GIVING CONSIDERED WORSHIP
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 IT IS this writerís conviction that giving should be looked upon as an act of worship, and especially in connection with the assembly. It should be thought of more in spiritual terms. It is not just a matter of raising money.
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 The church was established on the Jewish Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, which fell upon the first day of the week. With 3000 being converted and added to their number, we are told, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostlesí doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). The different things listed in this verse are associated with worship. Fellowship is listed along with the apostlesí teaching, the breaking of bread and prayers (all distinct features of worship). In Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 10:16, the breaking of bread means the Lordís supper. Prayer is the essence of worship.
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 Here (Acts 2:42) "fellowship" refers to their giving. Among the definitions of this word (koinonía), Thayer says, "a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution." We can find this word used in this way in Romans 15:26, 2 Corinthians 9:13, Philippians 1:5 and Hebrews 13:16. Paul thanked God for the Philippians, and for their "fellowship in the gospel from the first day until" then. They had consistently contributed to his support from the beginning. He also mentions this in Philippians 4:15. Then in Philippians 4:18, he says, "I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus [their messenger] the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God." By saying this, he puts their giving in the category of worship that has taken place. The writer of Hebrews talks about the "sacrifice of praiseÖthe fruit of our lips," and then he says, "But to do good and to communicate [fellowship, koinonía] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:15,16). This is the language of worship. Scripturally, giving can be looked upon as an act of worship.
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 We meet upon the first day of the week to worship. We observe the Lordís supper, like the early church did (Acts 20:7). We reflect upon the supreme sacrifice that took place to accomplish our salvation. With introspective self-examination, we ponder upon this. God gaveóHe gave His only begotten son (John 3:16). Then, after this moving experience, how fitting that we in turn respond to Him by giving. Out of the liberality and abundance of our hearts, we give. The Thessalonian Christians, even in their poverty, did this, "as they first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:5). Paul instructed the Corinthians, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered himÖ" (1 Corinthians 16:2). Fittingly, we do this and appropriately it should be looked upon as worship.
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 However, it is disturbing to us that many in modern church circles donít look upon giving from such a spiritual perspective. With some it is a matter of raising money for their inflated, and sometimes self-indulgent, church projects. Any way that they can get their hands on the money is fine with them. In other cases, perhaps, because stingy people will not turn their money loose, outside sources and schemes are resorted to, actually to get someone else to pay the church bills. In times gone by Ladiesí Aid Societies filled this void with their projects. Sometime ago in a financial appeal from a religious endeavor, evidently thinking it would enhance their cause, we saw a listing of several dozen ways and means suggested to raise money. Then recently, on the Internet, we came across this new scheme of how to get people separated from their money without the painful process of giving. As they were appealing to churches, and the clientele of church members, it said, "Better Than Bake Sales!" It was a package deal where members would pay for their vacation, and the home church would get a sizeable kickback from it. And the ad pictured a girl in her bikini, along with some others, at the beach.
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 There is something amiss somewhere. The dignity and concept of worship has been lost. When we truly imbue the grace of God, it makes us want to respond in kind. Freely we have received and freely we should give. A liberal heart is evidence of a changed heart. As we pointed out, Paul praised the Thessalonians who had first really given themselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5), and then even out of their poverty, they were liberal. They are a model for us. With such a heart, giving indeed is worship. It is a joy. May God be praised!

 
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