II Corinthians 8:1-5

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Text: II Corinthians 8:1-5

PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN GIVING

INTRODUCTION:

We all know that it costs a lot of money to run a local church. This message is not to be construed as a plea for money, but as a study in principles regarding Christian giving. You may have heard financial pleas in other places, but you have not heard them in this church during my ministry; and as long as I am the pastor, you are not going to be hearing them, because I don't believe in making them. I believe that giving is a spiritual matter. Now that, of course, is not the same as stating a need. I believe you ought to know what needs there are.

We have already seen some principles of Christian giving in I Corinthians 16 .

We saw there that giving is to be done in and through the local church. We also saw that the time of giving is the first day of the week. We saw that the giving is to be regular, i.e, on the first day of the week. We saw that the participants in the giving are "everyone of you." We saw that the basis of the giving is "as God has prospered you," and we saw that the manner of the giving was to be a voluntary, free-will offering to God.

Something which we must realize is that our money is not really ours in the first place. It is God's. He has merely entrusted it to us so that we may use it wisely. King David stated in I Chronicles 29:14 , But who am I, and what are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

Something else which we must realize is that God doesn't need our money. He's not been forced into an austerity program in His old age. He is not in financial trouble. He doesn't need a raise. His work is not being hindered by the lack of money. Now it is a little difficult for us to understand this because we think of money as being such a necessity. We think of our church as not being able to do things we might want to do because we can't afford them.

Can't you just see what sort of thinking is behind bazaars and bake sales? Poor God! He's in trouble. We're going to have to help Him out by baking pies and cakes and then buying them back. Poor God! He's no longer able to send out missionaries due to a shortage of funds. Poor God!

In II Corinthians 8 we take special note of some principles of Christian giving.

In 8:1 - 9:15 Paul lists a number of principles of Christian giving as he urges his readers to give sacrificially to the impoverished saints in Jerusalem.

1. Giving is a grace, i.e. a gift God gives to believers (8:1).

2. Giving is to be sacrificial (8:2).

3. Giving is to be done willingly (8:3-4).

4. Giving is a spiritual matter (8:5)

5. Giving is to be voluntary (8:6).

6. Giving, which follows the example of Christ (8:9) is to be done according to ability (8:10-15).

7. Church monies are always to be handled in a manner that is completely above board (8:16-24).

8. Paul called upon the Corinthian believers to set aside their money for their gift in advance (9:1-5).

9. Giving always pays dividends (9:6).

10. Paul then describes what Christian giving should be like (9:7).

11. Paul closes this section by discussing the rewards of giving (9:8-15).

The principles of Christian giving found in II Corinthians 8-9 have nothing to do with tithing, the practice of giving one tenth of one's income to the Lord through the local church. What is under consideration in these chapters is a special offering for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem. The principles found in these chapters are applicable to other special offerings received by the church but are not applicable to the weekly support of the local church and should not be understood as replacing the practice of tithing. In my commentary on I Corinthians 16 , I wrote,

In the New Testament, tithing is assumed; and it is not based on the law. According to Genesis 14:18-20 , Abraham tithed before the law existed,

(18) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

(19) And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

(20) And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all (emphasis added).

In Genesis 28:16-22 , before the law was given, Jacob promised to tithe,

(16) And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

(17) And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

(18) And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

(19) And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

(20) And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

(21) So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:

(22) And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee (emphasis added).

According to Leviticus 27:30-34 , tithing was commanded under the law,

(30) And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD.

(31) And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.

(32) And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

(33) He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

(34) These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

In Proverbs 3:9-10 , tithing is to be on the increase.

(9) Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

(10) So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

According to Malachi 3:8-10 , not tithing is robbing God of what is His; but tithing will bring God's blessing.

(8) Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

(9) Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

(10) Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

In Matthew 23:23 , Jesus approved of tithing. He said,

(23) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (emphasis added).

According to Luke 21:1-4 , the widow gave all that she had; whereas the rich men gave out of the abundance of their wealth. She had nothing left over after giving her gift; whereas, each of the rich men still had a great deal of money after giving their gifts.

(1) And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

(2) And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

(3) And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

(4) For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

Giving is a spiritual rather than a financial matter. Paul, in commending the believers from Macedonia, said in II Corinthians 8:5 , 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 (emphasis added).

The conclusion of this is that tithing is still to be practiced in the church age. The tithe is owed, and the storehouse is the local church, which operates financially on the basis of the tithes and offerings of the people. Tithing is the minimum a New Testament believer should give; whereas, offerings are over and above the tithe. Believers really don't start giving until after they have given the tenth.

By contrast, I Corinthians 16 and II Corinthians 8-9 deal with giving that is intended for a special project and not for the weekly support and maintenance of the local church ministry.

Giving over and above the tithe to special offerings or projects is something believers in all local churches are expected to do. It is an order from the Lord, and it is not optional (16:1). Giving is to be done on the Lord's day in accordance with the ability God has given to each one (16:2). The money is to be handled carefully so as not to create any questions of impropriety (16:3-4).

