Use of the Lord’s Money

Text: II Corinthians 9:1-15


I.         I received an interesting question from a brother in the Philippines, he wrote: “Here in our country brethren depend on planting tobacco for income. One brother has asked me if it is good for the church to use the Lord’s money to grow tobacco in order for the church to have money at the end of the year. Or, to give to the Christians as loan in hope that they will pay back into the church treasury at the end of the year. The question is it good, biblical / scriptural and spiritual to use the Lord’s money to sponsor this kind of agriculture?”

            A.        The question took me back a bit because the whole line of thought was wrong on many levels.

            B.        It made me a bit sad that after all the years of brethren teaching in the Philippines, so many fundamental principles have not been understood.

            C.        I needed to prepare an answer, but I thought that you could benefit as well in thinking about these issues.

II.        How may the church fund its operation?

            A.        The church has a treasury in which to fund its responsibilities

                        1.         I Corinthians 16:1-2

                                    a.         It is not talking about individual savings, else there still would be need of a collection when Paul arrived.

                                    b.         The implication is that the saints were pooling their money in advance, so that the funds would be available when Paul arrived.

                        2.         Acts 4:34-37

                                    a.         Money was given (laid at the apostles’ feet) to take care of the needy saints in Jerusalem

                                    b.         Acts 5:1-4 - Peter states that it was money given to God and once given was no longer in the individual’s control

            B.        The church has responsibilities which require available funds

                        1.         Paying preachers - I Corinthians 9:13-14

                                    a.         Also aiding those preaching in other area - Philippians 4:14-19

                        2.         Paying elders - I Timothy 5:17-18

                        3.         A roll of widows who needed care - I Timothy 5:9-12, 16

                                    a.         Seen in Acts 6:1-4 - a daily serving of food to the widows

                        4.         Relief of brethren when disasters strike - Acts 11:28-30

            C.        Those funds came only by voluntary contributions

                        1.         Prepared to give

                                    a.         Willing to give - II Corinthians 8:11-12

                                    b.         Setting aside money - I Corinthians 16:1-2

                                                (1)       This implies preparation and a plan

                                                (2)       There is no impulsive or haphazard giving

                                    c.         As a person has purposed - II Corinthians 9:7

                        2.         A desire to give

                                    a.         Cheerfully and not from force - II Corinthians 9:7

                        3.         Generously

                                    a.         II Corinthians 8:1-4 - the Macedonians gave generously even though they themselves were poor

                                    b.         II Corinthians 9:13 - a liberal distribution

                        4.         In proportion to one’s income

                                    a.         II Corinthians 8:12 - Not more than you have. Don’t go into debt to give.

                                    b.         I Corinthians 16:1-2 - As you prospered

                                    c.         Acts 11:29 - Given according to each one’s ability

                                    d.         The amount is not based on income. There is no set percentage. But it should reflect your income.

                                                (1)       Luke 16:10-12 - A poor person who is not generous will not be generous if he becomes rich

                                                (2)       I Timothy 6:18 - The wealthy are expected to be generous

                        5.         Your gift should cost you something

                                    a.         David refused to give God something that cost him nothing - II Samuel 24:24

                                    b.         Generosity cannot be measured by the size of the gift - Mark 12:41-44

                                    c.         The question is truly is how much do you keep of what God has given you? 99%, 95%, 90% ... ?

            D.        Giving is a cycle

                        1.         God first gave to us

                                    a.         It is He who created us, made a world for us, gave us opportunities to work

                                                (1)       For all of this we should be thankful to Him

                                                (2)       Ephesians 4:28 - Work so we have something to give

                                    b.         God gave us His own Son.

                                                (1)       He purchased our salvation with the blood of Christ

                                                (2)       How trivial and insignificant are our gifts back to Him

                        2.         God rewards the giver

                                    a.         Ecclesiastes 11:1 - Generosity is returned at a later time

                                    b.         Proverbs 11:25 - The generous will prosper

                                    c.         As we give, it will be returned - Luke 6:38

                                    d.         As we son, we will reap - II Corinthians 9:6-10

                        3.         The gifts we give then bring glory to God - II Corinthians 9:10

            E.        Paul warned us not to change the pattern given to us - Galatians 1:6-10

                        1.         There is no record of the church raising funds by any means other than by voluntary offerings

                        2.         If the church loaned money to its members

                                    a.         It would be expecting payment in return - Luke 6:34

                                    b.         It would be a required payback

                                                (1)       It removes the voluntary nature of giving

                                                (2)       It sets the amount instead of the amount being chosen

                                    c.         The returned money didn’t cost the farmer anything. All risks would be absorbed by the church.

                        3.         Recently the denominations have become involved in sales

                                    a.         Bookstores, coffee shops, and concerts are offered and the profits go into the treasury

                                    b.         No where do we find churches operating businesses in the New Testament.

III.       Can the church help finance a member’s business?

            A.        When we look at the uses of the Lord’s money, we find they fall into three categories

                        1.         Payment for service, such as those to preachers or elders in return for their work

                        2.         Support of widows who have no other source of income - I Timothy 5:3-4, 16

                                    a.         Not all widows were supported - I Timothy 5:5, 9-10

                        3.         Aid to brethren facing disaster, such as a famine (Acts 11:28-29) or poverty (Acts 4:34-35)

            B.        What we don’t find is the church involved in the business of helping members become wealthy or earn a living

                        1.         A church cannot purchase a business for the purpose of providing work for its members.

                        2.         It can keep a member from going hungry, but it cannot set that member up in a business or finance the operation of his business

IV.      Can a Christian be involved in any business?

            A.        Many evils have been justified because a perceived good would result.

                        1.         Some saw God’s grace as a benefit and argued that the more I sin, the more God’s grace will flow - Romans 5:20-6:2, 15

                        2.         The idea of doing evil that good may result is false - Romans 3:7-8

                        3.         Some in Jesus day claimed they could not support their parents in their old age because they made a generous contribution to God - Matthew 15:3-6

            B.        Sinful things remain sinful

                        1.         A Christian could not operate a house of prostitution, justifying it because a portion of the income would be contributed to the church.

                        2.         Gambling would be wrong because it is not working to earn your living.

                        3.         Tobacco is a crop that is known to be poisonous to the human body, whose use is popular because of its addictive properties.- I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:18-20; Romans 6:16; II Peter 2:19

                                    a.         While there are some other uses for tobacco, the big money is in the cigarette area.

                                    b.         Can a Christian be involved in producing what is harmful to others?

V.        Living the life of a Christian means leaving the world behind - I Peter 4:1-4