Access To Grace In Giving
Tim Temple

Introduction

For the past three weeks we have been talking with you about financial principles for Christians. We have been stressing the important place that the management of our money should have in the life of a Christian. Thus far we have seen that it is a very personal matter between God and the believer.

We have talked about the fact that the New Testament does not teach a set system of tithing, but neither does it teach random giving. Rather, what it teaches is stewardship—our responsibility to manage the possessions that God has entrusted to us for His glory.

We have talked about the attitude that we should have about giving, and we have talked about the action of giving, and so today we want to think about another very important aspect of the subject—what to do if you do not have the money you feel led to give. I am calling it the access to grace in giving that God makes available to us.

What do we do in those situations when we face a need, perhaps in our own lives or perhaps in the life of our church, and we really feel that we would like to do something about that need, and yet, we do not see that we are financially able to do that? What do we do about a situation like that?

Let me remind you again that there are some needs that God does not lead us to participate in. Just because you see a need does not necessarily mean that God wants you to do something about it. Perhaps He will lead you only to pray that others will be able to meet that need. That could be true for many of you in regard to this project of building new facilities for Abilene Bible Church that we have been talking about. I feel confident that He is going to burden enough people to give that the funds will be provided.

Perhaps He would have some of you who receive the printed page to help us financially with that need, and maybe He will burden some of you to pray with us about it. If He does lead you to give, it is possible that you would be among those who would say, “Lord, I would like to give, but I just don't see how I can.” If that is the case, our study today might be very helpful to you. In fact, even if He doesn't lead you to give something to this project, the principles we are going to talk about today will be helpful in other things that He will lead you to have a part in.

Every subject in the Scripture has one central passage of instruction and then many other allusions to it, and I believe that the basic passage on the use of our money is in II Corinthians, chapter 9. We have looked at a number of other passages, but the basic passage, and the one on which the others are based, is II Corinthians, chapter 9. Notice verses 7-10:

II Corinthians 9:

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

The Proposition of a Faith Promise

This passage is going to teach us about a principle that we have come to call the faith promise . The first thing that comes to the minds of many of you, perhaps, is, “What is a faith promise anyway?” So, we want to think first about the proposition of the faith promise as we find it in verses 1-2. In these first two verses we have a definition of it. Look at those verses with me again:

II Corinthians 9:

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

The term ministering to the saints in verse 1 could refer to any portion of the Lord's work that He may lead you to give money to, whether it is a church project, a need that some radio or television ministry has, or even just someone you individually know who is in need. It refers to all kinds of needs. But in this specific case, it refers to a collection that the Apostle Paul was taking for the believers in Jerusalem. Acts, chapter 11, tells us in verses 27-30, that Agabus, a prophet in the first century church, had prophesied that a famine would take place soon in the area in which the city of Jerusalem was located. Naturally, the believers living there would be affected. The incident that is described here took place before the completion of the canon of Scripture, and because the Scripture was not yet completed, the gift of prophecy was still in use. So, the believers in Antioch decided to take up an offering from churches throughout the whole area and to send it to Jerusalem by Paul and Barnabus in advance of the need. This becomes evident when we look at the middle of verse 2, in the context of the prophecy in Acts, chapter 11:

II Corinthians 9:

2 For I know the forwardness [willingness] of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

Achaia was the Roman province in which the city of Corinth was located. This tells us that these people had the faith to believe a prophecy about something that hadn't even happened yet and to promise to give money to it. That is what we have come to call a faith promise—hearing about a need that is looming on the horizon—something that hasn't happened yet—and promising by faith to give money to it.

Of course, this closely parallels our situation. We see a need out there in the future and we need to accumulate money in advance for the meeting of that need. It is a matter of fact that God has entrusted funds to us as a church, and we feel that we have used them diligently and wisely, and now we face a need that is beyond the scope of our ability to pay, and so we are trusting God to provide that money, and we are asking Him in advance to guide us in our giving. That was the situation out of which Paul wrote II Corinthians, chapter 9.

