Do you think there are expectations for those of us that belong to a church?
Do you think there are different commitments that we should make when we are a part of a community? I think the quick answer to that question is absolutely.
An easy way to understand how and why church families have expectations and commitments is to consider our own families.
Families are made up of individual people.
Traditionally families have a Dad and a mom, who were both individuals, from different families, who came together and became one through marriage.
Then mom and dad have children, sons and daughter’s are born and though they share parents God makes them unique and different from one another.
Now no family will function without rules, and expectations.
A families peace and success is really dependant on how well everybody respects the expectations of being part of that family.
Church life is no different. Paul said we are individuals but we are all one body and it takes all of the parts working in unity to reach full potential.
When we just attend a church for our own selfish reasons, like we like the preaching or worship, or the kids programs, but never buy into the expectations and requirements of being part of that church family, we are really causing some disfunction.
The Old Testament is full of stories where the nation of Israel stopped living life as an extended family.
They would go against those who were still trying to honour God’s standards.
and they would sin and disregard expectations and chaos would begin.
The chaos only stopped when they regrouped before God and made fresh commitments to live lives that honour the commandments and expectations of God.
One of those stories is found in Nehemiah Chapter 10.
Towards the end of that chapter we see all the Israelites repent of their sins and make a recommitment to follow God whole heartedly.
Part of their commitment was to make 4 vows to God and to each other as brothers in sisters.
Theses are the vows they made:
1. Submission to God’s Word Vs.292.
2. Separation from the world Vs. 28&30
3. Sabbath for God’s People Vs.31
4. Support For God’s Work Vs. 32-29
Like the people that made these commitments so many years ago, Church of Hope also has some standards that we that are part of this church community need to commit to or else we risk becoming dysfunctional.
Our Standards are:
- To Live a Holy Life
- To be an Active Participant in Ministry
- To Tithe
- To Live an Evangelistic Lifestyle.
If this is where you have chosen to find spiritual community and to worship Jesus then we really hope that you commit to all 4 of these standards.
We are in a very unique situation here.
There are two churches in this building.
Central Full Gospel and Church of Hope.
We are both striving together as partners to see God glorified and his love extended to the earth but we are two different churches.
Church of Hope is an autonomous church, it has it’s own governance, it’s own pastors council, it’s own bank acct. and it’s own charity number.
Our Goal and vision is to be an intercultural church, where there are many different races, cultural backgrounds etc. present.
Church of Hope is not an english service for those who want to learn the English language, it’s not a Korean Church, white church or nigerian church. It’s just a church.
Because we are our a church independent of any other church we have our own standards and we need everybody, just like in a healthy family, to commit to the standards.
And to be really honest, if we don’t all buy in this church will likely not last very long.
So today we’re going to tackle the first standard - giving.
We are looking at Giving first for a couple reasons.
- We want everybody to be really clear on how Church of Hope is financially supported.
- The church finances aren’ t doing real good right now.
How is church of Hope supported?
We receive no outside financial support from anyone. Pastor Craig receives a fair honorarium from Central Full Gospel each week but other than that, there is no outside financial support.
So Pastor Craig and myself are only able to draw earnings from what is tithed. Beyond that, any ministry initiatives also come from the tithe.
That being said without people giving regularly and generously we wont be able to go on doing this church because the dollars have to come in from this group of people right here.
We all need to give to cover the practical day to day needs but beyond that what does the scripture say about giving?
What does giving have to do with becoming a disciple of Jesus?
Why do we tithe? and how should we tithe?
These questions I hope to answer this morning.
I want to use Paul’s Correspondence with the Church in the city of Corinth as our text this morning.
2 Corinthians chapters 8&9 are some of the very best chapters on giving in the whole bible.
We are going to look at Chapter 8:1-15
8 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
There is some incredibly rich stuff here on giving.
The specific topic of this section is actually a a collection That Paul and his companions had been taking up for the poor in Jerusalem.
Paul is giving somewhat of an update and also an encouragement to practice generosity.
I want to highlight 5 of the verses in this passage today.
1. From a mixture of Trial, Joy & Poverty Generosity overflowed. Vs.2
Every time I read this I think to myself, Wow! What a bizarre combination it is that produces generosity.
How many here have ever seen a Diet coke and Mentos Explosion? For those of you that haven’t it’s very simple.
Add some Mentos to a bottle of diet coke and they react together and basically turn the coke into pressurized foam and it explodes.
MythBusters concluded that the potassium benzoate, aspartame, and CO gas contained in the Diet Coke, in combination with the gelatin and gum arabic ingredients of the Mentos, all contribute to the formation of the foam.
The same way mentos and Diet Coke create an a powerful welling up of foam, severe trial, overflowing joy and extreme poverty creates a welling up of generosity.
