Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 23, 1969
NUMBER 25, PAGE 2b-3,6b

Principles That Govern Our Giving

Billy W. Moore

When a Christian works with his hands at that which is good and earns money for himself and family, he must be concerned with the proper use of that money. He is a member of the church of the living God, and that church is engaged in the work of preaching the gospel to the world. This requires financing, and the Christian must help finance this work. The proper use of his money will demand that he use some of it to support gospel preaching, "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." (Gal. 6:6) Some members of the church do not give as they should because their attitude is wrong. Others need to be taught how to give. In this lesson we want to consider some principles that will help us in our giving.

I. THE PRINCIPLE OF STEWARDSHIP. A steward is a trustee, or caretaker of that which belongs to another. An example of stewardship is found in Luke 16:1-12. Jesus said, "There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?"

The unjust steward was wrong in his unfairness, but was commended in his wisdom for using present opportunities to prepare for the future. Jesus taught his disciples to use material wealth to prepare for eternity. This is done by laying up treasures in heaven. (Matt. 6:19-20; 1 Tim. 6:17-19) The steward of Christ must be faithful in that which is least (material things), and will thus be entrusted with greater things.

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:10) As stewards let us be faithful. Such is required of us. (1 Cor. 4:1-2) Faithfulness requires that we waste not the Master's goods (Lk. 16:1), for we must give account of our stewardship. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:12) When stewards of God lay up for themselves treasures on the earth as a means of security, rather than laying up treasures in heaven, they are not faithful. Souls are dying without having learned of Christ. Many more could be reached if all were giving as God prospers them. Some stewards are spending more for "social security" than for "eternal security". It is not a question of how much I am willing to give, but how much of that which God has given me will I keep for self?

Question: Are you faithful as a steward?

II. THE PRINCIPLE OF FELLOWSHIP. Fellowship is a mutual or joint participation. From the beginning of the Lord's church there was fellowship of the members in financing the work of the church. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) Of the churches of Macedonia the apostle Paul wrote, "For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints." (2 Cor. 8:3-4) This fellowship was the joint participation of brethren in many places as they supplied the needs of the Jerusalem saints.

The brethren at Philippi had fellowship with Paul as they communicated concerning giving and receiving. Paul said, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now." (Phil. 1:3-5; see also 2:25-30; 4:14-19) We have this fellowship when "upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him." (1 Cor. 16:2) So we have fellowship in financing the work of the church when each member gives as God has prospered him. Whether the work be supplying the needs of the saints, or preaching the gospel, let us enjoy fellowship in such. Of course God's people have fellowship in other matters than financing the work of the church: as in love, service and suffering.

Question: Do you enjoy the fellowship of God's people? Is one in "full-fellowship" if he is not giving as he is prospered?

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF DISCIPLESHIP. A disciple is a learner and follower. There were disciples of Moses, disciples of John, and disciples of Christ. Christians are disciples of Christ. (Acts 11:26) Being his disciple requires self-denial, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23) Such requires self-sacrifice. (Luke 9:57-62) Such denial and sacrifice will be most rewarding, for it shall bring blessings in this life, and those who are faithful "shall inherit everlasting life." (Matt. 19: 27-29)

This is where the rich young ruler failed. He was a good man. He lived a clean moral life. But he would not sacrifice his material things for eternal life. His attitude toward money was wrong. This is why he was unwilling to make the sacrifice. The example of Christ is one of willingness to give, and of giving. (Cf. 2 Cor. 8:9)

Question: Can you sacrifice even your money in order to be a faithful disciple?

IV. THE PRINCIPLE OF LOVE. Consecration of self, true love for God, is the basis of giving. Christians in Macedonia "in a great trial of affliction" and in "deep poverty" gave to help the saints in Jerusalem. Paul said, "This they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." (2 Cor. 8:5) When one really loves God, and gives himself to the Lord he will have no difficulty in giving as God has prospered him. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to give "to prove the sincerity of your love." (2 Cor. 8:8, 24) Those who love God will keep his commandments. (1 John 5:3; John 14:15) He commands us to give "cheerfully" and "willingly" as he has prospered us. Be assured: God loveth a cheerful giver.

Question: Do you love God as you should?

Let these principles govern us in giving. As stewards may we be found faithful in using that which the Lord has entrusted unto us, and have fellowship with all others who are faithfully following Jesus as true and loyal disciples, giving and being spent in the service of God because we love him with all our hearts, souls and minds. (The four points in this article are found in the book "The New Testament Church" by Roy Cogdill. Available from the Gospel Guardian for only $2.00)

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