2 Corinthians 9:6-15 The Ministry of Financial Giving
OPENING ILLUSTRATION: What did you get for Christmas?
Of course someone gave you something for Christmas. You gave someone else a gift for Christmas. We accept the fact that we exchanged gifts with one another. Let me tell you what I got for Christmas. I got a PDA. It is not new, but it was given out of love. I also got a new calendar for 2007. I also got a few other small things. Someone gave us coffee and lots of candy. My wife got a lot of presents from various people this year. Did we enjoy these gifts? Yes, of course we did. Why? Not just because we received something, but because we know that the person who gave the gift out of their love for us. Heike spent her money and gave something precious to me. I spent my money and gave something special for her. There was a motivation behind the giving. The motivation was love.
THE MATHEMATICS OF GIVING (9:6)
What of Giving
Normal math is 10-1=9. God’s math is 10-1=10+
The world says that you take 10 Euros and subtract 1 Euro, you get 9 Euros. This is true when you look at all of your giving as an expense. Of course, you have to pay for all that you have on this Earth. You have to pay taxes – more next year than this year. So, it is easy to think that when you give God ten percent, you lose ten percent.
But God says that when you give to Him, He collects and gives back to you. When you give to God, it is like an investment, not an expense. Giving to God ten percent doesn’t mean that you will get rich. But it does mean that your needs will be met financially. You have a full 100% to pay your bills. You won’t go hungry. But you have to trust God with your money. The best way to start this New Year is to make God a priority. The best way to show God that you have made Him the first priority of your life is with your money. Notice how 2 Corinthians 8 says it:
imploring us with much urgency that we would 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. (2 Corinthians 8:4-5 NKJV)
There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. (Proverbs 11:24 NKJV)
He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9 NKJV)
The Bible calls giving God ten percent a tithe. It literally means a tenth or (1/10). Here is a brief overview of the Bible teaches about giving a tenth of your money to Him.
OVERVIEW OF THE TITHE (Giving Ten Percent to God)
It is not just a Mosaic Law. Abraham gave the tithe as a an act of worship. He recognized that God had given Him the victory and so he gave 10 percent of his profits from the war he had won to God – this is represented by the priest to whom He presented the profits, Melchizedek.
And he (Melchizedek) blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he (Abraham) gave him a tithe of all. (Genesis 14:19-20 NKJV)
Since this practice started with Abraham, it continued through the life Moses. You can see that as an act of worship, people gave ten percent of what they had to the temple.
“You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
(Deuteronomy 14:22-23 NKJV)
The ten percent that the people gave in the Temple was considered holy. That means that once it was given, it was God’s. He chose to use it as He wished.
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 to the LORD. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD. He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”‘ (Leviticus 27:30-33 NKJV)
The tithe was used to pay for the expenses of the priests and the Levites – the servants who worked in the Temple. The reason was because these priests and Levites received no land as their inheritance. They worked for God for life. So to support them, ten percent from every person was taken during worship.
“Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. (Numbers 18:21 NKJV)
There was even a ten percent taken every three years for the widows, orphans and resident aliens (or internationals). In essence, the entire nation of Israel gave 3 percent more annually just to take care of people who could not take care of themselves.
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29 NKJV)
But ultimately, the ten percent should be given from a person who desires to show their love for God. It should come from a sincere and generous heart. Jesus showed this through two parables. He also spoke against the legalistic people of His day who gave to show how much they had, not by how much they loved God.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Matthew 23:23 NKJV)
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44 NKJV)
Mark 12:42, Matthew 23:23
This leads me to share with you the motive for giving.
THE MOTIVE FOR GIVING (9:7)
Why of Giving
There is a proper motivation for giving. The motivation is that of a person who has decided – “I want to give to God and His church.” There are three motivations listed in this verse. Two motives are poor motives. One is the proper motive.
