Mission Lab

Grace giving, a biblical partnership

March 19th, 2014 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians contain more about giving than any other segment of the New Testament. Paul repeatedly reminds the Corinthians of the desperate need of the poor, hungry saints in Jerusalem. He was almost obsessed with the need to minister to them. The Macedonian churches gave out of their poverty to help the Jerusalem believers. The Corinthian church was far wealthier. Some members were well off. Paul challenged them to a partnership in grace giving.   

Partnership in giving is a biblical principle. It also has a denominational application. The Cooperative Program is one of the greatest examples of partnership giving. Southern Baptists hold certain beliefs in common. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is a confessional fellowship. The SBC requires that its ministries affirm the Baptist Faith & Message statement (2000). Southern Baptists have a shared giving plan too. As our doctrinal positions distinguish us from other believers, so does our giving method. The CP is a modern example of a grace giving partnership. There are several principles of this partnership.

The first principle is participation in giving (2 Corinthians 8:8, 10-11). The Corinthians told Titus a year earlier that they would share in the special collection (v. 6) but they did not. The money to be collected was not to support the Corinthian church. It was a benevolence offering to alleviate suffering.

Paul advised the Corinthians that they would benefit by participating. Paul was testing their willing heart (v. 8). Grace giving cannot be coerced or forced. The same is true about giving to accomplish the Great Commission. Churches must work together by giving to make it happen. By giving through the Cooperative Program an SBTC church works with others of like faith to reach Texas and touch the world.
People ask, “What does giving through the CP do for me?” Here’s the value: Getting to cooperate with churches of like faith to do Great Commission work is its own reward. Because of CP gifts, for example, Criswell College students become pastors and SBC seminarians become missionaries.

Partnership in grace giving means participation without an expectation of benefit. Jesus said in Acts 20:35 that participation is the blessing.
The second principle is proportionate giving (2 Corinthians 8:12-13). The apostle Paul endorsed proportional giving. Giving is measured by generosity. Paul may have thought about Jesus’ observation of the widow casting in her mite (Luke 21:1-4). It wasn’t about how much she gave. It was about how much she had left over. God sees the portion and the proportion of our gifts. God looks at our heart and our wallets.
No set standard for partnership giving exists among Southern Baptists. Some churches give large dollar amounts. Others give a large budget percentage. Increased CP giving will result in more churches, more ministries and more missionaries to the unreached. Your mission goals are accomplished as you invest proportionately.

Partnership in grace giving is proportionate by what you have left rather than what you contributed (Luke 6:38). Proportionate blessings come from proportionate giving.

The third principle is about the purpose for giving (2 Corinthians 8:14-15). Equality was the purpose. The concept of community is woven throughout the Scripture. God’s plan was enforced during Israel’s wilderness wanderings so that no one was to have a surplus and no one was to have a shortage (Exodus 16:16-31). During the wilderness wandering God used a miracle to supply his people with food. Paul believed God wanted his people to provide for the poor Jerusalem saints. God wants to use the church to meet the needs of those without Christ.

During natural disasters, an unsettled economy and global unrest, the Cooperative Program works. No missionary is called home. No seminary student is turned away from class. No church planter misses a check. Conversely, independent direct-mission giving removes the safety net. SBC churches are independent, but choose to cooperate to advance the gospel.

Partnership in grace giving is equality in provisions (Galatians 6:2, 5) and shows us how we are stronger together. We are independent, yet inter-dependent. We accomplish more for Jesus through a partnership in grace giving.   

The final principle of grace giving that I find in the text is the person of giving (2 Corinthians 8:9). The greatest grace gift is the Lord Jesus. John 3:16 shows the giving heart of the Father. Jesus gave of himself. It seems trivial to quibble about the tithe when looking at Calvary. Grace giving starts with every church member being obedient. Southern Baptist churches choosing to be in partnership through the Cooperative Program would enable us to reach the unreached across our state and around the world. The Cooperative Program is a partnership in grace giving.

April 6 is Cooperative Program Sunday. You may access material at whatiscp.com or sbtexas.com. Call toll free 1-877-953-7282 for further help.