Paul’s letters to the Corinthian believers contain more about giving than any other segment of the New Testament. Paul repeatedly reminds the Corinthians of the need in Jerusalem. The poor saints were destitute and needed help. Corinth was far wealthier than the Macedonian churches that had given out of their poverty. The church at Corinth had some members who were relatively well off.
Paul challenged them to a partnership in grace giving. This year’s theme at the SBTC annual
meeting was “Grace Giving,” from 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. Partnership in grace giving has a denominational application. Awareness of the Cooperative Program is on the front burner in Southern Baptist life.
Commitment to the CP was a major decider in last summer’s SBC presidential election. A recommendation from state conventions on increased CP giving was approved at the SBC this summer. The Cooperative Program is a modern example of a partnership in grace giving.
There are several principles of this partnership. The first principle is participation in giving. The Corinthians boasted to Titus a year before that they would share in the special collection (8:6) but they did not keep their promise. This was not about money to support the church. It was about charity for the poor above and beyond regular gifts.
Paul said he was giving advice. He was trying to help them see that it was for their benefit to
participate, (8:8). Grace giving must come from a willing heart; it cannot be coerced or forced.
Every SBTC church that wants to reach Texas and touch the world is an Acts 1:8 church. This means congregational, continuous and cooperative participation in grace giving. Some people ask, “What does the convention do for me?”
I believe with the more than 100 ministries that the SBTC resources and networks for the local church, there is ample reason to be a part of the state convention. Value does not necessarily come from what a convention can do for you. Here is the real value: Cooperating with other churches of like faith and order for the good of others. Partnership in grace giving means participation without an expectation of benefit. Acts 20:35 tells us participation in giving itself brings the blessings.
The second principle of grace giving is proportionate giving. Paul endorsed it. Paul may have reflected Jesus’ parable of the widow’s mite. What she had left after giving is what impressed our Lord. God sees the portion and the proportion of our gifts. God looks on the heart and he looks in the wallet, too.
There is no set standard for CP giving. Some churches give large sums. Others give a large percentage of their operating budget. Just a small percentage increase through the CP would result in more churches, more ministries, and more missionaries to the unreached.
“Hands-on” missions are a valid expression of missionary activity, but slicing away a part of the CP in order to provide the funds hinders our partnership efforts. Don’t go down the failed path of direct or societal giving. I hope you see where the SBTC is worth your mission dollar investment through the CP.