The Open Scroll - Giving and Receiving

Giving and Receiving

By Bob Schlenker  (Prints about 8 pages)

A mature attitude about money recognizes the reality that what is under our control has been given by the Lord and it is ours... to steward as it pleases the master.
But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. 13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."  2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Here's the general principle about giving, receiving and proportional return.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to youLuke 6:38
And, here's an example of what money is good for.
Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.' 3 "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg-- 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' 5 "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6 "'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' 7 "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' "'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. "He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.' 8 "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? 13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. Luke 16:1-15
Serve God instead of Money, using worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.

Here's a simple set of commands that are really tough to accept.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.Luke 6:30
Can you imagine a community where people obeyed those commands? It would be like Acts 2:42-47.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Tithe

It is my opinion that much popular teaching about the tithe is unscriptural. The tithe is nothing more or less than what the Bible actually says about it. The commands are very specific. Beyond the strict observance of those commands, there are lessons to be learned from what the Bible says about tithes and offerings that undergirds whatever else the New Testament teaches about the subject. In a nutshell, I don't believe this is all about paying a tenth of our pre-tax income to our local church. Those  responsible for handling the funds there are not Levites and the local church is not the temple. The temple today is comprised of every living stone in God's building built upon Christ. The Lord doesn't want a mere tenth of anything, but all your money, all your stuff, and all your life devoted to Him.

Every one who ministers and everyone who is ministered to enters into a relationship in which certain kinds of responsibilities are involved. In matters of inequitable distribution of goods amongst the saints, the responsibility of provision for the one lacking attends this relationship as noted earlier from II Corinthians 8. Those who truly minister in a capacity which necessitates the sacrifice of income-producing activity are due certain renumeration for their service in love. There are those who are specially gifted in order to minister with gifts of helps, and those who require their support in order to minister effectively.

Support of Those who Minister

And finally, here's an indepth structural study of the focal passage about giving and receiving regarding Christian ministries.

The most basic pattern that comes into view is division, the passage is divided into two parts. The first is composed of the sections subscripted 1, A1) B1) C1) D1). The second is a repetition of the first four sections, but their order has been altered - B2) A2) D2) C2). This sequence seems odd when considered as a linear string, but the pattern appears with a natural symmetry when the two divisions are arranged side-by-side.  This is the first such pattern I've encountered.  In keeping with way the other patterns have been named I guess this would best be called a kind of an inversion. 1Each half has its two sections reappear in an inverted order. Now, each section is further organized into a pattern called introversion. Each is in three levels except for two, B1), which is in two, and D2) which is singular. Within sections D1) and A2), subdivisions occur. Within A2), their order remains consistent throughout, but within, D1), there is an inversion evidenced which, because the overall pattern is inversion, draws our attention most particularly to it, and even more specifically, to its pivotal segments c).

The Analysis

The entire chapter of I Corinthians 9 is Paul's discourse to the believers in Corinth about the rights of support due those whose lives are given to preaching the gospel.

The introductory section A1) begins with Paul's qualification, presenting his eligibility for receiving support. First, he is free. He is acting freely, willingly, not being coerced or forced. He chooses to serve them according to his gift as their apostle. This is the basis for his defense to those who sit in judgment on him, accusing him of being unqualified or ineligible for support.

The companion section A2) similarly begins with Paul's declaration that he is free. Here, he relates the humble manner in which he has chosen to serve and reveals the purpose for serving in this way. This is emphasized in that each of its elements; a1) b1) c1) c2) b2) a2), is divided into two parts. The first declares what he has done; the second, why he does it. Section A2) is a vital part of Paul's argument for his right to their support because in it he declares his service to them. That which isn't directly stated here makes a powerful statement in support of his argument. In this service, as he has made himself a slave, those served become his masters, right? In that culture, everyone knew intuitively that a master is required to provide for the physical needs of a slave. In making himself a slave, their slave, Paul became subject to their care and thus deserving of their support. By reason of this section's context, it is apparently meant to convict those addressed of their responsibility to provide for those who minister the gospel on the basis of the master/slave relationship.

