Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Lexington, KY. Pastor Earl Thomas
Pleasant Ridge Baptist ChurchLexington, KY. Pastor Earl Thomas

CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP       

We believe that giving is one of the fundamentals of the Faith II Cor. 8:7. We are commanded to bring our gifts into the store-house (common treasury of the church) upon the first day of the week, I Co. 16:2. Under grace, we give, and do not pay the tithe, 'Abraham gave a tenth part of all' Heb. 7:2-4, and this was 400 years before the Law, and is confirmed in the New Testament; Jesus said concerning the tithe, 'These ye ought to have done', Matt. 23:23. That the tenth of our income should be the minimum below which no believer should allow himself to fall, and that in addition, to achieve excellence in stewardship of possessions, an endeavour should be made towards offerings and sacrificial gifts. Phil. 4:15-18; II Cor. 8:5; 9:6-8; I Cor. 4:2

 

Intro: I am going to take each statement of the ”Grace of Giving,” as an outline for this message.

  1. We believe that giving is one of the

fundamentals of the Faith.We are commanded to bring our gifts into the store-house (common treasury of the church) upon the first day of the week.

   The churches of Macedonia were example setters when it came to financial help and support of the church at Jerusalem.  Both they and the church at Corinth had poverty issues.  This next whole chapter deals with the Macedonian churches unselfish desire to help as a motivation for Corinth to join in the fund raising effort.

   2 Corinthians 8:1-24 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” 

   (Paul used their generosity to fire up the Corinthian church to do the same. In fact the Macedonian churches with much entreaty, literally begged Paul to allow them to help in the ministry to the saints.  The key to their success must have been that they first dedicated their own selves to do the Lord’s will.  After that, it was easy to do the right thing.)

 

6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

 (Churches are often slow to respond to obvious needs for financial help by missionaries and churches. Titus was prompted by Paul to finish what he started a year previous; that was to resume work on the Corinthian church members to step up to the plate and prove their love by this method, dedicating themselves, because it was what the Macedonian brethren did so well and so willingly.)

10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”

   (A person can’t give what they don’t have.  But I have found in my many years as a pastor of three churches that people usually have more than they are willing to admit. They may not be rich, but have enough to be reasonably comfortable, a long way from being poor.  Some who claim they never have any money somehow suddenly manage to buy a new car, big screen TV, smart phone, etc.  Paul’s “advice” was to get on with the “performance” of what you started a year past; quit stalling, get on with it.  You don’t have to give what you don’t have, but by all means check what you to have, and give accordingly!

   (The was a farmer who boasted that if he had the money, he’d gladly give some money to his less fortunate fellow brethren at church who were in great need.  The pastor said, “Good brother, do you mean if you had two pigs and knew one of our church families had nothing to eat, you would give them a pig? To which the farmer replied, “Hey, wait a minute pastor, that’s not fair, you know I have two pigs.”

13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.”

   (This referred to the sharing of food by the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings, Exodus 16:18 …he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.”)  

16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. 18 And we have sent with him the brother, (don’t know who he was) whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; 19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: 20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 And we have sent with them our brother (Titus), whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.” (Paul is saying, don’t let me down after all the boasting I’ve done about your loving spirit and desire to do good things for others. Next he offers credentials about those who help, in that they are trustworthy and should be respected as honest)

23 Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.”

 

   In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul engages in the same comparisons here, but this time using as examples the church in Galatia, about responsible financial giving to the fund to help the saints in Jerusalem. 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.”

   This was not a regular church offering as we might suppose. The context shows that it was a love offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem. But, the point being, that it was to be a free will offering, received, given, by those church members upon Sunday, the first day of the week. The tithe and offerings of church members can be given any day of the week possible; but since Sunday was the traditional meeting day for worship, being the day of our Lord’s resurrection, that would be the most suitable day to bring in our gifts to Him.

   An income receiving Christian, whether a church member or not, has a duty to contribute to the work of the Lord through a local church.  It is accepted first and understood that a believer should seek membership in a sound Baptist church which can receive his/her offerings into what constitutes God’s storehouse for New Testament times.

   This grace of giving is one of the most difficult of things to do regarding Christian duty and privilege. There are a multitude of excuses which an individual may use to justify not parting with his money to his local church.  I.e.: “I can’t afford it, my family needs it more that the church; others don’t do it, why must I?; others have better incomes; I disagree with how my church spends its income; I can’t give anything now, but after my next raise in salary, I will start giving.”

    However, there is only one reason none of those excuses are acceptable. They will not work to justify not being a giver in the support of God’s work in this world. Most all members can give something, even if it is only the widows mite.  Jesus said, John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  Now, do we love him, or not?

   Jesus also tells us how we can prove our love for Him,  John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

    There is another blessing connected with being a giver.  It is in John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.”  Don’t mistake what is said here. It is not telling us that if we fail to keep Jesus commandments he won’t love us anymore. 

   To abide in his love means to experience the full enjoyment of Christ’s blessings and provisions to us in our Christian walk. Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” When we keep God’s commands he is more likely, according to His will, to give good things to us when we ask Him and because we do His will.   

