CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
Be Careful Where you Give
2 Corinthians 8:13-24
Jerry A Collins
v Is giving my money an option or a responsibility?
v Who is it that I should give my money to?
v Why is giving a measure of my spiritual maturity?
In the area of giving, God expects His people to be channels of the wealth He gives. You need to look at your money as a commodity—something useful that can be turned into other advantage.
The pattern in scripture seems to be:
(1) God gives us more than we need. (2) If we gather it, collect it, buy more with it, or spend it on ourselves living beyond our needs in luxurious living, then God stops giving, and (3) if we distribute it to the work of the Kingdom of God, then God gives us more to distribute.
So our giving and the gifts we give with our wealth should be directed to the work of the Kingdom of God and specifically the New Testament defines this and directs us to give to:
1. Poorer believers (2 Cor 8:13-14).
2. Those who will glorify God because of the gift (2 Cor 9:12-15).
3. The work of the gospel, evangelism, and discipleship (Phil 4:15-19).
4. Those God calls to a full-time vocational ministry (2 Cor 8:1-3; 11:9).
It is important then, to be careful where you give. In this passage we continue to discover principles related to our giving.
LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE AT THE MOMENT & GIVE OUT OF THAT
No one is criticized for not giving what he does not possess vs 12. I suggest four things to consider as we look at what we have to give from this verse.
1. We need to be ready to give.
This relates to our posture in giving. Do we have an open-handed policy? Are we looking for opportunities to give our money for the Kingdom? There are situations you may run into and there are others that are regular times of opportunity for you to give. Your posture in giving sets the pace and tone of your giving. You show me somebody who is ready to give and I will show you a giver. Do not make the mistake of listening to American investors. They only expect you to hoard and then spend on yourself while they make a cut as you invest for years with them. A general rule of thumb is to save some and give some of everything you get!
2. Give from what you have at the moment.
The amount you have at any given moment can fluctuate. But give some of what you have at every moment. This is the acceptable thing to do. Giving is not a waiting game. We do not wait to give until we can afford it. This relates to our practice of giving. Even when we have modest means it can allow for exceptional giving. Sometimes you will have more to give and other times less but the constant is that you are giving some of whatever you have as you have it. You get to decide what that is but remember that God is always more generous than we are so let His generosity be your standard.
3. Don’t worry about what you do not have to give.
This can prevent you from being a giver. It is not the amount you can give but the actual giving that we are called to. This relates to our perspective on giving. Don’t determine your ability to give to a regular need or a new need based on what you can afford. If you do that then your decision-making is based upon what you might not have to give. In a very real way believers cannot afford not to give. If you cannot give because you owe money, then repent of that sin—no believer is to be a slave of anyone but Jesus Christ—pay what you owe and get out of that slavery and stay out and give to God’s kingdom. You may be worried about what you do not have to give because you are in debt and owe money. Then change your situation so you are no longer prevented from obeying God.
4. Those with abundance can give more to the needs of believers and the kingdom 13-14.
Notice twice the statement, by way of equality. What is this equality? Not everyone is completely equal financially at any given time. It is just at the moment the Corinthians have an abundance so they can share with those in need—in this case the believers in Jerusalem. Someday the opposite may be true—believers in Jerusalem may share their abundance with the needy in Corinth. This is part of Christianity—being liberal with our money. It keeps the needy dependent on God to meet their needs. It keeps those with abundance humble, and being used by God to meet the needs of others. As often happens in families, those with abundance assist those in need. So look at what you have at the moment and give out of that!
WHATEVER WE HOARD MAY TURN SOUR 15
Here is a quote from Exodus 16:13-36. It is the story of the gathering of the manna. If they gathered more than they needed then what was left over would spoil and they would not be able to eat it the next day. So they would have to gather what they needed each day. No hoarding. The point seems to simply be that provision and need ought to be matched. The mistake is thinking that what you have earned you deserve and you keep. NO! What money you have is a gift from God just as the manna was. You have a stewardship of giving of that wealth you are accountable for. He is watching what you are going to do with what He has given you. He is also watching the needs of the kingdom—whether those with abundance will give to the needs they see and hear about. This is practicing Christianity. Your money is a commodity to be used, invested, and one that brings benefit to and for the kingdom of God.
The point is that hoarding our money is a detriment to you and others in need and the work of God’s kingdom. Get into the flow of giving with what you have at any moment and avoid hoarding what wealth God does give you.
YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT WHO YOU GIVE TO 16-24
Here we have a traveling party committed to delivering the gifts of Macedonian and Corinthian believers back to the Jerusalem believers who are in financial need. This is an interesting turn around since it was the Jerusalem believers who first sacrificed to send missionaries to these people who have consequently believed. Now these evangelized believers have opportunity to address the needs of the Jerusalem believers with their giving. The party includes Titus 16, a brother of evangelistic fame 18 (possibly Barnabas or Luke or some other), and a third tested and diligent brother 22, probably in handling money. Each of them is confident in the willingness and ability of the Corinthians to give to this need vs 17, 19, & 22. What is it we learn about giving form this situation?
1. Ultimately the reason we are givers is because giving brings glory to God 19. Giving is something God does and is so our giving puts this aspect of God’s character on display. God by nature does not hoard. Our greatest privilege is giving God glory, and giving, being givers, does this. Stinginess, hoarding, and luxurious spending do not display God’s character.
2. We should be above reproach financially 20-21. Here all needful precautions are taken so as to not have his honesty under suspicion. On the one hand our giving is to God and on the other it is in the sight of man. You give to those who are responsible, honest, full of integrity in the handling of money, and should actually be doing ministry. You are responsible for your gift before God—that it is truly used in the work of ministry.
3. If you are handling money to be used in ministry handle it with one or two others and give it as soon as possible. Here is a team of four people taking responsibility for a large sum of money to be used for the kingdom. So if you were to give here you would want to know whom you are giving to. And if you are the one receiving then you are responsible for the use of that gift. In either case both the giver and the receiver are responsible to God to bring Him glory with the gift. Be careful where you give and be generous as you give.
v God is always more generous than we are. We cannot out give Him and His character sets the standard for our giving.
v Giving is a privilege—it allows us to participate in what it is God is doing—and it is a responsibility—I am accountable to God for how I give the money He gives to me.
v Giving is what Christianity does since it is what Christ did for us.
v Like everything else in the spiritual life, giving requires, and it demands, faith, since giving means we take a hit—we have less than we did before.