You and I are privileged of God to live in a time when more people, in more places of the world, are ready to respond to the gospel than at any time in all of human history. It is this very truth that should compel us to be more reflective of our participation in this cause of God in Jesus Christ because the times demand our best.
The United Pentecostal Church International presently has around a million adherents in US and Canada and has 102 missionary families outside of The North America working in 134 countries in the world. Our estimated international membership is around 3 million. 400,000 of those are from the Philippines which have around 2,500 pastors and churches all over the archipelago.
Winston Churchill once said, “Our goal is not to survive. It is to prevail.” This is applicable to the Church based on Matthew 16:18. But how should we do this? Here are some thoughts for us to ponder…
A. When the children of Israel were commanded by King Cyrus of Persia to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, almost 50,000 responded. The king ordered those who remained behind to strengthen the hands of those who went, helping “with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:4)
B. Giving and the Corinthian Church – 2 Chapters in 2 Corinthians were devoted to giving, specifically for alms and faith promise. Chapters 8 and 9 show Paul’s attitude and outlook towards giving.
2 Corinthians 8 is a whole chapter in which Paul is pleading with the Corinthian Church to fulfill their financial commitment / pledges / faith promise. Remember that the Corinthian local church is a rich church but that they seem to be lacking with their faith promise giving than the Macedonian churches (v. 2) which are the Philippian and the Thessalonian churches, to be more precise… “Grace” in v. 8 is “chariti” in Greek, a derivative of the Greek noun “charis” which means “gift.” The English word charity is a transliteration of “chariti.”
In 1 Corinthians 9:12, Paul explains why he never ask for any financial assistance from the Corinthian Church. The reason is he’s afraid that the Gospel might be hindered. This means that Paul was afraid the Corinthian Christians are offended with him when it comes to giving. That’s why the apostle Paul said, “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NLT)
2 Corinthians 12:14-18 shows the doubt of the Corinthian Church on trusting Paul with their gifts and offerings.
Is Mission Sunday biblical? The answer is in 1 Corinthian 16:1-4… From today onwards, I will never apologize for boldly asking for Mission.
C. Paul’s commendation of the Philippians in Philippians 4:10-19 – We often quote v. 13 which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” and v. 19 which says “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches…” yet we never fully comprehend the context of these two verses. The context is Mission Giving, as the Philippians who were very poor Christians, was always there to help Paul materially; and they consider themselves Paul’s PIM (Partners in Missions).
Read Philippians 4:10-18 in Amplified Bible.
10 I was made very happy in the Lord that now you have revived your interest in my welfare after so long a time; you were indeed thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it.
11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be l content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.
12 I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.
13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who minfuses inner strength into me; I am nself-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
14 But it was right and commendable and noble of you to contribute for my needs and to share my difficulties with me.
15 And you Philippians yourselves well know that in the early days of the Gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church (assembly) entered into partnership with me and opened up [a debit and credit] account in giving and receiving except you only.
16 For even in Thessalonica you sent [me contributions] for my needs, not only once but a second time.
17 Not that I seek or am eager for [your] gift, but I do seek and am eager for the fruit which increases to your credit [the harvest of blessing that is accumulating to your account].
18 But I have [your full payment] and more; I have everything I need and am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent me. [They are the] fragrant odor of an offering and sacrifice which God welcomes and in which He delights.
19 And my God will liberally supply (ofill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
D. Other Thoughts On Giving To Mission
a) It was David Livingstone who said, “I place no value on anything I have or possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ.” Nothing breaks the spirit of materialism like generosity. We’ll never go wrong if we keep remembering what our Master has made so clear: “You’re far happier giving than getting” (Acts 20:35, THE MESSAGE). The enumerator for all our assets is giving. The multiplication depends on the number below the Mathematical fraction for blessings.
b) One of Solomon’s wise observations resonates today more than ever: “Those who love money will never have enough” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NLT). We see this in families, businesses, even churches—everyone wants more than they have. Why has our nation’s debt tripled and quadrupled in recent years? The more we spend, the more we want to spend.
c) Philip Yancey in World Concern Update writes:
I don’t know what comes to your mind when you hear the word fat, but I have a good idea. In America fat is nearly always a dirty word. We spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books, and exercise machines to help us lose excess fat. I hadn’t heard a good word about fat in years—that is, until I met Dr. Paul Brand.
“Fat is absolutely gorgeous,” says Brand, a medical doctor who has worked with lepers in India. “When I perform surgery, I marvel at the shimmering, lush layers of fat that spread apart as I open up the body. Those cells insulate against cold, provide protection for the valuable organs underneath, and give a firm, healthy appearance to the whole body.” I had never thought of fat quite like that!
“But those are just side benefits,” he continues. “The real value of fat is as a storehouse. Locked in those fat cells are the treasures of the human body. When I run or work or expend any energy, fat cells make that possible. They act as banker cells. It’s absolutely beautiful to observe the cooperation among those cells!”
Dr. Brand applies the analogy of fat to the body of Christ. Each individual Christian with a relatively wealthy income is called to be a fat cell.