David B Curtis - Berean Bible Church

Pastor David B. Curtis

Grace Giving - Part 2

Philippians 4:14-19

10/17/1999

Three boys are in the school yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, "My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50." The second boy says, "That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100." The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon... and it takes eight people to collect all the money!"

This is probably many people's view of money and the church. Our views on money are distorted. Let's see if we can gain a biblical view of money.

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This promise was made to the Philippians because of their sacrificial giving as an act of worship. I think that you can only claim this verse if you give sacrificially as the Philippians did. We are studying Grace Giving so that we may understand how this verse could become a promise that we can claim.

I said last time, "Your giving is a direct indication of your love for God." If that is true, do you love God?

Managing our money and possessions is a severe problem for all of us. We all have different amounts of money by God's design. But we all have the same problem; what do we do with it? How should we invest it? How should we spend it? We have to constantly face the fact that money provides for us a test of our love of God. It's a great revealer of the heart. It is a major problem of life, and when somebody can deal with it, the strength of their spiritual life is manifested.

Do you know that the Lord gave 38 parables in the Gospels? Out of those 38, 16 deal with money and how we handle it. Christ said more about money and possessions than he did about heaven and hell combined. In the gospels, 1 out of every 10 verses deals with money or possessions - 288 verses in the four gospels. In the Bible, there are over 500 references to prayer and less than 500 references to faith, but there are over 2,000 references to money and possessions. How we handle money is a major issue. Your giving is a direct indication of your love for God.

We must understand that our GIVING IS WORSHIP.

Philippians 4:18 (NKJV) Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

Paul tells them that their gift was overwhelming to him. He was full. Paul viewed their gift as an offering to God, a sacrifice that was well pleasing. Notice the words Paul uses here -"sweet-smelling" is from the Greek word euodia, and "aroma" is from the word osme, and "sacrifice" is from the Greek word thusia. All three of these words are used in Ephesians 5 of Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself to God in man's behalf.

Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice(thusia) to God for a sweet-smelling(euodia) aroma (osme).

"Christ also has loved us and given..." -because Christ loved, he gave. I don't think that you can disassociate loving and giving. These words express the language of worship - GIVING IS AN EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP!

True worship comes from a dedicated life. Look with me at 2 Corinthians 8. Paul is talking here about the Macedonians, and Philippi was in Macedonia. The Philippians were involved in the giving that Paul is speaking about here.

2 Corinthians 8:4-5 (NKJV) imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

We see here in verse 4 that Paul was not pleading with the Macedonians to give, but they were pleading with him to take their money. Verse 5 tells us that they first gave themselves to the Lord. This is dedication or commitment, and this is where worship starts. First we give ourselves to the Lord, then we give of our substance.

What is worship? Worship is honor and adoration directed to God. The New Testament uses several words for worship. Two of them are particularly noteworthy: proskuneo which means: "to kiss toward, to bow down." It signifies humble adoration. Another word used for worship is latreuo which means: "rendering honor or paying homage. Both terms carry the idea of giving, because worship is giving something to God. It begins with the giving of ourselves, and then of our attitudes, and then our possessions.

Worship can be expressed by sharing love with fellow believers:

Romans 14:18 (NKJV) For he who serves [latreuo] Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

The context of this verse is loving the weaker brother.

Sharing the gospel with an unbeliever is also seen as worship.

Romans 15:16 (NKJV) that I might be a minister [leitourgos] of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Worship is giving, it is a love that shares. Worship starts with the giving of ourselves.

Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Paul's words here come after what is possibly the greatest exposition of theology in all of scripture. All the great themes of redemptive theology are here, and in response to them, we find the words of Romans 12:1. Our only response to what God has done for us and the starting point for acceptable worship is to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. This is a call to discipleship and worship. In gratitude for the "mercies of God" we are to give ourselves to the Lord.

Our love for God and our worship of Him may be proved by something that is a major part of everyone's life, and that is our use of money.

Luke 16:11 (NKJV) "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

If we can't handle money, God will never give us spiritual responsibility. How we handle money is a barometer of our spiritual life. How we use our money demonstrates the reality of our love for God. We can pretend to be worshipers, but the use of our possessions shows us up for what we actually are.

The apostle John linked money and the love of God.

