May 21, 2006 – May 27, 2006
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 11 Corinthians 9:7.
Study Help: The Acts of the Apostles, 341–345.
“Let the ninth chapter of second Corinthians be read in all our churches, that the members may catch the inspiration of liberality. God help His people to see things in a correct light, and to arouse to meet the pressing emergencies that always arise in aggressive warfare. As they give cheerfully and willingly of the Lord’s intrusted means, He will intrust them with more to impart. He is able to make all grace abound toward cheerful givers, that, always having all sufficiency in all things, they may abound to every good work.” Review and Herald, February 19, 1901.
1 In Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians, how does he allude to the instruction he had given them in his first epistle? 11 Corinthians 8:10, 11.
note: “Unselfish liberality threw the early church into a transport of joy; for the believers knew that their efforts were helping to send the gospel message to those in darkness. Their benevolence testified that they had not received the grace of God in vain. What could produce such liberality but the sanctification of the Spirit? In the eyes of believers and unbelievers it was a miracle of grace.
“Spiritual prosperity is closely bound up with Christian liberality. The followers of Christ should rejoice in the privilege of revealing in their lives the beneficence of their Redeemer. As they give to the Lord they have the assurance that their treasure is going before them to the heavenly courts. Would men make their property secure? Let them place it in the hands that bear the marks of the crucifixion. Would they enjoy their substance? Let them use it to bless the needy and suffering. Would they increase their possessions? Let them heed the divine injunction, ‘Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.’ Proverbs 3:9, 10. Let them seek to retain their possessions for selfish purposes, and it will be to their eternal loss. But let their treasure be given to God, and from that moment it bears His inscription. It is sealed with His immutability.” The Acts of the Apostles, 344, 345.
2 To what miracle in the Old Testament does the apostle allude to encourage the Corinthians in bestowing their liberalities? 11 Corinthians 8:12–15; Exodus 16:16–18.
note: “It is not the plan of God to have some eased and others burdened. Some feel the weight and responsibility of the cause, and the necessity of their acting that they may gather with Christ and not scatter abroad. Others go on free from any responsibility, acting as though they had no influence. Such scatter abroad. God is not partial. All who are made partakers of His salvation here, and who hope to share the glories of the kingdom hereafter, must gather with Christ. Each must feel that he is responsible for his own case, and for the influence he exerts over others. If these maintain their Christian walk, Jesus will be in them the hope of glory, and they will love to speak forth His praise that they may be refreshed. The cause of their Master will be near and dear to them. It will be their study to advance His cause and to honor it by holy living.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 179.
3 What further encouragement does the apostle give on this same point? 11 Corinthians 9:8.
note: “God intended that His people Israel should be light bearers to all the inhabitants of the earth. In maintaining His public worship they were bearing a testimony to the existence and sovereignty of the living God. And this worship it was their privilege to sustain, as an expression of their loyalty and their love to Him. The Lord has ordained that the diffusion of light and truth in the earth shall be dependent upon the efforts and offerings of those who are partakers of the heavenly gift. He might have made angels the ambassadors of His truth; He might have made known His will, as He proclaimed the law from Sinai, with His own voice; but in His infinite love and wisdom He called men to become colaborers with Himself, by choosing them to do this work.
“In the days of Israel the tithe and freewill offerings were needed to maintain the ordinances of divine service. Should the people of God give less in this age? The principle laid down by Christ is that our offerings to God should be in proportion to the light and privileges enjoyed. . . . As our blessings and privileges are increased—above all, as we have before us the unparalleled sacrifice of the glorious Son of God—should not our gratitude find expression in more abundant gifts to extend to others the message of salvation? The work of the gospel, as it widens, requires greater provision to sustain it than was called for anciently; and this makes the law of tithes and offerings of even more urgent necessity now than under the Hebrew economy. If His people were liberally to sustain His cause by their voluntary gifts, instead of resorting to unchristian and unhallowed methods to fill the treasury, God would be honored, and many more souls would be won to Christ.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 528, 529.
4 How should Christians give? 11 Corinthians 9:7.
note: “All our offerings should be presented with cheerfulness; for they come from the fund which the Lord has seen fit to place in our hands for the purpose of carrying forward His work in the world, in order that the banner of truth may be unfurled in the highways and byways of the earth. If all who profess the truth would give to the Lord His own in tithes and gifts and offerings, there would be meat in the house of the Lord. The cause of benevolence would no longer be dependent on the uncertain gifts of impulse, and vary according to the changing feelings of men. God’s claims would be welcomed, and His cause would be considered as justly entitled to a portion of the funds entrusted to our hands.” Counsels on Stewardship, 199, 200.
