Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. The issue in giving is what it reveals about the place that Jesus holds in your heart. And that is applicable for those of us with the least means as those of us with the greatest means. Every Christian at every stage should give to God their first and their best. Hey, welcome back for another week of teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today Pastor J.D. walks us through Paul's final rapid fire exhortations in 1 Corinthians. Often what we learn from others is more caught than taught. And the final chapter in this book exemplifies that truth. As Paul bounces from topic to topic with principles on giving, the need for courage, dealing with opposition, and discerning God's will, we will see a snapshot of a faithful Christian life. And in seeing it, we are encouraged to go and do likewise. Now here's Pastor J.D.
with a message he creatively titled The Tapas Chapter. 1 Corinthians 16. If you have your Bibles this weekend, this week we are coming in for the landing and our study of the Paul's letter to the Corinthians. What a ride it has been. Am I right?
It has been bumpy at times, but like my pilot friends like to say, the best landing is one that you can walk away from. So we're going to aim for that today. Now just as a reminder of where we have been, Paul's letter to the Corinthians is divided up basically into five major sections that are based on questions that the Corinthians have asked him or on problems that Paul has heard the Corinthians are having. In section one, Paul addressed divisions in the church. That was chapters one through four. And in section two, chapters five through seven, we looked at questions that they had surrounding sex and singleness. In section three, we talked about how to navigate controversies in the church that threatened to throw us off of mission. That was chapters eight through 10. In part four, Paul addressed what we called corporate worship wars. That was chapters 11 through 14, covered things like the role of women in leadership and the problem of cliques and cliques in the church and confusion about spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues and a bunch of fun stuff like that. In part five, Paul addressed objections to the resurrection. And now we come into 1 Corinthians 16 and we've got Paul's concluding thoughts.
Now let me warn you. This is a very unusual chapter. In fact, I have entitled it the tapas chapter because that's what this chapter feels like. You know how at a tapas restaurant, you get a bunch of little dishes rather than a lot of any one dish. First time I ever remember going to a tapas restaurant, I had just become pastor here and I took a two-day study retreat down at Myrtle Beach and I was by myself. Wife wasn't with me. I wanted to go out to dinner.
Veronica and I at the time were on a really, really tight budget. So I go up to this restaurant and it says tapas. And I don't know what that means. I'm from Yackenville. The closest thing we got to tapas in Yackenville is a golden corral where you can get a little bit of everything off the buffet line. Anyway, I looked at the menu posted outside the door and the prices look really reasonable, like flank steak, $9, red snapper, $11. And I thought, this is great. What a find, what a treasure I've stumbled onto. Of course, when they bring me the very first dish, it's like three little slivers of prime rib. And I was like, is this a joke? But by that point I was in and I did not want to be embarrassed in front of the waitress.
So something like $92 later, I walk out and I still stop by Bojangles on the way home because I'm still hungry. Well, I share that because this chapter is like theological tapas. We're going to get it just a taste of a bunch of different subjects. It's like six different mini sermons. My other theory, by the way, for this chapter is that when Paul got done writing 1 Corinthians, that majestic chapter about the resurrection, he had like this much parchment left on that page, but he still had a few more things to say. And he doesn't want to waste a whole new sheet of parchment paper because that stuff was expensive and supply chain issues and war in Ukraine and whatnot. So he's like, look, let me try to cram everything else I want to say in this little itty bitty section. And so he just kind of shoves it all in there.
That's my other theory. On a serious note, I love passages like this one because in passages like this one, what you get is a glimpse of life in the early church. Paul is not so much teaching us something per se, as he is just taking care of a laundry list of housekeeping items. And sometimes you can learn as much from somebody by watching their life as you can buy from what they teach. And here you're going to get a glimpse into just what's going through Paul's head.
And there's a lot that we can learn from that. Okay. First chapter 16, verse one, let's just start at the beginning. Paul says, now about the collection for the saints, do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches on the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save it in keeping with how he or she is prospering so that no collections will need to be made when I come. Paul is urging them to set money aside weekly for an offering.
