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Title: The Church in Action

The Church in Action
Lesson 11
Lesson TextI Corinthians 161-2
I Corinthians 161-2 1 Now concerning the
collection for the saints, as I have given order
to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon
the first day of the week let every one of you
lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him,
that there be no gatherings when I come.
Lesson TextII Corinthians 81-2
II Corinthians 81-2 1 Moreover, brethren, we do
you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the
churches of Macedonia 2 How that in a great
trial of affliction the abundance of their joy
and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches
of their liberality.
Lesson TextII Corinthians 95-6
II Corinthians 95-6 5 Therefore I thought it
necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would
go before unto you, and make up beforehand your
bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the
same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and
not as of covetousness. 6 But this I say, He
which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly
and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also
Lesson TextII Corinthians 97-9
II Corinthians 97-9 7 Every man according as he
purposeth in his heart, so let him give not
grudgingly, or of necessity for God loveth a
cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all
grace abound toward you that ye, always having
all sufficiency in all things, may abound to
every good work 9 (As it is written, He hath
dispersed abroad he hath given to the poor his
righteousness remaineth for ever.
Lesson TextII Corinthians 910-11
II Corinthians 910-11 10 Now he that ministereth
seed to the sower both minister bread for your
food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase
the fruits of your righteousness) 11 Being
enriched in every thing to all bountifulness,
which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Focus VerseII Corinthians 97
II Corinthians 97 Every man according as he
purposeth in his heart, so let him give not
grudgingly, or of necessity for God loveth a
cheerful giver.
Focus Thought
The early church consisted of a giving people who
appropriately aligned their Christianity with the
nature of God.
I. The Stewardship Principle
The church is the body of Christ, and He is the
head of that body. This mystery revealed in the
New Testament provides us with both staggering
blessings and sobering responsibilities. As His
body, it must ever be the churchs quest to live
in such a manner as the head would desire. His
priorities must become our priorities, and His
concerns must supersede our concerns. His desires
must replace our desires, and His will must
displace ours.
I. The Stewardship Principle
There are many areas of life that act as clear
barometers of our progress in this process, but
perhaps none does so more accurately than how we
respond to the Christian discipline of giving.
One man suggested that the billfold, not the
eyes, is the window to the soul. The manner in
which one approaches the act of giving of
finances to the work of God demonstrates either a
significant connection with Jesus Christ and His
ways or a significant disconnection from Him.
I. The Stewardship Principle
God is by His very nature a giver, and those who
are intimately connected to Him also will give.
The act of giving further shows how connected
the contemporary church is with its roots even a
cursory study of the early church reveals that
liberal giving marked the early believers. They
gave to corporate causes. They gave to the needy
among them. They gave to support ministry. This
was a common trait from the earliest days of the
church in Jerusalem.
I. The Stewardship Principle
In that it is a reflection of God Himself, this
characteristic continued to manifest itself as
the church spread across the known world.
Further, giving should continue to manifest
itself today among those who serve the Lord.
I. The Stewardship Principle
This lesson will address the topic of a giving
church. We will examine three principles from
Scripture. First, God owns everything and we are
blessed to be stewards over some of His
possessions. Second, part of our stewardship
involves the giving of His possessions for His
work. Finally, when we give we are sowing seeds
for even greater blessing to come.
I. The Stewardship Principle
The Stewardship Principle
We must clearly establish a foundational truth
before our giving can possibly come into
alignment with Gods plan we are stewards of
Gods possessions. Unless we first can grasp that
underlying principle, giving will remain odious
and difficult. On the other hand, understanding
this principle revolutionizes our giving, and we
begin to experience the joy of giving.
I. The Stewardship Principle
The Scriptures clearly reveal that we are
stewards who are accountable to God.
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers
of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God
(I Corinthians 41).
As every man hath received the gift, even so
minister the same one to another, as good
stewards of the manifold grace of God (I Peter
I Corinthians 41
A steward is an unfamiliar concept in modern
North American culture. There is no perfect
parallel in our current economic and employment
structure. A steward was often a slave, but he
was far more than only a laborer and often was
compensated well for his efforts. However, his
position was far different from that of an
employee, for he could not quit and seek a
different position at his own choosing.
I Peter 410
A steward generally oversaw the affairs of his
masters possessions, but he was more than a
supervisor because his authority to conduct
business was equal to his masters. He never
considered himself a partner, however, for at all
times he remembered that all the possessions in
his control belonged to another. Perhaps it is
best summed up that a steward was an empowered
servant who had access to all the property of his
master and had the responsibility to manage it
and to conduct business on his masters behalf
and for his masters pleasure.
