Principles of Christian Financial Giving (Part 2)
2 Corinthians 8:16-9:15
Review the setting of this passage. We are reminded of the importance of addressing behavioral problems through biblical understanding and convictions. This is the most extensive passage on Christian principles of financial giving. Briefly review the first four principles.
Today we'll look at three more principles . . .
Leaders should be above reproach in the way they handle the church's money (8:16-23)
Read this passage. Paul sent three Christian workers of excellent reputation and unimpeachable character to handle funds from the church. Doesn't this seem like over-kill?
Paul was very aware of the possibility of mishandling funds, or even finding oneself in a position where suspicion could not be easily refuted.
Identify the principle in 8:20,21. With the authority to lead in money matters comes the responsibility to handle God's money in a way that is above reproach to both Christian givers and the watching world. Note also the connection between elders' authority over local church finances and exacting character requirements.
ANTITHESIS: Many churches and Christian organizations have shamed Christ's reputation by not following this principle (BAKKER; PARSLEY; EPISCOPAL HEADQUARTERS EMBEZZLEMENT; NEW ERA SCAM; etc.). Contrast these scandals to the BILLY GRAHAM ASSOCIATION. When accused of mishandling funds in the early 1970's, they were able to refute all charges.
If we are going to call on you to give consistently and sacrificially to this ministry, we have an obligation to handle this money in a way that is totally above-board and trustworthy. You should trust leaders' judgment on how to use the money for ministry, but you should insist that the money be handled in a way that is above reproach. Xenos' application of this principle:
- Character requirements for those who handle money
- No one is left alone (counting collection money; deposits; double-signature on checks).
- Open books; our accounting procedures and and records are open to the church.
- Frugal/no waste ethic: staff salary policy (ranges & levels at or below comparable secular positions; division coordinator's frugality (get job done but come in under budget where possible, versus "spend it all or get your budget decreased next year" mentality of government agencies); willingness to dismiss staff in the event of financial waste.
Christian giving brings abundant blessings (9:6-15)
Read 9:6. Of course, the WORD-FAITH people have perverted this passage to bilk suckers. It turns God's promise into an incentive for personal materialistic greed, and leaders use it to get rich off of their people.
But we don't help ourselves by bouncing off the other wall/throwing the baby out with the bath-water. The fact is that God abundantly blesses Christians who give voluntarily and sacrificially. This is the secret we discover about this whole area of life. Read Mark 8:34,35. If we live selfishly and self-protectively, we will "lose our lives." But if we're willing to give ourselves away in love for others, trusting the Lord to meet our needs, we will discover that God enriches our lives more than we could ever give (see also 9:8) to his work. Notice the blessings Paul says such Christian "sowers" will "reap."
- Read 9:9-11. God will bless us financially. He will meet our financial needs. Assuming that we are willing to work and committed to his way of life, he promises to meet our financial needs (see also Phil. 4:18,19).
- Read Mark 10:29,30. Notice that the promise of homes, etc. is for "this life." Clearly, Jesus is not promising that we will literally receive 100 times more homes in this life. Which is more secure--having 100 times more money, or having a track-record of God's material faithfulness?? How can we build such a track record? Not by quitting our jobs (unless God calls us to do this), but by giving generously, and then continuing to give generously when unexpected financial needs arise (OUR FAMILY). Or by giving faith-promise gifts, and then trusting God to provide you with that money (MACEDONIANS).
- He will increase our ability to give to his work. Paul indicates that God is looking for people who can become bigger conduits ("multiply").
GEORGE MUELLER: He lived so simply that most people never realized that he supported several orphanages and mission works.
- Read vs 12,13. Godly givers also experience the blessing of seeing God work through their gifts to help other people on the deepest level. We become co-workers in ministries which we financially support (Phil. 1:5). Through our money, we can touch lives in ways that we could not otherwise. We can't all go down to south Linden to work with the poor--but we can all give our money toward this ministry (% OF GENERAL FUND; UNITED WAY; GARAGE SALE; HOUSING MINISTRY). We can't all work with students--but we can all give our money to this ministry (% OF GENERAL FUND >> BAPTISMS). We can't all go overseas--but we can all give our money to advance mission work (ACCREDITED MISSIONARIES RAISE 60% OF SUPPORT FROM US).
"How much should I give?" How much do you want to be blessed?
Make an ongoing giving commitment and fulfill it consistently.
We come full-circle back to where we began--read 1 Cor. 16:2. It is clear from this passage that we should make giving commitments and fulfill them by giving consistently. After prayerful consideration, we should go be willing to go on record for what we will give to God's work in a given area, and then we should diligently lay aside the portion of our income needed to fulfill that commitment.
Donation to GARAGE SALE, impulse giving to EMOTIONAL PRESENTATION, etc. is good starting place--but we need to go beyond the super visible and occasional in this area . . .
CONSULTANTS WHO SAY WE HAVE TO PANDER TO IMPULSE GIVING vs. COMMITMENT TO RAISE UP MATURE GIVERS
Why should we give regularly?
- Many of the church's needs are consistent. The rent and utility bills, for example, come with remarkable regularity. Our missionaries have regular food bills . . .
- Big financial needs/opportunities require financial preparation in order to meet them. The best way to do this is by laying aside little by little before the time comes (WAR-CHESTS FOR SERVICE MINISTRY, MISSIONS, BUILDING PROGRAM).
- The church leaders need to plan its ministry. Since ministry costs money, we can do a better job planning if we have an idea of what the giving will be (FST RETREAT DECISIONS TO INCREASE MINISTRY & PLEDGE 80% BY JAN. 31).
- Covetousness will erode the contribution of inconsistent givers (read 9:5). I have definitely seen this in my own life. If I wait to give from what is left over, it seems like there is rarely anything left over. Why is this? Usually because I have found ways to spend it on myself--to live at the greed level rather than at the need level. But when I give it off the top, I rarely feel pinched--but I derive the benefits described in the previous section.
This is why we have a GENERAL FUND PLEDGE PROGRAM and give you a reminder through COLLECTIONS and QUARTERLY REPORT. This is also why we recommend PLEDGE commitments to our MISSIONARIES and BUILDING PROGRAM.
What step of faith does God want you to take in this area? Begin consistent giving? Get advice on finances? Make a faith-promise gift? Increase your giving commitment? Reflect on your identity as a recipent of God's grace or as a steward?
What is your response? Faithfulness in this area is crucial for being entrusted with greater responsibility (Luke 16:10-12)!!