What are your thoughts?
Benevolence has to do with acts of service, both monetary and non-monetary (see Acts 4:32-37 and 6:1-6). But the word itself rarely, if at all, appears in modern translations. Thus, it is probably better to talk about a theology of giving, what the church does with the money given, and how to give.
2. Theology of Giving (2 Cor 8-9)
- 8:1-6. The Macedonians gave out of their extreme poverty so that what they gave was a “wealth of generosity.” The giving was an act of their own free will as a result of giving themselves first to the Lord. The chronology is very important. They even gave beyond their means.
- 8:7. Giving is seen as an act of grace—God’s work within us.
- 8:8. Giving is not a command but a way for us to evaluate our love for others—don’t give out of obligation, but think through it.
- 8:12. Giving should be done according to your means. That is acceptable, Paul says. No one should place a hardship upon himself or herself by giving regularly beyond their means.
- 8:13-15. Giving should be equitable. The principle is that you help others when they need it and they will help you when you need it.
- 9:6, 10. Spiritual principles about giving.
- 9:6. You reap what you sow. Jesus said something similar to this in Mark 4:24—“The measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.” God rewards you based on your commitment to him.
- 9:10. God will help you give. Paul says if you are good with the money you have God will give you more money to do good with!
- 9:7. The attitude of giving. When you give, make up your own mind what is appropriate. Don’t give reluctantly because God loves your cheerfulness.
- 9:11-15. Spiritual growth happens through giving. Giving refocuses us on what is really ours and what we are really about as Christians. Notice the interchange between the giver and the receiver—you give and the receiver prays for you in thanks. Through all this, God is glorified and many thanksgiving are offered to him.
- 8:9. The theology of giving is wrapped up in Jesus and his gospel. Jesus completely gave us his riches and became poor to make us wealthy. What Jesus did for us completely refocuses us around what is really important.
This is a principle, not a command. Since Paul commanded this for a one-time collection, we can only draw a principle from it. It is most helpful for the church to continue this principle on a weekly basis, to take care of ongoing needs. That’s why we take up a collection each week. Paul teaches us to set some money relative to our income. Paul’s point is to take care of your needs first and then consider what you can give beyond your needs. The principle is this: You decide how much to give, within your means, and then give cheerfully.
4. What does the church do with the money that is given?
We use the money to meet the needs of people in the church and of people who call the church with needs, to support missions and ministry, to pay a minister, and to maintain a building.
5. Biblical teaching on how the church uses money.
- The church gave money to meet the needs of their own. (Acts 4:32-37; 2:42-47)
- Individuals gave money to the church.
- The money was distributed by the leaders (apostles).
- The church uses money to support ministry and missions.
- Acts 11:27-30. In this passage, the churches took up money to help the believers who were dealing with a famine.
- Phil 4:15-16. The church uses money to support missionaries, just like the Philippians supported Paul.
- The church uses money to support ministers and elders whose job it is to proclaim the gospel.
- 1 Cor 9:1-14. Paul insists that those who sow spiritual good should expect to reap material benefits (a living). He even says the Lord commanded this (v. 14).
- Luke 10:7. In describing how the seventy missionaries are to be supported, Jesus says, “Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for workers deserve their wages.”
- 1 Tim 5:17. Paul uses Luke 10:7 to teach that elders and teachers should be supported financially.
- The church also uses money to maintain our building. While there is no clear teaching about this in the Bible, the building does give us a place to meet to proclaim the gospel at.