This offering is in response to a specific need. There was a terrible famine that was taking place in Jerusalem. You can read all about it in the book of Acts if you're curious.
And bottom line is a lot of the believers there are starving. Now there are several things that you can learn about giving just from what Paul says in those two verses. The first, who should be giving in the church?
And the answer is all of us. Do you notice verse two, Paul says, each of you is to set something aside. Well, we know that there were poor people in the Corinthian church. We know that because Paul had a whole section in Corinthians rebuking the rich people for snobbishly separating themselves from the poor. So when Paul says each of you, he is specifically saying, I mean, all of you, not just the rich of you.
I mean, everybody. Giving is a test of faith and commitment for every single follower of Jesus. The question in giving is simply, do you love and trust God enough to give him your first and best, whatever that is. The issue in giving is not how much your gift changes the bottom line of our budget. The issue in giving is what it reveals about the place that Jesus holds in your heart. And that's as applicable for those of us with the least means as those of us with the greatest means.
Every Christian at every stage should give to God their first and their best. Now, one of our missionaries told me a story about a pastor over in Bangladesh who was pastoring this really poor nomadic community out there, and they didn't really even use money in their community. And so that pastor taught each family to set aside some of their weekly allocation of rice for the week. He said, put 10% into a jar. And then every week you give that jar to the church to take care of the pastor and his family, but also so that they can use that to bless the poor in their community.
So bottom line, who gives? And the answer, Paul says, all of us. This is something for each follower of Jesus at whatever stage of their life they are. Second question, when should we give?
The answer is regularly. Paul says on the first day of the week, the point here is regularity and recurrence. Paul is saying, don't be an impulse giver.
I know that's what you want to do, but don't do that. Don't wait for the giving campaign. Don't wait for some big need that plays on your heartstrings and makes you throw your lunch money into the plate. That's not biblical giving, that's emotionally manipulated giving. No, a follower of Jesus is going to build generosity into their budget. My family does this. It literally is the first bill that we pay, so to speak.
I have it set up so that it comes out of my account as soon as my paycheck hits. I've tried to teach my kids to do this through a jar system. I got it from Dave Ramsey, where we've done this since they were kids. You got three jars. You got the God jar, the saved jar, and the spin jar.
10, 1080. I taught that to them when they were kids and tried to build that into them for a lifetime. All right, so who should give? The second question, when should we give?
Third question, where should we give? Paul encourages them in this chapter to give it to their local church, the Corinthian church, because that is Jesus' hub of ministry. From the church, they can distribute it to the poor. They can support evangelism and church planting. We teach here at the Summit Church that the bulk of your generous giving ought to be through the local church. And I realize that in saying that, that to some of you that might seem self-seeking since I work for the church and I'm supported by the church, but I say that not because I'm a pastor who's supported by the church.
I say that because honestly, that's what I see in the New Testament. The local church is the hub of Jesus' ministry, just like we see here in First Corinthians. And we here at the church, we've got the bandwidth to vet mission and mercy work opportunities, to know which ones are the best investments so that we can take the money that you generously give and distribute it wisely into the kingdom of God. Now, of course, that does not mean that you should only give to the local church. My wife and I, just full disclosure, we give to several things outside of the local church, but the biggest portion of our giving, at least the first 10% and usually way beyond that, that always goes to our local church. Fourth question, how much should we give?
This is what everybody always wants to know. They ask me like I'm allowed to give out gold stars on God's behalf and they want to know what they got to do to be a gold star giver, to be summa cum laude in the Christian life. Well, bad news for you type A gold star pursuers, there is no rigidly fixed amount anywhere in the Bible.