1 John 3:16-17 (NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Again, we see here the connection between loving and giving (verse 16). Most Christians will never have the opportunity to lay down their lives, how then can they show that they love their brothers and their God? By giving of their money and material goods. If we fail to do this, we show we don't love our brother or our God. We all show by our giving the measure of our love for God.

But giving is only half the story of money and our love for God. If everything comes from the Lord and belongs to Him, and if we have dedicated ourselves to Him, then not only is what we give to Him important but also what we spend on ourselves is indicative of our love. It is fallacious reasoning to think that when we have given a portion of our income to the Lord, the rest belongs to us.

Buying too much may be a demonstration of our love for things and a proof of our lack of love for God. The reason that many believers don't give is because they don't love God. And the reason they don't love God is because they are caught up in idolatry. Does that sound too strong?

Colossians 3:1-5 (NKJV) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and COVETOUSNESS, WHICH IS IDOLATRY.

Notice carefully those last words "covetousness which is idolatry." The Greek word used here for "covetousness" is pleonexia, it is a compound word coming from pleon meaning: "more" and echo which means: "to have." It is literally a desire to have more. This is a dominant sin in human nature. God spoke directly against this sin in the decalogue.

Exodus 20:17 (NKJV) "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."

Covetousness is a problem that we all struggle with. Our society makes the problem even more difficult because it encourages covetousness. Covetousness is a sin that robs us of the liberty to give and turns us into idolaters.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Paul gives us here a stern warning against loving money. The Greek word used here for "pierced" is peripeiro, it means: "to penetrate entirely, i.e to pierce through." This gives us a vivid picture of PAIN!

Wesley said, "When I have money, I get rid of it as quickly as possible, lest it should find a way into my heart." The things that we possess can become idols in our lives. Wesley decided early in life how much he could live on and gave the rest to the Lord. As his income increased, so did his giving.

There is a basic truth about man that must be recognized - he is ultimately and totally selfish. Selfishness related to productivity translates into one word - covetousness! David prayed that God would keep his heart from covetousness:

Psalms 119:36 (NKJV) Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.

It is easy to surrender a part of what we have if we've already given Him the whole thing. If our life is His, it's easy to give of our substance.

Philippians 4:17 (NKJV) Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

We see here that Paul considered their giving as fruit. And John tells us that "fruit" glorifies God.

John 15:8 (NKJV) "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Fruit glorifies God and glorifying God is worship. So, giving is worship!

The English preacher, Theodor Monoath, gave this illustration on giving oneself to the Lord:

Let us suppose that as we leave this meeting, as we rise and make our way toward the door, as we go out you see a five pound note fall on the floor and you go over and pick it up. Now let's suppose that in your mind you say, 'I'll keep four pounds for myself and give him one pound.' Then, your conscience begins to work and you say, 'No, that's not right, I'll give him four pounds and I'll keep one pound.' And again your conscience rises up and says, 'No, that's wrong.' Then you say, 'I'll do the grand thing of giving him the whole five pounds.' That is not a grand thing! That's the only honest thing to do.

Believer, do you belong to the Lord? Have you been bought with a price?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, AND YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Does God have total right to all of you? It's not a grand and glorious thing to give sacrificially or do anything that requires a little bit of sacrifice on our part for the glory of God. It's the only honest thing to do. Giving is worship. Are you a worshiper?

Now let's look at 7 principles of grace giving:

1. GRACE GIVING IS VOLUNTARY.

Giving is not voluntary, we are all commanded to give, but the amount you give is voluntary.

2 Corinthians 8:3 (NKJV) For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,

As the NASV puts it, "THEY GAVE OF THEIR OWN ACCORD." The amount they gave was of their own choosing.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV) So let each one give AS HE PURPOSES IN HIS HEART, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

They gave as they purposed to do.

We said last time that TITHING was taxation, it never was the way to give, giving was always voluntary. The apostle Paul never used the word "tithe." Tithing was a method of taxation in Old Covenant Israel, it was a debt that they were commanded to pay.

If you want to use a New Testament example of a percentage for people to give, look at:

Luke 19:8 (NKJV) Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold."

Zacchaeus gave 50%, but he did so voluntarily!

