By Martin Knapp
"And ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price" (I Cor. vi. 20).
This grace is one of the stars of the first magnitude which adorned the firmament of the Pentecostal Church, but which, like many of its other lights, has been obscured by clouds. In order to view it in its beauty, the following facts must be kept in mind:
1. Pentecostal giving is not spasmodic giving, prompted by appeals or extreme cases of need.
2. It is not ostentatious giving, to be seen of men, blazoned in the papers or inscribed on temples or costly windows.
3. It is not competitive giving, to outvie a rival in business or religious circles.
4. It is not selfish giving, hoping to receive again.
5. It is not indiscriminate giving, sowing with a reckless hand whenever and wherever caprice or pressure may dictate.
6. It is not Jewish giving, bestowing a tenth of receipts, as a matter of duty, and no more. Lest any should be encouraged by this statement to diminish giving, let it be remembered that one-tenth for God's work is the very least that any one can give and not rob Him.
The Jews were required to pay one-tenth as a tithe tax and another tenth as offerings, so they really paid two-tenths. Therefore he who pays but one-tenth is only hat! a Jew, and he who withholds that is as actually a thief as if convicted and behind prison bars; yea, even more criminal, for he has robbed the Lord God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ. Tempted by Satan, who is ever active to lead men to this crime, and thus lessen the resources of God's kingdom, men have long sought to shield themselves in this sin under the plea of inability to give so much. If that be true, then God is unjust, for He certainly did require it of the Jews, and more than that, they prospered as no other nation when they obeyed, and perished when they withheld. (See "God's Financial Plan," by Shaw.)
While the above is true, yet it is evident that one-tenth is not the limit of Pentecostal giving, for the following reasons:
I. It was not under the Old Testament. Another tenth was required for offerings, and promises and precepts were continually extended to those who, in addition, would give to the poor: "The liberal soul shall be made fat"; "He that giveth to the poor shall not lack," and kindred instructions lured all who had means above the payment of required offerings to thus invest them.
2. Men are clearly commanded not to lay up treasures for themselves on earth. If they gave only one-tenth, many persons would violate this commandment.
3. Because it is impossible to even enter the kingdom of God without giving more than one-tenth. "He that forsaketh not all that he hath can not be my disciple."
4. Because neither Christ nor His apostles ever even hinted that a tenth was the rule under the Gospel dispensation, but taught that all was to be dedicated to God, and that every man should give "according to his ability."
5. The young man that came to Jesus was commanded to sell all that he had, and the rich were instructed to "be ready to distribute," and under the influence of Pentecost men sold their possessions and distributed as every man had need, their own ability and the needs of the case being the standard.
That the Christian's duty and privilege, under the light of the new dispensation, is confined to the giving of one-tenth, there is not a shadow of proof from the Word. It is true that in response to the claim of the Pharisees that they paid tithes, Jesus said, "This ought ye to have done," but it must be remembered that He addressed them as Jews under the old dispensation, not as Christians, and even if He had spoken to them as such, it would be no proof that no greater privilege and requirement had not been included, as the greater always includes the less.
Thus the New Testament teaching on the subject of giving, as the gospel the law, supersedes and excels it, as the full-blown rose does the opening bud. In this chapter we can not do the subject justice, but will call attention to the following facts:
New Testament Giving Is Based On Stewardship, Not Ownership. -- The parable of the talents (Matt. xxv. 14-30) is not a lesson of the results of accepting and rejecting salvation, but a graphic picture of two classes of people, i. e., believers who practice the principle of Pentecostal stewardship, and those who decline to. It shows that we are not musters, but servants. The King does not charge them in regard to their own possessions, but intrusts them with "his goods." They were to invest them in His name, and for His glory, in the bank of leaven, as they believed He would have done if present. Not one-tenth for Him and the balance for themselves, but all for Him. The increase and inexpressibly glorious reward of those that were faithful was because of their loyalty to this principle. The deprivation and doom of the other was because of failure to thus invest. All who do as he did, like him are guilty of hiding God's talent in the earth. He confessed that the property belonged to God, and not to himself, a striking picture of hosts of professors who admit God's proprietorship but refuse to deliver His goods, and of whom it will soon be said, as in this warning example, "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back [not my tenth but] mine own with interest ... Cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt, xxv. 27-30).
