to provoke your wrath with their outright sinful behavior, or their bad personal reputations, or their unethical use of what is given.

Suppose you hate giving to the cause of Christ because your heart isn’t right with God. In that case, you need to repent of the sin of having an uncaring and unconcerned heart or repent of being materialistic and greedy for that which God would have you use on His behalf and of not delighting in the things of God. But what about the other reason for abhorring the offering of the LORD? What must be done to assure, and to ensure, that Christians don’t hate giving to the cause of Christ because they suspect the motives of the spiritual leaders? After all, spiritual leaders have not convinced them that the money will be used in the right way?

That is what my message is about. It is the spiritual leader’s responsibility before God to ensure that God’s people do not abhor the offering of the LORD. In my text, we will observe that Apostle Paul takes three steps to discharge that responsibility. Turn to Second Corinthians chapter 9. Three things other pastors and I need to do to make sure you and other Church members will continue to delight in giving to the LORD. 

First, PASTORS MUST DECLARE (9.1-2) 

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. 

Concerning the Corinthians’ ministering to the saints, their giving of gifts to feed the poor and starving Christians in Jerusalem, Paul set an example for all time for all pastors and missionaries to follow in that aspect of the ministry related to stewardship.

Notice, in verse 1, his correspondence: 

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you.” 

We know Paul wanted the Corinthians to follow through on their commitment to giving. Right? We know that he did not want them to abhor the offering of the Lord. Right? But we must remember that he was striving to lead those people to give for the benefit of Christians they had no natural affinity with. Those were Gentile Christians Paul had persuaded to give to Jewish Christians, who had historically openly despised Gentiles. If you are at all aware of the kind of tension and animosity that existed in those days between Jewish people and Gentile folk, then you realize that for this special offering for the Jerusalem Christians to come off, God had to do a work in many different people’s hearts. Notice how Paul’s words of verse 1 continued to gently nudge the Corinthians in the direction that God wanted them to go. Paul started off the verse by referring to the things written in chapter 8: 

“For as touching the ministering to the saints.” 

What did he write that encouraged them to follow through in the performance of God’s will? 

“...it is superfluous for me to write to you.” 

The verb translated “write” directly references what Paul had already written, not what he was about to write. Paul informed the Corinthians that he no longer needed to speak to them directly about the Jerusalem offering. He had already told them enough to get the job done. He realized that when you don’t need to say anymore don’t say any more. What he will say had to do with giving generally but was not directly related to trying to persuade them to do something they had already committed themselves to doing.

Now notice, in verse 2, his conversation: 

“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.” 

Here Paul discusses why he has concluded that he doesn’t need to spend any more time persuading them to give to the Jerusalem Christians. It’s because he knows “the forwardness” of their minds. That is, Paul knew how ready the Corinthians were to do right, so much so that he boasted of them to the Macedonians. And what was the substance of his boasting to the poor Christians up north who were so eager to follow the Corinthian lead? Paul boasted that the Corinthians were ready a year ago to give to this special project. And they were. You see, their example was such a good one, and Paul’s boasting of them was so effective that the net effect was to excite and stimulate a great many people to jump on the bandwagon to give as the Corinthians were going to give.

To summarize: To effectively stifle any latent tendencies to abhor the offering of the Lord and to make sure that those who had done right as a group was recognized for doing right as a group, Paul publicly declared some things. In some circles, it is thought to be bad for a preacher to declare what things are and call attention to who is an example of good works to follow, but not in the Bible. To properly discharge his responsibility to make sure that Christian men did not abhor the offering of the Lord, Paul declared. He declared who was doing right and whose example to follow. By the way, you have that same kind of reputation among missionaries and congregations worldwide. I am not exaggerating when I tell you how impressed visiting missionaries and preachers are with your generosity and kindness. You have set expectations for yourselves very high. Praise God. 

Next, PREPARE (9.3-4) 

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. 

First, declare, then prepare. How did Paul prepare? Why did Paul prepare? Let’s see.

Notice the men he sent. He wrote, 

“Yet have I sent the brethren.” 

Take note that there would be two groups of men Paul would send to the Corinthian congregation. First, he would send Titus and two unnamed brothers mentioned in Second Corinthians 8.16-19. Then, Paul would follow on later with a group of men from the Macedonian Churches. It was this first group of men, the ones who would arrive in Corinth before the main group of visitors, who were sent ahead by Paul to prepare.

Now notice the motive he shared: 

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. 

