Sermon preached on 8 September 2013 at Poole Christian Fellowship
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Today’s talk is offered with fear and trembling. I cannot remember ever speaking before at PCF on a Sunday morning on the subject of giving. There is always the risk that there can be the appearance of manipulating people into parting with their cash. But we have to remember Paul’s words: “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that ore be credited to your account”. In speaking about giving the motive of the preacher has to be to bless the people, to help them to be obedient to the word of God so that they will be blessed”.
With that in mind, some initial thoughts:
- Everything is God’s anyway:
“Everything comes from you, and we have given only what comes from your hand” (1 Chron 28:14)
- Financial giving is a part of our overall surrender to God: “they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, then… to us” (2 Corinthians 8 v5)
- Giving is based on the grace of God:”you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich yet for your sake became poor” (2 Corinthians 8 v9)
A Biblical Overview of Giving
Adam, Abel, Abraham and Jacob are all early biblical examples of those who gave. In the case of Abraham, he tithes to Melchizadek and Jacob, which gives us an early indication of the tithe.
Once the law is given under Moses this becomes more specific:
The Old Testament Law – tithing (1)
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. 31 …32 Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD. 33 No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution… (Leviticus 27)
Here we have the first specific indication that God requires a part of what he gives us o be dedicated to him
The Old Testament Law – tithing (2)
“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. … But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you “(Deuteronomy 14)
And now we have first idea that what God gives us can be exchanged for money!
The Old testament Law – tithing (3)
And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
And here, the third tithe, is a recognition of the fact that those who devote themselves to god’s work should be supported by others, that we should support and feed the poor, and that if we do that, God will bless us.
The prophet Malachi has a powerful message for those who decided not to tithe:
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Failure to give your tithe is robbing God!
Other Old Testament thoughts on giving:
“Honour the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.( Proverbs 3 v 9-10)
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.(Proverbs 19)
In these two passage from Proverbs we see the need to honour God to be kind to the ppor, and yet again another promise that God will bless those who do so.
Giving in the New Testament
The Sermon on the Mount:
Jesus appears more interested in our attitude:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
And in Philippians Paul praises the church for their gifts and promises them God’s provision:
Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied … And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
..and to the Corinthians he encourages them to give generously out of an abundance of joy:
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work… You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion…
In short, in the Old Testament we have the Law of giving, in the New Testament this turns into the grace of giving.We give because God has blessed us – not because we have to , but because we want to and as Paul says:
… But since you excel in everything…see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
So how can we excel in this grace of giving? To Whom Should we give?
Those who minister the gospel – home and away
In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 1 Cor 9v 14
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 6
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
How Much Should We Give?
It is A Matter of Maturity
It is Between you and God
Not the Law of giving – the grace of giving
It is More about attitude than amount
It should be In accordance with income
Ask God before you give
- For faith
- For wisdom
- For generosity
OT starting point – 10% – would we really expect to give any less?
And finally, as Jesus says:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
And As Paul says:
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”