Giving 1

12/28/2006

speech bubble representing person 1 talkingYou said earlier that people just give and you invite them to if you have work somewhere, and people just give for the project. Now my question: Is there someone who is responsible who monitors or counts the money?

speech bubble representing person 3 talkingThere are, at any given time, two or three brothers who funnel it to the proper places. They are like traffic cops. They don’t really make decisions, but if you read in the New Testament, there is an answer to your question. I don’t want to overwhelm you guys too much today; if we “overeat” we get sick, even if it’s good food! As I said earlier, I’ve never had anything to do with the money personally, because I don’t want to be anywhere near the money or the decisions about the money directly.

As far as I know, there are two kinds of giving in the New Testament. One is specific, and the other is general. The specific is when Paul talked about laying by in store and using the first day of the week, as sort of a memory-tool (1 Cor. 16:2). He didn’t say, “Take a collection on the first day of the week.” There wasn’t anything about a Sunday morning service and passing the bucket in that verse. He said, “You,” to the people he was writing to, “Store it up.” For all we know, every individual was storing money up in their own house. And the reason he said to do that is, “When I come, I’m going to take all that stuff for the famine in Jerusalem.” That wasn’t a tithing, Sunday morning collection for a treasury.

A hundred percent of what he was talking about when he said “lay by in store,” was for a very specific purpose. Every penny that they ever put aside, every peso they ever put under their mattress, they were saving for when Paul would come. So that when he came he could take it to famine-stricken Jerusalem, in Judea. They knew what they were connecting to when they “laid by in store.”

The only other kind of giving that we have in the New Testament is in Acts, when they laid the money at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed as anyone had need. Now that had to do with local needs.

The two kinds of giving that you see in the church were for specific needs. There was never a collection basket passed on a Sunday in the New Testament that we know of. There is no record of that ever happening. The one and only time it refers to the first day of the week as it relates to giving is when they store it up, so that when Paul came, he could collect it all and take it someplace. It was for a very specific purpose. It was not a general treasury. It wasn’t for Paul’s missionary salary. It was for the famine in Judea.

Basically, what we’ve done in using those two principles in a practical way is we have boxes put in different neighborhoods. People can give at their own discretion as God guides them to do so. They can give under the cloak of their own humility, not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing. There is no showmanship because no one even knows they are doing it. In different neighborhoods where people live close to each other, there’s a box at some brother’s house. It’s never been in my house, and never will be in mine, God help me. But at some good brother’s house and sister’s house, there’s a box there. When people want to give, they’ll go to that place, and, in privacy, they’ll put something in that box.

Now, it will be one of two things. It will be very specific like “for the famine in Africa,” “for the saints in South America in the mountains,” “for book printing,” of for some other specific need. Our hearts, at God’s leading, are joined to something very specific. It’s not just closing your eyes and throwing money in the basket and letting somebody else decide what’s going to happen to it. It is God showing me how much, and when, and for what I’m participating in. I am involved with the saints in South America because God showed me He wanted me to take my whole bonus from work, or all of my tax refund, or this lump sum that I’ve saved up, and He wants me to give it all to the saints in South America. So I do.

Perhaps He wants me to sell my electronic device and give that money to the saints in South America. So I write on the envelope, “Saints in South America.” The brothers collect the money from all these boxes and they sort it out. All the giving to the saints in South America is gathered together. All the giving to the saints in Africa is put in one place. The same type of thing happens with all the money for book printing, or the local needs around us… helping with rent payment or food or other such things. They’ll specifically write on the envelope: “For So and So’s financial help because he lost his job.”

Now if it’s for a specific person, the one giving will probably take it to that person’s house and anonymously slip it under their door instead of putting it in the box. It just goes right to the recipient that way. But if they didn’t want to be seen, if they didn’t want to take any chance that anyone would know who it came from, they’d put it in that box anonymously. They’d just put the cash in there. Then someone would show up and say, “This is a gift. I don’t even know who it’s from. This is for you; it isn’t from me. Don’t thank me. It’s from someone else who loved you enough to want you to have this.”

In that way the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing and people are giving to exactly what God leads them to give to. It’s not someone deciding for them. They’re deciding what God’s calling them to do. We’ve been doing that for 20 years just like that and it’s been a thing of beauty, really.

 

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