Boletim dos Obreiros

Offering

Acts 20:35: 11:27-30; Romans 15:26 - 27; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9; 16:1-5

Introduction - “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). Although this expression does not fit in with the capitalist world, it is pure and true, for the supreme example is in Who cited it, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is proven in 2 Corinthians 8:9… “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”. Today, it is because Christ delivered Himself completely without asking for anything in exchange, that the pure and holy Church and saint is formed, of which we are freely a part.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY IN CONTRIBUTING

1. The Bible teaches that we are stewards of God (1 Corinthians 4:1 - 2) and this is equivalent to say that everything that we are and we have belong to God, not to ourselves, therefore we are administrators of what the Lord has trusted to us. As F.B. Meyer wrote: “we were assigned to be stewards; not to gather treasure, but to serve the Lord… On earth, our target must be to use in the best possible what the Lord grants us, in order to give account to Him of our stewardship with pleasure, when He comes”.

2. Today we hear outcries from churches in the whole world for aid in the spread of the Gospel, in Bible teaching or in giving good literature free or at an accessible price. We hear of countries that little or nothing know about the Person and the redemptive work of Christ and many people do not even have one of the Gospels translated into their languages. Even Brazil is a great challenge for us the saved ones. In order that the work of God may continue keeping what already exists and attending to these outcries two basic things are necessary:

  • It is necessary that the human element goes out to announce, for this is the channel that God uses to evangelize the world. He does not use angels for this purpose, but men and women regenerated by the power of the Word and of the Holy Spirit;
  • It is necessary to have money for the maintenance of those that go forth and for what Testament be required for the execution of the Work. The resources for this Testament have to come from the pockets and bags of the believers as generous offers from the first fruits of all their income, and not the leftovers, since the unbeliever does not have the duty nor any responsibility to finance the maintenance of the Work of God, this is a privilege and duty of those who have been saved.

EXAMPLES AND THE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE OF CONTRIBUTION

In the New Testament we find some texts that deal with this important subject concerning the offerings of the people of God:

1 - Examples of churches in financial contribution: Acts 11:29 reads: “the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea”. Romans 15:26… “it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution… it pleased them indeed”. It is basic to note that from the moment that the Christians in Antioch became aware of the situation of the believers in Judea, they took the proper initiative: the text does not indicate that Paul had instigated them on this occasion, but we see the support given him to the church in Antioch which charged him, with Barnabas, to take offerings to Jerusalem. In turn, the churches of Macedonia and Achaia had also of free will desired to participate in the assistance to the saints and had even implored Paul and his travel companions to have the joy of this privilege. We are sure that Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit to help the churches as to the manner in which they were to make the collections and to deliver them in Jerusalem and that he never made a personal appeal for help.

Taking these examples, the churches of today also ought to have an ampler vision of the general necessities of the Work of God in the whole world and, in the presence of God, make use of their financial resources and distribute them as a river of blessings to the multitudes and not as a sea that only receives and is never satisfied. Acts 11.30 discloses “this they also did”. Many churches have the custom of meeting regularly to deal with administrative subjects, some call them “administrative meetings”, when normally there is rendering of accounts, issue of financial statements and planning for the future. So we ask: Is it a priority of the local churches, in these meetings, to consider the distribution of the financial resources to the Work the Lord? And, when some brother proposes such a distribution, what is the reaction of the brethren? Do all feel glad to empty the coffers of the church leaving only enough for the monthly maintenance? It is necessary to stop with much red tape in the local churches, what we need is churches that act and not those that project but do not act. Let us remember the examples of the churches of Antioch, Macedonia (Philippians 4.10-19) and Achaia which at their time not only planned, but acted.

2 - A doctrinal foundation for our contribution today: Although I have already mentioned something, I believe it to be necessary to approach this principle a little more. Whose is the privilege and duty to offer according to Acts 11.29? This verse starts saying it had been “the disciples” who had contributed. The Work of God only can and must be maintained by the people of God. Also it is necessary that the collection of the offering is done in the Biblical way. In these days of great moving away from what the Bible teaches, we see certain types of campaigns to collect funds for diverse projects of the church and missions which makes it impracticable to condemn the practices of the “Catholic church” that asks for and accepts money from any person, promotes its sales and bazaars to sell objects or food to collect money. Many of our churches are doing the same thing, only with a different label. Believers need to offer systematically and not just occasionally, so as to avoid absurd deviations.

Which members of the church must make offering according to Acts 11.29; 1 Corinthians 16:2 and 2 Corinthians 9:7? In all these quotations we find the expression “each”, and this calls us to the personal responsibility and teaches that “all” the believers in a local church have the same privilege and responsibility in contributing, whether a millionaire, one of middle class or a poor widow, this does not matter to God and nothing will serve as an excuse not to offer in His holy presence. Certainly no true believer is so rich as to not be able to contribute and nobody is so poor as not to be able to do it, because the great question is not really how much we offer to the Lord, but how much we hold back to spend with ourselves and the family with things of our own interest and satisfaction.

Which is the percentage of the contribution? In 11:29… “According to his ability “”; 1 Corinthians 16:2… “As he may prosper” (this will be accepted according to what one has and not according to what he does not have); 2 Corinthians 8:3… “According to their ability”; 2 Corinthians 8:11… “Out of what you have”. In these verses, we learn the principle of contribution according to the ability (income) of each one, that is to say that of all and any income, we must separate the first fruit and deliver it to the Lord in sincere gratitude for His abundance towards us. To offer according to ability indicates that who has any income has the responsibility to offer proportionally.