New Testament stewardship is not like renting a farm or store and paying the owner a per cent. of rent and doing the work in our own way and under our own name, and expending the profits for ourselves, but just the opposite. It acknowledges the proprietorship of Jesus Christ, labors solely under His instructions, and renders all to Him who owns it, with the explicit understanding that all profits above actual economical expenses of food, raiment, shelter, needful stock, etc., shall be given "in His name," as near as can be estimated, as Christ, the Proprietor Himself, would give it were He personally present. What an honor to be thus associated with the King of Heaven in the distribution of His goods! What perfidy to betray this sacred trust and expend them on ourselves or friends, or to "lock them up" for selfish purposes in banks, or stocks, or lands! Such riches is robbery, and every dollar thus devoted will prove a weight to sink some soul to hell unless it be restored. This crime has paralyzed gospel efforts and deferred the millennium centuries. The New Testament standard of stewardship which supersedes all others will remedy this wrong, and should be warmly welcomed.
It involves great personal responsibility. God trusts us and throws us upon our honesty and honor. Do we deal with Him as conscientiously as we require our servants to deal with us? Can we consistently chide them for misappropriation of time or money with which we trust them while we are thus robbing God? If they would be answerable for making investments of our funds in ways contrary to our written instructions, how much more are we if we thus use any of the means with which He may have intrusted us contrary to His word, in any way which we know to be displeasing to Him? Can any one invest money for liquor or tobacco in His name and for His glory, or in worldly orders, or for gewgaws with which to feed the pride of a carnal heart? In the face of His commands to give to the poor, and to disciple all nations, and plain instructions to refrain from everything questionable, or injurious to soul, mind or body, such investments are a criminal betrayal of sacred trusts which will sink the soul to a hotter hell than the negative crime of hiding the talent in the earth. The worse than wasting time or money at theaters, races, worldly fraternities, or in unprofitable conversation and employments, invites kindred guilt and punishment. Bible conversion with proper enlightenment brings one to acknowledge this stewardship; entire sanctification unfolds its privileges and imparts grace which enables the soul to delight in it.
Such stewardship secures the benefit of Divine wisdom in its investments. God is the Proprietor, and His will as revealed in His Word may be learned and done in everything. His infinite wisdom is available where otherwise there would be human plans. An all-wise Father knows so much better what investments would be profitable than His little finite children that they love to trust in Him with all their hearts, and lean not to their own understanding. Glorious privilege to be members of a firm whose Manager is none other than Almighty God.
It secures God's blessing and co-operation. We become co-workers with Him. Like Jesus, we go about our Father's business. Whatsoever we do in word or deed, we do all in His name. It is to His interest to prosper His own work. So whether He may lead to plant potatoes or make soap or train children or preach the gospel God will give "good success." If visible prosperity is sometimes withheld, it is that some greater spiritual good may be bestowed. All who thus "water others" as the servants of God in Jesus' name, shall themselves "he watered."
Accumulation of property for self is absolutely prohibited.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth consume, and where thieves break through and steal" (Matt. vi. 19). Every great fortune that is not consecrated to God and used for His glory is a standing monument of the sin of its possessor. While great enterprises require capital, if they are legitimate they should be dedicated to God and run for His glory. If they can not be they should be at once abandoned. All selfish gain is proof of covetousness, which is a violation of God's law, and will sink a church-goer to hell as speedily as grosser sins will damn his fellow mortals of the slums. The wisdom of God's law against selfish accumulation of wealth is seen from the following results which flow from its violation:
(a) Thieves rob, fire consumes, and floods destroy.
(b) When property is left to children it usually enervates and dissipates them, and leads to contentions, and often is exhausted in legal contests.
