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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Giving Our Way to Prosperity" (Lesson Eleven)

A survey of the New Testament letters is a valuable study in nearly any Bible subject. That is true in thinking of giving, as well. Just a simple survey of the epistles teaches us so much about money and stewardship. In the 11th lesson of his book, V.P. Black gives us a few lessons to think about that come from these books.

First, from the example of the Macedonians, brother Black lists 9 paradoxes from their example in giving:
  1. They gave under affliction and persecution.
  2. They gave with abounding joy.
  3. They gave with abundant liberality.
  4. They gave as much as they were able to give.
  5. They gave more than they were able to give.
  6. They gave willingly.
  7. They begged Paul to accept it.
  8. They gave more than Paul expected, they surprised him.
  9. The reason for their liberality: they gave themselves. (page 64)

As you can see, each of these 9 could easily be a great class discussion starter. Such is the nature of a survey.

Next, brother Black takes the time to speak of the concept of the "promise" to give (Second Corinthians 9:5). This leads to a discussion of setting a budget. He lists 8 things that a budget "is."

  1. It is a goal looking to the future, believing certain things can be done.
  2. It is a plan which may be called the blue print of the church's program of work.
  3. It is a way which points out the best road to follow in the use of your liberalities.
  4. It is a picture which points up the financial program of the church, and is drawn so all may see.
  5. It is a ladder which challenges Christians to climb still higher, and thereby walk the mountain tops in righteous stewardship.
  6. It is satisfaction in which every member can have a part in carrying on congregational activities. It is not really just the "church budget," it is "our budget"--the personal obligation of every member of the congregation.
  7. It is an operation which "cuts out" all unscriptural means for financing God's work.
  8. It is an opportunity for all--from the youngest to the oldest; from the richest to the poorest; from the largest to the smallest. It is a thrill, it is a joy. Here everybody knows where his money is going and what it is accomplishing. (pages 65-66)

This list would make a great series when thinking about budgeting. We often think of a budget as a stagnant "thing," but these points remind us it is far more.

Other sections in this chapter make further points ("Completion of plans," "The Lord's money can be embezzled," and "God's promises to the liberal giver"). There is so much in this chapter and it is one that can be covered for many weeks. Students will enjoy a teacher who gives ample time to the points in this survey.