I Peter 410
In similar fashion, we are servants of God, but
He has empowered us to conduct His work. We have
the responsibility to manage all God has placed
under our oversight with the constant awareness
that it is not ours and must be used for Him and
His pleasure.
A. God Owns All
A. God Owns All
We tend to be rather possessive in our speech.
We speak of my house and my car and my
clothes and my money and my possessions.
This is completely antithetical to the concept of
stewardship. Stewardship starts with the
understanding that nothing I have is really mine.
Everything belongs to God (Psalm 241).
Psalm 241
The earth is the LORDS, and the fulness
thereof the world, and they that dwell therein
(Psalm 241).
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from
above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of
turning (James 117).
James 117
The possessions to which we cling tenaciously
are not really the result of our hard work or
ingenuity. God has given us life and health to
work for them, and it is God who empowers us to
gain them in the first place. They are His and He
has merely put them in our hands. One aspect of
the new birth involves laying down everything we
possess for the privilege of being a part of
Christs kingdom.
James 117
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus stated, Again,
the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant
man, seeking goodly pearls who, when he had
found one pearl of great price, went and sold all
that he had, and bought it (Matthew 1345-46).
A person must be willing to forfeit everything
to enter the kingdom of heaven. We surrender
ownership of our time, our treasure, and our
talents. We release to Jesus Christ those things
we believe are ours. Our family is no longer our
own our very breath is no longer our own.
James 117
Indeed, we release to the Lord the full ownership
of ourselves. Paul wrote, What? know ye not that
your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which
is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
your own? For ye are bought with a price
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are Gods (I Corinthians 619-20).
Everything belongs to God!
B. God Grants Privilege of Management
B. God Grants Privilege of Management
The second aspect of the principle of
stewardship that we must understand is that God
has highly favored us by granting us the
privilege of managing His possessions. To be
selected by God to control, to use, and to manage
some of His kingdom assets is a humbling
B. God Grants Privilege of Management
This is a greater responsibility than to be
elected to high political office or to be
promoted to the highest levels of corporate
structure. We are authorized to handle the
property of the very King of kings! One aspect
of stewardship is the fact that a steward was
empowered to do what needed to be done. In the
parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the
servants were not specifically instructed as to
what to do, but they were empowered to do what
they understood to be their masters wishes.
B. God Grants Privilege of Management
When Abraham dispatched his steward, Eliezer, to
find a bride for Isaac, Eliezer secured ten of
Abrahams camels, loaded them with treasures and
supplies, and set off to accomplish his masters
desires. (See Genesis 2410.) The sobering
aspect of the authority we have been given is
that we each will answer for our diligence or
lack thereof as a steward. God does not hand out
His resources and empower us to use them without
B. God Grants Privilege of Management
The principle of stewardship is closely linked
with answering to God for our conduct. Paul
wrote, Moreover it is required in stewards, that
a man be found faithful (I Corinthians 42). The
Scriptures do not say only that a steward must be
faithful, but that he must be found faithful.
The day will come when the Master will come for
an accounting of what we have done with His
resources and to check on our faithfulness.
Matthew 2519
After a long time the lord of those servants
cometh, and reckoneth with them (Matthew 2519).
So then every one of us shall give account of
himself to God (Romans 1412).
Romans 1412
We will answer to God for every aspect of our
stewardship including our giving of tithes and
offerings. When it comes to stewardship of our
finances, the baseline or absolute minimum starts
with tithing, or the practice of giving 10
percent of our increase into Gods work. The
Scriptures clearly establish the principle of
tithing. It is not a matter of God demanding 10
percent of our money it is the blessing that He
allows us to keep 90 percent of His. No person
can be truly committed to Gods kingdom and
withhold the Lords tithe.
Romans 1412
This practice predates the law of Moses, for
Abraham paid tithes to the King of Salem in
Genesis 1420. It was a fixture of the law as
seen in Leviticus 2730. Jesus referenced it in
the New Testament in Matthew 2323. Tithing is a
fundamental aspect of how God has chosen to have
us manage His funds.
Romans 1412
It is amazing to observe some individuals chafe
at this mandate from God. Either they have failed
to recognize that all their funds belong to Him
in the first place, or they have not understood
the blessings that come to those who tithe. (See
Malachi 310-12.)
Malachi 310
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be meat in mine house, and prove
me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I
will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour
you out a blessing, that there shall not be room
enough to receive it (Malachi 310).