(c) The care and love of accumulated property draws the heart world ward instead of Christward.
(d) A life devoted to gain is certain to end in ruin. They that desire to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition" (I Tim. vi. 9). If this be true of those who desire to be rich, much more does it apply to those who hold wealth for themselves instead of using it for God. Such neglect will certainly condemn its possessor at the Judgment. "Go to, now, ye rich, weep and bowl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver are rusted; and their rust shall be for a testimony against you, and shall eat your flesh as fire" (James v. 1-3). If I hoard gold for myself, the use of which would save men, then I, by such neglect, become guilty of their murder, and God declares that the rust of that gold will be a swift and sure witness against me.
(e) It is a great barrier to salvation. "He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two musters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye can not serve God and mammon" (Luke xvi. 10-13). Few rich men have ever given evidence of Scriptural salvation. They often cling to a were profession, but seldom so experience salvation that it makes them glad and free. "The rich he hath sent empty away" (Luke i. 53).
(f) Riches are unsatisfying. A little wealth, like a little liquor, simply creates a thirst for more. Fortune drunkards are more frequent than any other kind. He who hoards treasures for himself alone is as really drunk with covetousness as the slaves of other vices with lust and liquor. The soul was created to be satisfied with God, and nothing else will hush its cries.
(g) It leads to fraud and oppression. "Behold, the hire of the labourers who mowed your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth out: and the cries of them that reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth" (James v. 4). It holds the faces of the poor on the grindstone of want, and frequently practices frauds, under the cloak of shrewd bargains, such as would send a poor man to the penitentiary.
Neglect to use it for God and His cause will bring hopeless condemnation at the judgment. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee" (Matt. xxv. 41-44)?
(h) Withholding from God is a source of temporal poverty. It led Haggai to exclaim: "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes ... Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that lieth waste, while ye run every man to his own house." The "hard times" which blights earth is doubtless due to this cause.
Wealth hoarded inevitably damns the soul. "And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto then, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully, and he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my corn and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they he? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke xii. 15-2b. The sin of this man was that he neglected to honor God with his substance, and laid up treasure for himself. Keep in mind that these words were Christ's answer to a money-seeking man. Christ clearly shows that he, and all who follow in his steps, are fools-busy fools! prosperous fools! troubled fools! shortsighted fools! perplexed fools! summoned fools! surprised fools! deceived fools! and, finally, eternally-damned fools! See story of Dives, in Luke xvi. 19-31, which is a part of Christ's answer to the rich churchmen, who scoffed at His claims of stewardship. "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Christ's law of giving is derided by the rich. "And the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things; and they scoffed at him. And he said unto them, Ye are they that justify yourselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke xvi. 14, 15). Satan is prolific with excuses, with which he persuades the rich to "justify themselves" in this betrayal of stewardship. But the standard of the rich worldling and of God are as diverse as the two poles, and theirs is an abomination to Him for the following reasons: It is wrong; it is selfish; it is unscriptural; it is soul-destroying; it cheats its victims out of real joy here and out of heaven, and it damns their souls forever.
Is cheerful giving. "God loveth a cheerful giver." Such giving is one of the special marks of Divine sonship with which God is peculiarly pleased. It does not say He loves a large giver, for large gifts are not always glad ones, but the cheerful or " hilarious" giver. The" upper room" experience transforms the "I must" of legalism into the "I love" of delight. It makes giving as spontaneous as the shining of the sun. Sighing over the duty is changed into shouting over the privilege. A Pentecostal sanctification that is below this mark should examine itself, and undergo repairs or replacement.
It is commanded giving. " Give to him that asketh thee" (Matt. v. 42). "Freely ye received, freely give" (Matt. x. 8). "Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper." Whatever the nature of New Testament giving is, this declaration proves it to be divinely required, and if thus commanded, no more to be neglected than any other duty
It is systematic giving. "On the first day of the week." The time to stop, consider the matter, settle the sum to be laid aside for specific purposes is divinely specified as definitely as the pay-day of a business no use. If a merchant puts a man in charge of his goods, with the understanding that he is to remit profits at certain dates, and he finds that he is neglecting to observe them, how quickly he would discharge him. He who is less honest with God than he would demand his servants to be with himself, should blush, repent, restore and amend.