   Children who obey their parents are more likely to be shown greater generosity by the parents and out of appreciation the parents do all they can to provide them with a happy home and the enjoyment of good things together, than if a child or children are uncooperative and belligerent.  

   Abiding under our Lord’s daily blessings is obvious from the confirmatory clause of Jesus: “Even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” The Lord kept the Father's commandment always, doing those things which pleased him.

   If we have failed in keeping any of the Fathers commandments, it won’t cause God to love us any less, but the Father could withhold His best provisions from us and the some of the help we need to survive during the vicissitudes of life which weigh heavily upon us. 

   A life lesson from the Apostle Paul who surely did keep the commands given to Him by the Father and because he did, God was there to help him in times of need, 2 Timothy 4:14-18 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

    The Apostle John has a good response for those who complain about needing to contribute to the church finances by arguing the point that none of God’s commandments are meant to be burdensome.  1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (burdensome).

  

  1. Under grace, we give, and do not pay the tithe,

'Abraham gave a tenth part of all', and this was 400 years before the Law, and is confirmed in the New Testament;

  Hebrews 7:2-4 (Melchisedec) “To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”  

  

  1. Jesus said concerning the tithe, 'These ye

ought to have done', Matt. 23:23.

   Some unwilling people want to think that tithing was not a N.T. command and that Jesus didn’t tell anyone they ought to do it.  Well, Jesus did approve of the practice of tithing in a manner of speaking, Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

   While it is true that the Jews were still living under the law and we do not as we are under Grace, it is logical that we should not do less than what the law required. Under Grace we can surely do more.  No church or pastor can make its members tithe, so it largely, will be decided by each person to, “tithe or not to tithe, that is the question.” (sounds familiar doesn’t it?)

   

   The “tithe” and “tithing” is mentioned 14 times; the “tenth part” is mentioned 14times, “tithes” 21 times. Most are O.T. verses.  Tithing is not mentioned in the N.T. as instructions to believers for giving to the church, but it is an example of the practice of giving which dates way back to O.T. worship, and before, and in the N.T. proportionate giving is more emphasized.

   The case for preaching tithing in a N.T. church makes good sense and it is a logical conclusion to the discussing that church members use the tenth as our minimum amount to practice giving. That should be our starting point.  We should do at least that much, but some people even refuse to do that.  As a matter of principle if law required ten percent, surely it is reasonable under grace that we should do no less. 

   It should be ten percent of our gross income before taxes, union dues, retirement amounts, etc., are removed from our check before it becomes “take home pay.” People who tithe only on take home pay, are not giving the full tithe on all! That is a matter for ones conscience to decide.  If withholding any of the ten percent is still considered “robbing God of tithes and offerings”, they have, under God’s grace, done that.

   One other consideration I think is true.  If it costs a person x numbers of dollars to produce x numbers of dollars in income, it is right to deduct the cost involved in making that income before you have true profit.  i.e. You are a shop keeper. You buy an item for $50 wholesale; sell it for $150 retail.  You made $100.  You also deduct the cost of doing business like utilities, salaries, etc.  At the end of the month the true profit is far less than total income for the business.  Tithe is figured on the true profit, not total income.  

   While on that thought, there have been Christians who made so much money, they never stopped at ten percent, they gave a much higher percent to the Lord up to 90% and thrived on ten percent.

 

  1. Not all church people will agree, but the tenth

of our income should be the minimum below which no believer should allow himself to fall.

   Support of the church is expected from those who chose to become members.  But no one can be forced to do it. It must remain voluntary “according as he purposes in his heart.”  God has his own way of dealing with the stingy… which is reaping sparingly!

   Here is an interesting article, “Christians Who Tithe Have Healthier Finances Than Those Who Don't.” BY JEFF SCHAPIRO , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER May 15, 2013|6:15 pm

   “The finances of Christians who tithe are generally healthier than the finances of those who do not, according to a new report that takes a close look at the financial, spiritual and giving practices of people who give 10 percent or more of their income away to churches and charities each year.

   Researchers compared tithers to non-tithers using nine financial health indicators, and found that tithers were better off in every category. Among tithers, for example, 80 percent have no unpaid credit card bills, 74 percent don't owe anything on their cars, 48 percent own their home and 28 percent are debt free.

"The weird thing is, a tither looks at that and says to himself, 'Well I'm better off because I give.' A non-tither looks at that and says, 'Oh, they give because they're better off,'" said Brian Kluth, founder of the study and Maximum Generosity, who called the findings "unprecedented."

   ”There are an estimated 10 million Christians in the U.S. who tithe more than $50 billion annually, according to a press release for the annual State of the Plate report. The report encompasses survey responses from 4,413 tithers from all 50 states and a variety of different churches and income levels.

   ”The fifth annual study reveals that 97 percent of tithers make giving to their local church a priority, and 63 percent started tithing between their childhood and their twenties. It also found that 70 percent give based on their gross income rather than their net income, and 77 percent give more than the traditional 10 percent.