Malachi 311-12
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
and he shall not destroy the fruits of your
ground neither shall your vine cast her fruit
before the time in the field, saith the LORD of
hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed
for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the
LORD of hosts (Malachi 311-12).
Malachi 311-12
Beyond the practice of tithing, God has called
us to give additional offerings. While
percentages for offerings are not specified in
Scripture, we would do well to remember that God
does not judge us by what we give but by what we
have left after giving. Many individuals can
testify that God pours out blessings on faithful
Malachi 311-12
J. L. Kraft, founder of Kraft Foods and a
wealthy man, consistently paid tithes throughout
his career. He said, The only investment I ever
made which has paid consistently increasing
dividends is the money I have given to the Lord.
Peter Marshall once said, Give according to your
income, lest God make your income according to
your giving. J. D. Rockefeller said, I never
would have been able to tithe the first million
dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first
salary, which was 1.50 per week.
Malachi 311-12
Over the course of his life, John Wesley became
one of the wealthiest men in England, but we
should be challenged by his practice of living
and giving. In this pattern is the testimony of a
  • Income Living Expenses To the Poor
  • First year30 pounds 28 pounds (93) 2 pounds
  • Second year60 pounds 28 pounds (47) 32
    pounds (53)
  • Third year90 pounds 28 pounds (31) 62
    pounds (69)
  • Fourth year120 pounds 28 pounds (23) 92
    pounds (77)
  • Later over 1,400 pds 30 pounds (2) over
    1,400 pounds (98)

II. The Giving Principle
The Giving Principle
Giving is a subject that seems to make some
people uncomfortable. The reasons for this may be
many, but generally they loosely fall into two
areas. The subject is uncomfortable for those who
do not give, for it causes them to experience
conviction. Because of some individuals
humility, the subject is uncomfortable for those
who do give. Those who do not give want to be
thought to be givers and those who do give would
rather no one know.
II. The Giving Principle
An insightful story was related in the March 3,
1992, issue of Bits and Pieces. The American
industrialist, Henry Ford, once was asked to
donate money for the construction of a new
medical facility. The billionaire pledged to
donate 5,000. The next day in the newspaper, the
headline read, Henry Ford contributes 50,000 to
the local hospital. The irate Ford was on the
phone immediately to complain to the fund-raiser
that he had been misunderstood.

II. The Giving Principle
The fund-raiser replied that they would print a
retraction in the paper the following day to
read, Henry Ford reduces his donation by
45,000. Realizing the poor publicity that would
result, the industrialist agreed to the 50,000
contribution in return for the following That
above the entrance to the hospital was to be
carved the biblical inscription I came among
you and you took me in.

A. The Pattern of Giving
A. The Pattern of Giving
Giving is, in its very essence, a spiritual act,
for God is a giver. There is possibly no better
summation of the heart of God than the beloved
words of John For God so loved the world, that
he gave . . . (John 316). For ye know the
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he
was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that
ye through his poverty might be rich (II
Corinthians 89).
A. The Pattern of Giving
He gave Himself on Calvary, He gave salvation to
us, and He continues to enrich our lives daily.
According as his divine power hath given unto us
all things that pertain unto life and godliness
(II Peter 13).
A. The Pattern of Giving
In that the Lord is a giver, we manifest His
nature in our lives when we give. If we
understand His love by what He has given to and
for us, then certainly we demonstrate His love to
others by what we give to them and for them. Our
giving patterns either testify to the abiding
character of God in our lives, or they bear
witness to its absence.
I John 317
But whoso hath this worlds good, and seeth his
brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of
compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God
in him? (I John 317).
I John 317
As we have been blessed by Gods giving, He also
has called us to bless others with our giving.
Freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew
B. The Prerequisite for Giving
B. The Prerequisite for Giving
Giving does not start at the wallet or
pocketbook it starts at the altar. Giving is an
outflow of a life that is consecrated wholly to
God. The Scriptures teach us that a persons
giving reveals the location of his heart. (See
Matthew 621.) A persons heart first must be
sanctified to the kingdom before his giving can
align with the purposes of God. Giving money is
easy when one has already given himself.
B. The Prerequisite for Giving

Giving involves more than just money. If a life
is consecrated to God, then money is only one
aspect of giving. God has called us to give our
time to His work and invest our talents in His
kingdom. We should spend our emotions in praise
and worship, giving our energy first to Jesus
Christ. Every aspect of a committed life must
honor the One who gave everything for us.
C. The Pleasure of Giving
C. The Pleasure of Giving
Some people view giving as painful but when
done with the right motives, giving is a
delightful form of worship. In her effort to
teach this to her daughter, a young mother gave
her little girl a dollar and a quarter before
service. She told her that she could place either
one she wanted into the offering and keep the
other. After church, she asked her daughter which
she had given.
