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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Sermon: Giving as an Act of Worship Before God: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15


New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6–15

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:6–15, ESV)

Introduction

My objective in this sermon is to encourage those of you who have faith in Christ to give to the Lord regularly, cheerfully, and as an act of worship before God.

You should know that I do not naturally enjoy speaking to the issue of giving. In fact, it would be accurate to say that I kind of dread it. Even this past week, before I sat down to begin writing this sermon, I turned to my wife and, breathing a deep sigh, said “I don’t feel like preaching on giving” (but we have leaned to not always trust our feelings, right – thus this sermon).

Noticed that I have not once preached on the topic of giving at Emmaus. 5 years and 3 months – not a single sermon on the subject. There are many reasons for this. One, you as a congregation gave from the beginning so that the issue has never been a pressing one, praise be to God.  Two, though I have never preached on giving, I have encouraged you to give, mainly in the announcement time. I’ve said, “brothers and sisters, I encourage you to give worshipfully and from the heart. Though we do not pass a plate here at Emmaus, there are offering boxes located in the back…”, or something like that. I’ve made it a point to say this once every month or two for the past five years – so I’ve not been completely negligent. But three – and here is where this turns into a bit of a confession – I have not taught on this subject because I do fear being perceived as one who is greedy for gain.

Friends, over the years I’ve developed a real distaste for religious leaders who seem to be all about the money. Our world is full of them. And the last thing I want is to be identified as one of them. I’m sensitive to the fact that many in our culture view pastors as greedy for personal gain. How many times have you heard this criticism leveled against the Church by non-Christians? “The church is only concerned about money”, they say.

But here’s the thing. A while back I began to think to myself, “Joe, are you withholding teaching on this subject because you fear the opinions of man? Are you being negligent in this area because you fear what others might think of you?” I was convicted about this, and so I’m addressing the issue today.

The truth of the matter is that the scriptures speak often about money. The way that we view money, and the way we manage it is important to God. It is possible to either worship money and possessions, or to use our money and possessions for the worship of God. Some see their money and possessions as simply belonging to themselves. But the Christian sees that all they have belongs to God. We are stewards of all that God had given to us. Indeed our money is our money, and our possessions do in fact belong to us, but the Christian is to look at the good things of this life that they have been given and say, “it is all from God, ultimately. And I will enjoy it and use it to the glory of God.” The way that we handle our money is of great importance to God. The way that we handle our money reveals a great deal about the condition of our heart before God.

The scriptures everywhere testify to the importance of the giving of our possessions to God as an act of worship. Notice that from the very beginning the true worshipers of God would approach God in worship, not with empty hands, but with something of value to offer up to him. Here I have in mind even the primitive worship of Cain and Able. When they came to worship they came with something to offer. And under the Old Covenant we see that the advancement of the Kingdom – the promotion of the worship of the one true God – was supported by the giving of the people. The same is certainly true under the New Covenant.

This is an important topic, friends. It is a deeply spiritual topic. Our spiritual health is impacted by our giving or the lack thereof. And so I’ve been convicted about not addressing this from the pulpit. I’ve been looking for the right time to address it. I think now is the right time.

Friends, please understand that the church is doing well financially.  This is not a “fourth quarter sales pitch sermon.” The Lord has been very faithful to provide for the needs of this church from day one.

Also, understand that we are not a launching a building project. This is not a “if you build it they will come sermon.”

And I hope you know that your increase in giving does not equal a raise for me. This is not a, “pastor needs a new Rolex sermon.” My kid’s asked me a question last week. I’m not sure how it came up. I think Lindsay and I were talking about our budget when one of the boys asked, “dad, how do you make money? I said, “well, the people of Emmaus give when they come to worship, and that money is used to help support our family.” McKenna wisely spoke up saying, “ya, but not all of it.” To which I replied, saying, “right, the people give, and the elders (the ones not on staff, and those not related to me) make the final decisions on how much I am payed.” I figured if my own children had questions about that then it probably needed to be stated. An increase in your giving does not equate to a raise for me.

Finally, I’d like you understand that what I’m about to say to you concerning giving applies to me and to my family as well.

I have seven exhortations in this sermon. They will come at you quickly.

Let Us Give Worshipfully

First of all, let us give worshipfully.

