Where's the Money Come From?|
Posted: December 15, 2005
One sure way to upset people is to preach-or in this case, write-about money. Unless, of course, you run a multi-million dollar television ministry. In that case you can get away with asking for donations of hundreds or thousands of dollars several times during each show-err, service without upsetting too many people. And, remarkably, many will send such amounts in without hesitation.
Well, since I don't run a multi-million dollar television ministry, I'm going to take the risk of alienating you by writing about money. Don't worry, though, I'm not going to ask for donations of hundreds or thousands of dollars in this article either. I just want to take a look at how God funds His work through His people.
Let's face it, running a church costs money. The electric, gas, and telephone companies don't provide their services to churches for free and the Village gets upset if we don't pay our sewer bill. We may be tax-exempt but stores and contractors still charge us for their goods and services. And just saying God bless you to our missionaries doesn't put gas in their tanks, food on their tables, or Bibles and tracts in their hands. As unpleasant as it may be, there's no getting around the fact that it takes money to run a church.
So, where's the money come from? Well, the short answer is you and I, the members and friends of the Bible Baptist Church.
As an independent Baptist church, we are not funded by a larger organization or denominational headquarters. Nor are we the recipients of government grants and support. Instead, we are dependent on the tithes, gifts, and offerings of people like you and me. People who give in obedience to the Word of God and in response to the Spirit of God.
Paul gives basic instructions on how we should give in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 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."
First, notice the timing of when they were to give. They were to give on the first day of the week (Sunday), the day that they met together as a church. It was also the same day, according to Acts 20:7, that God's people met to observe the Lord's Supper and hear the preaching of God's Word as well. In other words, they were to commanded to give on a regular basis. Since they met every week, they were told to give every week-as God prospered them.
Which brings up another very important point: they were to give as God prospered them. Paul clarifies this command in 2 Corinthians 8:11-12 by saying that they are to give "out of that which ye have" and "according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." This sounds a lot like God's command to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 14:22: "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year."
The word "tithe" simply means "a tenth." To tithe means to give ten percent. Under the Law of Moses the Israelites were commanded to give ten percent of their increase as their tithe to the Lord. We also see the same thing practiced prior to the Law by Abraham in Genesis 14:20 where he gave a tenth of the spoils gained when he defeated Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, and rescued his nephew, Lot (see also Hebrews 7:1-9). Additionally, Jacob promised in Genesis 28:22, again before the Law, "Öand of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
So, God's people tithed ten percent of their increase before the Law. God's people tithed ten percent of their increase under the Law. Therefore, it seems reasonable to believe that when God directed Paul to instruct Christians, who are not under the Law but rather under Grace, to give as they have been prospered He meant that His people are to tithe ten percent of their income today as well.
In addition to tithes, God's people are required to give offerings too. In Malachi 3:8 God rebukes His people saying, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." When we fail to do both, we rob God.
Now, you may object and say that you believe in "grace giving" rather than tithing. Well, I believe in grace giving too. I believe that if you will trust God He will give you the grace to give both tithes and offerings. However we give, though, is a choice that each of us have to make for ourselves. After all, 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Knowing what we should give is important, but knowing where to give is just as important. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:2, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store." That indicates that each week, when the believers gathered together as a church, they were to put their tithes into the treasury of the church, "in store." Malachi 3:10 makes it a bit clearer by stating "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse."
Therefore, according to 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Malachi 3:10 our tithes should go to our local church. But what about offerings over and above our tithes? Where should they go?
Again, the Bible provides guidance through countless examples of giving. Special offerings were received for the construction of both the tabernacle and the temple. Other offerings were given for certain purposes such as to help the poor or to take care of other specific needs from time to time. Still other offerings were given to various prophets and men of God. Some offerings were even given simply to express love, worship, and thanks to God.
Now, while these offerings were often given to the temple or local church for disbursement, they were sometimes given directly to the individual, project, or need as well. Consequently, we should look to 2 Corinthians 9:7 again for guidance in this matter: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Second Corinthians 9:7 gives us some additional insight to our giving. We are to purpose in our heart to give. The Greek word translated here as purpose is the perfect middle indicative of proaireomai, which simply means to choose beforehand. By implication, it means that we need to make a decision before hand that we will give.
Of course, the prospect of giving away ten percent-and more-of your income can be daunting. It may even seem impossible if you are on a low or fixed income. Nevertheless, millions of pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and church members on low and fixed incomes do it all the time. Oh, it is not always easy, yet it can be done if you are willing to put your finances in the Lord's hands and purpose in your heart to give as the Lord asks.
What happens if you don't give tithes and offerings? Will God get even with you? Will He punish you? Will He take it from you some other way? Actually, it is better to ask what will God not do for me? What will I miss by not giving as I should?
Well, in Malachi 3:10-12 God tells us to prove or test Him in our giving. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse" the Bible says. If we do then:
1. The needs of His house will be provided for ("that there may be meat in mine house").
2. He will abundantly bless His people when they give ("I will...open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it").
3. He will put a hedge about His people when they give ("And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field").
4. The world will see that God's hand His people when they give ("And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts").
No wonder Jesus said in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." Paul also echoed the same thought in 2 Corinthians 9:6 when he wrote, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
So why have I wrote at length about giving? "Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account (Philippians 4:17)." But rather because I want you to understand that it is our tithes and offerings-yours and mine-that enable the Bible Baptist Church to fulfill its mission to preach and teach the Word of God; to win souls and disciple Believers.
Our tithes and offerings keep the doors open and the lights on. Our tithes and offerings fund our missions program and help out the missionaries that visit our church. Our tithes and offerings purchase the Bibles, tracts, songbooks, and other materials that we use. Our tithes and offerings make the weekly nursing home ministry possible. Our tithes and offerings enable the Bible Baptist Beacon and the On The Highway newsletters to go out each month. Our tithes and offerings make the church websites possible.
Can God do the job without our tithes and offerings? Sure! But then there would be no blessing for us. Remember, "...the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy (1 Chronicles 29:9)."
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