It should be universal giving. "Each one of you." Not one in ten. Not one for another. Your wife or children can no more do your giving than your eating or praying. Children should be taught this early, and every believer practice it. Men who do all the giving for the family, and thus deprive others of this luxury and spiritual exercise, should be labored with for robbery. All can give something, if it is only part of a meal.
It is rewarded giving. "Give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke vi. 38). Thus Christ Himself declares that all who so give shall be rewarded.
Reward is proportionate to giving. "Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again" (Luke vi. 38). If you would receive abundantly and freely, then give in this spirit. God will flood your soul with spiritual blessings worth more than gold, and this promise also declares that men will give in the same spirit to you. The writer has often verified this promise. God laid it on his heart to announce that he would give The Revivalist without charge to all destitute persons who would apply for it. He did so, and then the promise, He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack" (Prov. xxviii. 27), was sweetly applied to his soul. Since then The Revivalist has prospered as never before, and all its financial needs been bountifully supplied without any questionable advertisements. To God be all the praise. In II. Cor. viii. 9, Paul paints a beautiful picture of Pentecostal liberality. Get your revised New Testament and read it. Like a kaleidoscope, it surprises with new beauty at every turn. He emphasizes the following among other of its beauties:
It is of God's grace. "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the churches of Macedonia" (1 Cor. viii. 1). This kind of giving does not characterize heathen lands, nor worldly minds, but is the result of the impartation of God's nature. It is only when the dross of selfishness has been destroyed by celestial fire that it shines undimmed.
Its exercise is prized by the poor and afflicted. "In much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality" (I Cor. viii. 2). Often down in the deep, dark mines of affliction and poverty, this fair flower blooms with more than earthly fragrance.
It is spontaneous. "For according to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power" (II Cor. viii. 3). They realized that such giving was simply investing in a gold mine that would yield infinite returns, and so were willing to bankrupt themselves for stock in such an enterprise. A burning rebuke to the spirit of this age, which banks its thousands and millions instead of investing them in the interests of Christ's kingdom. What folly to lock money up in worldly schemes for the meager interest they return, when God can give greater interest in this world and eternal dividends hereafter.
It is glad giving. "Of their own accord, beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace" (I Cor. viii. 4). It coaxes to give instead of being coaxed. Instead of having to be locked in like some modern crowds, to be kept from running away from the collection, they press Paul lest he should leave without taking it. What a contrast to dainty believers who get nervous because of the "collection," and to the spiritual traitors who disgrace church records with their names, yet stay away from public services because they are too stingy to give, and too proud to publicly decline.
It is co-operative giving. "The fellowship in the ministering to the saints" (I Cor. viii. 4). It anoints one's eyes to see that the communion honors of such fellowship is worth more than that of all the worldly fraternities that Satan has ever tried to substitute in its stead. It pleads for a place in such select company, and prizes it above human expression. It abhors the crime, so often perpetrated, of substituting lodgianity for Christianity, and thus wasting time and money, for which the cause of Christ is suffering.
It is consecrated giving. "But first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God" (1 Cor. viii. 5). Pentecostal giving is from givers who are fully consecrated to God. No others can enjoy its complete blessedness nor share its full rewards. Under God they also honored the ministers whom He sent to take the offering.
Ministers should teach and preach it. "That we exhorted Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he will also complete in you this grace also" (II Cor. viii. 6). Possibly Titus had preached on this subject once, and had desisted because of criticism that he preached from sordid motives. Hence Paul exhorted him to persist until the saints were perfected in this grace.