I preached a whole message explaining the concept of the first fruits. The basic idea there was that throughout the Bible, God tells us that we should honor him with the first fruits of all that he gives to us and 10% is the general starting point for that. That's literally what the word tithe means, the first 10%. But here's the thing, the tithe was not the only offering commanded in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 14, for example, God commands that every third year, another tithe be taken, this time off of your total assets and be given to the temple to be distributed exclusively to the poor, to the widow, to refugee resettlement, things like that. And when the Old Testament, then you got things in the Old Testament they call free will offerings, which is just whenever a special need arises, could be a poverty need, could be a building they wanted to build, could be a mission they want to fund. And God's people give voluntarily whatever God puts in their heart beyond their tithes and first fruits. Then we get to the New Testament and we find even less specific prescriptions for giving.
You have some pretty impressive descriptions of giving, but no prescriptions. Acts 2 said it was almost like they held all their property in common. And there was, quote, not a single needy person among them. Luke 19, Zacchaeus is so grateful for God's grace in his life that the wee little man gives away half of his possessions to the poor. Luke 21, you got a poor widow who gives two mites, two little half pennies to the temple, which Jesus says represents the bulk of her savings. In Matthew 26, you got the forgiven woman who breaks an alabaster flask for a very expensive perfume at Jesus' feet, which is like a family heirloom of inestimable value. Acts 5, you got people in the early church selling large tracts of investment property to support gospel expansion.
If you want to be really technical about it, the smallest gift you see in the New Testament is 50%. Now I'm not saying that because that's what God is saying to you or to me. I'm just saying that if you're looking for a specific prescription in the New Testament about how much to give, you're not going to find it. That's got to be a conversation between you and the Holy Spirit. But there is a really important phrase in verse two that can help give you guidance in this. through the four gospels, providing a reading plan, background information, key passages, and reflective prayers. Whether you're a seasoned believer or a new Christian, the Gospel Flipbook is the perfect tool for diving deeper, specifically into the life of Christ and His teaching.
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So don't wait. Call 866-335-5220 or visit jdgrier.com today and get your copy of the Gospel Flipbook. Now let's get back to today's teaching here on Summit Life. Did you notice where it said in verse two, each of you should set something aside in keeping with how He is prospering? Some of you, God has really prospered.
In fact, I would suggest all of you because you're Americans. But even beyond that, there are some of you that God is really prospering and faithful stewardship for you means giving far more than a minimum of 10%. For some of you to give merely 10% would almost be a crime against the kingdom of God. In fact, have you ever asked yourself why God blessed you? And I know our answer is like, well, because I worked for it and I worked hard and I did great in college and I'm a genius. I know that's probably all true, but you understand that the talents that you use and the energy you have and the help you have, God gave you that. Why did He give you the ability to prosper yourself?
He does it for a purpose. The most fundamental promise of scripture, Genesis 12 one, you are blessed to be a blessing, which means that when God gives you prosperity, He does it so you can share it with the poor and use it to help propel the mission. And it is wrong before God for you or I to sit on all that He's given to us and act like God gave it to us just to bless ourselves. As we love to say around here, God prospers His people, not so they can simply increase their standard of living, but also so that they can increase their standard of giving.
And so I would just say for those of you who are prospering, I doubt that 10% is the right amount for you, because that seems to be the baseline for everybody. You're somebody that God has prospered. The early church fathers give us occasional glimpses into the giving of those first Christians.
And I love stuff like this, because it kind of shows you what it was like. Irenaeus, for example, in the end of the second, third century, Irenaeus said the Jews, the Jews, non-Christians, they're the ones that are constrained to a regular payment of tithes. Pay the tithe, move on. Christians who have liberty, he says, assign, look at this, all of their possessions to the Lord, bestowing freely, not the lesser portions of their property, but the greater portions, because they have the hope of greater things.
They're not attached to earthly things. They have the hope of greater things. The point, Irenaeus is saying, is not giving 10% and moving on, but stewarding 100% of what God gave to you. Augustine, who was regarded as the most important theologian in the early church, he said it this way, let every Christian render tithes and out of the nine parts, the last 90%, let them give alms, which means giving to the poor. In other words, he's talking about giving above and beyond the tithe. Finally, you got the Roman emperor Julian, who was not an early church father. In fact, he was one of the fiercest persecutors of the Christian church, said of the earliest Christians in disgust, I might add, I love this, the Christian cause, you can just see him saying this in this letter with his teeth kind of gritted, the Christian cause has been specially advanced through their loving service rendered to strangers. It's a scandal that there's not a single one of their number who is a beggar, not one.
