23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23–24, NKJV)
First-century Christians regularly came together on the first day of the week to worship God (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:26; 16:2; Heb. 10:24-25). True worshipers follow the teaching of Jesus taught about worship. It is “in spirit and truth.” Worship “in spirit” calls on the heart as the source of our worship of God. For example, prayers and songs must be with the spirit and understanding; it is not rote ritualism (1 Cor. 14:15). True worshipers praise God “with understanding” when they sing (Psa. 47:7; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). A heart far from God that goes through the motions of worship is an abomination to Him (Matt. 15:7-9). True worshipers also worship God “in truth.” His word reveals what worship He accepts. Churches of Christ gather every Sunday to pray, sing, eat the Lord’s Supper, thankfully give as we have been prospered, and listen to the teaching of God’s word (Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 14:26; 16:2). Souls who worship “in spirit” are careful to give God the “in truth” worship He accepts. New Testament Christians did that. We aim to do the same today. We hope you will, too.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: 9 “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:8–9, NKJV)
Christians do not give seeking renown or repayment for their acts of kindness (Lk. 14:12-14). The Lord sees unselfish giving, and He will repay it (Matt. 6:1-4). In today’s passage, Paul exhorted the Corinthians to give bountifully, purposefully, and cheerfully to the relief of needy saints in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 9:1, 6-7). He did so by assuring them God would abundantly supply their ability to participate in this good work. Reminiscent of Malachi’s admonition to Israel, Paul implies we cannot out give God (Mal. 3:8-10). We are to trust God to provide our own needs as well as our ability to give to others (2 Cor. 9:10-11). And so, like God, the pious person disperses to the poor without thought of return (v. 9; Psa. 112:9). Let us be bountiful, purposeful, and cheerful givers who trust God to provide our needs even as He supplies our ability to give to others.
33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:33–35, NKJV)
Paul did not preach the gospel in order to make money. Indeed, there were multiple occasions when he had to make tents to provide for himself and his companions (Acts 18:1-3). The example he set is a template for us to apply. When we are tempted to work so we can buy the next best gadget and gizmo, Paul has shown us a better way. We should work like he did so that we can “support the weak,” that is, give to those in need (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 6:17-18). A growing faith develops to the point where we wish to give more than to receive. This well-known statement from the mouth of Jesus draws our attention away from silver, gold and apparel, to the spiritual fortune of a life that is spent in giving to those in need.
The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. (Proverbs 11:25, NKJV)
Generosity is a mark of unselfishness. The miser selfishly hoards and is stingy toward others (Prov. 23:6-8). Not only should we generously share our material blessings, we should generously share other things, like our time and our abilities to help others. It is “more blessed to give than to receive,” and those with a giving spirit experience a bountiful return on their generosity. Often, that return is not measures materially, but in the spiritual blessings that come from serving others. “He who has pity of the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Prov. 19:17). The generous soul gives without thought of return, but the generosity is seen by the Lord, and He rewards it beyond measure (Lk. 14:11-14). Take time to open your heart and your hand to others, and you will be enriched. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk. 6:38).
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9–11, NKJV)
Fathers desire to fulfill the requests of their children. Indeed, fathers bear a particular responsibility to provide for their own house, and failure to do so is a grievous sin (1 Tim. 5:8). If earthly fathers give good things to their children when they ask, how much more does our heavenly Father do so. Jesus reasons from the lesser to the greater to impress upon us a fundamental truth: Our heavenly Father gives us the “good things” we need when we ask of Him. God hears and answers the prayers of His children, and He does so in ways that are best for us. God not only supplies our daily bread, He also supplies us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, which sustain our spiritual life. In the parallel passage of Luke 11:13, Jesus identifies the “good things” given by the Father as the “Holy Spirit” (whose presence confirmed the kingdom had come, Lk. 11:20; Matt. 12:28). God answers our prayers in harmony with His purposes and for our spiritual good. This is our faith as we pray to our heavenly Father.