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The Jews, The Greeks And The Church Of God

ON GIVING AND RECEIVING

The blessed Lord Jesus was poor when He tabernacled among 115, and He accepted the ministrations of those whose hearts were touched to give to Him. What a privilege it was for Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many others to minister unto Him of their substance! (Luke 8.2, 3, A.V.). We wish we had been with them then to share in the sheer delight of giving Him our dearest treasures. Nothing would have been too good for Him. What a recompense, just to hear His words of appreciation!

PROYISION FOR WIDOWS AND OTHERS:

As God in the Law gave legislation for the poor and needy, so in the Faith for God's together-people there is provision made for them.

In 1 Timothy 5 instructions are given in relation to certain widows. Those over 60 years of age were to be enrolled and cared for, if each had been the wife of one man and if their lives had been exemplary. Where relief could be given by anyone of the family who was in the church this was to be done, so that the church would not be burdened, but would be able to help those who were widows indeed. The person who would not provide for his own, especially for his household, was worse than an infidel and was denying the Faith for which his fellows were contending. These are practical things which call for attention by the people of God.

As to other cases of need, the scripture in Galatians 6.9, 10 would cover these.

"Let us not be weary in well-doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good to toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith."

Such a scripture would embrace the fatherless in their affliction and any others who were in distress and needed practical help; priority being given to those within the Fellowship, but acting with compassion and walking in wisdom toward them that are without.

EXAMPLES OF GIVING TO COLLECTIVE NEEDS.

In the early days of the Fellowship, when it consisted only of the Church of God in Jerusalem, there was an outcry because the widows of the Grecian Jews were being neglected in the daily ministration. Probably this was due to the rapid increase in those who were being added to the Church and this became a serious administrative problem. It called for action and seven men were chosen in whom the Church had confidence, upon whom the apostles laid their hands after prayer, appointing them to the task. In order to meet the need in the Church, many sold their lands and houses and brought the money to the apostles for distribution to each according as any one had need. Great grace manifested itself in great giving (Acts 4.33-35; 6.1-6).

Some time later, when famine conditions were prevailing throughout Judea, the young Gentile church in Antioch rose nobly to the occasion and every man according to his ability sent help to their Jewish brethren of Judea through the elders in that Province (Acts 11.27-30). Still later, a special need at Jerusalem was met by gifts from the churches in the district of Macedonia and Achaia (Romans 15. 26), thus proving that the Fellowship was not just a name. For in sharing and partaking of spiritual and temporal blessings they demonstrated God's purpose for Hi5 together-people, gathered in Churches of God.

ON INDIVIDUAL OFFERINGS.

If a man is exercised before the Lord, to give a tenth of his income, this will be acceptable to the Lord. If he purposes to give more then his arrangement is between himself and his Lord. There is no New Testament scripture as to how much a man must give. Yet such expressions as, "As he may prosper," and "According as he hath purposed in his heart "indicate that in our givings there should be a holy exercise before the Lord. Not grudgingly or of necessity" (2 Corinthians 9.7), clearly shows that the demanding of tithes, dues, rents or taxes is not according to the New Testament. But let us be on our guard against thinking that grace asks less than law. We may be robbing God today as Israel did in Malachi's day. Grace clearly calls for greater sacrifice than the law did under Moses. So we can understand why those Macedonian saints, touched by the grace of God, first gave their own selves and then gave of their substance in excess even of their power. Let us imitate their love, faith, and good works. One more point may be noted on this subject. The saints knew specifically to which need they were contributing; to the poor (Romans 15.26); to the Lord's servants (Philippians 4.15-17); or for the general expenses of the work (Romans 13.7, 8).

At the beginning of the dispensation the main line of God's purposes was definitely connected with Churches of God and for such He legislated. In these last days we believe that God has brought together Churches of God, as at the beginning, and that He has a gathered people today.