It is abounding giving. "But as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also " (I Cor. viii. 7). It is ranked with faith, utterance, knowledge, earnestness, brotherly love, and like graces, whose mighty overflowing streams are to water the earth and fill it with spiritual fertility. The streams of Pentecostal giving are fed from the exhaust less fountain of abounding and overflowing liberality. A so-called Pentecostal experience which is defective here should, for the sake of Christ, have its name or nature changed.
It is proof of love. "Shew ye therefore unto them in the face of the churches the proof of your love, and of our glorying on your behalf" (I Cor. viii. 24). It is not only a proof of the sincerity of love (see verses 5-8), but of its very existence. It is the first-born child of love. Its absence is positive proof of the absence of its mother. Penuriousness is a positive proof of the absence of perfect love. Coppers in the collection are often an index to covetousness in the soul and brass in the testimony.
It is proof of sincerity. "I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love" (I Cor. viii. 8). Talk is cheap. Men who say and do not are condemned. People invest in what they believe in. Superficial investments in God's cause are positive proof of superficial faith and sincerity. If you give a dime where you could give a dollar, when it strikes God's counter it rings out the size of your faith.
It is available giving. "And he looked up, and saw the rich men that were casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than they all: for all these did of their superfluity cast in unto the gifts: but she of her want did cast in all the living that she had" (Luke xxi. 1-4). From this we learn that a poor widow may give what is more in God's sight than the legacies of the luxurious. Her mite may be more than their millions.
It insures freedom from corroding care. "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. vi. 33). This does not promise the supply of all temporal needs on condition of idleness or slackness, or half-hearted service, or even tithing, but upon "seeking first His kingdom." Who does this will find a never-ending chain of duties in the service of the King. If the soul be adjusted to them, and to the whole will of God, like birds to their spheres and like lilies to earth and air, then like them all, food and raiment will be provided without "anxiety." The writer wishes to witness here that under what would, from a worldly view, have been peculiarly pressing circumstances, he has proved, and is proving, the truth of this promise.
It is exemplified by God. God gives us light, life, air, food, raiment, friends, protection, His Son, His Word, His Spirit, salvation, pardon, sonship, sanctification, the gifts of the Spirit, power over the enemy, kingship and an eternal home in heaven. Indeed, He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. There are no limits to the overflow of His infinite love. One-tenth of what He has bestowed would be infinitely above all human merits, yet His love can not thus be bound. We are to be the "followers of God." Then we must be like our Father, and our liberality like the light.
It is exemplified by Jesus. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich" (I Cor. viii. 9). "As he is, so are we in this world." "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Paul, divinely inspired, writing on the subject of giving, points to Jesus as our example. Jesus laid up no money for Himself. He renounced a crown and kingdom for others.. As His Father sent Him into the world, so sends He us. He gave not one-tenth, or two-tenths merely, but all for others. He gave till He felt, and died feeling it. "If we suffer with him we shall reign with him." How contemptible unwilling offerings of paltry pennies and compromise tithes appear as we sit at the feet of Him who, though "Lord of all," had nowhere to lay His head, and whose dying couch was a rugged cross. For the "joy set before him" Jesus did this, and offers scepters, crowns and kingdoms to all who choose to tread in His steps.
It glorifies God. "Appointed by the churches to travel with us in the matter of this grace, which is ministered by us to the glory of the Lord" (1 Cor. viii. 19). Pentecostal giving glorifies God as really as praying, testifying or shouting; in fact, they all go together. The minister who has not learned to take a collection to the "glory of God," should tarry longer at the feet of Paul.
It is an artesian well, not a force-pump. "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: for I know your readiness, of which I glory on your behalf" (I Cor. ix. I, 2). Instead of tugging away at the pump handle as ministers so frequently do with congregations beneath the Pentecostal line, Paul had but to place the pail under the flowing current and it was quickly overflowing. While Pentecostal giving is so free, yet it is not indiscriminate giving, at the beck of every passer-by, but, as dispenser of trust funds, the giver bestows his benefactions when and where he feels will bring the largest returns for God.