C. The Pleasure of Giving
The little girl replied, Well, I was going to
give the dollar, but just before the collection
the man in the pulpit said that we should all be
cheerful givers. I knew Id be a lot more
cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.
Giving is a pleasant discipline when we
understand that giving pleases God. We are not
engaging in something about which God is
ambivalent. When a steward of Gods possessions
wisely and cheerfully invests Gods treasures in
His work, the master takes note and smiles.
C. The Pleasure of Giving
Some peoples attitudes about giving stink, but
Paul went so far as to say that when the saints
of Philippi sent an offering to support his
ministry, God enjoyed the aroma of the act. (See
Philippians 418.) Giving is pleasurable when we
recognize that by doing so we are manifesting to
others Gods nature. Giving is a distinct
opportunity to allow the goodness and blessings
of God to flow through us to the point of need.
C. The Pleasure of Giving
We become the conduit for miracles, answers to
prayer, and divine intervention in the lives of
others. How can that not be a pleasurable
experience? Waldo Weaning once said there are
three levels of giving. You have to thats law.
You ought to thats obligation. You want to
thats grace.  
III. The Sowing Principle
The Sowing Principle
The third principle in todays lesson is the
principle of sowing and reaping. Simply stated,
there is a connection between what we sow and
what we reap both in substance and in quantity.
II Corinthians 96
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall
reap also sparingly and he which soweth
bountifully shall reap also bountifully (II
Corinthians 96).
Galatians 67-9
Be not deceived God is not mocked for
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the
flesh reap corruption but he that soweth to the
Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
And let us not be weary in well doing for in due
season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians
Galatians 67-9
Galatians 67-9 is not primarily a threat, but
an encouragement. It testifies to the fact that
faithfulness in sowing leads to faithfulness in
reaping. The only thing that can prevent reaping
is a failure to faithfully sow. A farmer can
readily understand that the expected harvest is
directly linked with the amount of seed sown.
Plant a little and reap only a little. If one
plants much, however, he also can expect to reap
Galatians 67-9
We should never view our giving as an avenue to
gaining riches, and our motive must not consider
what we will receive in return. Giving is not a
get-rich-quick scheme as some false prophets in
the current media proclaim. We are merely
stewards, not owners, and if more comes our way,
that only means we have a greater responsibility
to our Master. Yet the principle of sowing and
reaping clearly is connected with our giving.

A. Sowing Presupposes Faith
A. Sowing Presupposes Faith
Sowing is an act of faith. When a man puts a
seed in the ground, it requires faith. He
certainly cannot make the seed grow. He cannot
control the weather, the temperature, the soil,
and all the other elements upon which the seed
depends. He cannot instruct the genetic coding in
the seed to cause the seed pod to burst and the
small plant to press its way to the surface of
the earth.
A. Sowing Presupposes Faith
He cannot cause the roots to grow downward and to
begin to draw in nutrients and water. He cannot
force the complex process of photosynthesis to
begin. He probably cannot even explain how these
miraculous events occur. Yet he fully believes
they all will happen if he plants the seed. That
is faith.
A. Sowing Presupposes Faith
It really does not make fiscal sense that a
person can live better on 90 percent of his
income than on the full amount, but the Word of
God teaches the principle of the tithe and life
experiences reveal it to be true. When the idea
of giving is new, however, it takes faith for the
theory of giving and the promises of sowing to
become practice. Gratefully, we are not required
to completely understand the miracle of sowing to
enjoy the blessings of reaping.
B. Sowing Presupposes Loss
B. Sowing Presupposes Loss
When the farmer purchases the seed and places it
in the ground, he understands that he may not see
it again. He is for a season poorer than he was.
He cannot dig that seed up and use it for his own
food. Once it is planted, it is gone from him.
We must maintain a right motive in our giving.
Some individuals give, but they keep peeking
into the soil in giddy anticipation of what God
is going to give back.
B. Sowing Presupposes Loss
Instead, the faithful giver gives with an
attitude that says, When I give something to
God, it is His without reservation. If I never
get it back, Im still glad I gave it. The
apostle Paul had given up much to be a part of
Gods kingdom. Prior to becoming a Christian, he
had notoriety, position, wealth, popularity, and
a pedigree. He had surrendered all these things
to God, but he did not maintain a cavalier
attitude toward them.
B. Sowing Presupposes Loss
He wrote, Yea doubtless, and I count all things
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered
the loss of all things, and do count them but
dung, that I may win Christ (Philippians 38).
