The offering bag comes around on a Sunday morning and we suddenly feel we must put something in so we dig in our pockets for a few pennies and feel we have done our 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 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, 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 on the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income” 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 from this responsibility. Every Sunday we should set aside some money for the LORD.
But how much should we be giving? 1 Cor 16:2 continues with the statement that we should be saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.. 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 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each 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 summarise 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 gives 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 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”. (Matt 6:2-4). Let us not give for show.
The Philippian Christians provided for Paul on various occasions: for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. (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 the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. (Gal 6:6). We easily foist this responsibility onto 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 also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you, he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”(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 the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, “says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Amen
(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of March 2007)