Growing in our giving

Growing in our giving

Date: Sunday, November 26, 2023


Based on Philippians 4:15-18.  Giving financially can be an uncomfortable topic in the church, but it shouldn’t be. The New Testament’s pre-eminent church planter, Paul, frequently addressed the issue of giving, and zealously encouraged his new churches to give generously. As God continues to mature us as a church plant, let us consider how we can follow His will by growing in our giving.


Cody John Simpson

    • Giving financially can be an uncomfortable topic in the church, but it shouldn’t be.
      • There are some negative images that come to mind – (St. Peter’s Basilica), I was once very critical of churches handling money. But this isn’t the image that we should have. Look at your neighbour. When we talk about giving to the church, this is what you’re giving to. Think about that friend or family member who you’ve been inviting to get to know Jesus. It’s for that person too. 
      • That is what we support, the “why” of our support is because it is God’s will for us in the advancement of His kingdom.
  • The first example we have of giving in the church comes in Acts 4:32-35, and it does make many of us uncomfortable, but it’s important that we unpack this.
    • So Luke tells us that in the first church all possessions were held in common. We often think of communism, but something else is at work here. This isn’t a top-down command, but rather an attitude of heart that holds loosely to possessions and resources for the benefits of others in the community.
      • Its also important to realize the context. There was no government social safety net in the ancient world. The government only took your money. No hospitals, orphanages, residences, etc. If you had needs, were in poverty your only hope was your family, friends, and begging. Many people coming into the church would have lost their family and social networks. So it was up to the church to look after the physical needs of members. We see in Acts 6 that food distribution was a major ministry.
      • There was more than just social ministry needs: Acts 2:46 says that the church broke bread together from house to house. From this and other passages, and history of the early church, eating meals together was regularly celebrated. Again, the pooling together of resources or sharing of what they had allowed for these communal meals to happen. 
      • Finally, a third use comes up, somewhat out of silence, but is apparent. This use is to finance the ministries of prayer, teaching, and preaching. The spiritual guidance and leadership of the community. 
        • Back to Acts 6:2-3, there was a dispute over the food distribution. The 12 Apostles appointed others to then manage the ministry because they considered food distribution to be a distraction from their primary ministry. Previously these men had various careers. Take the first 4: fisherman by trade. I don’t see them fishing full time and leading this church if they complain that the church’s food distribution is distracting. So if they aren’t fishing, how are they making money to feed them and their families? 
    • God’s kingdom expands from person to person, and grows in each heart through the ministry of teaching & preaching in the church. 
    • What we see as we move along the story of the early church is the expectation of giving continues. I think Paul’s thank you to the Philippian Church paints this nicely. 
    • Paul was a church planter, and planted many churches throughout the Mediterranean. One unique thing about Paul was that he didn’t ask for money from the people he was teaching when he was with them at first: 1 Cor 9:11-12 Paul didn’t want to be considered a religious huckster and have people miss the gospel. 
      • BUT, once the church began to mature in faith, the expectation to share in the expenses was given.
  • Philippians 4:15-18
    • While writing this letter, Paul is in prison in Rome, and he is thanking the church for having sent money to support him (Paul still needs food, water, etc.). And Paul is deeply touched and thankful. It gives him and opportunity to express his gratitude and acknowledge the maturity they have shown in giving, even in the early days of their church. At a time when Paul’s churches were young (2nd missionary journey) the Philippians started sending missionary support to Paul! 
    • That is a lot like how things work in our case. Other churches send us financial support, and at the beginning, it really just was what the core team could bring in, and other churches. 
    • So for the expansion of God’s kingdom, the spreading of the gospel, the giving and sharing of financial resources has always been a key component!! If you want to spread the gospel and see healthy churches you need to help support that with finances. 
  • Paul says something else here in v17 – That he hasn’t desired the financial gift from the church for the sake of the gift but for the benefit of the givers. 
    • We benefit by giving. It’s a sign of our growing maturity in Christ. As we become more and more aware of who God is and all He has done for us, the more we want to join in on what He is doing in the world, the more we want to leverage ourselves and what we have for Him. Paul says in v18 that money given to support the mission of the church is pleasing to God and considered a sacrifice. 
    • When we join in with God, and when we step out to do uncertain things, God rewards us. Not with easy living, but with more of Himself. With a greater depth of His love and protection over our lives. 
  • This is all something we can get in on right here at Voyage:
    • We’re a church plant, like the Philippians. We are engaged in the spread of the gospel and advancement of God’s kingdom. Do we as individuals want to be a part of that? There is a critical expectation that we pitch in our share of the resources and that includes finances! 
    • Some people take a seemingly “holy” posture that the growth and health of our church, the reach of ministry, the spread of the gospel shouldn’t depend on money, and that God will make it happen if He wills it. I think that deep down it’s an excuse to avoid the sacrifice. God is actively calling us to support the ministry of His church in every way – He works through followers of Jesus giving of their money!
  • Ultimately, He can ask for it. God demands our everything for 2 reasons:
    • Everything we have, from the breath of life to our penny collection is a gift from Him. We don’t really have ownership of anything apart from Him.
    • Secondly, Jesus gave up His life to win us salvation. You’ve come to have faith in Jesus’ death and have received God’s forgiveness for all your sin and brokenness and His love. How much is that worth to you, in dollars and cents? Would you not give everything? Our attitude towards our money as followers of Jesus should be that its all nothing compared to knowing Christ.
  • Finally, how much do we give? The OT Laws stipulated 10% of your income. But the gospel frees us from this law. The Law of giving 10% was abused by sin, it became a standard for self-righteousness or complaining. In the NT the focus is always on giving generously. This is the only real guidance we have, notice is speaks to amount, sure, but also more importantly to the attitude of giving. 


Is God calling you to view your money differently? How can you better use your finances to support the advancement of the gospel in your local church?