What would have occurred had Paul not sent the advance party ahead to make sure that preparations were complete for the offering? What would have gone through the minds of the Macedonians who were traveling with Paul, those representatives of Churches whose members had sacrificed terribly to give an offering, if they arrived at Corinth only to find that the Corinthian’s offering was not ready?

Remember, the Macedonians’ giving was, in great measure, a response to the challenge to give as the Corinthians were giving. This is why Paul was so concerned about making a good impression upon those Macedonians who were giving so sacrificially. He did not want anything to dishearten them. So you see, Paul wanted to make sure that all of his boasting about the Corinthians was not in vain. He wanted to make sure that the readiness of the Corinthians that he had boasted of was actual readiness so that there was no chance of the Macedonians coming and finding them unprepared. Paul, quite honestly, points out that if he arrived to find that those he had said were ready were not ready, he would be ashamed. And they would be ashamed, too. He doesn’t even touch on the adverse effect such a thing would have on the Macedonians.

Things have to turn out the way the spiritual leader says they will turn out when gathering an offering. If I tell you that “X” number of people have already given such an amount, and it motivates you to give “Y” amount, you’d better never find out that my estimation of “X” amount was wrong. Amen? I mean, if you prayerfully decide to sacrifice in response to a particular set of conditions and facts, those conditions and facts had better be accurate. And if you find out that those conditions and facts that motivated you to sacrifice for the cause of Christ were not accurate, how likely are you to sacrifice in such a way again in the future?

Just as the men of Israel began to abhor the offering of the LORD when they discovered that the men of God misrepresented the facts and took the fat for himself that belonged to the LORD, so Christians will abhor the offering of the LORD when things are not as they are represented to be. Even if there is no indication that the spiritual leader is misappropriating the money for personal or improper use, there will still be an abhorrence of the offering of the LORD if things just are not the way folks were told they were going to be.

If the declaration, then, has to do with the man of God telling the people what he knows to be true about them and their willingness to give, preparation has to do with making sure that things are as you said they were, that things are the way you think they are, that things are the way they are supposed to be. And if they are not, change things around to make things right and do it as rapidly as you can. How careful we must be to avoid misrepresenting anything related to the Lord’s work, and those things to which Christian men and women give their hard-earned money. 

DECLARE, PREPARE, AND FINALLY, BEWARE (9.5) 

“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.” 

You probably already know this, but people are particular about their money. And when it comes to giving to the cause of Christ, people are sometimes more concerned with appearances than with reality. For that reason, no matter how lousy something is, they will give to it if people feel right about it. And no matter how good and Scriptural it is, if they don’t feel right about it, they won’t give to it. This is the reality that lies back of what Paul has to say in verse 5.

There are three comments I’d like to make about this last verse in my text:

The first comment has to do with Paul’s exhortation: 

“Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you.” 

Please notice that Paul is informing the Corinthians that he is sending an advance party to get things ready so the Macedonians aren’t disappointed when they arrive later with him. But here he is giving the Corinthians this letter to properly explain the arrival of the advance party, so they aren’t disappointed, and so they don’t become discouraged because they think Paul doesn’t “trust” them. Do you see the tightrope that Paul is walking on? My goodness! When it comes to taking an offering, you have to be careful. People are sensitive about offerings like they are sensitive about nothing else in the world! By preparing for one group of Christians, he runs the real risk of offending or discouraging another group of Christians.

The second comment has to do with Paul’s expectation: 

“and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready.” 

Paul is explaining here that he expects things to be taken care of when he arrives. With the arrival of the advance party, they will have opportunity to make absolutely sure that when Paul and the Macedonians arrive, the offering is ready to hand over.

Do you know why this is so necessary? Things just need to be ready when they are supposed to be ready. For example: Doesn’t it just take away something from a special song to arrive at Church and hear the choir practicing? I know that practice is required as a listener. But I don’t want to listen to the practice. I want only to hear the finished product. Or when a little kid arrives for his Sunday School class. He doesn’t want, neither should he have to, see the teacher getting ready for his arrival. That child has every right in the world to see the teacher already ready for him when he walks through the door, not getting ready. Isn’t that true?

Same kind of thing that Paul is dealing with. “Don’t make those Macedonians who will come with me see you scurrying around collecting the money. Have it all in one place, ready to give to us when we arrive.” That was Paul’s way of achieving what we are always striving for with anything we are associated with here at Calvary Road Baptist Church: Look sharp! Be sharp! This is the King’s business! That gives me great freedom to brag about our nursery, our choir, our ushers and greeters, and everyone else whose background preparation is seen by observant people when they come to Church.