"Never before has this group been studied, and I think for every pastor and church leader and parachurch leader it would be valuable if they understand this," Kluth told The Christian Post. "We're in the midst of a 40-year decline in the percentage that Christians give, and we need to see a generosity movement in America, that Christians re-embrace generosity as a spiritual value, but not for the sake of the church budget, but because of the Bible. Churches have made giving all about the budget, and it's not about the budget, it's all about the Bible."

   Kluth started conducting State of the Plate studies five years ago in part because he wanted to help the media present accurate information regarding church giving. For the first four years the research focused primarily on church giving trends, he says, but this year's focus on individuals who tithe is unique.

   "Without this group of givers, most churches would cease to exist within months," he said. The "saddest" result of the survey, he says, was discovering that few tithers have included giving to churches and charities in their estate plans. Tithers make up between just five and 20 percent of the givers in a typical congregation, but they donate 50 to 80 percent of the money. Among non-tithing Christians who struggle to give, 38 percent say it's because they can't afford it, 33 percent say they have too much debt and 18 percent say their spouse doesn't agree with tithing.

   “Tithing is an Old Testament concept, and Kluth says the New Testament approach to giving is "giving proportionately and giving voluntarily." Even those who have fallen on hard financial times can contribute to their churches, he says.

   "The Scripture tells us to give from what we have," said Kluth. "That is a biblical mandate. There are some seasons of our lives we have less than others, and so when you experience a downturn financially you don't stop giving, you give a proportion of what you have...I always like to say, you don't give to get, you give because you've received something already. You give because you've already gotten something from God."

   

  1. and that in addition, to achieve excellence in

stewardship of possessions, an endeavour should be made towards offerings and sacrificial gifts.

   Philippians 4:15-19 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Paul felt that since they sent funds to supply his need that God would in return see their general needs met.

   2 Corinthians 8:1-5 is another example of going beyond the tithe into what might be called sacrificial offerings. We spoke about this last week, but let’s briefly see it again.  ”Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us  by the will of God.”

  Some things are noted in these words, first it was not their regular offerings to support their own church needs.  It was a love offering to the poor saints of the church at Jerusalem. Their church did not have a lot of rich people and were actually in deep poverty themselves. The gift came irrespective of their great trial of afflictions and deep poverty because of their abundance of joy.  Nevertheless, they were financial givers to some who appeared to be worse off than they were.

   The next noteworthy thing is that “they were willing of themselves.” They didn’t need to be shamed into giving or have their arms twisted; but rather they insisted that Paul allow them to send this offering.

   Paul continues to exhort the Corinthian church in the matter of giving of finances. In the next passage 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, he states the law of sowing and reaping which seems to be at work every time. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 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.” He then reminds them of how God is able to reward them for faithful stewardship of their finances by making sure they have “all sufficiency in all things.”

  The word “cheerful” in the Greek means a merry, hilarious giver. It means to give because we want to; we don’t give as some say, ‘til it hurts, we give because it feels good.  People are divided in to two categories of givers, the right and the left.  Some give out of their incomes what is right, others give only out of what is left.

   A steward is a person who is a property manager.  The Bible teaches us that what we have is all given to us because of God’s goodness. The church at Jerusalem, because of the persecutions of the Jews, must have understood this from the start, Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; ….”

   More proof: 1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”

    Now, not too many Christians will openly credit that what they possess of worldly goods was given by God, they say “I worked hard for it.”  And they probably did, and do, but the point is the Lord gives us that ability.  Deuteronomy 8:17-18 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, ….”

    The conclusion about giving is found in 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”  Each of us has to decide what we give; we should give it without flair; and we should do it regularly for God’s glory and because we love Him. Matthew 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly”.

   Is there ever a time when a person can NOT give financially to the Lord?  Yes, absolutely.  If we have no income, we may not be able to give financially.  Who wants to be in that dire position? No, one.  But in those times there are other ways we can give. We can give of ourselves, our prayers, our labors, our time, talents, faithful service, etc.!  Giving is a way of showing God our appreciation for what he allows us to have.  Not giving back is a sign of no appreciation. 

    Most of us believe that giving at least ten percent of our income to the Lord, the other ninety percent will go much farther than if we keep it all.

   We have a choice.  We can give our offering and feel good about it, plus be rewarded for it; or refuse to give it and God may take it by causing an unexpected car repair which takes the tithe or more, and deprive us of the blessing for giving with no reward. We generally learn that lesson early on in our Christian experience. Have all of us learned it?

   You’ve heard about John Doe being in surgery yesterday haven’t you?  Why you ask? He had his tithe taken out!

   Many believe deep down, we can’t out give God. 2 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:”

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Revelation 11:17 "Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned." 

 

SERVICES:

SUNDAY MORNING:

Sunday School 9:30
Worship 10:30

 

SUNDAY EVENING:



Choir Practice 5:00



Men’s Prayer 5:15



Evening Worship 6:00

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING:

Men’s Prayer 6:15

Sermon 7:00