Series: 1 Corinthians
Giving in Light of Eternity (1 Corinthians Sermon 66)
January 24, 2021 | Andy Davis
1 Corinthians 16:1-4
So turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 16, as we go now to a new chapter in this marvelous Epistle. And as we do, I'm thinking about a couple of quotes from Scripture that just are powerful in my mind. 1 Timothy 6:7, the Apostle Paul said, "We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out." We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out. The Apostle Paul was just repeating the wisdom from the ancient patriarch, Job, who lost all of his possessions, his worldly possessions in a single day, dreadful day and all of those things taken from him. And Job said in Job 1:21, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart." So we need to meditate on these things.
We need to realize how transitory are the material blessings of life. We need to think properly about money and possessions and eternity. John Piper gives us a powerful image, rather humorous actually, in Desiring God in his chapter on money. And the image was of a foolish man who was... You're walking with this individual and he's going through a museum and much to your shock and horror at some point, he starts picking artwork off the wall, paintings and putting them under his arm and he's… And you're stunned. And you're saying, "What are you doing?" And he says, "Well, I'm becoming an art collector." [chuckle] "I'm becoming an art... You can't take those things. And I tell you right now, they are never going to let you get out of here with those things under your arm."
So I thought how ridiculous that image was. I thought about my time in Amsterdam, in the Rijksmuseum, and seeing those beautiful Vermeer paintings, four of them in there. Especially the Milkmaid and it's so beautiful, and it's a good size for being stolen. The night watch is 12 feet by 14 feet and there's like 500 people around it all the time, but maybe it'd be possible to get a Vermeer under your arm. They sold it at auction, one of them did for $40 million. But again, those words, they are not going to let you get out of here with those things, you're not becoming an art collector.
Well, the image is one of a transitory passage through this world and a decisive end in which we are effectively stripped of everything that we have. So how should our knowledge of the world to come, our knowledge of the future world, affect the way we live? And it's really quite remarkable in this incredible Epistle here, 1 Corinthians, we're moving from the sublime to the practical. We're moving from a meditation on eternity and resurrection bodies to talking about money.
We have just finished soaring into the realms of eternity as we consider the glories of the resurrection body. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul says, "Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash in a twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed."
In Verse 54, "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that has been written will come true. Death has been swallowed up in victory." These words should fill us with a radiant buoyant hope. A hope that transcends anything that we could ever face in this present world of sickness, sorrow, loss, and of death. We are to feed our souls continually. So that our hope will be shining brightly. We should fix our minds on things above and on things to come." Colossians Chapter 3 says. "Now the glorious world to come defies all description." Paul, when he was caught up to the third heaven, it says he heard inexpressable things, things that man is not permitted to talk about.
So that's really quite remarkable. The world to come cannot be put in words and Paul at least, was forbidden even try. The Apostle John was translated up in the heaven, through a doorway in heaven and he saw amazing things and he was given the role of writing what that world would look like. Revelation 21:1-4, "Then I saw a new heaven, a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There'll be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, for the old order of things had passed away.'" So this heavenly perspective, as we meditate on what we do know about the world to come, should affect, should color, the way we live every day of our lives.
Now, the last thing we were told in 1 Corinthians Verse 58, is that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. Because we will receive resurrection bodies, glorious, powerful, incorruptible, resurrection bodies. How then should we live? And Paul ends in Verse 58 says, "Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
So he wants the Corinthians based on 57 verses of solid, true doctrine about our future, the resurrection body that we're going to get. He wants them to live an energetic, fruitful Christian life. So the question then in front of us now, as we transition to the first four verses of Chapter 16. It seems to be not merely how should we live, but how should we spend. What should we do with our money? And that's the question that immediately comes to us. Just as we should be steadfast and immovable and always abounding fruitfully in the works of the Lord, we should do the same with our money and with our possessions. Now the world is gonna throw at us temptations to be worldly-minded all the time.
Either by, on the one hand, temporary successes or on the other hand, temporary failures, financially. Temporary successes would be financial windfalls, raises, winning the lottery, getting an inheritance, accumulating wealth that you didn't imagine. These things, however, can deceive us into a carnal mindset, temporary successes. And so can temporary setbacks or failures, like sickness and surgery, and unemployment and financial reverses and economic reverses and losses and financial stock market crashes. These things can also make us very focused on worldly things and anxious and having that materialistic mindset.