Acts, chapter 11, verse 30, says that Paul and Barnabas had been commissioned by the leaders of the church in Antioch to be in charge of this offering. Paul wrote letters to the churches in these various cities so that they could get prepared, and in the process of writing that letter he established some very clear principles of giving, from both a positive and a negative standpoint.

The Principles of a Faith Promise

With that definition of a faith promise in mind, we want to think next about the principles of a faith promise. Those principles are stated in II Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 7. First, he gives two positive principles, then two negative ones.

An Individual Decision

The first of the positive principles is that it is to be an individual decision. Look at verse 7, where we read:

II Corinthians 9:

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Notice the word purposeth , there in the first line. In the Greek text that word is in the reflexive mode, which means it could be translated “decide for yourself.” The New Living Translation translates it, “You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give.” The New International Version says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give.” Obviously, this rules out a finance committee or some other group deciding, or even suggesting, how much you should give.

Another common practice is for some committee in the church to see how many families are in the church, to try to decide what the median income is, and in some cases they aren't very good at getting this information together in the first place, and on that basis to come up with a figure on which they can kind of expect every family in the church to give. If every family in the church gives X number of dollars, then this need would be met. Then they publicize that, and ask everybody to somehow try to come up with that amount of money or as near that as they can and hope that the others will come up with more to even that out so it will all come out in the total amount they are trying to raise.

Horror stories about this kind of thing abound. I personally know of people who have been called on by a committee with a specific suggestion about what they should give based on their income, etc. One man even told me about how he told his church that he couldn't give the amount they were suggesting, but that he would send a smaller amount in monthly installments. But they sent him a monthly bill, as he called it, and for the amount they had suggested to begin with. That kind of thing is as unscriptural as it can be, and I can assure you that it is not going to happen here.

This “purposing in our hearts,” also rules out just giving a set percentage of your income, as in tithing. To purpose in your heart involves the idea of carefully and prayerfully thinking through your decision, you with your spouse and family if it fits, and God's deciding what you are going to give. In fact, you need to be very careful about getting emotionally involved and pledging before you think it through in that way. That is why we have tried to carefully avoid emotional appeals, taking things one step at a time to be sure of the Lord's leading. In this series of lessons I have tried very carefully to not say anything that would put anybody on the spot and to make you respond to this need with an emotional response. “Oh, it would make Tim feel so much better if I gave,” or “Oh, it would be such a relief to the elders and deacons to know that this thing is going to be taken care of,” things such as that.

An Individual Action

A second positive principle of making a faith promise, although easy to overlook, is back in the first line of verse 7: “…let each one give…” What this means is that not only is this to be an individual decision, as we have just been talking about, but it is to be an individual action as well.

That is the other side to what I have just been saying. There is a tendency, in fact, somebody might even call it a danger, that if we are as low key about this giving as I hope we can be, and as I hope we have been, if we do not constantly keep harping on it, and if we do not make an emotional appeal to you, there is the possibility that you may decide, “Yes, this is what the Lord wants me to give,” but then because it is not constantly presented, and because it is not always on your mind, you won't follow through with that. So, I hasten to add that an equally legitimate principle of the Scripture is not only is it an individual decision, but it is to be an individual action. It is not enough to decide the Lord wants you to give this much money, X number of dollars; it is not completed until you give it. It is an individual decision, but it is also an individual action.

I think one of the reasons that Christian organizations tend to resort to promotional gimmicks and pressures on people is they learn by experience that if you don't constantly keep it in front of people, they will tend to forget it.

Fund-raising statistics show that the percentage of people who follow through with a pledge that they call in for a fund-raising project or who respond to a pledge that they have made to a church is surprisingly low. Those who organize these kinds of things professionally usually feel really good if they get fifty percent of what has been pledged. In fact, in some situations, they even set the need in such a way that they build that in, and they say they need a hundred thousand dollars when they only need fifty, really, knowing that about fifty percent of it will actually come through from what has been pledged. Now, if we leave this to the Lord, it is between you and the Lord, but I have to point out that this other principle of the Scripture is that it is not only an individual decision; it is also an individual action. We need to trust the Lord not only to lead us in what we give, but also to prompt us into going ahead and giving it.

