Tithes and Offerings - Part Two

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  8
Subject: Tithes; Offerings; Giving to God; Money; Possessions; Stewardship
Editor's Note: Please find 12 additional stewardship illustrations at the end of this sermon.

Tithes and Offerings - Part 2

Dr. J. Mike Minnix

Part two of a two part series on tithes and offerings (stewardship). See the other sermon listed in PastorLife as well - entitled Tithes and Offerings - Part 1..

Today we look at Part 2 of a two-part sermon series entitled Tithes And Offerings. Last week we examined Tithes, this week our focus is Offerings. Our text is found in 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9.

To keep back the tithe from the Lord is to Steal from the Lord, but to keep back an offering is to Shun the Lord.

The first Disobeys the Lord while the second Dishonors the Lord.

Both are shameful in the light of all that God has done for us.

Let's begin by looking at...

I. The Foundation for Christian Offerings

2 Corinthians 8:5 - "And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God."

From the time we are very young we are taught the blessing of receiving. If we are good, our moms and dads buy us something. Birthdays, Christmas and even the loss of a tooth may bring us more of the world’s goodies. Before long we are told that in order to keep receiving the world’s gifts and goods, we must get a good education and apply ourselves well. After all, we should surely want to have more than our parents ever had - at least that is what we are taught. At some point along the way, you come to accept Christ as your Savior. Suddenly, everything changes. Now you are instantly supposed to practice the principle of Christ. What is that? It is this: It is more blessed to give than to receive. Wow! That is radical! And yet, it is true. How can we reverse what we have learned about materialism and move forward to practice giving with joy and faithfulness. It all begins with a commitment.

A. Commitment to the Person of Christ

Note that the people at Macedonia are held up to the Corinthians as examples of giving because they first gave themselves to the Lord. Therein lay the secret to their sacrificial giving spirit. They had given their all to Christ, their possessions and materials goods were simply an extension of that commitment. When one has given his or her very life and being to Christ, it is not a big issue to give whatever else is needed to carry out his ministry and work in the world.

Notice also ...

B. Commitment to the Purpose of Christ

Also, the people of Macedonian had committed themselves to the will of God. In other words, they had locked into the purpose of God and knew the joy of being His instrument of ministry and service. It is at this point that a believer discovers the joy of serving and giving. Being a full partner in the purpose of Christ in this world is a wonderful, fulfilling experience; however, some miss this joy because a selfish spirit hinders them from a willigness to be generous in giving to carry out the Lord's purpose. You will never know the exciting and thrilling aspect of serving the Savior till you can give the way He gave to you.

Beyond the Foundation for giving, let's consider...

II. The Forerunner in Christian Offerings

2 Corinthians 2:8-9 - "8I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."

To learn what giving is all about, we must look to the One who taught us, not by what He wrote but through observign by what He did! We read in Romans 8:3, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man.”

And also in Ephesians 5:2 we read, “... and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

So, we see ...

A. The Rich who became Poor

Paul reminds us that Christ was rich but became poor for us.

Christ was rich in surroundings, but He left them.

He was rich in worship and praise, but He came here where He was ridiculed, spat upon and crucified.

He was rich in purity and holiness, but He took our sins upon Himself.

He is our example of what it means to give an offering - He gave HIMSELF!

Also, note ...

B. The Poor who became Rich

We, then, have become rich through His poverty.

He took our separation and made us so right with God that we are not called servants but friends!

He took our sins and gave us His purity.

He took our judgment and gave us His righteousness.

He took death and gave us life.

In essence, He took our debt and paid it in full! That is a real offering. Think about this, Jesus did that for sinful, rebellious, unappreciative rebels like us! Now ask yourself if you should be faithful in giving offerings for His work on this earth! You know that the answer is "YES" we ought to and we should WANT to!

We need to think about...

III. The Fairness of Christian Offerings

Look at 2 Corinthians 8:3, 4, 8, 13: "For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints." "8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others." "13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened..."

To understand fairness in offerings, consider...

A. Choice In Giving

Unlike the tithe, the offering is a freewill matter. You have a choice. Granted, the Lord has a will in the decision, but you cannot be coerced by people into giving to an offering. God could have demanded the offering in a legal sense - like the Old Testament Law, but God desires that your offerings be given as a loving, free response to His will.

Also, note a ...