It is adjustable giving. "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not" (I Cor. viii. 12). God can not be deceived. He reads the heart, and its beats register the character and worth of the gift in His sight. A newsboy's copper may be more acceptable than the wealth of a baron.
It is contagious. "And your zeal hath stirred up very many of them" (I Cor. ix. 2). The large and enthusiastic contributions at Pentecost and at modern Pentecostal gatherings, in which the people unite like the drops of a resistless river, are examples of this contagion. Prompted by the same Spirit, with kindred motives and desires, Pentecostal people are one in heart and one in this celestial grace.
Meager giving insures a meager harvest. "But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (I Cor. ix. 6). The writer, when a farmer boy, delighted to sow largely, in prospect of an abundant harvest. Thus all who liberally sow for God are insured a spiritual harvest of abundant blessing. The man who sows his means on the rocks of worldly gain, burning sands of self-indulgence or black bogs of worldly pleasure, will reap a harvest of death, both here and in hell. He who boards them in the granary of greed will reap no harvest of blessing, and be punished forever for his crime. He who sows sparingly, as most unsanctified believers and mere lip professors of sanctification do, will reap a meager harvest; but all who possess the Pentecostal baptism, which electrocutes stinginess and leaps over the old Jewish mill-dam of only a tenth, and sow bountifully, shall reap bountifully. In them Omnipotence has wrought a work that has transformed the old "how can I afford to give?" into "how can I afford to withhold?" A lost world, a crucified Redeemer, the promised harvest, and, above all, the pure, burning love of God within their hearts, prompts them to invest with joy their all.
Pentecostal giving is from the heart. "Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart; not grudgingly, or of necessity" (I Cor. ix. 7). "Let" him, not make him; "each man," not a select few; as he "purposeth in his heart," not as some one else constrains him; "not grudgingly," wishing he could evade it or get it back; "or of necessity," because of a tithe law or any other pressure but that of love compels it.
God provides for the Pentecostal giver. "And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work" (I Cor. ix. 8). Here mountain-peak above mountain-peak of Divine provision rises one above the other, until the tops are lost in the infinite height.
"God -- all grace -- abound -- all sufficiency -- in everything -- may abound -- unto every good work." Bear in mind that this is a special text on Pentecostal giving, and only to Pentecostal givers. The reason many fail to get much out of it is that they do not meet the conditions. This promise is God's guarantee for support in every work to which He calls His people.
God multiplies the ability to give. "And he that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness" (I Cor. ix. 10). Thus He guarantees to those to abandon all to Him that all their needs, temporal and spiritual, shall be supplied "according to his riches in glory," and that He not only will supply means for giving, but "Multiply" them, and intensify spirituality and fruitage "increase the fruits of your righteousness."
Pentecostal giving enriches the giver. "Ye being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God" (II Cor. ix.). Banks of England and Klondike gold mines are straws compared to the wealth here bequeathed to Pentecostal givers. They can enrich only with metal and what it will buy; but can not save the soul or bestow a single spiritual comfort, and usually wreck instead of bless while this legacy, available to all who will abandon everything to God, will "Enrich In Everything," spiritually, temporally and eternally." Unto All Liberality," a climacteric grace; and thus invests its recipient with a wealth that is infinite.
It awakens thanksgiving to God. "For the ministration of this service not only filleth up the measure of the wants of the saints, but aboundeth also through many thanksgivings unto God; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministration they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all" (I Cor. ix. 12, 13). It inspires joy among believers that people are thus being true to the spirit of the Gospel, and this awakens concerts of praise from many hearts, which in gratitude offer thanksgiving unto God. In proportion as we sink below the Pentecostal standard of giving, in just that proportion we rob God of this thanksgiving.
It secures the prayers and love of those blessed by it. "While they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, long after you by the exceeding grace of God in you" (I Cor. ix. 14). Are not the prayers and love which are thus secured big interest on such investments?