Why is this so important? Because of the evaluation that will be made: 

“that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as covetousness” 

This word “covetousness” refers to greed, refers to grasping, refers to striving for advantage, refers to bolstering yourself. This offering was supposed to be something God’s people wanted to do, something they felt led of God to do once they had all the pertinent information to make an informed decision. They saw the offering as a great opportunity.

But no matter how much you are led of God to do something yourself, and no matter how much you are convinced that someone else is led of God to do something, what are you going to think when you see some preacher going around putting the squeeze on people to give what they have committed themselves to giving? Won’t there be the possibility of you forgetting that you planned to give in response to God’s leading and focus, instead, on the fact that this preacher is trying to muscle you for money? Sure, there will. That’s why I never squeeze people for money, even though I think someone who doesn’t tithe is a thief.

Even if you have no thought that the preacher would ever take the money for reasons related to greed, you might very well wonder if his efforts to get this money out of you are for your benefit or his. I am so glad God provided Dr. Bier to be our Church’s business manager back in the day and that we take steps to conduct our affairs with propriety and integrity ... and purchase orders for everything! This is why I asked Dr. Bier to drop by the Sunday after we took up our first PayCheck Sunday offering. He was our financial consultant and the man we employed to look over our shoulder to make sure we correctly handled the money you have given. It is because the efforts of those handling money can be so easily misunderstood that Paul exercised such caution with regard to this collection. His extreme caution in doing things in such a way as to protect the sensitivities of the Corinthians and the Macedonians is why I labeled this final point BEWARE! 

Within the bounds of Scriptural principle and your obligations to take care of your family and provide for both your own and their future, one of my tasks as a pastor is to lead you and to train you to be big givers to the cause of Christ.

Just as Paul will go on to explain through the rest of Second Corinthians 9, save for that money that is needed for meeting your family’s needs, both now and in the future, it is good for you to give as much to God’s cause as you are Scripturally authorized to give. Remember, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

But having said that, it is my responsibility to exercise extreme caution in my efforts to instruct you and to persuade you and to encourage you to give. Why? Because if I make an error in judgment, or if I make an honest mistake, or if I misrepresent reality, it could very well result in someone abhorring the offering of the Lord.

If you abhor the offering of the Lord, you might be tempted to stop giving, or you might stop giving as you ought to give. The consequences of that are tragic. Not only does a Christian isolate himself from the grace of God when he or she stops giving properly, but the funds that God has chosen to use to finance Christian ministries are cut off. That means ministries suffer. That means the Gospel doesn’t get out as it should. That means the ministry is not properly supported.

Giving is important, not just for the cause of Christ, but for you, as well. That’s why I will strive, by the grace of God, to get you to give as much as I can get you to give. That’s also why I must be so very careful. Will you pray for me that God will give me the wisdom to follow the example set for me by Paul, with regard to leading Christians to give?

And I will pray for you, that you will recover from those things that might have caused some of you to abhor the offering of the Lord, that you will avail yourself of God’s grace for giving, and that you will make it your personal project to do your part to finance the Gospel ministry through this Church.

Prayerfully plan to join with us for our upcoming PayCheck Sunday, scheduled for September 26th, and ask God to use you to bless this ministry as you’ve never blessed it before.

But let me not assume that everyone here knows the Lord Jesus Christ. You may be here, fully aware that you are in your sins and that your eternity would be Hell should you die today without Christ. It may be that one of the reasons you’ve not been receptive to the Gospel is related to money.

Perhaps you’ve been put off by the distorted and perverted practices that some supposed ministers of the Gospel have exhibited concerning money and taking up offerings to finance Gospel work with. If that is so, then you now know that the Bible shows how it’s supposed to happen.

Don’t let that which is wrong and distorted blind you to the truth that Jesus saves. Don’t look at the obvious errors of individual men and let them deprive you of what the Son of God can do for you.

If you are here and you have not trusted Christ as your personal Savior, I invite you to make an appointment to come and talk with me about God’s plan through His Son Jesus Christ to forgive your sins.

But for the rest of us, I challenge you. Do not abhor the Lord’s offering. Let’s see what God can do through us on PayCheck Sunday. Amen?

__________

[1] Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter W. Van der Horst, editors, Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Second Extensively Revised Edition, 1999), pages 169-171.

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.

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