Financial giving is a very important part of Christian living. It has been said that you can get an estimate the quality of a man’s Christianity by what happens with his wallet. Let us consider then the important issue of giving.
This is how it is for many: The offering bag comes around on a Sunday morning and they suddenly feel they must put something in so they dig in their pockets for a few pennies and feel they have done their giving for another week. But is this the way it should properly be? Let us seek to find some guiding principles which will make us to consider aright how we should be giving.
Paul is writing to the Corinthian Christians and he is encouraging them in their giving and he sums up by saying So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Christians should be giving people who always remember the words of the LORD Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35b).
In 1 Cor. 16:2 Paul writes to the Corinthians that upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store…”. Accordingly, on each Sunday we should make a point of laying aside a certain amount of money for the work of God. Just because we may not be able to be in church does not exempt us form this responsibility. Every Sunday we should set aside some money for the LORD.
We are to give according to as the LORD prospers. A proportion of what God gives us thereby during the previous week should be laid up for the LORD. New Testament teaching does not specifically indicate how much should be given. However, the Old Testament clearly teaches that the tithe should be brought to the LORD. Deuteronomy 14:22 says “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. A tithe is a tenth. As has been observed if under law a tenth was given, then in this blessed day of grace, the tenth should be a minimum. However, as a slight twist upon this theme it is interesting that before the giving of the law Abram was already bringing a tithe (see Gen. 14:20 and Heb. 7:2)).
So to summarize we give proportionately, as the LORD prospers us, a tenth is a guide and suggested as a minimum. However, it must be said, that everyone must be persuaded in his own heart.
Returning to Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian Christians on giving we are struck by how Paul inserts one of his great descriptions of our LORD when he says: for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9). In giving we remember how much our LORD gave for us and to us. We also remember how our God is one who give liberally (see James 1:5) and when we give liberally we emulate him. Children of God should be like their Father.
Not for men
The Lord said “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matt 5:2-4). Let us not give for show.
The Philippian Christians provided for Paul on various occasions: for even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities (Phil 4:16). Each of us should be thinking about what needs there are that we personally can meet. This means that we are not obliged to do all our giving through the church.
However, there are obligations to fulfill in providing for the ongoing church work. There are practical things associated with the church which require money; for example heating and maintenance. We should make sure the church is supplied with money for these things.
Moreover, God places upon us an obligation to provide for those who teach us the Word of God. Paul says to the Galatians Let him who is taught the Word share in all good things with him who teaches (Gal 6:6). We easily foist this responsibility on to the church, but from this scripture it seems to be an individual responsibility.
This reminds us that giving is an issue for each individual before God. No doubt the church leadership can guide as to certain causes which can be supported, but individuals must each move before God in this matter. Notwithstanding this, the one flesh relationship of marriage would indicate the appropriateness of married couples giving as one.
In our LORD’S ministry He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”(Luke 21:2-4). In our giving wholeheartedness is of more value than a fulsome cheque from an even more fulsome bank account.
And when all this is done we remember there is a promised blessing. The LORD in Malachi 3:10 says Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.” Amen
(Adapted from Feltham Evangelical church Newsletter of June 2005)