Generous Giving Develops Strong Faith
Apostle Paul’s declaration in Romans 1.16-17 is your declaration, too. The Good News about Jesus is the gift of eternal life with God (John 3.13, 6.47) and the revelation of God as the Satisfier of daily needs (John 1.17-18, 14.8-9; Jehovah-jireh/provider, -rapha/healer, -nissi/protector, etc). These are received by faith (Exodus 16.3-5/Matthew 14.13-21, Numbers 21.9/Matthew 9.20-22, 2 Chronicles 20.12/John 8.3-11, respectively)! Hence, ‘the righteous shall live by faith’; daily and eternally depending upon God for salvation! Your challenge is to ‘live by faith’ when God calls for the last few dollars in your savings account. Will you hold onto what you have (Luke 18.18-23), or will you give God the opportunity of using the funds He has reserved in your account and replace them with an abundant blessing? The first response is ‘limited’ faith; the second leads to ‘unlimited’ faithfulness of God!
God asks for His reserved funds during difficult times, which can pressure your faith.
- Acts 11.27-30 tells an interesting story about the work of the Holy Spirit through persons who are available to Him.
- Agabus the prophet would later prophesy, by the Holy Spirit, that Paul would be arrested in Jerusalem; see Acts 21.10. He came to Antioch from Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to make an earth-shaking announcement: there would be a famine in Israel and throughout the known world. This happened in AD 45-46, during the reign of Claudius, Emperor of Rome (AD 41-54; he was the ruler that drove the Jews out of Rome, including Priscilla and Aquila; Acts 18.2).
- After announcing pending trouble, the Holy Spirit encourages the believers to collect and send funds to support the believers in Judea. Did they have excess capital in savings? Probably not, since they, as Jews, might have suffered the loss of jobs and families as had the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 4.32-37; introduction of Barnabas). So, where would the Christians of Antioch get the funds to send? From reducing their level of living and trusting God to multiply what they had. Do you think Paul and Barnabas had told them about God providing the manna and Jesus feeding the 5,000 men plus their families with them? Do you think God repeated His miracle to honor their faith? Acts 26.12 is similar.
- Did God test their faithfulness? How is this similar to His instructions about the exiting Hebrews gathering manna (Exodus 16.3-5, especially verse 4)? What is the lesson for you? God will use satan’s troubles (John 16.33) as an opportunity to reveal Himself and His love for you and His faithfulness to His word (Isaiah 55.10-11)!
- Jesus illustrated this important lesson using a widow’s two mites (Gk: lepton; the smallest bronze of copper coin; two equaled nearly a halfpenny in value: Easton’s Bible Dictionary). In Mark 12.41-44, Jesus observed the rich giving Temple offerings from part of their wealth and contrasted the widow giving ‘her whole livelihood’, nearly a halfpenny! How did Jesus’ comment about her putting in more teach that her faith was greater than the others’ faiths? How does she demonstrate Paul’s teaching in Romans 1.16-17?
Attitude is more important than amount!
- Adam’s son Cain offers a simple example; in Genesis 4.4-7. See Proverbs 21.27, Ecclesiastes 8.12-13 and Romans 2.6-11.
- In 2 Corinthians 8.1-7, Paul encouraged believers in Corinth to fulfill their earlier (verse 10) promise to collect funds for believers in Judea, by comparing them to the ‘afflicted’ churches in Macedonia. Theirs was a ‘severe test of affliction’, an ‘extreme poverty’. Yet, ‘their abundance of joy…overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.’ Paul was not manipulating them but was informing them that representatives of the Macedonian churches would accompany him through Corinth on his was to deliver their gifts in Judea; don’t be embarrassed by not fulfilling your promise (2 Corinthians 9.4-5)! Consider Ecclesiastes 5.4-5 and Deuteronomy 23.21.
- In 2 Corinthians 8.13-14, Paul uses the popular word ‘fairness’ to describe the work of God. It is ‘fair’ that God would give you abundance now to satisfy another person’s need and reverse the opportunity later, should the circumstance reverse. How does Proverbs 19.17 speak about this?
- Note that God does not take from one to give to another (2 Corinthians 9.7). He offers the opportunity of experiencing God deeper; be cheerful with the anticipation of experiencing God deeper! This is his comparison in Jeremiah 9.23-24. Does wealth lead to God (Matthew 6.24, 19.16-26), or does experiencing God deeper lead to wealth (Deuteronomy 8.18; Luke 6.38)?
- Paul gave your takeaways in his discussion of the ‘bottom line’ in 2 Corinthians 9.6-12. 1: you receive in proportion to what you give (Proverbs 19.17); 2: God is able to make all grace abound (remember that Grace is defined as God’s word and His willingness to use His great power to bring it to your reality!); 3: God multiplies your monies for food; 4: God multiplies your ‘seed’ for sowing (Genesis 26.12); 5: God increases your harvest of righteousness (Hosea 14.9); 6: you will be enriched in EVERY WAY to be generous (time, money, talent, etc.); 7: and all who observe you will give thanks to God for you!
When God asks for His reserved funds, what will you say?
- A well-known company has offered $1 Billion to the person who can name every college basketball team that will be in the Road to the Final Four, including the teams in each bracket and the final victor. Would accomplishing this be of greater value than your faith in Jesus Christ? Consider a comparable situation in Hebrews 11.24-26.
- Last week’s video testimony by David and Elizabeth illustrates how God might ask for His funds. They covenanted with God to give a percentage above their tithe of all the funds that God blessed them with during the year following. When they began to honor their covenant, God began to increase their income…during a down economy, in which he is self employed and she homeschools their two sons. He said that their income was 50% greater because of God honoring their covenant actions.
- Reflect on the following verses: Job 23.10-14; Proverbs 8.10-11, 19-21; 24.3-4; 28.20; 30.7-9.
- 1 Peter 1.7! You LIVE by faith…now and then!
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014. www.sozoclass.com