2. GRACE GIVING IS TO BE PROPORTIONATE GIVING.

1 Corinthians 16:2 (NKJV) On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, STORING UP AS HE MAY PROSPER, that there be no collections when I come.

We are to give proportionately to what we have. We are to give according to how we have prospered. It's not difficult to compute 10% of ones income; but how much is "as he may prosper?" It is neither a specific amount nor a particular percentage. Paul says that the rich should be rich in good works.

1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NKJV) Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

Those who have nothing are not expected to give what they don't have.

2 Corinthians 8:12 (NKJV) For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

If you have a willing mind, you desire to give, but you have no money, your desire is accepted before God. If we are able, we have responsibilities, if we're not able then we don't have responsibilities. Our responsibility is according to our ability. For the rich, the willing is measured by the deed. For the poor, the willing is accepted for the deed. The portion is incidental, the PROPORTION is what counts. Those who have less than enough are to receive from others who have more than enough:

2 Corinthians 8:13-14 (NKJV) For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack; that there may be equality.

Those that have little, give the little that they can:

2 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NKJV) that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,

They were in poverty, and yet they gave. Increasing prosperity should result not only in an increase in the amount given, but in the percentage given. Most Americans are rich and should think in terms of 15, 20, 40 or 60% of their income.

Acts 11:27-29 (NKJV) And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.

The disciples gave according to their ability. They gave proportionately. Our abundance should make us abundant givers. But too often it has turned us into idolaters.

How many of you are familiar with the giving strategy called "Faith Promise"? This is where you make a pledge to give so much that year above your regular giving. The idea being that you are trusting God to give you that money so you can in turn give it to the church. The idea of "faith promise" is not biblical. You're to give according to what God has given you, not what you hope He will give you. Faith promise has nothing to do with faith. Faith is believing a promise, not believing God for what he hasn't promised. That is presumption! You are to give according to how you have prospered. Your giving is to be proportionate.

So, grace giving is to be voluntary, proportionate and...

3. GRACE GIVING IS TO BE SACRIFICIAL.

2 Corinthians 8:3 (NKJV) For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,

They gave beyond their ability - sacrificial - not out of their surplus. Their giving cost them. We see an example of true sacrificial giving in:

Luke 21:1-4 (NKJV) And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 "for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had."

She only had about 1/4 of a penny left, and she gave it all. That amount doesn't seem significant, but it was, because she gave everything. Believers, you can't give more than everything. The point that Jesus was making is that sacrifice is the essence of giving. In this case, the least money was the greatest gift. Our giving is to be sacrificial. Is yours? How much do you sacrifice? If we give sacrificially, what about our needs? This is where God's promise to the Philippians comes in:

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The Greek word that Paul uses for "supply" is the word pleroo. It means: "to fill up a deficiency." The Philippians had given so much that they now have a deficiency. The word used for "need" is chreia. It means: "requirement or destitution. Their giving left them with needs. But, Paul told them that God would take care of their needs.

Notice what David said:

2 Samuel 24:24 (NKJV) Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with THAT WHICH COSTS ME NOTHING." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

David said he wouldn't give to God that which cost him nothing. He wanted his giving to be sacrificial.

A business man and a lawyer were traveling in Korea, both were Christians. They were with a missionary, and he was showing them the country. One day as they were driving down one of the roads, they saw in the field by the side of the road a young man pulling a plow with an old man holding the handles. So, instead of an animal, it was the young man, and the father was giving directions to the young man. It was a very crude kind of plow.

The lawyer was very amused by what he saw and took a picture of it. He said to the missionary, "I suppose they are very poor." The missionary said, "Yes, that's the family of Chee Bouy. When the church was being built, they were eager to give something to it but they had no money, so they sold their only ox and gave the money to the church. Now they pull the plow themselves." The lawyer and businessman were silent for a while, and then the businessman spoke up and said, "That was a real sacrifice." The missionary said, "They didn't call it that. They thought it was fortunate that they had the ox to sell."

That, folks, is sacrificial giving! Do we really understand that? What does our giving cost us? The value of the gift is not determined by its amount but by its cost.

So, grace giving is voluntary, proportionate, sacrificial and...

4. GRACE GIVING IS INVESTING WITH GOD.

If you want an investment with a great return, give it to God.

