Study Notes

2Corinthians 8:1-9:15

If you're a visitor here today, my first inclination would be to apologize. But on proper prayer and consideration, I believe that only an explanation, not an apology is in order.

Today, we're going to be talking about tithes, offerings, giving, and stewardship. In other words, you happened to choose to come to church on a day that we're talking about money.

Many times churches will preach messages of this nature because the offering has gone down. Maybe its because the minister needs a raise. Often, it's because the leadership has concluded that something grandiose like a new building will bring more people into the church.

None of these are the case here. You will never hear us telling people that tithes and offerings are down, so please dig deep . You will never hear us pleading, begging, harassing, or manipulating for money. We collect the offering the same way every week - as part of the worship service, for the Bible instructs us that it is a sacrifice of thanksgiving. In Deuteronomy 26, we are told that we take the firstfruits of God's blessings, put them in a basket joyously and thankfully, and place it on the altar.

So why is today's teaching all about this sensitive subject? Here at Calvary Chapel, we do a simple thing, a biblical thing, to avoid manipulating people and making sure that what is taught is what God wants us to hear, rather than what I think you need to hear. We simply teach the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter. New Testament Sundays, Old Testament Thursdays. And we just so happen to be in 2Corinthians 8 and 9 this morning, which are two complete chapters about this subject...

8:1-5 Macedonia's Generosity

Part of Paul's ministry at this time was administrating a donation for the church in Jerusalem. He had written them in 1Corinthians 16,

1Cor. 16:1-4 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. And when I arrive, whomever you may approve, I shall send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.

His experience throughout Macedonia had been that the churches were giving abundantly - way above and beyond what could even reasonably be expected of them. They were poverty-stricken, yet begged Paul to let them give - and they gave beyond their ability.

This is the first thing that we should glean from these chapters: you're never too poor to give to Jesus Christ. People absolutely don't give according to how rich God makes them, they give according to what it says in verse 1: according to the grace of God. The more a person experiences the grace of God, the more they give to God.

One day, Jesus sat down opposite the treasury to watch people giving.

Mark 12:41-44 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and {began} observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."

Giving to God is not about being rich, or "being able to afford it." It is out of the abundance of your relationship with God, how much of God's grace you have experienced.

8:6-11 Proving Your Sincerity

The Corinthian church had made a commitment to give to this ministry. Paul was sending Titus to pick it up from them.

He says, "we know that you've said that you're eager to give. Just make sure that you're ready to have your actions match your words.

Lesson number two here: you can abound in faith and knowledge, you can say all the right things, you can even be earnest in the things of God, but if you're not giving, your maturity in Christ is incomplete.

8:12 Not What You Don't Have

Again, we see that if you are willing to give to God, then you don't have to worry that the dollar amount isn't the same as Joe Bloe next to you. Just like the widow's offering that Jesus commended, it's according to what you have, not according to what you don't have.

8:13-15 Equalizing Abundance And Want

Paul points out here that this offering that he was administering was not so that the church at Jerusalem could live in luxury while the Macedonian churches starved. It was an equalization. Remember that John the Baptist gave us a simple rule:

Luke 3:11 ..."Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise."

Just an equalization of provision. It really grieves me when I see televangelists being millionaires while the majority of the people sending in money are living on Social Security. That's not right. The word "minister" means "servant." A servant never has a greater standard of living that the people he serves. I can look around here and know that the neighborhood that I live in is poorer and worse than the neighborhoods that the majority of you live in. If my income or standard of living ever exceeded the average person in this church, I would certainly be in sin.

But that doesn't just apply to me. James wrote,

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for {their} body, what use is that?

We need to get away from this, "I earned it, it's mine" mentality. The spirit-filled, Jesus-based church was doing this:

Acts 2:44-45 And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

Acts 4:32-35 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one {of them} claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles' feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.

The witness of Jesus Christ was so powerful at this time because the love of the followers of Christ was so powerful at this time. How sad that as we read these things that we refuse to even consider putting them into practice today. Again, there should be an equalization of provision in the Body of Christ.

8:16-24 Titus

Titus was going personally to oversee the administration of the Corinthians' gift. Titus had proven himself to be trustworthy, a man who feared God and would never steal from God's work. Unfortunately, we have heard of too many men that didn't have a fear of God, stealing from the offering plate, embezzling money from the church, ripping off the ministry.

It wasn't just anybody that was taking care of the money, it was a man of good reputation with the churches, a man who had been tested and found diligent in many things, a hard worker for the kingdom of God.