So Paul wants us to work hard for the kingdom, liberated from temporary concerns. Set free from idols, set free from the deception of wealth so that we can store up effectively treasure in heaven. So Paul's gonna move seamlessly from the resurrection body to money. He's gonna give us an eternal perspective on how we spend, how we save, how we give. And he's not gonna do all this in these four verses. But I'm taking an opportunity to walk through these four verses in which he's exhorting them to save up money for the relief of the poor among Jerusalem as a doorway into a deeper meditation on Christian spending.
So that's what we're gonna do this morning. Now concerning the collection for the saints, Verse one. But there's no real division in Paul's mind in light of the fact that someday you will be raised out of these corruptible bodies and these temporary circumstances. How should you spend your money? Just like, how should you spend your time and your energy? How should you give to the poor and needy among the saints in Jerusalem? That's the way he thinks.
Money really does have the power to reveal the state of the soul, money reveals the soul, reveals the health of the soul. Randy Alcorn in his great book on this topic, Money, Possessions, and Eternity, said, "Jesus spoke more about how we are to view and handle money and possessions than any other topic, including heaven or hell." He went again and again to materialistic concerns. He looks again and again at how you spend your money. And in doing this, he's just lifting up Jesus's theme in the Sermon on the Mount and many other places. But in Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus said in the Sermon on Mount, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal."
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?" Then Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
So Jesus says you have to make a choice when it comes to money and material possessions. Either they will rule you and dominate you or you will use them in your service to King Jesus, one or the other. It's a battle and if you are generous with your money here if you're generous with what you do with it, giving it away as the Lord leads by the Spirit, as the Scripture says, "You will be actually storing up treasure in heaven." You'll be rich for all eternity.
Conversely, if you're not careful, if you're not on your guard about money, you could make a shipwreck of your faith, as Paul gives us that image. Think of a terrible shipwreck, a wooden sailing vessel getting closer and closer to the shore in a storm and then the rocks loom up and then you're dashed, and so there's that image of a shipwreck. And he specifically, Paul does, links it to concern about material things, about money. So we need to be very, very careful. The love of money is dangerous to our souls. The love of money is dangerous to our souls. It's the root of all kinds of evil, Paul says. And Jesus said in the parable of the seed in the soils, you remember the different seed was going in different outcomes. So the different soils and one of the soils that he describes is the seed sown among thorns. He said in Mark 4:18-19, "Still others, like seeds sown among the thorns, hear the Word but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the Word, making it unfruitful." That's a very powerful triad there of outcomes of thorns, weeds that come in and deprive the growing seed of nutrients.
There's only so many nutrients in the soil and in come these weeds and crowd out the seeds so it can't bear fruit. The worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. Powerful phrase. How is wealth deceiving us? How is it lying to us? And then vaguely the desire for other things other than what, other than the Kingdom of God. Just other things have the power to choke out the Word.
Covetousness, I find is a very sneaky sin, it's the kind of thing we don't tend to confess. There are other sins that we're very aware of and they're dangerous and they are dangerous. But greed, materialism, covetousness is something that we, Western Christians, American Christians, have a hard time facing up to, being honest about. And so I think Psalm 139 comes in as it always does, Verse 23 and 24, "Search me, O God and know my heart. Try me. Test me and know my anxious thoughts." We could say my materialistic thoughts.
"See if there's any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Alright, so that's just setting up the topic, now let's talk about the context for the actual offering. Alright, the context for that offering. We need to understand Paul's ministry and Paul was commissioned by the Pillars, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, he's called by God, he makes this plain in Galatians 1, "Nobody gave me my ministry, I got it directly from God, got it directly from Jesus Christ. But I went to the church at Jerusalem and those that were Pillars there, James, Peter, and John agreed that we should go to the Gentiles," this is Galatians 2:9-10, "and they to the Jews."
