"Beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship." (2 Cor. 8:4)
Many years ago, in a Missions Conference, a very wise man, who was then Secretary for Christian Endeavour for the world, was conducting a question box. He took out of the box the question, "How shall we raise money for Foreign Missions?" His answer was as quick as the crack of a pistol, and as forceful: “Don't raise it, give it." In that answer is the solution of the whole problem which confronts giving at the present hour. If funds are lacking to carry on the work of God in the far distant places of the earth, it is because THE CHURCH HAS BECOME SO BUSY RAISING MONEY THAT SHE HAS CEASED TO GIVE IT.
Every method for raising funds for Missions that is spectacular, worldly, and commercial, I hold to be out of harmony with the will of God, and in the long issues calculated to hinder and not to help. If we can but return to the simple and profound principles of the New Testament in the matter of giving, we shall never have to call a halt, or beckon the workers back, in order that we may close fields into which they have entered because the Church at home is not conscious of an opportunity, or IS NOT READY TO SACRIFICE in order to enter a field.
What is the basic principle of giving? It is declared in one word, which I have already quoted in this chapter. I take it out of its context. It does not belong only to this chapter, for it is stamped upon the pages of the New Testament. It is the word "fellowship." "Beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship." (2 Cor. 8:4) If we may but come to an appreciation of the meaning of that word in all its applications, we shall have touched the profoundest basis. What is fellowship? Those of you who worship here regularly must be patient if I now repeat in this connection what I have said in other connections. The word translated "fellowship" is one of the richest words in the New Testament. So rich in suggestiveness is the Greek word "Koinonia," that not even the revisers found it possible to express it in all connections by one English word. When I take up my New Testament I find the same Greek word is translated "communion, communication, distribution, fellowship." I find, moreover, that its kindred word, "Koinonos," is translated "partaker, partner." Whereas there is something very dull in the repetition of a group of words like that, the very repetition helps us to see the richness of the word. There is one passage in the New Testament which admits us to the heart of its meaning. It occurs in connection with that fascinating picture of the early church, when it is declared that the disciples had "all things in common." (Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32) The Greek word so translated is the root from which our word fellowship comes. Fellowship with God, therefore, means that GOD HAS PLACED ALL HIS RESOURCES AT OUR DISPOSAL, and that we, dare I say, have placed ALL OUR RESOURCES AT HIS DISPOSAL? I dare not; I dare say only that we ought to place all our resources at His disposal. That is exactly what the apostle meant when he wrote to the Corinthian Christians, "We make known to you the grace of God... ye abound in everything... see that ye abound in this grace also." (2 Cor. 8:7) THE GRACE OF GOD TO YOU IS THAT HE HAS PUT ALL HIS RESOURCES AT YOUR DISPOSAL. YOUR GRACE IS TO BE MANIFESTED IN THAT YOU PUT ALL YOUR RESOURCES AT HIS DISPOSAL. That is perfect fellowship. Tell me, if the whole Christian Church understood, and lived in the power of such fellowship, would there be any need to ask the patronage and help of godless men to carry on godly work? Would there be any need whatever to recall from the field loyal hearts who are suffering and serving, but who must be brought home owing to lack of funds? This is the difficulty. God has put all His resources at our disposal, but we have not put our resources at His disposal. That is the foundation principle that ought to underlie all Christian giving.