Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thoughts on Giving


I received an email today on giving which was quite interesting. See below.


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A friend sent this to me and it made me think.

It seems a big amount to give back to God 10% of our income, but what if it were reversed?

I dreamed that the Lord took my weekly contribution to the church,multiplied it by ten, and turned this amount into my weekly income. In notime I lost my furniture and had to give up my automobile. Why, I couldn'teven make a house payment. What can a person do on a $100 a week?
Suppose the Lord took your offering and multiplied it by ten and made thatyou weekly income? How much would you earn? This might give us some freshinsights into the stewardship needs of the congregations."Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, ashe may prosper, that no collections be made when I come" (1 Cor. 16:2).
Think About It!

4 comments:

Big Doofus said...

Here's a thought for you...Do you think that the tithe applies to the New Testament church? I just don't see it. Sure, it would be great if we could just point to a place in the bible where it says we need to give 10% (or more) but it's not there. It's a love offering and the NT church was taught to give joyfully.

James said...

Hello my friend. Giving is something which I have "given" a lot of thought to. So here are my thoughts.

As I see it, tithing, or the giving of 10%, is a consistent biblical standard and starting point for sacrificial giving.

Here are a few things to note about tithing:

1. Tithing, or the giving of 10%, was practiced before the Law of Moses. Both Abraham and Jacob, upheld as great men of faith, tithed (Gen. 14:20; 28:22).

2. Tithing was commanded by God under the Law, and then the people offered up additional required and voluntary offering (Lev. 27:30-33; Num. 18:21-32; Deut. 12:5-19; 14:22-27).

3. Interestingly, tithing was not one of the practices that Jesus eliminated; instead, he upheld the practice (Mt. 23:23; cf. Mk. 7:19). Furthermore, Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it (Mt. 5:17).

4. Everything that was “written in the past was written to teach us” (Rom. 15:4) and “all Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16; cf. 1 Cor. 14:34). It would be strange to learn from these teachings on tithing that we should now give 2%!

5. Tithing is a matter of faith (trust) in God. A passage which illustrates the faith aspect of tithing is found in the book of Malachi. The people of this time were not giving their tithes and offerings. God challenged them to give, saying:

“10 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 you will not have room enough for it” (Mal. 3:10).

We may say, If God blesses me, I will give to him. God says, Give to me, and I will bless you abundantly. We must trust that God will always provide for our needs (Mt. 5:26). We must also trust that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

The examples of giving in the New Testament are actually much higher than 10%.

- Zacchaeus gave half he had to the poor—50% (Luke 19:8).

- The widow gave all she had—100% (Mk. 12:44).

- The first Christians converts sold all they had—100% (Acts 2:45).

- Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had—100% (Mt. 19:21).

- Other Christians sold houses or land (Acts 4:32-36).

These examples, and the long history of giving throughout the Bible, for me show that 10% should be the starting point for Christian giving, and not the end. As with all aspects of the Christian life—faith, speech, knowledge, and love—we should continue to strive to grow in our giving (2 Cor. 8:7). We do not do this out of any kind of legalistic thinking, but because we want to imitate Christ, who has given us everything.

When asking whether or not we should use 10% as a starting point in our giving, here are a few questions that I have considered:

Do we have fewer spiritual blessings today? Are we not more blessed under Christ?

Do we have fewer financial blessings today? Do we not live in the richest nation?

Is the need for giving any less today? Have we not been given a Great Commission?

For me to give less today, in the richest nation in the world, than people who did not know Christ and lived without all of the financial blessings that we have today, would be nothing more than selfishness, rationalization, and a failure to believe in the promises of God.

The Christian faith is a volunteer religion. No one can be forced to follow God or trust in his promises or give. But I believe that we need to educate people's hearts about giving--this is not incompatible with love and joy--just as we need to educate people about worship, discipleship, etc.

Chelf said...

You inadvertently bring up something I have thought about for years. Do you think that, while making their living off of the giving of others, that ministers should also give back 10%? Were the Levites asked to give?

This has been big in my mind, because I grew up in a very small congregation, and the preachers always had to have other jobs, because the church couldn't support their family fully. We could barely keep the lights on.

James said...

Michelle,

The Levites gave a tithe of all of the tithes to the priests (a tithe of the tithes). As far as I can determine, the priests did not pay a tithe.

The parallels to the OT are not exact, therefore I would not speak of a minister's "requirement" either for or against this practice. All I can say is, I believe that giving is a blessing and an act of faith. Since our first year of marriage we have sought to give at least 10%, and we have been blessed by God to allow us to continue to do this.

I think that if a church cannot fully support a minister, then they should allow him plenty of time to support himself through other jobs, with a correspondingly lower church work load.