part 1

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Explanation of the four parts:

  1. Giving In is how we share and contribute to the body of Christ. We give in, meaning that we share what we have internally to the community of believers. Understanding what it means to truly have all things in common.
  2. Giving Out is how we share with those outside the body of Christ. We give out meaning that we share what we have with the outsider, the alien and the stranger.
  3. Giving Up is how we share all that we have with God. We give up meaning that we perceive all giving as sharing what God has already shared with us.
  4. Giving Away is how we share something that is not ours to control, to sell, or to hoard – the gospel of Christ.

Giving In

Let’s be visionary. What will heaven’s economy look like? What will finances look like in the world to come? We probably do not tend to think of those very common categories of life in the world that is to come. And yet, Jesus teaches us very plainly to store up treasures in heaven. Notice that he is using the language of economy and finances to describe the world that is to come.

I think it is safe to assume that finances and economy are going to be radically different in the new heaven and earth. This radical change ought to cause us to take another look at how we view economy and finances in the now.

Do we have any clue as to what it will be like? God’s people (Israel and the Church) have always been a community that is living like heaven is here and now. In Acts 2:42-47 the church is described in this way ...

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This is a glimpse of what it will be like in the new heaven and new earth. This is very much beyond any statement on economic policies (i.e., communism vs capitalism). This is the outgrowth of life in the Holy Spirit. This is the future kingdom of God seeping in present.

What is the economics of the kingdom of God? To put it another way, what happens to “stuff” in the kingdom of God? Well it is all about fellowship. There is radical sharing, feasting, celebrating. There’s no buying, selling, loaning and saving. Is that possible? Well it was then and I would say that we have seen glimpses of this over the ages. In fact the only things that hinder us from being radical about “giving in” is the brokenness, sinfulness, and unredeemed nature of the world. For instance, we might think, well its fine to share with one another but what about those who would take advantage of that? That’s a problem now (but the one who would take advantage of generosity doesn’t have the Spirit of God). We can still, even now, experience what is to come even if everything isn’t perfect.

How shall we practice using our stuff and spending our money for the future of God’s kingdom?

  1. Let’s put aside notions of doing good deeds and investing in God so that we get a good spot in heaven. We don’t buy our way into the kingdom of heaven. Our place in God’s Kingdom has been purchased by another. And it came with a bonus gift! The Holy Spirit! So let’s put this spirit into practice.
  2. Giving In means having the Inclination to give. In Acts 2, the believers were filled with awe. They had glad and sincere hearts. No one had to tell them to give, they just did. They understood how Christ changed everything, including their economy.
  3. Giving In means being Intentional about giving. The Inclination is not enough. It has to become action. Practicing means doing.
When inclination and intention combine and we grow in our practice of Giving In, can you imagine what we might be able to do? The good news is that we have the funds and resources to do anything we might imagine. The bad news is that it is in your wallet. Now let’s try and change that bad news to good news and start practicing the economics of the age to come ...

So What?

  1. How do you use your stuff? Do you plan your spending? Are you intentional?
  2. Some of us can look over our spending and spend less on self so that we can give more. Let’s have the inclination and get intentional.
  3. Some of us cannot give more because we in debt or other financial stress. How would you like to get out of debt’s economy? Do you have the inclination to give? Then get intentional. Let’s encourage one another in that. Let’s build the sort of momentum that allows us to give in.
  4. Some of us just cannot give more at all and may have to give less. But do you have the inclination to give? Then what can you be intentional about giving? I have heard that the poorest in a certain African church would put their hand in the offering tray. This was there way of giving themselves. The Levites had no inheritance, but they gave God their service for the sake of God’s people.

Let’s show the world what the kingdom of God looks like.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 31 May 2009

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