It’s important to see that the giving of tithes and offerings as primarily that – an act of worship before God. We worship through song, through prayer, through the study of and obedience of scripture. We worship when we participate in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But we should also give as an act of worship before God.

If you were to read through the Old Testament you would certainly see just how central giving was to the worship of God from the beginning. When Cain and Able came to worship, they came with something to offer. Really, though it is not stated, it is safe to assume that Adam and Eve would have worshiped God by the offering up of their first fruits to him even in the garden before the fall. Of course their offerings would have had nothing to do with the covering of sin. There was no sin to cover in that day. But they were to cultivate the earth, having dominion over every living thing. Is it not safe to assume that they too would have expressed their gratitude to God by bringing a portion of their profits to offer up to him? Cain and Able did, and they learned it from someone. Noah sacrificed to the Lord. Abraham also give tithes and offerings to the Lord. Under Moses the worship of God certainly involved the offering up of sacrifices to God.

The sacrificial system implemented under the Mosaic Covenant was complex. There were many different kinds of offerings – burnt offerings, drink offerings, grain offerings, and incense offerings. There were guilt offerings, and freewill offerings.  This complex form of worship was instituted by God for a time in order to serve as a means of grace for the people of God under the Old Covenant and to paint a picture of the Christ who would one day come. He has come. And so we do not worship in this way any longer. Those things were a shadow of good things to come. Christ, who is the substance, has come. That form of worship has passed away. The thing to notice now is that the worship of God under Moses involved the offering up of personal possession to the Lord.

And the same is true now under the New Covenant. We do not offer up sacrifices to the Lord expecting them to in any way make atonement for our sins. Christ has made full and perfect atonement. It is finished. But we, under the New Covenant, do indeed worship when we bring our tithes and offerings to the temple of the Lord, which is his church. You and I together are the temple of the Holy Spirit, friends.

Listen to how Paul spoke about the offerings of the Christians at Philippi that were sent to him to support him in his ministry. He uses Old Testament language, saying,

“And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:15–20, ESV)

Paul viewed the financial support sent from the Philippians to him as “fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Friends, when you give in support of the advancement of Christ’s kingdom – when you give for the building up of the temple, which is the church – when you give for the support of gospel ministry – it is an act of worship. We should give worshipfully to the Lord.

We do not pass a plate during the worship service here at Emmaus, as is common in many churches. There are boxes in the back for the offering. You can also give online. The benefit is that we are able to give in a more discreet way. You are not pressured to give here. The downside is that the offering is removed from the worship service. In churches where the offering is received at some point between the call to worship and the benediction the message comes through loud and clear – this is an act of worship before God! I am not proposing that we change things. Instead, I’m encouraging you to be mindful of your giving while we worship God. Pray about your giving. Pray that the Lord would use it to his glory. It is our plan to mention the offering in the prayer of invocation each Lord’s Day. In that way we will “bring our giving” in to the worship service.

Let us give worshipfully, friends.

Let Us Give Sacrificially

And let us also give sacrificially.

One of the questions that people ask is, “if I am to give worshipfully, how much should I give?” I think the best way to answer that question is to say that you should give sacrificially. You should give to the point of feeling it.

I’ve already mentioned the complex system of worship instituted under Moses which involved the offering up of various kinds of offerings. But we should also say a word about the tithe principle which was present in the days of Moses, and indeed existed before the Mosaic Covenant.

Under Moses, the people were to give a tithe of all of their wealth. Tithe means “a tenth”. Leviticus 27:30 says, “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30, ESV) “And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:32, ESV)

The tithes were used to support the Levites who had no inheritance in the land, but served in the tabernacle, and later the temple. Numbers 18: 21 says, “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting…” (Numbers 18:21, ESV)

And notice that the Levites themselves were to tithe. In Numbers 18:26 the Lord says, “Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe.” (Numbers 18:26, ESV)

By the days of Malachi the prophet the people were failing to give a tenth. The Lord spoke boldly to the people through Malachi, saying,

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions… Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:8,10, ESV)

But the question remains, was the tithe principle unique to the Mosaic Covenant?

Actually, we should remember that Abraham, living long before Moses, knew to give a tenth. After Abraham had rescued his nephew Lot from the four kings, taking much plunder from them, he met Melchizedek king of Salem who was also a priest of God Most High.  Melchizedek brought out bread and wine and blessed Abraham.  And what did Abraham do with all of the spoil of war?

“Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:20, ESV) Melchizedek was a type of Christ. And we are children of Abraham.

I am certainly not in favor of requiring a tenth in a legalistic way. But the tithe principle looms rather large in the history of redemption, doesn’t it? It shouldn’t be ignored, friends. It seems as though the people of God in every age have made a practice of giving a tenth of their first fruits to the Lord as an act of sacrificial worship.

The question should not be, what must I give? But how much can I give? And the answer is that we should give sacrificially. Perhaps a tenth should be a goal for us in light of the constant testimony of scripture. Perhaps some should be giving much more than a tenth given their prosperity. As you can see I am still hesitant to say a tenth is required of Christians. Instead I am saying that each one should give sacrificially and according to their ability.

Notice the way that Paul talks about giving. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 he says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV) In 1 Corinthians 16:2 he says,  “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”

Each one is to give “as he has decided in his heart” and “as he may prosper”, which means according to his prosperity, or ability. This reminds me of the story of the widow’s offering. In Luke 21 we read that,

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”’ (Luke 21:1–4, ESV)

Ultimately this is my approach as a pastor. I want to urge you to give sacrificially, as you have decided in your heart, and according to your prosperity, or ability. That said, it should also be noted that Paul is here speaking of a special offering being taken to relieve Christians living in poverty. That pervasive tithe principle from the Old Testament still looms large in my mind. I will leave it ultimately for you to decide as something between you and the Lord.

This I am confident to say – we would do well to give sacrificially to the Lord.

Let Us Give Faithfully

Friends, let us also give faithfully.

Here I have two things in mind.  One, we should give faithfully, as in regularly and consistently. Secondly, we should give faithfully, that is, with hearts full of faith.

First, our giving should be faithful as in consistent. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. Some give every Lord’s Day. This would be consistent with what is urged in 2 Corinthians 16:2 where Paul urges that money be set aside on the first day of the week, which is Lord’s Day. Others give each time they are paid. Some give once per month. And I assume that others take other approaches.  This will change from person to person and from culture to culture. Consistency is important, I think.

Secondly, we are to give faithfully, that is, with hearts full of faith. Here I have in mind that when we give we are to do so trusting in God.

We trust that he will use our giving to bring about good in his kingdom. And we also trust that he will provide for our needs as we give in a sacrificial way.

Do see the faith principle in 2 Corinthians 9:6? “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Do you believe, friend, that when you give to the Lord good comes of it? Just as a farmer makes an investment when he sows seed into the ground, so too a Christian makes an investment when he or she gives to the Lord. The more a farmers sows, the more he will reap. And the more a Christian gives, the more he or she will reap in the spiritual realm.

And do you see the faith principle in 2 Corinthians 9:8 where Paul says,

 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:8–11, ESV)

The prosperity preachers of our day take this passage, and others like it, and twist them to appeal to the sensual and carnal appetites of their followers? They say, do you want to get rich? Then give to the Lord and he will multiply your offering ten fold! That is a distortion of this passage, friends. Instead, this passages is saying, do you want to give sacrificially? Then give in faith believing that the Lord will meet all your needs, enabling you to give all the more! You see the prosperity preachers focus upon that very thing – prosperity. The Christian is to focus on generosity while trusting that God will meet his every need.

Brothers and sisters, let us give faithfully.

Let Us Give For The Promotion Of Christ’s Kingdom

And may we also give for the promotion of Christ’s kingdom.

Here I simply wish to emphasize that when you give the money does not vanish into thin air but has an impact upon the kingdom of God. I want you to mindful of this when you give.

The elders and deacons of the church have a responsibility to use the tithes and offerings of the saints wisely and appropriately. Budgets should be established and maintained that reflect the God given mission of the church. Just as the priests under the Old Covenant were to use the offerings of the people for the establishment, promotion, and maintenance of the worship of God in the temple of God, so too elders and deacons are to manage the monies of the church so that Christ’s temple is indeed build up through the proclamation of the word and administration of the sacraments, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our mission is the great commission, friends. The monies of the church are to be used for the accomplishment of that mission.

For example, it is right that pastors be supported by the church whenever possible.

