Giving

 

Giving is a very important aspect of the Christian life.  Unfortunately, the doctrine of giving is often taught by preachers who profit personally from the increased giving of their congregations.  Thus, there is as much bad teaching, if not more, on the subject as there is good teaching.  Giving to God is a principle based on the fact that God gave to us.  It’s similar to the way we reciprocate his love for us, “We love him, because he first loved us,” 1 Jn 4:19.  We give to him because he first gave to us.

 

In Jn 3:16 the gift that God gave us is greater than eternal life.  He gave us his Son that through him we would receive eternal life.  The verse says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”  And his Son loved us so much that he gave his own life for us that we might have life.  He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Jn 15:13.  In 2 Cor 8:9, we see that Jesus gave literally everything he had, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

 

So, the pattern for giving was established by the Lord.  God gave the most precious possession he had.  He gave his Son about whom he said, “This is my beloved Son.”  And Jesus gave all of his possessions in heaven and his life, too.  So, what great sacrifice is it for us if we give a little money, or even a lot of money?  This is like the chicken and the pig who were talking about their contributions to breakfast.  There is a huge difference between what it costs the chicken to put eggs on the table and what it costs the pig to put bacon there.  You have to admit, we’ve got it pretty easy as chickens!!

 

The basic financial responsibility that we have towards God is the tithe.  By definition, the tithe is the Lord’s [Lev 27:30].  So, it is to be given to the Lord first [Prov 3:9] and to not give it to him is to rob him [Mal 3:8].  The tithe is one tenth of our gross receipts [Gen 14:20, Heb 7:4] and it was first given by Abraham to Melchizedek in Gen 14.  So, the tithe was established before the law.  Thus, it is not part of the yoke of the law to which Peter was referring in Acts 15:10 when the disciples decided not to put the Gentile Christians under the law [Acts 15:24].

 

The tithe is used primarily by the local church to pay its ministers and to fund its ministries [1 Cor 9:13-14] in the same way that it was used in the Old Testament primarily for the support of the priests and Levites [Num 18:24-28, 2 Chr 31:5-19, Neh 13:5].  It is a fact that Christians who tithe can pay their bills more easily with 90% of their income than Christians who don’t tithe can with 100% of their income.

 

Above the tithe, Christians give gifts to the Lord.  In the beginning of the church, the disciples sold their possessions, goods, lands, and even houses and gave them to the Lord to meet the needs of the saints [Acts 2:44-45, 4:34, 35].  As the church expanded into other regions, the saints continued to give sacrificially to relieve the poor Christians [2 Cor 8:1-4].  Undoubtedly, the Lord took care of them in spite of their large gifts [Prov 19:17, 2 Cor 9:8-11].  They were living by the principle of scattering and yet increasing [Prov 11:24-25].  Hence, they experienced the blessing of giving promised by the Lord [Acts 20:35].

 

Giving to that degree is prompted by an underlying gift of yourself to the Lord and to the people to whom you are ministering [2 Cor 8:5].  The benefits to you with giving like this are wonderful.  You reap the love of God [2 Cor 9:7], the abundance of fruit to your account [Phil 4:17], the assurance of gifts to you when you have need [Lk 6:38], and the promise of heavenly treasure [Matt 6:19-21].

 

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