1. We don’t give to regret it later. This is giving grudgingly. This giver is a reluctant giver. This giver asks: “I give, but will I regret it? Maybe then, I shouldn’t give.” This guy worries when he gives. God doesn’t want you to worry.
2. We don’t give because we think we have to do it. This is giving out of compulsion. To give out of compulsion is because we think somewhere that when we give, we were told to give. This giver says: “I am going to give because I am being forced to give.” This guy feels forced when he gives. He feels a certain pressure to give. God doesn’t want you to feel forced or pressured to give. You don’t give by force. Now some people think this way all the time about giving to God’s Kingdom. You hear in statements like this:“If you give to this church, God will make you a millionaire.” – God might make you millionaire, but that is not the reason to give. Giving to God is not like playing the lottery. You don’t give because you think that God will make you rich. God will provide for your needs. As a matter of fact, He provides for more than you need. Notice that what God gives to you can be used to “multiply” and to “increase”.
We live much more comfortably on our money when we give to God. We can give to Him, hold back for ourselves and also give to others.
“If you don’t give to this church, God will punish you severely.” – God won’t punish you. But whatever circumstances come your way, it may be because of your giving. The mathematics of God’s provision works. It is simply a spiritual law. What you do notice in (9:7) is that Paul talks about the natural effects of giving. You reap what you sow. If you plant, God provides the harvest. As a matter of fact, God provides the seed for the plant in the first place. This is what Paul says in (9:10). What does this mean?
God gives you all of the money. You don’t make your money. God gives it to you. You only plant the money. Yes, you work a job. But God gave you the job to work. If you started the job yourself, God gave you the opportunity. So God gives you the seed. You have to use it wisely.
So we don’t give with worry or regret in our hearts, and we don’t give because we think we have to do it. What is then the proper motivation?
3. We give because we want to give. We give out of our love for God. We give cheerfully.
We know that God loves us. We know that God provides for us. We know that God gives us the seed money and we should plant it wisely. Because we know that God has given us all good things, we should want to give back to Him.
THE MINISTRY OF GIVING (9:8-15)
How of Giving
As if to emphasize the importance of giving, Paul shares with us the ministry of financial giving. He tells us that financial giving a ministry. There are two parts to this ministry of financial giving. There is God’s part and my part. You will see that God’s part begins and ends with grace.
God’s Part – grace-giving (9:8-10, 14-15)
Let’s look first at the opening book-end of God’s Part. This entire ministry of giving begins with God. (9:8-10)
God gives His grace first. Paul quotes Psalm 112. What Paul is saying is that God is the source of all giving. God is the source of what we have and what we give.
God gives His grace completely. (9:14-15)
God’s grace – His unmerited favor – His great love that we don’t deserve. This grace lives in us. But this grace was most importantly displayed in the “indescribable gift.” Have you ever received a gift and you could not believe that this person would spend so much money, time, and effort to give you this gift. You might have even thought: “You should not have spent all of your hard-earned money on this gift for me.” This is the idea behind what Paul says when he says “indescribable gift.” Paul just can’t believe what God has given to him. God gave His Son Jesus Christ so that you and I might have eternal life with God. God gave His Son so that you and I might have peace with God. God gave His Son so that you and I might experience the wonderful blessings that we receive today. This is part of what is meant by God’s grace.
God’s great love and favor that He pours out on you and I is not just spiritual. It flows to the material as well. The salvation we have in Jesus Christ is just the beginning. God continues to shower us with grace even when we don’t deserve it. God is a grace-giving God.
God’s way of giving out grace is like giving out presents to His children. He showers us with gifts all the time. He just keeps giving and giving gifts to His children. Here, God gives a spiritual gift. Then He gives a gift of wisdom. He shares with you the gift of prayer, gives out a gift by giving you a wife or husband. He brings children into your life. God keeps giving and giving – out of love. Here, He gives a job, to another he brings health and healing. God is a grace-giving God.
