One of the first things we run into in church is the subject of giving. And its O.K. for the baskets or offering plates to be passed around - the church organization is a good thing and needs money to run on. No town or city subsidizes the church (EXCEPT the military church facilities and staff.) But in my experience, too often the subject of giving is abused by preachers who intend to “beat the bushes” and cause folks to give more than they might be able to. I’ve heard them say “put your offering on your credit card and God will help you pay it back.” One of the worst statements was this, “we should get a big truck and go to our church member’s homes & pick up the appliances & furniture they have bought with God’s tithe.” (That guy preached strict religion but was not able to live it himself - he was fired for chasing church women.) Another raunchy line is this “you haven’t given God one dime until you have paid your tithe.”
Well it’s a sad day in church when leaders use such tactics but it’s all too common. First we need to realize that the Bible is written in two parts- the OLD TESTAMENT and the NEW TESTAMENT. The old testament/covenant was stricter on most subjects including giving. The new testament/covenant reflects the age of grace and is more about God’s love & providence for us. While its O.K. to consider Old Testament teachings on any subject, we should mainly get our doctrine for living from the New Testament. Too many preachers build up a GUILT mentality by focusing on O.T. teaching on giving.
Why not look at what Jesus Christ had to say on the subject? “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:38 Now He didn’t say “pay what you owe or be damned” He said give and you will be blessed. (I have personally experienced this system for about 45 years & it works quite well.) The Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament said this “he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, NOT RELUCTANTLY or UNDER COMPULSION, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Those two passages contain the whole teaching and spirit of New Testament giving. Unfortunately they are rarely mentioned in church! This is why its so important to read the Bible for yourself!
Now I believe God is giving us a choice or a decision to make on the subject of giving. We can give a little or a lot. I think common sense is BIG here. Give a reasonable amount & don’t worry about what someone else might be giving or saying. Yes, the Old & New Testaments mention 10% but that is a goal or commitment that can be worked up to as we see God increasing our ability to give. And if we honor God with our resources, He has promised to increase those resources. Here are some other Old & New Testament references on the subject:
- Proverbs 3:9-10 "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." Solomon, son of David.
- Proverbs 11:4 "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death."
- 2 Corinthians 9:11a "You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, . . ." Paul, the greatest mind of the New Testament.
The bottom line in Christian giving is coming to grips with God’s economics. And it is an amazing subject as any economist will tell you. Just think of the main verse in the New Testament John 3:16. “God so loved the world that He GAVE his only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Now that was giving in the purest sense of the word. And look at the growth of the Christian movement since that bloody day. Choose Jesus and His principles - they are alive. See also "God's Economics" link 72.
Many other interesting Titles: www.gospelnotes.net -- link 1 is index * * F .J. Stone * *