Of course, there are situations in which people make a promise to give to whatever need it is but then lose their money in some way or have an unexpected illness, something completely unforeseen at the time of the promise, and they wind up not being able to fulfill it. The promise should be made with every expectation of following through with it.

Do Not Give Grudgingly

Those are the positive principles of giving, but there are some negative principles here in verse 7, also. First, he says, “Do not give grudgingly or of necessity.” This word grudgingly is a translation of two Greek words which together mean “out of sorrow.” This is a situation in which you give because you just can't stand to hear about it any more, so you just go ahead and give just so you won't have to feel guilty every time it comes up.

At the same time let me point out that it is not talking about sacrificial giving. Sacrificial giving may be painful in a certain sense, but it is also a very joyous thing. It may be that God is going to lead some of us to do without something in order to give to this project. If God leads you to do that, then that is fine and wonderful, and you will get joy out of that. But if you decide you are going to give just to get the preacher to quit talking about it or you are going to give because you are afraid somebody is going to find out that you didn't, that is going to be a very sorrowful thing because you will be giving grudgingly. God would rather have you not give than to have to give out of that kind of an attitude.

Do Not Give Gougingly

A second negative principle here in verse 7 is, do not make your gift “of necessity.” For purposes of alliteration I am going to say, “Do not give gougingly.” That is the same kind of thing. The Greek word translated with the English word necessity is a Greek word which literally means “arm twisting.” Do not give because you have had your arm twisted. We all know what that means, don't we? I am going to leave it at that. Do not give gougingly. Don't give because you have been pressured into it.

There is a third principle that fits with these, even though it doesn't appear here in II Corinthians. I want us to turn back to I Corinthians, chapter 16, and notice a passage that was written out of the same context. Paul is writing about the same offering in his first letter to the Corinthians, and in I Corinthians, chapter 16, beginning with verse 1, he says this:

I Corinthians 16:

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

Do Not Give Gimmickly

We talked about these verses in some detail last week as we thought about the basic principles of giving, but they also apply to this matter of the faith promise. What he is saying is, “I want you to give now so that you won't be under pressure later when I get there to actually, physically take up the offering. Be giving in advance.” In fact, notice the word collections there. That is a translation of a word that could be translated “a commercial appeal.” Paul said, “I don't want to get here and have to do a bunch of fund raising. When I come through these various places taking up this collection for the saints in Jerusalem, I don't want us to make a commercial appeal.” This is what today we might call “using gimmicks to get people to give.” So we might say that this third principle is, “do not give gimmickly.” You know, if the Lord really owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and if we are really administrators of His estate, if it is really a matter of stewardship, then all a church ought to have to do is to let the need be known and trust the Lord to meet the need and not make some kind of a commercial appeal—to have clever little mailouts, badges, bumper stickers, balloons or contests to see who can give the most the soonest.

I personally know a man who after he had committed to give a certain amount was asked to stand up in a service along with three other men who had already committed to give, and tell how much he was giving and challenge others to give on the basis of that. That is the kind of thing Paul had in mind when he wrote about this commercial appeal. Even though it is often done, it is completely unscriptural.

God's Provision for the Faith Promisor

Let's go back to II Corinthians, chapter 9. The third thing we want to think about is God's provision for the faith promisor. We have talked about the proposition of the faith promise and some principles of it; now, let's think about God's provision for those who want to make such a promise. If you are not going to give out of pressure, and if you are not going to give because your arm is twisted, what do you do in a situation like that? Look at verse 8 with me:

II Corinthians 9:

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

That verse says, if we take it at its face value, and how else can we take it, that God is able to meet your need and still enable you to give to that thing to which He is leading you to give. I say again, as we have pointed out many times before, that God expects us to administer some of what He has given us in our own family. That is a legitimate part of stewardship. But He is able to not only enable you to have sufficiency for all of your needs, but to have an abundance for that good work which He is leading you to be involved in.