My Part – liberal-giving (9:11-13)
Liberal in these verses means that we should give out of sincerity. We should give without a double motive. What does having a double motive mean? When I give out of a double motive, it means that I have more than just giving to God in mind. I have a selfish reason. Perhaps I want to give because I want God to do something else for me. That is not out of simplicity and sincerity. I should give because I love God and I want to obey Him and follow Him in faith.
Liberal giving means also to give generously. I don’t give for self-centered reasons. It is like the story of Scrooge.
Story of Scrooge.
Charles Dickens wrote a famous story that is told during Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge is a business man who cares more about his business than about anyone else. The businessman only cares about money. He makes so much money that he sits and enjoys just counting the money. He lets his business clerk, Bob Cratchit, a day off (just one day off) to celebrate Christmas. But Scrooge hates it and does this act grudgingly, even regretting giving this guy a day off. Scrooge goes home to sleep and is visited at night by a ghost. This ghost is his old business partner Jacob Marley. Marley was like Scrooge – stingy, exploiting the poor at any opportunity. Marley too cared only about his money. But Marley was damned and sent to hell for his behavior. On this night before Christmas, Marley visits Scrooge in his dreams to help Scrooge avoid the same end result. On the night before Christmas, Scrooge gets a visit from three people – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. These people come to show Scrooge – how he came to be so stingy and mean. His father abandons Scrooge. Scrooges’ own father was a man who left his son on Christmas Eve. Christmas Present shows a scene with Bob Cratchit and his famile – poor, but content and happy. Scrooge also visits a time when he was engaged to a woman named Belle – the love of his life. But she left him because although they were engaged Scrooge pushed the wedding back. He did this because he wanted to wait until he had enough money so that he can live with a wife with lots of money. Needless to say, money was more important than family for Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows life without Scrooge. No one goes to his funeral, and no one even cared about him. The point of these visits is to show there is more to life than just accumulating wealth. Life is more about giving, not just getting. Of course, Scrooge learns the lesson. He wakes up on Christmas Day and proceeds to give. He buys presents for the employee, along with presents for his entire family. He gives his employee his job back, along with a raise. Scrooge has learned that living life is more than accumulating money and riches. He learns to give in life, not just try to get.
When you hear today that someone is a Scrooge, it means that they care more about money, than they do about you. When it comes to our motives, no one should call a Christian a scrooge.
The Germans have a word for this: Geizig. When it comes to giving to God – “Geiz ist nicht geil”, “Stinginess is neither cool nor sexy.”
The Part of Others – thanks-giving (9:11-14)
When I give, God is honored, I am blessed, and others are blessed as well. Because God works His work through the church, when you give to God through His church, you help others. This is done through the missions offerings that we give. It may include the gifts that you give through our budget, or through additional opportunities. When you give to Chrissie Willker for example, she is being blessed by your gift. The people to whom she ministers will be blessed by your gift. They will return that in thanksgiving – or giving thanks back to you and to God.
So, here you see the “fruits” of your giving. Here is the practical benefit for giving to God. He doesn’t just take the money and run with it. He uses it. He uses it to help other people come to Jesus. He uses it to help missionaries tell the important story of Jesus to those who need Him. He uses it in the church to help the people grow in their spiritual walk and life. God uses the money. You will see that in practical ways. When someone says:
“I accepted Jesus through the ministry of IBC Bremen.”
“I was baptized here in this church.”
“The people at IBC Bremen helped me in my deepest time of difficulty.”
When you hear other people thank the people of this church – and we will hear these words from time to time – you will see how God is using the ministry of financial giving.
So make a New Year’s resolution to give to God through His church. Take time to consider how you will give your ten percent this year. Whether you give electronically or in the offering plate, God will be honored. Others will be blessed, and you will be encouraged. Giving is not reserved for just Christmas time. Scrooge learned that. Giving is something that we can start practicing today and throughout the entire year.