So Paul's the Apostle to the Gentiles and Peter the Apostle to the Jews and his entourage, they were gonna focus on Jewish evangelism, but Paul was gonna be sent out to do Gentile evangelism. And then they say this, "All they asked is that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." In context, that's the poor among the Jewish Christians there in Jerusalem. "Don't forget them as you go out among the Gentiles," and so Paul's keeping that promise, that commission from them. Now, we need to understand what we're dealing with, with poverty, what it was like back then compared to the way we would tend to think of poverty here in America in our setting.
Poverty then was pervasive and devastating. People were facing, in some cases, their own extinction, when they ran out of resources. For the most part, we, here in America, have never seen that kind, that level of poverty. Really have to go overseas, you have to go other places to see it. I was in my 20s before I saw that level of poverty and I had to go to Africa and then eventually to Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Some of these other places in India where I saw that level of life-threatening poverty. But poverty is an issue all over the world. And that's what Paul is addressing here. He's addressing poverty that is so deep and powerful and pervasive, it really threatens their lives. And he wants the Gentile Christians to be concerned about it, so he's dealing with the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Look at Verse 3, he talks about a gift, he's gonna send some men with a gift, men that they approve, with their gift, he says, to Jerusalem. So here we get to this issue of Jew-Gentile relationships and the Jew-Gentile unity in the Body of Christ and the need to look out for one another. The collection was being taken among Gentile converts to a Jewish Messiah. Gentile converts to a Jewish religion as it were. And as Jesus himself said, "Salvation is from the Jews."
And so Jesus was a son of Abraham, a son of David. So these Gentiles had been grafted into a Jewish work, a Jewish olive tree, the image from Romans 11. So the material needs among the Jewish Christians was a prime opportunity to put the unity of the Gospel on display. Now, why were they poor? Why were Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, why were they poor? Well, it started even in Jesus's lifetime. Do you remember the account in John 9 of Jesus healing the man born blind? And so Jesus heals a man born blind and then he gets hauled up in front of the Jewish authorities, and it says very powerfully in John 9:22, "Already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue."
So that's very significant. If you think Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, is the Messiah, you're out of the synagogue, kicked out of Jewish life. It was the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that condemned Jesus and handed him over to be crucified. It was the unbelieving Jewish Sanhedrin that organized the first systematic persecution of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The Book of Acts makes it clear that there was a relentless persecution of Christians by Jewish leaders again and again, in the Book of Acts. Confiscation of property, arrests, even death by the Jewish Sanhedrin.
So Jerusalem was one of the worst places on earth to be a Jewish Christian. Now central to that eviction from the synagogue were economic effects. If you were a Jew, a Jewish person kicked out of the synagogue, that will have a devastating effect on your economic life. You could no longer make a living. If you were a carpenter, no one would hire you to do carpentry. No one would buy your furniture, if you're a furniture maker, they wouldn't buy it. If you're a potter, they wouldn't buy your pottery. If you're a farmer, they wouldn't buy your harvest. If you were poor, they wouldn't hire you. You're out, you're blackballed. And so that ends up being, creating severe economic difficulties for the Jews, the Jewish Christian, Jews among the saints in Jerusalem. Paul also argues in Romans 15 to the Gentile converts to this Jewish faith, that they have an obligation to take care of their Jewish brothers and sisters, financially. He's very clear about this. He says in Romans 15:25-27, he says, "I'm on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there, for Macedonia and Achaia to Greek churches, Gentile churches, were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem."
"They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them." How do you think that, Paul? Well, if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So we are in obligation, Paul would've said if we lived back then. We are under obligation to Jewish Christians in Jerusalem to give because we have received such rich spiritual blessings from the Jewish people. It also, as I mentioned earlier, a great opportunity to show the new covenant unity that there is between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. And this whole thing is unfolded so beautifully for us in Ephesians 2, that through Christ, those who are at one time aliens and strangers have been brought near, that's Gentiles, have been brought near through the blood of Christ, and they're no longer aliens and strangers, they are now part of God's household, part of God's people. And the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, set up in the old covenant circumcision, the dietary regulations have been abolished, they're done. And now God is making in Christ one new man out of the two. Out of Jew and Gentile, one new man thus making peace. And in this one body, to reconcile both to God through the cross. By which he put to death their hostility. We can put that on display by just generously giving to our Christian brothers and sisters, that's the argument.
