Christian Service

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Thursday, April 24, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Gracious Father.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Co. 8:16-9:15 (NIV).

The Gift of Giving

Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians speak to the subject of giving and of Christian service. Evidently, there was a collection being taken for the saints in Jerusalem. I wanted to understand the purpose of this collection, i.e. to whom the money was going and for what reason, so I read a commentary on The author began by addressing the issue of the endless number of pleas for money, in our world today, from various organizations. “Sophisticated marketing strategies abound,” he stated. Some people make a bad name for fundraisers with their gimmicks, hard-sells, and manipulations of people’s emotions to get people to give, he suggested. This makes it difficult to know, sometimes, who is legit and who is not, and where the real needs are and who is just taking advantage of a situation. I believe this calls for much discernment and prayer.

So, what was this collection (offering) being taken, and then given to the saints in Jerusalem? The author of this commentary said that it was “to help Judean believers who were facing harder than usual economic times as a result of a famine during the mid to late 40s.” That is a worthy cause, to help the truly poor of our communities, or to help people out when they are in dire straits or going through economic hard times. This commentator asked the question, “Why did Paul do it?” Why did he put forth this effort to make the collection for these saints? “For one, the need was genuine,” he stated. I believe that is very significant here. These Christians were in need of the basic necessities of life – food, shelter and clothing, he said. The author also suggested another reason for the collection was that it served as a visible expression of how the church body worked together to supply one another’s needs, not just monetary needs, and that served as a testimony for Christ.


Thanks to God!

Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. ~ 2 Co. 8:16-21

In going over the lyrics to the song “Gracious Father,” I realized that this song tells the story of how God sets the example for us in love, kindness, mercy, compassion and giving, and how, through his free gift of salvation, he places these same qualities within the hearts of his followers by his Spirit. Our salvation and not one of his acts of love and kindness toward us, and not one of these heavenly qualities can be bought with money. We can do nothing to earn them or deserve them. He gives us these treasures from heaven as a free gift of his grace to us. Yet, not all of us have received this free gift of his love into our lives, so not everyone possesses his great salvation or these heavenly treasures. They must be received by submission to Christ and to death to sin so he can make us alive in Christ.

This song also describes what our heart response should be to his love, mercy and grace to us. First of all, we should be eternally thankful. Our hearts should adore him. We should be humbled by his love and mercy toward us, realizing how underserving we all really are. And, we should, in view of his mercy, offer ourselves (our all) to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable service of worship of him. We should no longer be conformed to the ways of this world, but we should be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds (See Ro. 12:1-2). When we consider the subject of giving, we should realize that it all belongs to God and that we owe him everything! So, he should be the one to decide how much we give, when to give and to whom to give it. And, we should give as unto the Lord with wholehearted devotion to God, for his honor and praise, recognizing that it is HIM only that we serve. Amen!

Sowing and Reaping

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! ~ 2 Co. 9:6-15

To sow means to spread, scatter, seed and/or to plant (deposit; establish). To reap means to gain, obtain, gather, harvest, collect, and/or acquire, etc. In other words, as the saying goes, “You reap what you sow.” This means that one is the direct result of the other. We get in what we put out. We receive a return back from what we invest. If we give little, we get little in return, not that we should give in order to receive, but that if we are stingy and not generous, we will have little to show, for our giving, in the lives which it is able to bless.

Yet, this is not speaking merely of just giving people money. Jesus Christ gave to us as we had legitimate need. He gave us his life. He does not always give us what our selfish hearts desire, especially if what we want is so we can spend it on our own selfish pleasures. He gives good gifts to his children. Good is what is best for us, for he knows what we really need. He knew that we needed to be set free, not just from the punishment of our sin, but from slavery to sin, and that we needed to be also set free to love, honor, worship, and obey him in the Spirit of God, and to walk in his ways and in his truth, for this is where we would find pure joy, satisfaction and meaning for life, and where we would be filled to overflowing with his Spirit so that we could, in turn, share his love with others in need.

So, he set the standard for giving, not only that we should give freely, and not just to those who we feel are deserving of our gifts, but that we should consider the true needs and give accordingly to what is truly best (good) for others. Sometimes, in our giving, we can do more harm than good. It is not good, for instance, to give a screaming child who is throwing a temper tantrum what he or she wants at that instance. What is best at that moment for that child is some loving correction, guidance and training in the appropriate way in which to ask for things. It is also not good to feed others’ bad habits. It is better to teach a man to fish rather than just feeding him the fish that we gather, that is, if he is able.

Certainly we are not limited to only supplying the basic necessities of life, for people have needs beyond just the basics, at times, and we are free to give to others as we choose, as well. Yet, I do believe that we should consider what are the true needs, what is the best way to meet those needs, and we should consider if, in our giving, we are truly doing what is best, i.e. what is in the best interest of those to whom we wish to give love, affection, money, time, talents, or our service, etc.

Of course, the greatest gift we can give is to share with them how they, too, can come to know Jesus Christ so that they, too, can be set free of sin and can have eternal life with God. As the scriptures say, “Freely you have received, freely give” (See Matt. 10:8), referring, apparently, both to the working of miracles in others’ lives, and to the preaching of the gospel, freely imparted by God into the life of the believer, and so he or she can thus freely give to others. Or else the healing of the sick could refer to those who are spiritually in need of having their sick souls cleansed by the blood of Christ, and the raising of the dead could refer to Christ raising those to new life in Christ who were once dead in their sins, and thus the sharing of the gospel would be an instrument of that divine healing and resurrected life in their lives. And, all should be done for the honor, glory and praise of God.

Gracious Father / An Original Work / April 6, 2011

How great are You Father; how great are You, Lord.
My heart so adores You; Your mercy outpour.
Your love and your kindness; Your gracious reward
Are treasures from heaven that we can’t afford.
So, freely they’re given and humbly received
When we bow before You on penitent knee.

O gracious Redeemer; my Master and King,
To You I owe everything - my offerings I bring
With whole heart devotion, to honor and praise
My loving companion and friend for always.
It’s You I serve only, to walk in Your ways,
So I have your promise for all of my days.