The Grace of Giving
I. Growing in giving is part of the growth in the Christian graces just as Peter describes them in II Peter 1: 5-11.
A. Also see II Corinthians 8: 7--we are to grow in this grace also.
B. Who does giving benefit? The elders? HardlIy, the church's money is just one more set of decisions for the elders to have to deal with. The preacher--no, he gets paid the same whether the front bench loads up at invitation time or no one comes forward. I preached for one country church for 3 years with only one response, and they paid me the same every week.
C. Giving benefits ME. I grow by it. I give to the Lord, and not to men. The same is true whether I give of my work effort (phesians 6: 5-8).
D. When you understand that you are giving to the Lord a lot of questions become moot:
1. Will the person receiving my benevolence do rightly by it? (I don't know, but since God is the real receiver, He will do right by it.)
2. Will the elders do right by what I send in? (Most likely they will if I'm not there hounding them about my individual wants all the time.)
3. Will the amount I give be competitive with what my neighbor gives? (See Mark 12: 41-44).
E. It was all God's anyway. A Psalm of David. 24: 1 "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." So let go of a little of it, and grow by it.
F. How did the early church give? Acts 2: 37-47 tells us how people became Christians in the first century, but it also tells us how they carried on their business. See their liberality!
G. See how the first century Christians gave--II Corinthians 8: 1-7. ". . . but first they gave themselves to the Lord . . . "
II. "Corporate" giving and "individual acts of kindness"
A. Those exact terms are not used in the New Testament. But those concepts seem readily apparent. "Test the spirits . . . said I John 4: 1.
B. The "corporate" giving was on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16: 1, 2). It was on an occasion when they were already going to be assembled to partake of the Lord's supper (Acts 20: 7). The fact that while they were together on the first day of every week they were to give further supports the idea that communion was taken every Sunday, not just annually or quarterly.
C. Giving was to be done cheerfully, not under compulsion (RSV). KJV says "not of necessity."
D. Check this! The corporate proceeds were used, and only used, for
1. Evangelism (I Corinthians 9: 14, verses before); I Cor. 16: 5-11.
2. Edification. III John 5-8; Philippians 4: 14-19.
3. Benevolence. Acts 2: 44-45; Acts 4: 32; II Corinthians 8: 8-24, which also gives further proof of the commitment of the early church to edification.
4. There is no explicit record of the corporate funds of the church being used for anything other than these three things.
E. The examples of "corporate giving" of the New Testament were of unrestricted giving. See Acts 4: 34-37. The problem with Ananias and Sapphira was one of getting too slick with how they were doing their giving (Acts 5: 1-11).
III. "Individual acts of kindness."
A. Scripture is very complete with examples of this. Only a few examples and commands:
1. Matthew 25: 37-40; 26: 6-13
2. Mark 7: 9-13
3. Luke 6: 27-36
4. Titus 3: 14
5. Hebrews 13: 1-3; James 4: 17
IV. What are some things we can give, especially as "acts of kindness?"
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