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Christian Giving

 Giving money and possessions is one of the most practical, yet frustrating and abused areas in a Christian’s life. Every believer must make decisions as to his/her giving.

 Psalm 24:11 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
God is the owner of everything. Can we give anything to God? No, He owns it all already. Since God owns everything, it follows that we own nothing: we are merely stewards (managers) of God's possessions. Our possessions have been lent to us by God and He expects us to use them wisely as good stewards. The Parable of the Talents in Matt. 25:14-30 is a good example of what God expects.
The Christian should view all that he has and all that he is, not as "mine," but "Thine."

 TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE?

In the Hebrew, the word for tithe means "a tenth" of something. In the Old Testament, giving of 10% of one's possessions was commanded by God (Lev. 27:30-32). There are those who claim that Christians should tithe 10% of their Income according to these commandments. It is claimed that God instituted the "tithe" long (400 years) before God brought the children of Israel under the covenant of the Law of Moses. Therefore, since the "tithe" preceded the Law of Moses it is still relevant (instituted) in the New Covenant. But, what does the Bible say?

We all know that Abraham gave to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, "tithes of all" (Gen.14:20). Many proponents of New Testament tithing are using this verse to "prove" tithing is valid as some "eternal principle" for the church today, because Abraham, the father of our faith, established the principle. Abraham gave 10% to the priest. But 10% of what? - From the spoils he plundered from the enemy kings and the property of his family (Lot) that he recovered. Abraham gave the remaining 90% to those to whom the goods belonged in the first place. Abraham had not touched his own property or income (yet he was exceedingly wealthy).

Gen 28:22 is another favourite verse that the New Testament "tithing" teachers use to support pre-law tithing. Jacob pledged the Lord his life and a tenth of all possessions that would become his along the way. But he made this promise conditional: If God would remain with him, keep him in the way, and bring him safely home again; he would carry out his part of the pledge.
Can we bargain with God? Can we ‘blackmail’ God? Is God’s Grace conditional on us keeping promises? Can we give anything to the Lord? - It was all His in the first place! Is God not Sovereign? God can, and will do whatsoever He desires, according to His purpose! The example of Jacob therefore cannot be held as binding on a Christian.

Bring the whole tithe…
Here we have the tithing teachers' favourite verses in the whole Bible. On these verses they hang most of their doctrine. But if we take a close look, we will find something very interesting.

Nehemiah 10:38 "And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse".

Mal 3:8-10 "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. (9) "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! (10) "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test 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 a blessing until it overflows.

The Levites were set apart in those days to be priests and caretakers of the tabernacle. These verses talk about the tithe payable by the Levites, not the tithes payable by the people. Malachi is rebuking the Levites, not the people. When our modern day tithing teachers point this verse at the people, they are really pointing at themselves - except that most of them refuse to accept this teaching, let alone teach their congregation this Biblical Truth.

Num 18: 20And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. 21And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

The Levites, in turn, were to give a tithe of their tithe, to provide for the priests. All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. The priests were to receive the best tenth of the Levites’ tithe.

Num 18: 24But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 25And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 26Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. 27And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. 28Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest.

Mal 1: 7 O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.  8And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil?

The Levites (those who minister for the people in the Temple: i.e. the modern day pastors as claimed by the pastors) were not offering a heave (best) offering to the High Priests. The Levites were giving the blemished goods to the Temple Priests. They were not good stewards of the goods God entrusted to them. Today there is no human equivalent of a High Priest. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of all True Believers today. (Heb. 2:17-18; 3:1-2) Those who claim an equivalent of the Levites today, (ie: pastors) are the ones whom Malachi is rebuking. Malachi is not rebuking the "people"; he is rebuking the Levites (pastors).

The only ones ever authorized to receive tithes were the Levites. Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible to keep the tithing law (just as it is impossible for Jews to atone for their sins by sacrifice). Today, even Orthodox Jews don’t tithe! No one is qualified to receive tithes now that the priesthood and temple are gone.

The Old Testament law of tithing continued right up to the Cross, where we have Jesus Himself saying- Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the more important matters of the law.

Are we under the Law?
Romans 7:
4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.  5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.  6 But now, by dying to that which once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Since we are dead to the Law, having been released from the Law, we therefore don’t have to “tithe”. However, this does NOT mean that we don’t have to give – all it means is that we are no longer under the bondage of the Old Testament Law and that “forced” giving, in the form of tithes is no longer applicable under the New Covenant.
Therefore, always be careful of a preacher who pleads for money for himself or his ministry from the pulpit.

 If we no longer tithe, then what does the Bible say about Christian Giving?

 WHAT IS CHRISTIAN GIVING?

 1.      A Sacrifice / An act of Worship

·        Phil 4: 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.  19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

·        Heb. 13: 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.  16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

In the Old Testament, people were under the Law of Moses and there were strict instructions of sacrifices that were to be made by the Priests. Notice in the verses above, that the offerings Paul received from these people are described as sacrifices. Giving is therefore synonymous with a priestly sacrifice and as such, it is an act of worship. Such giving is pleasing to God, as an Old Testament sacrifice might have been (Phil. 4:18–19).

2.      A gift, a response to the Grace of God

·        Under the New Covenant, it is also a response to the grace of God. Because of what He has done for us, we want to further His Kingdom with acts of love.

3.      A form of Thanksgiving

·        2 Cor 9: 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

THE PRINCIPLES OF GIVING

2 Cor 9: 6  But let him who is taught in the Word share with the one teaching in all good things. 7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  9 As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

 In Giving:

·        You will reap what you sow.

·        You should be directed and led by the Holy Spirit.

·        If you sow generously, your righteousness will increase.