Think carefully about what this says. Notice carefully that it is a grace that He promises. This is not a verse that you can claim for added income. It does not say that God is able to make all money abound toward you. It says that He is able to make all grace abound toward you. This verse assumes that the giving that you want to do is based on the fact that you believe that God really wants you to do this. You want to have a part of this need, but you don't know how you are going to do it. God says, “If you will trust Me, I will enable you to meet those needs that you think are standing in the way, and I will provide you the grace to be involved in this other need that you see also.”

That grace may take the form of seeing some corners that you can cut that you haven't seen before, deciding that you can get by with less for a while. It may take the form of deciding to wait until next year to buy that new car. That grace may be deciding to make an investment in the Lord's work this year or this month instead of buying more stock or making some other investment. Or that grace may very well be providing you with some extra money. Maybe a stock dividend you had not expected or a bonus or an inheritance or an increase in your business. I am not saying He would never do that; I am just saying that is not the only way He does it. Grace is up to God, but in whatever way He chooses, if He is really leading you to take a part in that need, He will give you the grace to be a part of it. He will provide for the keeping of the promise.

Paul said, “You go ahead and make your plans to be a part of this collection that I am coming to get in a few months. You go ahead and plan to do it, and God will give you the grace to be able to do it.”

Finally, by way of conclusion, he gives two illustrations of the principle. First, in verse 9, we have the illustration from Scripture:

II Corinthians 9:

9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

This is a quotation of Psalm 112, verse 9. Even back in the Old Testament, and by implication throughout history, this has always been God's method. Then in verse 10, there is the illustration from nature. We read:

II Corinthians 9:

10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

The farmer always has enough to replant. Why is that? Because the seed that he gets for his next crop comes from the crop that he plants now. That is God's principle as well. Only God can produce seed, but by doing that, He is giving enough to live on and enough to replant.

Conclusion

As we conclude our study, let me draw it together by trying to make a personal application. The Lord has ordered things in such an interesting way in this project. He has led us step by step to the point where we find ourselves today. I firmly believe that He has provided the timing of this thing so that when and if He provides the funds with which to build the new facility, we will know that He and He alone provided it. It won't be a matter of being able to say, “Well, we have just got some good givers in that church. We have a prosperous church.” Those things may or may not be true, but the point is that God will provide the need in such a way that only He will receive glory and praise from it.

A bigger point in a way is that I believe God wants to do the same thing in our lives individually and as families. There is a sense in which Abilene Bible Church is trusting the Lord for this unbelievably large amount of money. But there is a more important sense in which He is giving us the opportunity, if we will take it, to trust him personally for a share of this need. I believe He is going to do the impossible in our midst, and I believe He may very well want to do it through some of us who feel it would be impossible for us to have a part in it. This is an opportunity for you to experience a blessing that you may not have ever had before—the blessing of seeing the Lord provide grace in your life to do something that is not possible for you to do.

I am praying that each individual and each family in our church will make this a personal, spiritual project. The first step is to spend some time in prayer. Ask God what part He wants you to play in this project. After praying about it faithfully for several days or more, if you feel the need, think through what He has laid on your heart. Maybe He will have impressed you to give and even the amount you should give. Maybe He will have impressed you to pray faithfully for those who will give. Then begin to follow Him step by step, just as we have been doing for these past two years. Ask Him to give you the grace to follow through on what He has led you to do. Ask Him to open doors of opportunity and give you the grace to walk through them.

Be sure to include your family in this. If your children are still at home growing up, this can be an invaluable learning experience for them. If your children are grown and out of your home, include them anyway. Ask them to pray for you as you participate in this. If you are a single person, ask your relatives to pray for you as you participate.

I would consider this a wasted series if all you got out of it is something about the building of a building. Now, I hope you did get something out of it about that. These principles apply to that situation, but these are principles that apply to life. These are principles that apply to the walk with the Lord that God wants all of us to have.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org