It wasn't just to take care of the money that a good man was chosen. It was to take care of the reputation of the ministry as well. It is an unfortunate but true fact that the blame for one isolated, local incident is shared by the entire kingdom of God. The other day, I was sharing with an unbeliever about the ministry, and she told me that she had had a difficult time trusting me because she had heard that the founder of Calvary Chapel had taken off with all the money a few years ago. I assured that this was in fact not the case, and she recalled that it was not Calvary CHAPEL, but in fact a local church with a similar name. In one respect, it was nice to be able to clear that misunderstanding up, but on the other hand, how many more people have given up on God because of what certain men have done to bring the church into ill-repute? May it never be said of you,


This is why we only allow men who fear God into administration and leadership. As we learned last Sunday, and again this Thursday in Exodus ??, it is the fear of God which will keep a man from sin. Paul said in the last chapter,

2Cor. 7:1 ...beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The proverb says,

Prov. 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil...

And in Exodus, we read that Moses said,

Exod. 20:20 "...God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."

We must have men who fear God doing the work of God, that the ministry will not fall into discredit.

9:1-5 Arranging Beforehand

Just as Paul had exhorted them in 1Corinthians 16 to set aside a portion of their income each week, he reminds them again to be prepared.

9:6 Sowing Sparingly And Bountifully

The concept of sowing and reaping has to do with farming. It is a law of nature that if you sow seed sparingly, your harvest will also be reaped sparingly. If you sow seed bountifully, your harvest will also be reaped bountifully. This is also a spiritual law. Proverbs 11 says,

Prov. 11:24-25 There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but {it results} only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

If you give generously, then you will reap even greater blessings. In Malachi 3 we read,

Mal. 3:8-10 "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed Thee?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation {of you}! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

The Jews in the time of Malachi were not giving their tithe, their ten percent, to the temple. The priests were having to work the fields just to live. And God says "Hey, if you would just be faithful in the tithe, I would pour out so much blessing on you that you wouldn't have room for it."

The tithe was the basics, what Paul is talking to the Corinthians is above and beyond the tithes that they were giving to the local church. He's talking about additional offerings for another ministry - the church in Jerusalem.

You see, the tithe has always been God's. Ten percent of everything that we gain immediately belongs to God. This is not some concept only for those under the Law. Remember that the tithe was instituted 450 years before the Law was given.

When Abraham was victorious in his fight against the four kings, he brought back the spoils of the battle.

Gen. 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tenth of all.

The tithe was then commanded in the Law to support the priests and the temple. Jesus validated it as well, saying,

Matt. 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, 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.

He said, "Of course you should be tithing, but you shouldn't be neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness."

That's why it amazes me that so many Christians claim that tithing is no longer something they need to do. Sure, we're not under the Law anymore, we're under grace. But should we be doing less now under grace than the law required? Doesn't grace go above the Law? If God said that not tithing was robbing Him under the Law, then now that I am under grace, doesn't that make it even worse?

The Law of the tithe was that ten percent belongs to the Lord. Under grace, we are taught stewardship, which means that not ten percent, but one hundred percent belongs to God. He has simply entrusted us to use it as we see fit to build the kingdom of God.

So less than ten percent is robbing God, but between the ten and one hundred percent, is the stewardship that you've been entrusted with. So just how much should you give? 11%? 27%? 98%? Paul answers it in the very next verse:

9:7 Cheerful Giver

You should give exactly as much as you have purposed in your heart to give. If ever you give because you feel like you're under guilt, or law, or obligation, or pressure, don't even bother. You see, 1Corinthians 13 says,

1Cor. 13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Without love as the motivator, you're not accomplishing anything. You could be giving 100%, but if it's not out of your love for God, then you're just wasting your money.

The word translated "cheerful" here actually means literally, "hilarious." Whatever you can give to God hilariously, give. Whatever you can't, don't.

This is where spiritual maturity comes into play. The more a person loves God, the more they trust Him and rely on His grace and provision, the more they dedicate to Him. Not just their money, but their time, their abilities, their talents, themselves.

At this point, you may be thinking, "You're crazy! Not only am I not going to give above and beyond ten percent, but I can't even afford to give up five bucks!" Hey, that's okay, it's not up to me to convince you, just to be faithful to present the word and truth of God to you.

To answer the question of affordability though, Paul continues in verse 8...

9:8-11 God Always Supplies

Every dollar we have, God supplied. And the more generous we are with God's money, the more He feels free to entrust us with. Jesus said in Luke 16,

Luke 16:10-13 "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the {use of} unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true {riches} to you? And if you have not been faithful in {the use of} that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

If you choose to serve money, don't expect to get a lot of it. If you serve God with your money, then expect that He will provide liberally - sufficiency for your needs, and an abundance to distribute as He directs you.

9:12-15 The Overflow

So ultimately, we see that the believers' generosity in giving comes down to the overflow. An overflow of worship, of thankfulness, of knowing and experiencing God's grace.

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