·        If you are generous, you will be made rich in every way, thereby increasing your potential for further generosity – of course this is subject to God’s Sovereignty.

·        You supply the needs of God’s people.

·        Results in thanksgiving to God.

·        Results in Praise to God.

·        Others will pray for you.

·        Is an indescribable gift.

WHY DO WE GIVE?

1.      To show what love is - the love of God in us.

·        1 John 3: 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.

·        Luke 6:31 Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

·        Luke 6: 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

2.      To thank God for the Grace He has shown us

·        Matt 10: 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, now freely give.

3.      To work towards perfection and treasures in heaven

 ·        Matt 19: 21 Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

·        1 Tim 6: 17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

WHO DO WE GIVE TO?

1.      Anyone who asks

Matt 5: 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

This is the general rule. It is good to be in the habit of giving. We may not refuse to give to anyone who asks or who wants to borrow – within certain biblical limitations. It must be done in consistency with other scriptures:

·        Deut 16:17 – As we can afford it.

·        Having FIRST provided for our families, mothers and fathers.

·        Depending on the ability of a person to work.

·        Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – put yourself in their shoes…

 If a widow, an orphan, or a man infirm, lame, or sick, is at your door, wherever that may be, never send them away empty.

 2.      Family

1 Tim 5: 8 If anyone does not provide for his family, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Exo 20: 12 Honor your father and your mother.

  It is seldom, perhaps never, good to give to a man that is able to work:

2 Thess 3: 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.

To give to such is to encourage laziness, and to support the idle at the expense of those who try. If such a man is hungry, we must feed him, but if he wants anything farther, give or help him with employment.  

3.      Teachers / Elders / Church

·        Phil. 4: 10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.  15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;  16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.  17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.  18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.  19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

·        1 Cor 9: 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?  12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.  13 Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?  14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

·        Gal 6: 6 Anyone who receives instruction in the Word must share all good things with his instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life

·        1 Tim 5: 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.  18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain”, and “The worker deserves his wages.”

·        Providing for teachers is an obligation for every believer, because everyone is taught by someone.

·        Our giving needs to be pleasing to the Spirit, not the flesh. We can only do this if we are directed by the Spirit. What is important to realize is that the Spirit would never direct you against the Word of God. If the Word says it, then so be it!

Gal 6:  9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

·        Our good deeds are to be directed to all people, but especially to Christians.

·        Anyone who ministers has a right to be supported. It is important to remember that Paul never asked for money for himself, thus living in the Gospel ministry entirely by faith – in other words, he relied on the Holy Spirit communicating his needs to those who could help – and this is how WE should be living our lives… praying for the Lord to show us where to assist. The Word of God is not contradictory – it says that we need to support our ministry – and that is a non-negotiable fact.

·        Consider this… If everyone in the church gave as you do, would the church survive? Would there be a pastor? Are you loving your fellow Christians, when by your tiny giving you force a few members to "carry" the church? You say you don't have much to give; yet what percentage of your income do you spend on other pleasures, toys, etc.?

4.      Strangers

Heb 13: 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Matt 25: 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. 44  They also will answer, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? 45 He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of my brothers, you did not do for me. 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

 5.      The poor

Deut 15: 7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.  8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.  9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near, so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.  10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.  11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Luke 3: 11 John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

6.      Enemies!

Romans 12: 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord. 20Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.

 

WHAT DO WE GIVE?

 Anything and everything, Material possessions, Money, Food, Drink, Clothing, Compassion, Time, physical help and resources.

 Luke 12: 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 Matt 25: 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.

 Acts 9:36 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 

HOW DO WE GIVE?

 To the church / pastor - weekly

1 Cor. 16  Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

We give ourselves first to the Lord, then to others.

Giving comes after seeking God’s will.

 2 Cor 8: And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.  6 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.  7 But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.  9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.  11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.  12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,  15 as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

 The New Testament does not condone the requesting of money for one’s own ministry or other needs. This would violate the free leading of the Spirit. God is quite able to supply the needs of those who minister in His name, by leading other individuals to give to those ministries He wants supported.  

IN SECRET
Matt 6:
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Your giving should be completely in secret – no-one should know what you give.

 

HOW MUCH DO WE GIVE?

 Deut 16: 17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. 

According to our means.

According to what one has earned already, not on credit, nor out of debt!

The Old Testament Israelites were commanded to give a 10th (tithe) of all their income. But they were under the Law, and had to work hard to try keep it. How much greater then is our responsibility to give – we who are no longer under the Law, but under Grace, who have been bought and paid for in full?

Whatever we can give, guided by Prayer and the Holy Spirit, we must give, but only cheerfully and with a good heart, without which, the giving is worthless.


 1 Cor 13: If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Summary

Giving is a privilege under grace, a responsibility under priesthood, and can be a blessing to believers and glorifying to God, if done in conscious obedience to the New Testament. As in all things, God prospers us as we follow His word. He does not promise to bless what is not done in accordance with His word. It is thus a biblical principle that the will of God can be discerned by the way God provides for a ministry through others. Dependence on the Spirit of God to supply financial needs is thus a key ingredient in determining how and where God wants us to serve Him.

This Gospel motivation is summed up beautifully by Paul when he writes to the Corinthians: "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).

We give because we have been given to. We give because we have been made rich beyond belief in Christ. And because of this we want to give, freely, cheerfully and generously. It is the least we can do for Him who has done everything for us.

 

OTHER BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF GIVING

Luke 19: 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Acts 2: 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.  45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Acts 4: 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.  33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.  34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales  35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement),  37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 11: 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.  30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Heb 6: 9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation.  10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.