Even though he had given up much of this worlds
possessions and power to serve God, He counted
himself richly rewarded by the privilege of
serving Jesus Christ.
B. Sowing Presupposes Loss

God is a debtor to no man. Reaping is certain,
but perhaps the crop is not what some are looking
for. God knows that some individuals could not
handle great wealth. Would He be blessing a man
by giving him riches that would divert his soul
away from a redemptive relationship? Often the
reaping comes in a harvest more valuable than
money. We are blessed with crops of joy, baskets
of peace, and yields of righteousness. The worth
of these is beyond calculation.
C. Sowing Presupposes Grace
C. Sowing Presupposes Grace
Any harvest we enjoy is the work of the Spirit
and the grace of God in our lives. No one can
claim that we merit the favor of Jesus Christ,
for if we deserved the blessings we receive, they
would be only wages. However, we are blessed
because of Gods grace. Grace works in the
absence of our own ability and supply. Further,
grace can work only when we have divested
ourselves of our own resources and ideas.
C. Sowing Presupposes Grace
If we can produce the harvest, then God will not
get the glory. If we clearly cannot do it, then
God will receive all the praise when the
blessings come forth. The scriptural evidence is
overwhelming. The starving widow in I Kings 17
had too much meal and oil to receive a miracle.
She had to divest herself of her own capabilities
in order for God to manifest His supply. Gideon
had too many men for God to use. God had to strip
him of his natural resources before blessings of
victory came.
C. Sowing Presupposes Grace
Sarah had too much life in her barren womb. God
chose to wait until that life had died so that
His grace could bring about the miracle He had
planned for them. Even Jesus emptied Himself
according to Philippians 28 and poured Himself
out unto death in order to create the vacuum and
capacity necessary for the glorious resurrection
miracle. Sowing may empty us. We may feel
helpless and without the resources that would
make us comfortable in our situation, but grace
steps in when our abilities are gone.
D. Sowing Presupposes a Harvest
D. Sowing Presupposes a Harvest
While our motives in giving must be pure, still
we would be foolish not to realize that no person
sows just to be out in the field. It is not a
hobby it is labor. Every gardener understands
this. When he is laboring with tilling, planting,
and cultivating his vegetable patch, he is
dreaming of sweet corn and fresh tomatoes. It is
the promise of the harvest that keeps him
faithfully on his task.
D. Sowing Presupposes a Harvest
We are stewards and we give because it pleases
our Master and blesses others. But we are given
the promise that a harvest follows faithful
sowing. It is the promise of blessing that keeps
all of us faithful to the tasks at hand. The
blessings occur in two spheres. We are blessed
here, and we are blessed in the life to come.

Matthew 1929
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or
brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or
wife, or children, or lands, for my names sake,
shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit
everlasting life (Matthew 1929).
Matthew 1929
A generous and greatly blessed Christian from
Philadelphia once was asked how he could give so
much to the Lords work and still possess great
wealth. The man replied, Oh, as I shovel it out,
He shovels it in. The Lord has a bigger shovel.
Matthew 1929
Abraham Kuyper, Dutch statesman and theologian,
once said, In the total expanse of human life,
there is not a single square inch of which the
Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare,
That is mine. When embraced, this great
understanding that all we think we own we merely
oversee for the One who owns everything will
revolutionize our thinking about giving. We are
stewards of that which belongs to God.
Matthew 1929
In that capacity we are to reflect the nature of
our master, and God is a giver. He gives life and
blessing to all who follow Him. We therefore must
pattern our lives to be givers, which first is
accomplished by giving ourselves to Him. As
Pastor John S. Bonnell wrote, It is an anomaly
of modern life that many find giving to be a
burden. Such persons have omitted a preliminary
giving. If one first gives himself to the Lord,
all other giving is easy. When a heart is
consecrated first to God, the true joy of giving
in all areas of life becomes tangible.
Matthew 1929
Part of that joy is found in the knowledge that
sowing the right kind of seed produces the right
kind of harvest. Pleasing God and blessing others
is the pure motive for giving, but the
expectation and hope of a harvest certainly is a
scriptural promise. When we exercise faith by
planting seed, accept the loss of that seed, and
trust in the grace of God, a harvest will come.
Reaping follows sowing.
Matthew 1929
We may never be more like the Lord than when we
giveliberally, selflessly, generously, joyfully.
Such giving is the mark of a life in harmony with
the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the action of a body
working well with its head. It is the
characteristic of a steward faithful to his
master. It is the hallmark of the church
submitted to its Lord.