It is the "exceeding grace" (verse 14). It may be that it is thus divinely named because it brings such exceeding blessings, or because of its exceeding cost, or because it bursts the hounds and barriers of tithing and cuts a mighty channel of its own, or because it is the glorious river of perfect love overflowing its banks, exceeding its limits and watering and refreshing the world.
God counsels his children to put their capital in the bank of heaven. While He forbids its accumulation for self, He counsels its investment for the interests of His kingdom. His counsel should be sufficient warrant, but this is enforced by the following additional reasons:
It is safe. No one can steal it, and heaven's bank will never break.
It brings big interest. God can get larger returns on money invested for souls than any bank or insurance company. One thousand dollars invested in them may bring six per cent. interest. Put in His kingdom, it will save scores of souls who will shout and shine in glory forever. "My diamonds are restored to me," exclaimed a Christian lady, as she saw the tears of gratitude roll down the cheeks of one who had been redeemed through her benefactions.
It guarantees the divine supply of every need. Paul, thanking the Philippians for their bountiful benefactions declares, "And my God shall fulfil every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." This covers every possible exigency of the whole being. All who abandon themselves and possessions utterly to the will of God are given this draft on the bank of heaven. What folly to withhold anything when giving so enriches!
It draws heavenward. If our interests are invested in celestial stock, our minds and hearts will be drawn that way. Any investment which thus throws the soul under the influence of heavenly gravitation is to be coveted. Where men's treasure is, there their hearts are. If they invest in insurance, they talk insurance more fluently than anything else; if in wheat, then they will talk wheat; if in railroad stock, they will talk that. They think, talk and live what and where they largely invest. Hence, if their investments are in the world and for it, then their affections will be there, but if in the interests of the kingdom, then that will engage them. Celestial investments transform material gifts into spiritual realities. The money, for instance, which has been invested in the Holiness movement of this city has been transformed, under the touch of consecrated prayer and labor and divine blessing, into fire-baptized souls, that are helping to girdle the globe with salvation, and which will shine as gems in the crown of Jesus.
It is to be openly recognized and rewarded. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. xxv. 34-41). This declares future installments of the rewards of Pentecostal giving that, like those already received, are transcendentally glorious. (1) Its public recognition by Him in whose name and by whose grace it is done. Amazing grace that makes a duty delightful and then rewards for doing it! (2) We give a loaf and get an eternal kingdom; we donate our little self and get a King and all of His possessions. (3) Giving for Christ's cause, in His name and for His glory, is a personal gift directly to Him, and is so received and rewarded. (4) Only those who thus give are promised the above reward. Others may be saved, as by fire, but will miss this public reception and gift. Then people will see and lament the shortsighted stupidity which led them to so lock their purses as to lock themselves out of an eternal fortune. Weaklings who doled out their dimes and tithes, instead of "giving according to ability," will lament their littleness. Ananiases who "kept back a part of the price" which belonged to God will weep and wail. Judases who, for money, betrayed the Master by neglecting his interests, will sink in eternal despair. In the light of the final judgment it is a fearful calamity to fall short of the New Testament standard of Pentecostal giving, and high treason to rob God of gifts which should be placed upon His altars.
During the civil war the government issued bonds to help subdue the seceding states. Some said they would not be worth the paper on which they were written, and derided them; others advanced their gold for them and thus helped sustain the government. Finally the Union was preserved, the bonds were at a premium, their enemies chagrined and their holders rewarded. God has issued similar bonds to suppress sin on earth, which is the most unholy civil war that ever shocked the universe. Pentecostal giving is investing in these bonds. Soon the war will be over, the last enemy conquered, earth restored and celestialized, and the flag of Prince Immanuel wave triumphantly over it. Then these bonds will be at a premium, and all who have failed to invest in them too late will regret their stupidity and sin.
May each reader of these pages be not an Achan, hiding God's gold; or an Ananias, "keeping back part of the price," but a "faithful steward of the manifold grace of God," and prove the preciousness of the promise which declares that such "shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also doth not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Ps. i. 3).