So Paul's making his collection, it's progressing, he's going to various Gentile communities where he planted churches and he's collecting money from them. Verse 1, Now about the collection for God's people, do what I told the Galatians churches to do. Now, he's already talked about the Macedonians and he elaborates this at length in 2 Corinthians Chapter 8, and he goes on into Chapter 9. Now, 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, he says, Now brothers, I want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty weld up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability, entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. So here are some very poor Macedonian Christians. And they have given lavishly to their Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, they gave abundantly more than Paul ever imagined that they could give. They pleaded, they begged for the opportunity to do this. And they gave themselves first to God, and then they gave themselves to the Apostles as God led. And they were so generous, he talks about them.
So he's already collected some money to the point now he's going back to the Corinthians, so what's going on with them? Well, he's collecting money from them, and he talks about the practicalities of it, Verse 3 and 4, Then when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. And if it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. So I think you should read between the lines if it's wise for me to go then we'll go together. Well, Paul, why wouldn't it be wise to go? Not enough money yet. The offering isn't big enough yet. I've heard this one account of a church in which they were raising money, and this is in some literature, and they're raising money for a situation and they passed the hat and they got an amount and it wasn't enough yet. So he said, It's not enough, passing it again. And so they passed the hat again, and it's like, Aren't you glad we don't do that at FBC, alright lock the doors when we have enough, we'll let you go home.
But that's an effective, effective strategy, but anyway, I'm gonna go to Jerusalem if there's enough money, if not, I'm gonna be here and persuade some more and pray and I'm gonna work. So now the Corinthians, we learned from 2 Corinthians 8 had made an earlier pledge on this, an earlier pledge. They gave some and they made pledge to give more. So 2 Corinthians 8:10-11, he said, "Last year, you Corinthians were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so, now finish the work," so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it according to your means. So thank you for the pledge. Now, give the money. [chuckle] So it's this matter of, good intentions are not enough. It's not gonna look good on judgment to say, "Well, Lord, I had already always intended to give to the poor and needy. I had always intended to give to missions. I always intended to support the church financially, I just didn't quite get to it the way I wanted to. It's not gonna look good on judgment day.
So you've had a start, you've had some indications and some intentions, now do it. Now do it. As Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, but those who do the will of the Father, not those who say it but those who do," Matthew 7. So it's time for action. So let's derive from this text and some of the others I've alluded to some principles. I'm aware, and I sense that it could be that numbers among you haven't really been biblically trained on giving. There's aspects of it that are new to you, there are themes that you haven't heard before, so my desire is that you will not be able to say that after hearing this sermon, that you'll be able to dry out... And I'm not gonna, it's not comprehensive, there's a lot of other things I could say about giving. But this is a timeless opportunity and timeless because though the immediate circumstances of that offering are done now. The elders of this church are not taking up an offering for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Those times are done, but the Holy Spirit, in his wisdom, put this in the written Word of God, and he means for these principles to be standing over every generation of Christian.
Not just these, but the other New Testament principles on giving over every generation of Christians. So that we can learn how to give financially. Now, we begin by saying that the priority that Paul has is for the saints, the giving is for the Saints. So we start almost in concentric circles. We learned from 1 Timothy, if any breadwinner doesn't provide for his own family, he's denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. So you need to work hard with your own hands, make money and provide for your own family so that you won't be dependent on the church. Or you just take care of your immediate family, so the church isn’t burdened with them. You start there, so it goes out in concentric circles, we got from there to talk about the family of God, verse 1. Now, concerning the collection for the saints, the church must take care of its own. We need to take care of Christian brothers and sisters. The same matter of Christian witness. The Church's reputation is on the line. Okay, Psalm 37, Verse 25, the psalmist says, I was young and now I'm old, and I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Now, this does not mean Christians should never give to non-Christian needs, it doesn't mean that at all. Think about the teaching on the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself, and Jesus tells a story about the Good Samaritan. And in that story, we've got a Samaritan, that's the hero of the story, he was a neighbor to the man that was lying bleeding by the side of the road, a different culture, different religion perhaps, different background, but he cared for him. And so when there are life and death issues, we don't ask, "Are you a Christian or not?" We do whatever we need to do to save people's lives. So if there are disasters, disaster relief, there are earthquakes, there are hurricanes or other things in this life and death issues, Christians have always stepped up and cared for those in disasters and in those situations. However, there is still a Biblical theme of a priority on the family of God, the priority. We see this in Galatians 6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. That's anybody, everybody but especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
So do good to all people is uploaded in our minds, we are gonna be generous to everybody, but especially has the uploaded to. What do you mean by especially? Focus on the saints, on the people of God. So at FBC, we have a benevolence fund, the church has been generous to give. It's a good amount of money in there. As the elders disperse that fund, we are looking primarily first and foremost to our own local church and then to other Christian brothers and sisters for pressing needs, immediate kind of physical needs that there may be. And so that's what the benevolence is for. Now, also one theme here is the interconnectedness of the body of Christ, the church. So a local church in Corinth should care about a local church in Jerusalem. Because we're all part of the body of Christ. So he talks about, then verse 3, he's gonna send the gift with the men that they chose to Jerusalem. So this isn't just a Jew-Gentile issue, it's a our church, your church issue. So the word church is used in two marvelous different ways in the New Testament, you got the church universal, and you got the church local. So the church universal is a mystical communion of the body of Christ that we become a member of the moment we come to faith in Christ.
