This morning my pastor, Mike Bullmore, finished his sermon series on 1 Corinthians with a sermon on 1 Corinthians 16 entitled “What We Should Do with Our Money” (37:48 long). Mike hit a home run with this one. It’s an excellent example of how to preach on giving. He approaches it with just the right tone and spirit, and he avoids the errors of both legalism (e.g., “Christians must give exactly 10% of their gross income or else they are robbing God!”) and libertinism (e.g., “Christians are not required to tithe” with the implication that giving is optional).
Here’s a brief overview/paraphrase of the sermon:
- Some churches talk about money too much, and others don’t talk about it at all. Both extremes are unhealthy.
- This passage is not a comprehensive discourse on Christian stewardship of money. Other responsibilities include (1) earning money through faithful work so that one can pay for food, clothing, and shelter and (2) saving money for life’s future need (while not stockpiling in a greedy way that places one’s trust is riches).
- Mike is grateful for CrossWay’s commitment to expository preaching and for CrossWay’s responsiveness to this preaching. The preaching is tethered to the text, and this particular sermon is tethered to a text on money.
- Give to relieve the suffering of others, especially of fellow Christians (1 Cor 16:1–4). This “collection” was a special offering in addition to regular giving.
- Give to support the work of the gospel (1 Cor 16:5–11).
- Our giving should be a planned priority.
- Our giving should be proportional to our income. Give obediently, generously, and sacrificially. Cf. C. S. Lewis: “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them” [Mere Christianity; see here].
- Our giving should be marked by prudence. It should be transparent, above board, and marked by integrity. For example, a church’s giving should have public accountability.
- Our giving and our teaching about giving should be simple and straightforward. No pressure, no gimmicks, no excessive emotion. Simply put: don’t waste your money; rather, use it for God’s purposes and for his glory.
- Randy Alcorn. The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving. Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2005. [Mike Bullmore warmly recommends this book to his church. Cf. my summary.]
- Craig L. Blomberg. Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions. Edited by D. A. Carson. New Studies in Biblical Theology 7. Downers Grove: IVP, 2001. [D. A. Carson frequently recommends this as the finest study available on the subject. Blomberg puts his money where his pen is: he strategically gives something like 50% of his salary, including donating his book royalties. Cf. my summary.]
- D. A. Carson. “Are Christians Required to Tithe?” Christianity Today 43:13 (November 15, 1999): 94. [Even in an uncharacteristically short article like this, Carson avoids reductionism with qualifications; he opens with this sentence: “A simple yes or no to this question would be horribly misleading.” He draws two applications: (1) “beware of pride” and (2) “remember why you’re giving.” He asks, “Why not aim for 20 percent in your giving? Or 30? Or more, depending on your circumstances ([1 Cor] 8:12)?”]
- Wayne Grudem, Daniel R. Heimbach, C. Ben Mitchell, and Craig Mitchell [at least they are the authors listed for thirteen articles under the heading “Biblical Ethics: An Overview”]. “Stewardship.” Pages 2559–60 in the ESV Study Bible. Edited by Wayne Grudem. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. [It ends with a chart labeled “NT Guidelines for Giving,” noting that giving should be (1) willing and cheerful, (2) a regular pattern of life, (3) proportionate to one’s ability, (4) generous, and (5) sacrificial.]
- Andreas J. Köstenberger with David A. Croteau. “To Tithe or Not to Tithe?” Biblical Foundations (November 6, 2006). [This is a blog post published on Köstenberger’s blog. I’d recommend reading this before reading parts 1 and 2 of their study published in Bulletin of Biblical Research (the next two items).]
- Andreas J. Köstenberger and David A. Croteau. [Part 1] “‘Will a Man Rob God?’ (Malachi 3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments.” Bulletin of Biblical Research 16 (2006): 53–77.
- Andreas J. Köstenberger and David A. Croteau. [Part 2] “Reconstructing a Biblical Model for Giving: A Discussion of Relevant Systematic Issues and New Testament Principles.” Bulletin of Biblical Research 16 (2006): 237–60. [Conclusion: NT giving should be (1) systematic, (2) proportional, (3) sacrificial and generous, (4) intentional, (5) motivated by love, equality, and blessing, (6) cheerful, and (7) voluntary.]
- John Piper. “Resources on Money.” A collection of penetrating and passionate sermons and articles.
- Thomas R. Schreiner, “Should Christians Tithe?“
- Randy Alcorn, “Ten Fatal Dangers of Materialism“
- David A. Croteau. You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe? A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving. McMaster Theological Studies. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2010.