Philippians 4:17 (NKJV) Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

The Greek word for "abound" here is pleonazo. It means: "to super abound." These are terms that were used in the money markets of the day, namely interest which may accumulate to your account. Giving is investing with God.

Luke 6:38 (NKJV) "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NKJV) But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

The image of the harvest suggests the freedom of the sower to plant as much seed as he chooses. The word "necessity" here is the Greek word anagke, it means: "to constrain or compulsion." Our giving is not to be of compulsion, but freely. God loves a cheerful giver. The word "cheerful" is the Greek hilaros, from which we get our word "hilarious." Some synonyms for hilarious would be; "jubilant, exuberant, or lively." God loves a jubilant, exuberant, or lively giver.

Galatians 6:6-7 (NKJV) Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

We are to share with those who teach us. What we sow is what we will reap. God blesses the exuberant giver.

Look at what Jesus said about giving:

Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We are to invest with God, where our investment will never decay. Giving is investing with God. While we're in Matthew, let's look at another principle seen here:

5. GIVING SHOULD BE CONFIDENTIAL.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NKJV) "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds BEFORE MEN, TO BE SEEN BY THEM. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 "that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

If you give for the sake of being recognized or thought well of by men, you will get their praise and not God's. Jesus uses hyperbole here when talking about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. The idea is that our giving is between us and God. How far do we take this - should we not give checks so no one will know what we give? That is not the issue. The issue is not to give for the sake of men's approval. Your giving is to be worship, not a means to draw attention to yourself.

6. GIVING RESULTS IN BLESSING.

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

When you give sacrificially, God will meet your need.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (NKJV) But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 AND GOD IS ABLE TO MAKE ALL GRACE ABOUND TOWARD YOU, THAT YOU, ALWAYS HAVING ALL SUFFICIENCY IN ALL THINGS, MAY HAVE AN ABUNDANCE FOR EVERY GOOD WORK. 9 As it is written: "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." 10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

Jesus said:

Acts 20:35 (NKJV) "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.'"

Grace giving is voluntary, proportionate, sacrificial investing with God, to be done confidentially. It results in blessing and...

7. GRACE GIVING AFFECTS SPIRITUAL RICHES.

We could say that giving will affect your spiritual growth. Isn't that what James said?

James 2:22 (NKJV) Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and BY WORKS FAITH WAS MADE PERFECT?

Your faith grows as you act on it, and giving is a work that matures our faith.

Luke 12:15 (NKJV) And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

Jesus then gives us the story of the covetous man who hoarded all he had.

Luke 12:21 (NKJV) "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

There is a "laying up treasure for yourself" and there is a "being rich toward God."

Luke 12:31-34 (NKJV) "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 "Sell what you have and give alms; PROVIDE YOURSELVES MONEY BAGS WHICH DO NOT GROW OLD, A TREASURE IN THE HEAVENS THAT DOES NOT FAIL, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

When you give sacrificially, out of a willing heart, you are storing treasure in heaven.

Luke 16:9 (NKJV) "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.

Let me try to give you a transliteration of this: Invest your money in the souls of people who will someday greet you with thanksgiving when you enter heaven.

Luke 16:10-11 (NKJV) "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

If you are not a good steward with your money, God will never give you spiritual responsibility. Those men whom God has greatly used have been men who were good stewards. The Pope said of Martin Luther, "This German beast does not love gold." Spiritual responsibility comes to those who handle money correctly.

Your giving now, your stewardship here on earth will effect your eternal reward.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NKJV) Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Who is rich? The word "rich" is plousios it means: "to have more than you need to live." Are you rich? Do you have more than you need to live? Yes, we all do! We are all rich. You might say, "I'm not rich, I'm broke." Well, look what you've done with your money! Look at all the things you own.

The rich are told to "be ready to give, willing to share." As we give willingly and joyfully, we are storing up eternal rewards (verse 19).

So, grace giving is voluntary, proportionate, sacrificial investing with God, to be done confidentially. It results in blessing and affects spiritual riches.

Grace giving will never make a believer poorer only richer. Remember, giving is a direct indication of your love for God. Giving is worship, and if you love Him, you will worship Him.

May God help us all to overcome the covetous spirit of our day and become grace givers.

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