So that's everyone who in history has ever crossed over from death to life and has become a Christian, living or dead, they're part of that mystical communion, the Body of Christ. And you can never go back the other way, you crossed over from death to life. You live forever and you're in that body, you're part of the mystically... But you can't see that, that... You can't see it with your eyes but you know it's true. We've got brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, most of whom we've never met, but it's so sweet when you do mission work with them, you go to other countries and you can't even share a common language or culture, but you share a common faith, and so through a translator, you can find out, you believe the same things about Jesus and about the Bible, and about missions and all that, it's so beautiful. But when there's needs out there that should matter, and so a local church, the other way that the New Testament uses the word church is local church, and that's what we are, First Baptist Durham, it's a place you assembly where you can know and be known, you can be a covenant member of that local church, and that has value as well, use your spiritual gifts there, you develop, you come here and there's that connection. But we are part of a network of churches all around the world, and we should care about needs other people have.
Now, obviously, the mystical body of Christ that's up in heaven doesn't need your money. Amen. Hallelujah. They are fine, there's no more death, mourning, crying, or pain for them, they don't need money. But there are brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who do, and so there's a sense of obligation that we have. We also have implied here and these are the role of ministry leaders like apostles and pastors to teach the people of God about money. So, I've preached on money many, many times, I've been here 22 years. Yes, I preach on money again and again, I'm kept safe by sequential exposition, I can say, "Not my fault. It's the next text." But why would I have such an attitude? Why would you, any of you complain about pastors preaching about money again. It's kind of an interesting dynamic there, all churches ever do is care about money, do you ever realize what a two-edged sword that is, how you're really looking in the mirror. Could be that you might have an unhealthy view of money yourself. If you don't want pastors going there and talking about money, the fact is we're gonna give it all up anyway. And for me, as a pastor as a shepherd of souls, Oh, how I yearn to set as many of you as I can free from idolatry, so that you can lead fruitful free lives and store up treasure in Heaven.
I want you to be rich on judgment day and beyond. So I have no fear in this matter, we're not looking to press people or fleece people like we're some cult, we just wanna teach faithfully on what the Bible says. And so, as an apostle, the Apostle Paul had a role to teach about the doctrine of giving. Earlier he talked about money given to spiritual leaders to support them in their financial needs. 1 Corinthians 9:4, he said, "Don't we have the right to food and drink?" Food and drink. And so, key theme in this is, we're talking not about luxuries, but necessities. Food, clothing, shelter, those basic things are met, and so those who preach the Gospel should make their living from the Gospel. So he laid all that out, and I'm not going into that in detail, here, but money given to leaders is part of the theme. But then there's money given through leaders as well, money given through leaders. So the idea is that spiritual leaders are more aware of ministry opportunities and good ways to spend the Lord's money than the lay people are.