B. Cause For Giving

An offering always points to a cause or need. In the case before us, the need was the struggling church in Jerusalem. In our case it can be a hunger offering, a foreign missions offering, a home missions offering - or even a debt retirement offering. Next week we will receive gifts and pledges toward retiring the debt on our current building. You are only give to this cause if you believe it is God’s will. But when you know it is God’s will, you must not ask, “Will I give?” but you must ask, “What will I give?”

We must take into account the ...

C. Comparison of Giving

To decide the amount, one must not look at what is given, but what one has left after one has given. Someone has said that the poor have one great blessing over the rich, they can give more! You might think that the statement I just made is foolish, but it is not. Remember, God does not measure your gift by what you give, but by what you keep! He gave His best, He gave His all. He looks to see what we will do! Paul was asking the Corinthians to measure their gifts by the Macedonians, and then to measure their gifts by the gift of the Lord!

Let's look now at ...

IV. The Fruitfulness from Christian Offerings

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Giving produces great fruit in God’s work. Why? There are several reasons.

A. You will Accumulate More

Here we see the principle of sowing and reaping. Think about this principle for a moment. If you sow a few seeds, you will get only a few plants. But if you sow many seeds, you will get many plants. God reveals that this principle on earth is a mere reflection of a spiritual principle.

Jesus taught this in parable. Jesus taught this in miracle - the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus taught this by example. He was a seed planted in the ground, and He has brought forth millions of believers from the Seed that was planted. Look at John 12:23-26, “Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

B. You will Accomplish More

You will accumulate more so that you may accomplish more! You will get more, so you can give more. When God can trust you with more, He will give you more to give. This is not only true in money, but in other gifts. We must give what we have in order for God to replace it. He always replaces it with more and better things, so we can give even more!

C. You will Appreciate More

Look at the last verse in this passage. Paul bursts into praise for God’s unspeakable gift. You can never fully appreciate what He gave you, till you give. As you give, you will come to understand the cost and sacrifice of all that Christ did for you. Truly, we are blessed, but do we appreciate it and do we act upon by being great givers.

Extra Illustrations:
Extra Illustration 1


On a rare occasion Spurgeon went to preach to a small gathering of believers. He had been promised reimbursement of his expenses, but someone had warned him they were a miserly crowd, and if his sermon struck too hard at their pet sins, they would withhold their gifts to show their displeasure. After delivering a powerful, soul-convicting message, he had to take the offering himself. Seeing no collection box, he took his hat from a nearby chair and passed it to the few disturbed-looking individuals. When it was returned, nothing had been contributed, but Spurgeon was equal to the occasion. Bowing his head, he said, "I thank Thee, Lord, that these skinflints have at least given me back my old hat!"

Extra Illustration 2


On one occasion Dr. George W. Truett, an outstanding preacher of his day, was asked to help a struggling congregation raise money for their church building. The amount still needed was $6,500. Truett called it the slowest, most reluctant effort to obtain funds he had ever encountered. When the people refused to pledge more than $3,000, he exclaimed in exasperation, "What do you expect of me? I don't have the other $3,500 you need to reach your goal. I'm just a guest here today!" Suddenly a woman near the back of the audience stood up to speak. Looking at her husband seated on the platform recording the pledges, she said in a quivering voice, "Charlie, I wonder if you would be willing for us to give our little home? We were offered exactly $3,500 cash for it yesterday. If the Savior gave His life for us, wouldn't He be pleased if we made this sacrifice for Him?" Truett said, "The fine fellow responded with equal generosity, 'Yes, Jennie, I was thinking the same thing.' Turning to me with tears in his eyes, he said, 'Brother Truett, if it's needed, we'll raise our pledge by $3,500.' Silence reigned for a few moments, and then some of the folks began to sob. Those who 15 minutes earlier had refused to do more, now either added their names to the list or increased their donations. In a short time their goal had been achieved, and Charlie and Jennie didn't have to forfeit their home."

Extra Illustration 3


We need to capture something of the spirit and moral character of the sixteenth President of the United States. The book Abe Lincoln's Stories and Speeches notes that throughout Lincoln's professional life as a lawyer he always had a partner. Frequently, Abe would go out on a circuit to handle legal matters while his colleague stayed at home. Many of these cases were disposed of and the fee was collected by Lincoln before he returned to the office. He always made it a practice to divide the money in his billfold, carefully wrapping his partner's half in a piece of paper on which he wrote his name and the particular case for which it was received. In this way he felt that if anything happened to him before turning over the money, there'd be no dispute about the amount and for whom it was intended. This practice may seem trivial, but it was totally in keeping with the man we have come to know as "Honest Abe."