Paul argues in favor of this in 1 Corinthians 9 and also 1 Timothy 5, concluding that “the laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18, ESV) Our confession also speaks in favor of ministerial support, saying in 26.10,

“it is incumbent on the churches… not only to give [their ministers] all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.”

In addition to the texts that I have already mentioned, the confession lists Galatians 6:6 which says, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” (Galatians 6:6, ESV)

And so pastors should, whenever possible, be supported by their congregations so that they can give themselves to the ministry of the word, to prayer, and to the shepherding of the flock of Christ. This is not always, possible, of course. And so ministers may decide for the sake of the kingdom to engage in bi-vocational ministry for a time. This is often required of those engaging in church planting efforts. The Apostle Paul himself worked as a tentmaker so that he might plant churches, but he evidently saw this as less than ideal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we also had enough to invest in the training of future ministers?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could support a church plant someday?

And wouldn’t you love to see us send and support more missionaries? We already support a couple of missions efforts. Wouldn’t it be great to do more?

And wouldn’t it be great to helping struggling churches when needs arise?

And how about offering assistance to those in need around us, especially those of the household of faith?

Wouldn’t it be great, if the Lord wills, to have a place to use throughout the week for ministry purposes?

Some of these things we have already begun to do. The point I am making is that kingdom work does cost money. And it is your giving that makes it possible. Stuff gets done, that is the point. Giving is practical. Do you see how Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:12 emphasized this point with the Corinthians reminding them that their giving was “supplying the needs of the saints.” Your giving makes it possible to get stuff done. And an increase in giving would make more kingdom work possible, friends.

Let us give for the promotion of Christ’s kingdom.

Let Us Give Willingly 

And let us also give willingly.

Do you see what Paul says in 9:7? “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion…” You ought not to be forced to give. The church ought not to send a bill to it’s members.

I’ve actually heard of churches that insist on seeing the bank account information of their members so they can compare it to the giving. That’s very troubling to me. I’ve also heard from a number people about involvement in churches who’s practice it was to pass the plate, to count the offering, and then to send the plates around again if the leadership deemed that there wasn’t enough given on the first go around. That’s very concerning!

You should giving willingly, friends. No one is twisting your arm here. Ultimately your giving is between you and the Lord! In fact, I don’t even know what you give! It’s been an unwritten policy here at Emmaus from the beginning that the pastors and elders not know who gives what. If you are going to give folks, give willingly!

But notice that Paul’s concern that Christians not give reluctantly or under compulsion did not hinder him from exhorting them to give! He exhorts them to give generously here in 2 Corinthians 9 and also in 1 Corinthians 16. And this is why I think it is also right to exhort you, but to ultimately leave you free from all coercion.

Friends, let us give willingly.

Let Us Give Cheerfully

Let us also give cheerfully.

Paul reminds us here that “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV) I hope that you are blessed when you give. I hope that you do it with a smile on your face. I hope that it brings a sense of satisfaction to you to know that God, by his grace, has enabled you to work hard, to earn a living, and to bring a portion of what you have earned to him as an offering – a sweat smelling aroma. Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Let Us Give To The Glory Of God

Lastly, let us give to the glory of God.

Some give, but seeking glory for themselves. We ought to give to the glory of God.

Notice how God was glorified through the giving of those in the early church to the needs in Jerusalem. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:12,

“For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.” (2 Corinthians 9:12–14, ESV)

I do believe that God is glorified – I do believe that praise to God is provoked – when the people of God give generously, and the giving off the people is used properly, for the building up of the body of Christ, for the furtherance of the kingdom, and for the needs of those around us, especially those of the household of faith.

May it be so of us. May our giving as a congregation, and our use of the funds, be to the glory, honor, and praise of God.

Conclusion

Here is my challenge to you. Would you first of all ask yourself the question, am I thinking about money the right way? Do I see all things as coming from God and myself as a steward of what God has provided. Secondly, would you prayerfully consider your giving. Ask yourself, am I giving worshipfully, sacrificially, faithfully, and with the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom in mind. Thirdly, would you check your heart. Would you make sure that whatever you give, be it small or great, be it one percent or fifty, that your heart is right before God. Give willingly, cheerfully, and to the glory of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: Giving as an Act of Worship Before God: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15


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