And so we see this in Acts Chapter 4:34-35, it says, there were no needy persons among them for from time to time those who own lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the Apostles feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. So there's that image, I don't know if they literally put it at the Apostles’ feet, but it's like given to the apostles to disperse as they were aware of the needs. And so in our church, the plurality of elders is overseas, the money that's pulled and collected and spent wisely, and that's a very good system, very good situation where you have a group of interconnected men holding each other accountable, not fleecing the flock or taking the money wrongly, etcetera, but dispersing money wisely according to the church budget. And according to needs as they come up. So the money given to leaders and money given through leaders. Also ministries come up that the ministry leaders know about and they know they take money. We're gonna look at this a little bit next week, but verse 6, he's talking about his own... Paul's talking about his own plans. And he says, “Perhaps I will stay with you a while or even spend the winter so that you can help me on my journey wherever I go.”
Now, what do you think he's talking about there? Help me on my journey. He does the same thing in Rome, he said, I'm going to Spain to preach where people have never heard the name of Jesus, and I want you to help me on my way, that's financial, that you would support my mission, that you would support my ministry. And so all of these things are principles as well.
He also gives some practical insights on the first day of every week, look at verse two, "On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." So this first day of the week was the Lord's day. It was the day of worship, so what that implies is that Christian giving is a part of worship. It's something that we do as an act of worship to the Lord. And so when the Church is assembled for worship, we would give on the first day of every week. Now, there are practicalities, if you get paid once a month, you could give your tithes and offerings once a month without sinning. But the idea is that Christian giving needs to come across your mind regularly and be something you choose to do as an active worship.
Okay. You don't want a prayer app that does all your praying for you. You just hit go and get some extra sleep while your prayer app does your praying for you. No, it has to pass through your mind and heart and you have to care about it, so it is with Christian giving. I think there is some benefit to having money automatically taken out of your account and given to the church. The church, financial secretaries love that. It's very regular, but there's some danger to it too, I don't know the answer to it, but I just think it's good for you to think and pray and give regularly. It's an active Christian worship as well. And he says, saving it up. So this again is practical, don't go running around like a chicken with your head cut off when I get to town.You should have planned out, figured out and saved up what you wanna do for this. Because that kind of hurried approach to Christian giving is gonna reduce the amount and going to be less effective.
So save it up, accumulate it, and then give when I come, that's what he's saying, and then he says, "Each of you." Oh yes, look at it. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money. This is something that we need to teach to our children. It's something that we need to talk about with each other, husband and wives need to discuss it together, this is something all of us are in on, we all get to give to the Lord's work, it's part of a healthy Christian life, just like all of us have spiritual gifts, and therefore should have a spiritual gift ministry. Every one of us should feel the weight of Christian giving and give. Every one of you, he says.
And he says, The giving should be in proportion to your income, it's all a matter of what you have, not what you don't have. It's in proportion to how the Lord has blessed you. You remember the story of the widow that gave those two little copper coins, remember Jesus is watching the offering. And he does watch the offering, he sits there and watches the offering, and so the widow gave the two copper coins, and Jesus said this in Luke 21:3-4, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others, all these people gave their gifts out of their wealth but she gave out of her poverty everything she had to live on.” So the Lord will account or measure your giving based on sacrifice, how much it pinches you, how much it cost you to give. That's how he measures, proportion to what you have and your resources.
Now, not mentioned here, I definitely wanna bring in 2 Corinthians 9:7, Cheerfulness, cheerfulness. Our giving should be cheerful not under compulsion, he says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. So just ask the Lord to set you free from invisible materialistic chains so that you have the joy and delight of blessing people here and now horizontally, 'cause that's all money can do. Money doesn't pay for spiritual things, it pays for physical things. You can enable missionaries to preach the word, you can enable pastors to preach the word, you can give to the poor and needy so they have something to eat, physical things, but there's a joy in giving. And then you know that you're storing up treasure in heaven, there should be a cheerfulness to it. You should not think God needs your money. Wow, God's constantly begging, he doesn't need anything from you. But you need to give.