“God could rain means from heaven to carry on his work, but he never would do this. It is contrary to his plan. He has entrusted men on earth with sufficient means to carry forward his work, and if all do their duty there will be no lack. But some will not heed the call for their means. They are willing to see the work of God go forward. They are anxious to see the cause prosper, provided they can keep their riches, and make no sacrifice, only bestow a trifle now and then, which should cause them shame for its being so little, and so grudgingly bestowed. . . . Some love this world so well that they will not even for the immortal inheritance sacrifice their treasure here. They harden their hearts, and will not do their part as God has prospered them. They are fully tested. The world lives in their hearts, and the truth dies out. They lose the crowns laid up in heaven for them, and God raises up others who come up and fill their places, and take their crowns. Men are raised up who consider it a privilege to sacrifice something for Jesus who sacrificed so much for them.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 267, 268.
5 How would the attitude of the giver affect those who benefited from the donation? 11 Corinthians 9:11, 12.
note: “The Lord has made us His almoners. He places in our hands His gifts, in order that we shall divide with those who are needy, and it is this practical giving that will be to us a sure panacea for all selfishness. By thus expressing love to those who need help, you will cause the hearts of the needy to give thanksgiving unto God because He has bestowed the grace of benevolence upon the brethren, and has caused them to relieve the necessities of the needy.” Counsels on Stewardship, 343.
“It is through the exercise of this practical love that the churches draw nearer together in Christian unity. Through the love of the brethren, love to God is increased, because He has not forgotten those who were in distress, and thus thank offerings ascend to God for His care. . . . The faith of the brethren is increased in God, and they are led to commit their souls and bodies unto God as to a faithful Creator.” Review and Herald, August 21, 1894.
6 What would the poor saints at Jerusalem be led to do in return for this liberality? 11 Corinthians 9:13, 14.
note: “There are some who are liberal with their gifts, and these gifts call forth the grateful praise of those who through them are given a knowledge of the gospel. The givers become the subject of the prayers of those who receive the benefit of the offerings made.
“The Spirit of God is grieved when those church-members who have means withhold the offerings that would help the work to be carried forward rapidly and extensively. Will not our church-members become intelligent in regard to the needs of the missionary fields, and respond to the efforts that are being made to secure help for those workers who are laboring in difficult places? Who with Paul will seek to stir up the churches to a spirit of liberality for these needy fields?” Pacific Union Recorder, November 14, 1907.
7 What argument from sowing grain does the apostle bring to encourage their liberality? 11 Corinthians 9:6.
note: “Liberality both in spiritual and in temporal things is taught in the lesson of seed sowing. The Lord says, ‘Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters.’ Isaiah 32:20. ‘This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.’ 11 Corinthians 9:6. To sow beside all waters means a continual imparting of God’s gifts. It means giving wherever the cause of God or the needs of humanity demand our aid. This will not tend to poverty. . . .
“And more than this is wrapped up in the sowing and the reaping. As we distribute God’s temporal blessings, the evidence of our love and sympathy awakens in the receiver gratitude and thanksgiving to God. The soil of the heart is prepared to receive the seeds of spiritual truth. And He who ministers seed to the sower will cause the seed to germinate and bear fruit unto eternal life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 85, 86.
“There are many who urge that they cannot do more for God’s cause than they now do; but they do not give according to their ability. The Lord sometimes opens the eyes blinded by selfishness by simply reducing their income to the amount they are willing to give. Horses are found dead in the field or stable, houses or barns are destroyed by fire, or crops fail. In many cases God tests man with blessings, and if unfaithfulness is manifested in rendering to Him tithes and offerings, His blessing is withdrawn. ‘He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly.’ [11 Corinthians 9:6.] By the mercies of Christ and the riches of His goodness, and for the honor of truth and religion, we beseech you who are followers of Christ to dedicate yourselves and your property anew to God. In view of the love and compassion of Christ, which brought Him from the royal courts to suffer self-denial, humiliation, and death, let each ask himself the question, ‘How much do I owe my Lord?’ and then let your grateful offerings be in accordance with your appreciation of the great gift of heaven in God’s dear Son.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 484.
8 What argument does the apostle use to show that this act will ever be remembered in heaven? 11 Corinthians 9:9, 10.
note: “It means much to sow beside all waters. It means a continual imparting of gifts and offerings. God will furnish facilities so that the faithful steward of His entrusted means shall be supplied with a sufficiency in all things, and be enabled to abound to every good work. ‘As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever. 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.’ 2 Corinthians 9:9, 10. The seed sown with full, liberal hand is taken charge of by the Lord. He who ministers seed to the sower gives His worker that which enables him to co-operate with the Giver of the seed.
“The Lord now calls upon Seventh-day Adventists in every locality to consecrate themselves to Him and to do their very best, according to their circumstances, to assist in His work. By their liberality in making gifts and offerings, He desires them to reveal their appreciation of His blessings and their gratitude for His mercy.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 132.