Even beyond the initial declaration of Paul's free choice to serve, another characteristic common to both of these sections binds them tightly to one another. The ascending half of the introversion in both A1) and A2) specify the Jew. The Jew was under the law. But Paul was not an apostle to the Jew; Peter was. The descending half in both of these companion sections specify the Gentile. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles; they are the seal of his apostleship in the Lord. They are those who do not have "the law" (of Moses) and must then be seen also to be characterized as the "weak." (implying - "in faith"- See Romans 14) But, not to exclude the weak among the Jews, the element b2) has its companion in b1), right?

Section B1) is unique in that it has only two levels of introversion. Paul makes the point that he and Barnabas are entitled to the same level of support given to the others who minister as they do, rights to food and drink. Perhaps they are due an even greater level of support than the others on an individual basis because they don't have the added expenses associated with taking wives along. This is one of two places 2 where Paul presents his argument for his right to support on the basis of comparison with others.

Section B2) follows this theme of the rights due Paul as he declares that he hasn't used them and intends to continue in this same manner. Paul says that he won't demand that the Corinthian believers give him according to these rights. He chooses rather to deny them the opportunity to repent at this point and so put them to shame. Why do I say this? Because there's a relationship between shame and boasting. And this theme appears far more in the books written to the Corinthian church than to all the others! Check it for yourself. This is a relevant point and crucial to understanding the subject of Paul's message in relation to the other churches.

If you buy into our currently popular way of thinking in this "enlightened age," shame and guilt are harmful to our self esteem, damaging to our ego and therefore to be avoided. But, God made us with the capacity for shame and it is intended to serve a very honorable purpose. It is for our benefit. I Corinthians 1:27-31 reads:
"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'"
Did you notice the close relation between shame and boasting? Both of these concepts appear in the same verse in II Corinthians 11:21. Shame is intended to humble the one boasting before God in his own abilities and attributes. All boasting should be solely based upon God's benefits and done for His glory.
And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.  II Corinthians 11:12
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.II Corinthians 12:9
In all of this ninth chapter of I Corinthians we've got under the microscope, this section B2) is the only one in which boasting appears. Although shame is not mentioned directly, having an understanding of the reason for boasting helps us see that Paul is using this section in his argument to shame his accusers so that they will have the ground cut from under them; so that they will be brought or restored to humility before God.

Also in section B2), Paul expresses his choices with regard to his relationship with the Corinthian believers; his expectation, motivation and obligation. We learn here what we would glean from a thorough reading of II Corinthians. His relationship with those of Achaia/Corinth was apparently unique in that he would personally accept no financial gifts from them. The element b2) is perhaps most interesting to me because it begs us to ask just what kind of reward it is to preach the gospel free of charge. It doesn't seem to be a reward at all. This is not to say that Paul is confused, but that he must be using a figure of speech for emphasis. This may seem like an odd comment for me to make if you're not adept at recognizing and understanding figures of speech, but please understand that this field of study is a crucial matter in regards to interpretation. It is not the preaching of the gospel without charge which is the reward but that which he will receive from the Lord because he chose to offer the gospel free of charge, as he was evidently compelled to do. Do you see my point? This figure which substitutes the cause for the effect thus forces the emphasis upon the reward that will come not from the believers (a temporal, physical reward) but from the Lord! (an eternal, spiritual reward) This is Paul's motivation from a personal perspective and should speak to us about how we should be thinking.

By reason of the brevity of the section B1), along with Paul's manner of questioning and the implied intent of B2) to shame those to whom the argument is directed, the tone of both sections B) is more harsh and confrontational than that of the other sections.

Now, in both sections C), the theme I just picked up from section B2) is continued and emphasized. The ascending half of each is the carnal and temporal example which teaches us about the greater truth, the spiritual and eternal, which is the focus of the descending half of each. As a further basis for his argument, Paul asks some questions with answers far too obvious to require further comment. But comment does follow from the Law itself as he compares his right to support with that of an ox who is treading out the grain. God made it plain that when an ox is treading out the grain, it is not to be muzzled so that, when it wants to eat from the grain being trodden upon, it may freely do so. Paul's point: By failing to render due support to Paul and Barnabas, the Corinthians were figuratively muzzling the mouth of the oxen who were treading out the grain.