Alright, what applications can we take from this? Well, first of all, to all of you that are non-Christians, there were non-Christians when you came in this morning, I wanna tell you, I don't want you to give anything, I want you to receive something freely. I want you to receive the gift of full forgiveness of sins without money and without cost. It says in Isaiah 55, "Why spend your money on what doesn't satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest affair without money." The Lord didn't come from heaven to earth to get something from us. He says very plainly in Matthew 20:28, "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many." So what I want for you that are non-Christians, I want you to hear the Gospel. I prayed it at the beginning, I have referred to it throughout this message, that God sent his Son, Jesus, who was rich in Heaven, became poor for us, so that we through his poverty on the cross, his death on the cross, might become rich forever. Rich in forgiveness of sins. Rich in Heaven for all eternity. So trust in Christ. And THEN do your Christian giving after that. So for those of you that are members of our church, FBC members, I'm speaking to Covenant members, this sermon is a call to each of you to search your heart concerning your giving patterns. Is cheerful, faith-filled giving a regular part of your Christian life or not?
Have you asked the Lord to search your heart and know your soul about covetousness? We live in a very materialistic culture in which we're lied to all the time. Jesus said, A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. The advertisers say, "Yes, it does." So we're being lied to about that. Have you given yourself in prayer to the pattern of giving to the budget of our church, specifically the FBC budget? Are you sacrificially giving to support the ministry here? It is part of our church covenant, we were talking about this earlier and it could be one person said it may be that people just don't know that that's part of what you promise to do as a covenant member of the church. To support the church financially, but it is part of our lives, and then beyond that, do you pray regularly about how you can use your money to the relief of poverty around the world, to the spread of the Gospel around the world, to various other Christian Ministries as the Lord leads you? This is the beautiful thing. René Alarcón said, "It stuck with me." The money, you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Isn't that great? Wire it ahead by faith. By giving it away by faith.
Now, one of the approaches that I tell young preachers as they're growing, it's like, how do you make very difficult squirmy kind of applications to people? How do you do that? It's like, Well, here's one approach I call it, If the shoe fits, wear it. I just describe a shoe, and then I just say, I don't know, but there may be somebody in our midst that this fits you. And now I'm gonna do that when it comes to giving. So the elders have general information about giving patterns of the members of this church. We do not have specific information about who gives what, I do not know, as I look at your faces, I do not know what any of you have done, or... I've been here 22 years, I've never known specifics, ever. But we are aware of trends and patterns, so according to our data, last year there were 315 giving units, at FBC, the membership of FBC 315 giving units, that's individuals or households. Of that 65% gave some money to FBC's budget at all.
That roughly two-thirds of our members gave money. Turn it around, one-third, roughly one-third of our members gave not one single dollar to FBC last year. Of that, again, we don't know any names, we don't know that, but further categories, there are some people that just are not in a position, they're not situationally, able to give, we understand that, and then there's others that it seems they were in a transition going to another local church, perhaps were giving to other local church but that leaves effectively 20% of our regular attender type members that gave nothing to the church at all. So at that point then, I just wanna say, are you aware of the promises in the church covenant, that this is part of what it means to be a healthy member of this church?
To support your own local church, the ministry here is a responsibility that the elders think is incumbent on all of us as members of the church, beyond that there are other patterns of giving, different steps of priority, it's not easy to compare this category of giving and this category of giving and which is more important. I'm not able to do that, but I've already listed them.
We've got the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, giving to missions, and you can give to various kinds of missions, I would advocate giving to unreached people group missions as a top priority, 'cause they get about 1 out of every 100 mission dollars worldwide so let's, as a church, expand and give more and more to unreached people group missions, especially through the IMB. We have members of our church that are in process with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist and will soon be on the field ministering the gospel, and we as a congregation are part of supporting their finances, we're helping them go. And so that's pretty exciting when you do that, so again, alleviation of the poor and needy, find out things, invest your time and your energy before you invest your money, find out ways you can help alleviate physical suffering in the world and just ask the Lord, search me, O God and know me. Are my giving patterns lined up with your purposes for my life? Am I giving as I should? By faith. Close with me, if you would in prayer.
Father, thank you for the Word of God, we thank you for how it searches us, it knows us. Nothing in all creation, Lord, is hidden from your sight, everything's uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. So Lord, help us to be faithful. Help us to give, I Thank you, O Lord, for those in our church that are giving faithfully and sacrificial and grateful, there's so many. Lord, for all of us, help us to just come before you by faith and allow you to lead us to be generous, to change perhaps aspects of our lifestyle so that we can give as you wish, in Jesus name, Amen.