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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

A Time Of Urgent Needs, A Time For Generous Giving

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While writing to the church in Philippi, Paul testified of their generosity towards the work of the Gospel he was engaged in - “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity” (Philippians 4:15, 16). The church in Philippi was quick to respond to the needs of the ministry by sending their generous support.

Dear Gethsemaneans, you too have done well in giving towards the work of the Lord till this day. I trust that you will continue to show your joy in supporting the Lord’s work in our church, just as you have shown in the past years.

So I take this opportunity to inform you of the urgent need of S$100,000/- to cover the present deficit in this financial year. Every month, about S$30,000/- is needed to meet the expenses. The rental of the auditorium for worship, the support of mission fields and the full-time workers constitute our main expenses. These are paid from our General Fund. The tithes and offerings that we have collected since June this year are not sufficient to meet our monthly expenses, and hence the deficit.

Brethren, let us respond to this urgent need, according to the ability that God has given to us. Please respond to this information on our need, as the Lord enables you. We certainly do not want the servants of the Lord here in Singapore and in our mission fields to go hungry. Neither should our lack of generosity affect the ministries that the Lord has committed to us. So, brethren, according to the grace of God given to us, may we count it a privilege and honour to be labourers together with God through our generosity.

In many countries, millions are without jobs. But the Lord has blessed our country with prosperity and peace, and, as a result, all of us are enjoying another year of bountifulness. This year-end as you receive your bonuses, please remember the Lord’s work in Gethsemane and give according to the measure the Lord has blessed you with. May we rejoice that the Lord has counted us worthy to bear the yoke for Him.

“But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17).

In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul exhorted the church to give selflessly and cheerfully, by pointing them to the magnanimity of the Macedonians and Christ Himself. Herein is a summary of his exhortation in chapters 8 and 9: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). Here, Paul compares giving to sowing. Seed sown in the soil seems lost, but the farmer knows a season of harvest will follow. As we sow bountifully with faith in the work of the Lord, not only can we expect to reap a harvest of earthly blessings, but we store up for ourselves a good foundation for our eternal future. “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:19).

Dear brethren, it is important that we give cheerfully as much as we give generously. In fact, if we give grudgingly, God will not be pleased with our giving, even if the gift is the best that you can offer. Note that how we give is more important than what we give. Let us be careful how our giving appears in the sight of God. Remember, the Lord loves a cheerful giver. To give cheerfully is to give without any reluctance— to give with ease, spontaneity and joy. It is necessary to honour God with our tithes and offerings, yet no sacrifice is pleasing to Him unless it is offered willingly and cheerfully.

Paul cited the Macedonian Christians as exemplars of this spirit. In spite of their poverty and affliction, their joy in Christ resulted in abounding liberality. “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8:2). Even severe poverty did not stop them from showing their charity towards the need in the Lord’s work elsewhere. What a generosity! Our tendency today is to spend beyond our means but the Macedonians gave beyond their means!

Cheerful givers always wish to give more and act upon their wish by giving even sacrificially. Paul reported in 2 Corinthians 8:3-4 of such a spirit exhibited by the Macedonians - “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

The Macedonians needed no persistent plea from the pulpit. They did not wait until pastors and elders send appeal letters to them. Instead, they begged that their gifts be received for the benefit of the struggling brethren in Jerusalem. May we be like the generous Christians in Philippi, Macedonia and in other places. O that the grace of giving be at its best in our midst!

 

Pastoral Exhortation