Whereas in C1) the comparison made presents the image of the slow and causal pace of the laboring oxen, in C2) the image appears to be revised to better suit one who preaches the gospel. The desire for and aggressive pursuit of the victor's crown, plus a high level of intensity in self-discipline characterizes the attitude and manner of training of a person competing in the games. This is what Paul says was required so that he would not be disqualified for the crown which will last forever after he had preached to others. So how might we understand section C2) in relation to its larger context? Paul seems to be correcting the Corinthians with regard to their causal attitude about supporting Paul. It would appear that, by reason of their neglect of Paul's and Barnabas' right to support, they were being disqualified for a crown which will last forever. Now, am I making this up, or, is this a reasonable inference based upon a thoughtful analysis of a valid structural relation? See, there are eternal rewards for many things done while in this body. I cannot overemphasize the significance of the following verse; I Corinthians 15:58:
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Based upon my structural analysis of the entire chapter of I Corinthians 15, I conclude that this is the focal verse of the whole chapter!

I exhort you to adapt Paul's manner of self discipline in training. Pursue the victor's crown as though second place in the gospel race wasn't good enough. Let me put it this way. Its bargain days, my friend. Right now. There has never been a better opportunity to give yourself fully to the work of the Lord. Y'shua declared in John 9:4: As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. This offer is subject to retraction without further notice at the sole discretion of the provider. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Lastly, sections D) contain the most concise and plainly stated arguments. By reason of the occurrence of an inversion within the internal order of elements c) within D1) which uniquely matches the overall structural characteristic of the chapter, I would say that herein may be found the passage's focus. The sub-elements3 are the two related themes: The service and The benefit. The elements a) and b) all contain both of these themes in the same order of appearance. The uniquely singular section D2) which is companion to D1) follows suit. However, elements c) consist of only one theme each. This draws our attention specially to this particular pair. This same pair is further emphasized for us because the themes appear in inverted order, the reverse of how they appear in all the other parts of the larger unit of structure. This is so dramatically emphatic because inversion is the character of the overall structure of the chapter and is repeated within its substructures only here. Since the Author of the scriptures didn't emphasize text with a highlighter pen or by underlining, boldfacing or italics, we find that He has employed other means less obvious superficially but at least as effectual! Since He has done so, the least I can do as I try to share what I believe the Lord is communicating to us is to repeat the text of those two elements here. They read:
c1) 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?

c2) But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
This is the essence of Paul's message in I Corinthians 9. Let me complete what I believe to be the essence of the message by repeating what is perhaps equally emphatic by reason of its unique structural character. 4
D2) 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The primary themes of the passage are pretty much found in these most emphatic verses 12 and 23! (As a noteworthy and magnificent structural complexity, I will share with you the fact that the theme of c1) matches that of section B1) and that of c2) matches that of section B2). Interesting? )

Now, I don't want you to think that if you haven't yet offered any support to this or other ministries that you are necessarily due the correction Paul gave the Corinthian Church. His relationship to the other Churches was evidently different. II Corinthians 11:7-15 relates:
"Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
A few verses later, in II Corinthians 12:13-16, we read:
"How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!"
So, I Corinthians 9 is where we find the most extensive teaching about the support relationship between the one preaching the gospel and those to whom the ministry extends, but not the only teaching. Much more can be learned about the more inclusive and general subject of giving and receiving from the other epistles, particularly II Corinthians, but there is no other passage beside 1 Co. 9 in which we learn so extensively the details of support due those who minister. There are a few other passages which briefly deal with the subject which I would like to include in this study.
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages"  I Timothy 5:17-18
I will close with a prayer. Lord, may your love be known who all who hear your voice, who choose to obey you in matters of sacrifice and self discipline. As you are the master to whom we ultimately serve, help us entrust the provisions of our lives into your care. Help us to have courage in the face of apparent lack so that we may not be deceived in our carnal nature. Help us to have humility in the face of apparent plenty so that we may also not be deceived in that same carnal nature. May we, as Paul your servant did, learn to be content in our present conditions, whatever they may be.


1) Thus, we have now seen four basic kinds of architectural patterns appearing naturally in the holy scriptures: Division, Alternation, Introversion and Inversion.  Return
2) The element D1) c1) being the other, which is also seen as the point of primary focus of the passage by reason of its inverted character.  Return
3) As you consider the structure of D1), you may notice that my means of identifying the sub-elements is rather awkward. If I knew of a more elegant way to present that which is perfect I would gladly do so. My means are crude, but, I pray, sufficient not to hinder the teaching of the holy spirit.  Return
4) Of all the sections, this is the only one that not only isn't an introversion but is singular.  Return