Extra Illustration 4


In the matter of giving, some Christians are like Farmer Applegate's cow. A summer boarder once asked, "How much milk does that critter give?" The poorly educated dairyman replied with his usual drawl, "Wal, ef ye mean by voluntary contribution, she don't give none. But ef ye kin git her cornered so's she can't kick none, an able-bodied man kin take away 'leven quarts a day!" Apparently some believers enjoy their salvation so little that they too have to be forced to contribute to any church-related cause.

Extra Illustration 5


The Watchman Crusader once carried the true story of a well-known preacher who was making an appeal for funds before a large congregation. He asked the people to bring their gifts to the front of the church as an act of willing and cheerful liberality. Many came forward to present their offerings; among them was a little lame girl who hobbled along at the rear of the procession. Pulling a ring from her finger, she placed it on the table at the foot of the platform and then made her way back up the aisle.

After the service an usher was sent to bring her into a side room where the preacher met her and said, "My dear, I saw what you did tonight. It was beautiful. But the response of the people has been so generous that we have more than enough to take care of our needs. We don't feel right about keeping your treasured ring, so we've decided to give it back to you." To his surprise the little girl shook her head in refusal. With a look of rebuke in her eyes, she said, "Pastor, you don't understand. I didn't give my ring to you; I gave it to the Lord."

Extra Illustration 6


A little boy living in a poverty-stricken section of a great city found his way into a Gospel meeting and was genuinely converted. Not long afterward, a man tried to shake his faith by asking him a puzzling question. "If God really loves you," he said, "why doesn't He take better care of you by telling someone to give you a new pair of shoes?" The boy thought for a moment and then said as the tears rushed to his eyes, "I guess He does tell somebody, and somebody forgets!"

Extra Illustration 7


There's at least one advantage of being poor--it affords an opportunity to give "more" to the Lord's work than people of wealth. Oh yes, compared with the sizable sums offered by well- to-do believers, the dollars-and-cents amount is much less. Yet God doesn't measure the gift by its face value; He judges it by the sacrifice behind it.

An elderly Christian lived in a small apartment. His only income is his Social Security check. Yet he contributed a large portion of it to help spread the gospel and assist the needy. He scaled down his already meager existence so that he could give a maximum amount. To him it was a privilege and an indescribable blessing. Another believer has assets that run into the millions and his contributions are substantial. God has given him the ability to make money, and he too is wholly dedicated to Him. We rejoice because of the great good such people can do. Yet, as we compare the well-to-do Christian and the "welfare" Christian, we see a degree of sacrifice open to the one that the other will never know--unless, of course, he gives his wealth away. The poor man sacrifices more to give his little gift than the rich man does to bestow his large one.

Extra Illustration 8


A Christian woman, as a beneficiary in a will, was surprised to receive a rather sizable sum of money. As was her custom, she immediately gave a portion of it to the Lord's work. The contribution she made was never publicized. After her death, however, an entry was found in her diary, written on the very day she had received her inheritance. Referring to her intention to give, it said, "Quick, quick, before my heart gets hard."

We should avoid procrastination in our giving. The Lord wants us to give as He has blessed us without unwarranted delays.

Extras Illustration 9


When the collection plate was passed for the missionary offering, the little old lady began fumbling in her purse. The nearer the ushers came, the more frantically she searched her bag. Finally, noticing her plight, the little boy sitting nearby slid over and nudged her. "Here lady," he said, "you take my dime; I can hide under the seat."

Extra Illustration 10


Ned: "Dad, would you please do your frog imitation?"

Dad: "No, not now."

Ned: "Please, Dad! Come on."

Dad: "I don't know why you are so excited about this."

Ned: "Well, Mom said when you croak we'll all be rich."

Extra Illustration 11


When someone says, "It's only money," it's usually your money he's talking about.

Extras Illustration 12


A man asked his wife what she wanted for her birthday the next week. She thought for a moment, then said, "This year I want cold hard cash for a change."

The following day her husband filled her request. He put $20 in nickels, dimes, and quarters into a quart jar, then filled it with water. On her birthday he took the jar out of the freezer and handed it to his wife.