They care not only for their own poor, but they care for ours as well. This is his explanation for why the church is growing, they can't stop it. All right, so that's the end of tapas dish number one. Parents, teach this to your kids. Like I said, we use the jar system, 10, 10, 80, it's a principle I want my children to build their lives on. Tapas dish number two, verse three. In fact, this one's more like a pallet cleanser, okay?
It's a super waitress come out, giving you something for the next dish. When I arrive, I will send with letters, those you recommend to carry your gift to Jerusalem. The only thing I want you to note in this verse is that it is very important to Paul for giving to be transparent and accountable. He's saying, you guys choose representatives that you trust to carry the money so that there's some accountability. Paul does not say, hey, I'm an apostle, so just give it to me and I'll handle it.
We all know, don't we? Stories of religious leaders who abuse money. That's why it is so important to us here at the Summit Church that every aspect of our giving be open and accountable. I do not sign any checks here. I do not have any independent authority over our money. All of our financials are reviewed by a third party auditor.
There is a group of independent lay elders who do not report to me, who exercise oversight of our entire budget and every dime that I spend. Top of dish number two, the palate cleanser. Top of dish number three, verses five through nine. Paul lays out his plans for the future. And at first, y'all, this seems like a rambling and random stream of consciousness. But there are two things about how Paul describes his plans that I find incredibly helpful. If you've ever asked the question, how do I know what the will of God is for my life? Paul gives you a clue here. Verse five, Paul says, I'll come to you after I pass through Macedonia and perhaps I will remain with you or even spend the winter. I hope to spend some time with you, verse seven, if the Lord allows, but I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, I think, because a wide door for effective ministry is open for me.
Yet there are many who oppose me, so I don't really know what that's all about. I love the tentative way that Paul talks about his plans. Paul's like, hey, I'm gonna come to you. I think I might even spend the winter.
I've heard winters there in Corinth are kind of nice, but I might actually skip over to Ephesus first. I'm not really sure. They keep tagging me in their social media posts with these really important questions. So it might be good to go put some FaceTime in over there. Honestly, who knows though, God has done some really weird stuff in my life recently. So I might end up in some other town that I haven't even heard of yet.
Here's what I love about that. Paul is an apostle and not even Paul the apostle who walks with the spirit is sure of what God is calling him to do in the future. I share that because some Christians want God to spell out every decision that they should make. I will tell you from experience that God rarely does that. God will usually give you a compass that will point you in the right direction, but after that, he leads you through a series of open and closed doors in that direction. You're going one way and all of a sudden the door closes and it surprises you, but then you go another way and the door opens and now this is the way God wants you to go.
Y'all, that kind of flexibility and adjustment does not mean you are out of touch. We're out of touch with the spirit of God. That is how Paul the apostle followed Jesus. In the New Testament, there are four ways that God leads us. You should write these down. If you've ever asked, how do I know what God's will is? Here's your stuff. Okay. Number one, the word, the word. This is all the scripture.
This is the easiest, clearest and most definitive for a lot of stuff. Y'all God gives us really clear instructions and wisdom from his word. You don't even have to pray about it. It's pre prayed over.
Should I live with my boyfriend? No. Ephesians five, three. Next question.
Okay. You don't even need to pray about that. It's already answered in scripture.
Number two, number two, you got the church. We saw in our study at first Corinthians 12, God gives guidance through members in the church. He empowers others in the local body, not just because they're pastors, not just because they're brilliant, just because they're normal people. He empowers them by his spirit with words of wisdom and insight for you. There might just be in giving you general wise counsel. The book of Proverbs says, and a multitude of counselors there is wisdom. This is the most overlooked part of decision making in the American Christian's life.