I. GIVING IS A GRACE - 8:1

II Corinthians 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.

In verse 1 Paul advises the Corinthian believers of God's enabling the believers in the churches of Macedonia to give above and beyond their ability.

Moreover indicates a continuation of the thought with a slight change of emphasis and is understood in the sense of now.

Paul addresses the Corinthian believers as brethren, i.e. brothers or fellow believers. They are fellow members of the family of God.

We do you to wit suggests causing information to be known in the sense of we cause you to know or we make known (or reveal) to you.

Of the grace of God is the grace (or favor) of God or God's grace (or favor). It was an ability to give very generously, i.e. over and above their ability.

Bestowed is the (grace) which has been given (or granted). This grace has been given or bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. The churches are the congregations. The area known as Macedonia was northern Greece and included cities such as Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

II. GIVING IS TO BE SACRIFICIAL - 8:2

II Corinthians 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

In verse 2 Paul indicates that in spite of great affliction and poverty, the Macedonian believers were enabled to give liberally out of their joy.

How that is that.

In a . . . trial suggests in a testing process in the sense of in a test or in an ordeal.

Great is used in the sense of much, strong, severe, hard, or deep. When combined with trial, it suggests in much trial, in great trial, or in severe trial.

Of affliction describes the sort of trial the Macedonian believers were enduring. Affliction is understood of trouble that inflicts distress in the sense of oppression or tribulation brought about by outward circumstances.

The abundance speaks of what is beyond the regular or expected amount in the sense of surplus.

Of their joy, where their refers to the Macedonian believers, is understood with abundance and indicates that they had more joy or gladness than observers would have expected them to have.

And their deep poverty suggests their extreme poverty and means that they were very poor.

Their abundance of joy and their deep poverty abounded, i.e. they were extremely rich or they overflowed abundantly.

Their abundance of joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches (i.e. the wealth or abundance) of their liberality, i.e. of their generosity, as a result of their sincere concern. They gave above and beyond their means, and this generosity was a demonstration of the genuineness of their salvation.

III. GIVING IS TO BE DONE WILLINGLY - 8:3-4

II Corinthians 8:3-4 - (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.

According to verse 3, the Macedonian believers were willing of their own accord to give to the level of their ability and even beyond their ability.

For is the word ordinarily translated because and is understood in this sense here as well.

To their power, where their refers to the churches in Macedonia and has been supplied by the translators, is up to (their) ability (or capability).

I bear record, where I is Paul, is, I am bearing record or, I am bearing witness.

Yea and emphatically joins to their power with beyond their power, i.e. beyond (their) ability (or capability).

They were willing of themselves suggests, That up to ability (or capability), I testify, and beyond ability (or capability), of their own accord (they gave or they have given).

II Corinthians 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

According to verse 4, the Macedonian believers urged upon Paul their participation in the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Praying us with much intreaty suggests, With much intreaty begging us, or, With much appeal praying us.

What the Macedonian believers were begging Paul was that we would receive, i.e. that we take upon us the gift and . . . the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

The gift is the gracious gift and refers to the Macedonian believers' contribution to the collection Paul was gathering for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem.

And the fellowship is and the participation or the sharing.

Of the ministering to the saints is of the service rendered unto the saints, the impoverished believers in Jerusalem.

We see that the Macedonians were willing of themselves.

We also see that the Macedonians were not reluctant

IV. GIVING IS TO BE DONE SPIRITUALLY - 8:5

II Corinthians 8:5 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.

According to verse 5, the Macedonian believers gave themselves first unto the Lord and then unto Paul within the will of God.

And this they did continues the thought of verses 3-4 that the Macedonian believers had given beyond their ability and begged Paul to receive their gift for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem.

Not as we hoped is a negative comparison which suggests that Paul had anticipated something coming to pass because of his confidence in them, but their giving went far beyond what he had hoped they would be able to do.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to not as we hoped.

First suggests first of all, in the first place, above all, or especially.

Gave their own selves suggests dedicated themselves.

To the Lord indicates the One to Whom the Macedonian believers gave or dedicated themselves and is a reference to Christ.

And unto us, where us refers to Paul, introduces someone else to whom the Macedonian believers gave themselves.

By the will of God is through God's will and is understood with to us.

Sacrificial giving starts with a dedication of one's life to the Lord.

The Macedonians first gave themselves unto the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

When a church is right spiritually, giving will be no problem.

When people are able to give but they don't give, it is an indication of a spiritual problem. This is why financial pleas are not the answer for local churches. The answer from the pastoral viewpoint is to get the believers right with God and then live within the limitations that God establishes.

CONCLUSION:

Therefore, let's give generously, but let's do it Scripturally realizing that all of our money belongs to God. Let's use what He has given us responsibly to bring glory to Him.