But this can only happen when everything is seen in the light of what Jesus did for you.
Joy and poverty only work together wen the Holy Spirt is alive in you allowing you to have to a holy perspective when you look at life.
The Macedonian church who Paul uses as an example had suffered through some adversity and were very poor, yet Joy existed and they gave.
This is a testament to their faith in God, even though they were not wealthy people and even though they had experienced hard times the joy of salvation though Jesus Christ caused generosity to overflow.
Our trials and our poverty often rob joy and cause us to not give. But like the Macedonian church we are to give regardless because there is Joy in knowing Jesus.
It’s interesting, Paul wasn’t so much impressed with their giving in terms of a monetary amount he was pointing out that they were able to give with Joy because of Jesus.
2. They gave to God and then to Man. Vs.5
We always are to give to God, yes it can be for a need, like the poor, or a special offering at church or just a general tithe but we give it to God to use for a purpose and trust him with our gift.
This should make it easier to let go of our money. For me it’s a lot easier to give my money to God and trust him with my offering than simply to give it to man.
We always give to God first.
3. They excelled in so much, but they also excelled in giving. Vs.7
So often we celebrate those gifts that come with a stage and a crowd.
We love worship gifts, we love preaching and teaching gifts, we all like gifts of leadership.
We love any gift that gives us some authority and crowd but how often do we desire to excel in giving.
Paul encourages and challenges us to excel in faith, speaking, earnestness, love etc. but also to excel in giving. To be as good at generosity as anything else.
I really encourage each of you to ask to Holy Spirt to give you a spiritual gift of generosity.
4. To give is not a command from Paul.
In the old Testament giving was more a part of the mosaic law it was something they were commanded to do.They were to give from their crops, their wood, their money, their livestock and yes, 10 percent was the expectation.
The New Testament is full of giving but it isn’t a command, it’s more a challenge.
We are to give and to give generously but not out of law and obligation.
We are to give out of joy and gladness and the big one, sacrifice.
We are to give with a heart for mercy, justice and faithfulness.
Matthew 23:23: Jesus says "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."Which brings us to out last point.
5. We give through an attitude of Sacrifice with a heart to bear the burden of someone else.
There is not greater example of how to give then Jesus Christ who surrendered his life as a gift so that we may gain from what he gave.
The example of Christ who put the burden of sin, the weight of sin upon himself so that we would no longer carry it is the example.
He gave his life as enact of mercy and justice.
It cost Jesus everything it was the supreme sacrifice.
For most people to tithe is not easy.
Most people look at their money and they wonder how they can give more. Bills, expenses, just to live is expensive.
For most of us to give money away is not very easy.
Paul says 2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Tim Keller says that "tithing is the poor man’s cross". Meaning, to tithe is to sacrifice trusting your sacrifice will help someone else.
There is a part of the sanctification of the believer that requires a disciples of Jesus to give sacrificially.
Jesus gave up his richness of glory and honour to die a poor sinners death, so that through his poverty, his giving until it hurt, you would become rich.
We give because Jesus gave.
The other final part to why we tithe is because it’s a way that we help alleviate the burden of others.
Galatians 6:2 says share each other’s burdens.
Somehow I think we too often misunderstand this and rather than share someone’s burden we just try to make their burden a little easier to bear. We come along side those who are burdened, we offer support and love etc.
But Paul didn’t say be there for those who are burdened.
He said to share each other’s burden’s.
That mean’s if we know of someone burdened we are called to put some of that burden on ourself.
This requires sacrifice. That’s why to give 10 percent isn’t the best way to do it anymore. For some to give 2 percent is a sacrifice and for other’s to give 10 percent isn’t.
Some of us need to go past 10 percent while other’s just need to trust God to get to 2 percent.
It’s not about the percentage it’s about the sacrifice.
Bearing someone’s burden will cost you something. It will cost time, talent and tithe.
The great and famous American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, said (paraphrase) “ When people say I can’t afford to give what they’re really saying is that I can’t afford to give with out burdening myself. But the bible says bear one another’s burdens. and you say but I can’t help bear your burden without burdening myself…. But how do you bear someone else's burden without burdening yourself? You have to burden yourself to bear another’s burden. Look at the needs of the world, the needs of the church, the needs out there. You need to give until some of the burden other people are experiencing is falling on you.Then there will be peace and justice in the world, if we were all doing that.”
Tithing is a standard that we need to commit to for the sake of the church yes, but also for our own sanctification.
We want to be a church, made up of people that excel at giving.
We want to give with Joy, as a sacrifice to bear the burden’s of those inside and outside this church all the while becoming more like Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 says for the Joy awaiting him Christ endured the cross.
Let us be a church that bears our crosses, a church that understands sacrifice and endures in our daily battles and our moments of sacrifice because there is joy awaiting us.
--Pastor Zac Eagle