And I think it's just because we're so fiercely independent, but we're kind of dumb about this. Y'all, whenever I'm making a big decision, I always consult members of my local body. I do that because that is how God has promised to guide me. The quickest way to go wrong in life is to do something that troubles the Godly counselors in your life. Every major decision and even a lot of the minor ones that I make, I do with heavy counsel from the local church. And y'all, it amazes me how many people, good people, right here in our church either don't do this or then just resist the counsel when everybody gives it to them. Sometimes they don't even ask the question because they don't want to hear different from what they already think.
You know, it's arrogant. Loner Christians are headed for disaster. Listen, y'all, I love nature shows on Netflix.
My son, Edna, and I, 12 years old, we watch all of them. And one thing you know if you watch those nature shows, that's the wildebeest, they get separated from the herd. They're the ones that are going down, right? That's a bunch of you guys. You're out there strutting around, I'm doing great all by myself, and I'm listening to a podcast, reading my books, and Satan's just got locked on you right now. And everybody's watching this documentary and they're like, oh, here it goes.
Didn't see that coming. God gave you the body to guide. So if you separate yourself, you separate yourself from his guidance. Third way that God guides you, your spirit.
This is the mystical one, but it's through prayer. If you are walking with the spirit as you pray, God will enlarge things in your heart. He will grow burdens. He will trouble you about something. He will give you vision or clarity about something. Now, some of y'all are going to be offended when I say this. If you're offended when I say this, you definitely need to hear it.
You got to balance with all the others that I'm giving to you. I say that because more havoc has been wreaked in the world following the words God just told me than any other phrase. So do not use some kind of internal impulse that you are sure is from the spirit as the trump card. Make sure that what you feel lines up with scripture and with other godly counselors, what they're saying, but be sensitive. That's the point to how the spirit is leading you in prayer.
It's one of his four ways of guidance. Finally, you've got circumstances, which is what Paul is experiencing here. God just opens and closes doors in front of you. Don't assume that just because it was in your spirit, that means infallibly it's from God. Sometimes God just closes the door you weren't expecting.
Has that ever happened to you? The story that I always feel like I have to tell here is when Veronica and I, after the birth of our third child, we were praying about whether or not we should have any more kids. I mean, I had three kids. I felt like our quiver was full.
I didn't feel like at any point I needed more things to do or more people to take care of. So we're like, hey, I feel like we're done. But we also know that having and raising children is one of the greatest ministries you could have. So maybe we should have another one for Jesus. That was a thought.
And then we also know that adoption is one of the greatest ministries you can have. So we set a day of prayer and fasting. And so at the end of the day, we're getting ready for bed and I was like, hey, what do you think? And she said, I don't know. I feel like my spirit, I felt like maybe we're supposed to pursue international adoption. And I was like, me too. That's what I feel like.
I was like, all right, well, tomorrow morning we'll get up and I'll start the paperwork. 4 a.m. she gets up before me and she goes into the bathroom and she is nauseous. She vomits.
She's pregnant. And I'm like, I've never had a prayer answered that definitively, that quickly. When you have to make a decision, you're supposed to consult these four. The word of God, the counsel of the church, prayer, and then to open and close doors around you. And you got to hold all four of them in tension, just like Paul is doing. Have you been sensing the Holy Spirit calling you to do something, leading you to share the gospel or disciple someone, to make a big change in your life for the good of His kingdom? Today's teaching was such a powerful reminder to listen and obey.
If you missed any part of today's message or want to share it with a friend, you can listen to this and any other Summit Life broadcast free of charge at jdgrier.com. We're excited to introduce you to the gospel flip book. We really believe this will help you know and love Jesus in a fresh new way. This flip book is available to you as a token of our appreciation for your generous support of this ministry. So don't miss out on this opportunity to deepen your relationship with God and maybe even share this resource with a friend or a loved one. You can give us a call at 866-335-5220 to reserve your copy, which is yours with a generous gift of $35 or more.
Or you can always give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch reminding you to tune in again Tuesday as Pastor JD continues to serve us small plates of rich theology, right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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