Blessed To Bless
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

In the Corinthian letters, Paul had to deal with several difficult, controversial topics.  The church at Corinth had countless problems.  They were probably Baptists.  In our text, Paul broached a touchy subject, giving money.

I Corinthians 16:1-3 (Holman) “Now about the collection for the saints: you should 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 to the extent that he prospers , so that no collections will need to be made when I come.  And when I arrive, I will send those whom you recommend by letter to carry your gracious gift to Jerusalem.”

A key event in Paul’s ministry was the offer?ing he col?lect?ed from poor Gentile Christians to be given to even poorer Jew?ish believers in Jerusalem.  Paul prayed this offering would strengthen Christian solidarity by bonding Jews with Gentiles, helping them become truly one in Christ.

I appreciate Paul’s attitude toward the Corinthians.  He was confident they would give.  I relate to his trust in them.  In my 41 years of ministry I have never served a more giving congregation.

I’ve never sensed a need to badger you or beg.  I believe most of us at Second are primarily Biblicists, needing only to examine the Bible foundation ?for giving.  Then, based on this understanding, we take our ?next step financially.

In our text, Paul commanded the Corinthians to make an offering? a part of their Sunday gatherings.  This is why our public wor?ship services include an offering.  It is not a new idea, an afterthought, or some?thing we tack on at the end of church, but a Bible-based activity.  To Paul, giving was as spiritual and holy an act of worship as praying, Bible read?ing, and wit?ness?ing.

Since giving is a spiritual act, it is the Holy Spirit’s doing, and thus every believer can be enabled to do it.  Even Ebenez?er Scrooge can be changed.

A disposition to give generously comes from God.  A preacher may be able to pry open one or two of your fingers.  Only God can open hands and open hearts.  His direct intervention is essential to trigger beneficence.

Generous giving is so foreign to our sin nature that a mir?a?cle is needed for it to happen.  Thus, as we consider tithing to our budget, plus giving to our World Missions Offering and our Building Fund, Financially Free, our first need is to pray earnestly for ourselves.

Ultimately, giving money to our Financially Free campaign is not about bricks and mortar, but about hearts and God.  We can view sacrificial giving as either a blessing or a burden.  If we don’t let God enable us to see it as a grace, we will deem it a groan.

In our text, Paul was urging poor people to give to even poorer people.  To?day, irony of ironies, I take his writings to some of the poorest Christians ever and use them to stimulate in North America some of the richest Christians ever.

The first believers were noted for joy and generosity amidst per?secution and poverty.  They astonished the pagan world.

Generous giving still baf?fles unbelievers.  A lady in our church gave so much to our church one year that her tax pre?par?er doubted her and called us to verify her claim.

Even prechristians know that glad, generous ?giving is extraordinary.  It is a miraculous proof of the Holy Spirit’s power.

Due to the generosity of the Corinthian Christians, Paul expected God’s grace to flow toward them.  He believed God would shower on them an extraordinary anointing to enable them to give extraordinarily for others.

In God’s kingdom, the one condition for us to receive continued blessings from Heaven is to be a conduit passing on to others the blessings we re?ceive.  The unchanging law is, unshared gifts are eventually withdrawn.

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Paul believed God’s grace would flow to one group of believers, the Corinthians, and then overflow through them to another group, the believers at Jerusalem.  We at Second often say God’s blessing ?is on our church.  I pray an unintended egocentricism is not blurring our words.

When we arrive in Heaven, Jesus may tell us His blessing was not as much on Sec?ond as it was on the locations where Second is on mission.  Maybe He was looking for a pipeline willing to let His blessing flow to and overflow through.

His bless?ing may have come to us only because it was pass?ing on its way through us to where our members and partners are on mission: Boise ID, Chihuahua MX, China, Colima MX, Colorado, England, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Manzanillo MX, Mexico City MX, Muskogee OK, Nashville TN, Nebraska, Nicaragua, North Africa, Paraguay, Puerto Vallarta MX, Rockaway Beach MO, Saint Louis MO, Senegal, Singapore, Taiwan, and Texas.  Rather than risk slowing this flow of blessing, let’s keep the divine corridor open, and increase its capacity by continuing to give more than ever before.

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Each time our church reaches out to help others we find ourselves helped.  In lifting others we are lifted.  We have given and given and given into the accounts of others, yet every time have turned around to see our accounts not depleted, but abundantly replenished.

I re?member well an incident from the earliest days of our missions revival, almost a decade ago.  I still look back on it as a pivotal moment in the history of our church.

The International (then Foreign) Mission Board, having heard of Second’s new zeal for missions, asked our church for thou?s?ands of dollars to fund a prayer calendar for a country whose loca?tion I was not sure of.  We decided to ask the Deacons about it.  We figured the worst case scenario would be for them to say no.

I shared the IMB re?quest with our Deacons and asked what they thought.  A silence hung over the room for a few sec?onds, and then our chairman Bill Shook softly spoke for us all, “What else can we do?  We have no choice.  We’ve been praying to be in?volved.  We have to do this. ”

I remember leaving the meeting, knowing God had begun a work deep within us.  I knew Second had changed, crossed a line.  Things would never be the same again.

Ever since, God’s blessing has been flowing to us and overflowing through us.  What a privilege.  I’m spoiled.  I don’t want to go back to church as usual.  I want to live nowhere other than under the hydrant of God’s blessing.

Let’s each take a “blessing flow to us, overflow through us” test.  When God looks past our wallets, what does He see?  Does He see dollars He passed through our wallets headed to mission sites all over the world, or? does He see all His money stalled in a selfish dead end, in pur?chas?es for our enjoyments?

God’s blessing fell on the Corinthians as they pass?ed it on to others.  Thus, let us pray, “ Father, get us out of the way of what You want to do. Help us to give freely, providing a way for Your blessing to pass on to others.  Jesus, open the faucet of Your blessing wider.  Pour it on us in even more abundant supply.  Spirit, flow to us, overflow through us.  Remind us we are blessed to bless.  Amen.”