A tenth (the tithe) was the minimum demanded by the law in the Old Testament, but the church lives under the New Testament, under grace, and we never must be contented in only contributing with the minimum of the law. The great problem is that the majority of the believers in the entire world contribute with less than the tenth. I extracted from the Biblical course “Principles of the Church in the New Testament”, page 87, the following: “The believer is not under the law, but under grace, therefore contributing for the service of God is entirely voluntary, only motivated by the measure of our love for Christ. If our love is small our contributions will be stingy also, but if we truly love the Lord Jesus we will contribute generously for His service”. I suggest that you acquire this course from the Carangola Bible School.

Who of the church will take charge (manage) the offerings of the people of God? We read in Acts 11:30… “They … sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Also read 2 Corinthians 8:17 - 23). The example given in these texts is on the question of administration. There seems to have been unanimity in the church in Antioch that Paul and Barnabas should be charged in this administration, that is, they would receive the money from the church and take it to Jerusalem and there they would deliver it to the elders so that they carried out the distribution to the people. Now in 2 Corinthians 8 we notice that Paul exhorted Titus to go to Corinth to help in the collection, but it was not only he, for in verses 18 and 19 we are informed about a brother who remained anonymous, but “whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches“, and had been chosen by them to be a companion of Paul on his mission. In verse 22 we find another brother who was qualified to help the brethren in Corinth in this ministry.

From these examples we learn the lesson that there must be more than one brother taking charge of the offerings, and that they must have dedicated lives. With regard to the church in Corinth, Paul revealed a very logical concern when he wrote: “avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us; providing honourable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:20 - 21). This must be the concern of who serves the church in this work and that they take care to not only have a clear conscience before God, but to be “transparent” before the other members of the church.

Nobody must contribute under pressure or by obligation, as in 2 Corinthians 8:3… “They were freely willing”; 2Corinthians 9:7… “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver"; 2 Corinthians 9:13… “For your liberal sharing with them and all men”. A thing that impresses me in 2 Corinthians 8:9 is that Paul stresses, in the context of offering, the Person of the Lord Jesus, saying: “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.” This means to say that the Lord Jesus gave up everything in heaven and took a place in the home of Joseph and Mary, among the poorest of that region; He never had any material things so that we might become rich. Brethren are we or are we not rich? This being the case, our heart ought to throb from so much joy and happiness in making offerings to the Lord with deep gratitude and worship as did the brethren in Macedonia who “in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8:2). This secret is in a total and complete delivery to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5). Without this delivery be the believer rich, middle class or poor, he will always be stingy in offering.

Which is the day indicated for setting aside and delivering? It says in 1 Corinthians 16:2… “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside”. For many, this point may seem something without much importance, for there is no commandment for the church to keep days as was ordained to the Jews, but for the church the first day of the week (Sunday) became notable for the following reasons:

  • The resurrection of the Lord Jesus took place on the first day of the week (Mark 16:1 - 6,9);
  • Risen again, He appeared to the disciples on two occasions, both on the first day of the week (John 20:19,26);
  • The Lord Jesus manifested Himself to John on the island of Patmos on "the day of the Lord", which is the first day of the week (Revelation 1:10);
  • It was on this day that the church was formed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1);
  • It is on the first day of the week that we find the church meeting for the Breaking of Bread (Acts 20:7).

In accordance with the Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, in both times the Greek word “Kuriakon” (meaning: “pertaining to the Lord” or "The Lord’s”) is used, it is associated with the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20), and with the Day of Lord (Revelation 1:10). Bearing in mind the orientation of Paul in 1 Corinthians 16.1-2 and the already cited examples, we arrive at the conclusion that the first day of the week was a very special day for Christians, therefore on this day they showed gratitude to the Lord for the innumerable blessings received, spiritual and material, and offered praise and worship to the Lord who gave so much to them. Such being the case, I believe that our offering, when destined to the general fund of the church, must only be made on the first day of the week, when there are only believers at the time of the Lord’s Supper, this because our offering is part of the thanksgiving which results in worship of the Lord, on account of His generosity by giving us His only begotten Son (John 3:16; Romans 8:32; James 1:5).

On the first day of the week the believer participates in the Lord’s Supper, but before going out, at home, with a pure conscience before God, he must separate the offering which he will deliver as an offering to the Lord. This amount should be kept as secretly as possible towards men according to the teaching of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6.2-4, when he reveals that the right hand and the left hand, part of the same body, should not know between themselves what each one does in this respect. As in the church we are equally members of the Body of Christ, what one brother offers the other should not know, for what is important is that God knows, and He certainly will reward him who offers.

When we truly offer, besides accumulating treasures in heaven we are in consequence of this liberality providing sufficient financial resources for the Work of the Lord to make an extraordinary advance, therefore there not being need for any type of collection outside of the biblical principle, as we see in our churches these days when they get together in “great missionary campaigns” to sell all sorts of things among believers and unbelievers, to send the profit so obtained in these activities to the servants of God in the missionary field in Brazil and abroad. To my way of thinking this is humiliating!