Saturday, April 19, 2014
   
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Giving to God

Philippians 4; 1 Timothy 6; 2 Corinthians 8, 9

Let me tell you the story of Jacob and Lisa. They have two children (one a pre-schooler, and the other a young teenager), and are in their mid-30s. This is really a story about Jacob, who is currently in a great deal of debt. He has a good job, but like many of his peers, his expenses and lifestyle are beyond what he earns. He is a Christian believer, but he hasn't been doing very well spiritually lately. He is discontent with his life.

He wishes he had more money. He dreams of having the kind of job where he could spend freely on his hobbies and some extra for the family to take a few vacations, maybe buy another house and a newer pickup. He also secretly desires to have the kind of lifestyle his recently divorced best friend has. His friend seemingly is very happy, and has everything a person could ever want. While Jacob is happy to be married and loves his family very much, he just wishes his life was better and he had a whole lot more discretionary spending potential.

 

When it comes to serving or giving at his church, he has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he really loves his church, the pastor, and the programs the church offers his family. He loves its missions commitment, and he and Lisa attend a great small group. Lisa has asked him several times to consider giving to the church on a regular basis, but he resents the pressure he feels from her. Besides, when he gets to the end of paying his bills, there simply isn't anything left. In fact, he has so much debt, he really doesn't know how he is going to make it through the year.

He really wants to buy the newer pickup as soon as he can find the right one. So his giving is periodic—a couple of dollars every once in awhile. He reasons that even though he knows it would be appropriate to give and serve more, other members of the church are doing better than he is right now. They can give enough to pay for his shortfall. Maybe some day he'll get a new job, have more money, and be able to help the church out a little more (although he's not sure he can do that until his children get out of college). For now, surely God doesn't expect him to give something he doesn't have—especially when he has a lot of debt.

Jacob's story is instructive to us, for giving is one of the "Growth Producing Spiritual Health Habits" which help us be more fit for The Race and grow into maturity.

We will be looking at Philippians 4:11, where Paul begins by talking about his financial situation.

 

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

 

The Secrets of Contentment

Contentment is a secret—v. 12. Most people think it is a by-product of the accumulation of experiences and resources. It's not. Contentment results from secret information being understood and applied. Paul writes in v. 12, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret..."

Contentment is an attitude/state that is learned—v. 12b. "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." Contentment is learned in the classroom of our resource management and has to do with our attitude towards, and our actions with, the things of this life. It is not dependent on an ideal set of circumstances. Some would say that contentment is easier to learn when a person has money and a lot of things. Why, then, is it that many who have plenty are discontent? Let's talk about the rich for a moment.

Americans are the rich of the world, and the rich have many temptations luring them away from contentment and godliness. When the Scripture speaks of the rich, it is speaking of us.

1 Tim. 6:6-10—6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7] For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8] But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9] People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Foolish/harmful desires, as well as wandering from the faith, are temptations to those who want to get rich, and many have pierced themselves with many griefs as a result. How are temptations overcome?

Paul gives two commands that must be obeyed—1 Tim. 5.

  1. Don't be arrogant, or put your hope in wealth—put your hope in God. "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" (1 Tim. 5:17).
  2. The rich can be content only if they are rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share— 1 Tim. 6:18-19. "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 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."
Many Christians are unhappy and discontent because they haven't seen themselves as rich (or wanting to be rich), and thus have been lured into putting their hope in wealth—v. 17.

The result is that unhappy and discontent believers "...eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." What is the solution to discontent, traps, harmful desires, ruin, destruction, evil, wandering from the faith, and griefs?

Contentment comes from being rich—rich in good deeds, and being generous and willing to share. Our riches must be stored in eternity if we are going to take hold of life as God intends it now! We cannot, however, be generous and rich in good deeds on our own. Contentment is enabled by the strength of the Lord (Phil. 4:13—"I can do everything through him who gives me strength").

A key factor for finding the secret of contentment is the secret of the exchanged life. We exchange our needs, aspirations and successes for His strength. Philanthropy and even godly service are not what enable us to be content—it's God's strength. He changes the heart and gives the strength.

 

Two Approaches to Giving

Giving to Get Rich

A Need + My Giving = Personal Financial Riches Correction: 1 Timothy 6:5b,10 ("Giving to get" is trading!)

 

Giving to Give More

A Need + My Giving + Contentment + Good Deeds + The Lord's Strength = A Greater Capacity to Give Affirmation: Philippians 4:10-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; 2 Corinthians 9:6

 


With the secret of contentment in mind, and knowing that it has to do with God's strength enabling us to manage and give our resources, let's look at the subject of money in Scripture. The Bible speaks more about giving than heaven or hell. Jesus spoke about giving more than anything else; over half of His parables are about money. There are more promises related to giving than any other subject.

2 Corinthians 8:7 is an example of the many passages in Scripture on money and giving. "But just as you excel in everything else... in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness... see that you also excel in the grace of giving. (Notice it's grace. Where does grace come from?)

How does giving compare to other key words in terms of their mention in Scripture?

  • Believe: 272
  • Pray: 371
  • Love: 714
  • Give: 2,162

 

What Should Be My Attitude in Giving to God and Others?

2 Cor. 9:6-7—Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Note: Circle the words heart, reluctantly, cheerful.

Why Does God Want Me to Give?

10 Benefits to My Life

  1. Giving makes me more like God.
    John 3:16—For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

     

  2. Giving affects my heart.
    Matt. 6:20 —But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

     

  3. Giving is an investment for eternity and this life.
    I Tim. 6:18-19—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. Mark 9:41—I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

     

  4. Giving is the antidote to materialism.
    I Tim. 6:17-19—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.

     

  5. Giving honors God.
    Prov. 3:9—Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops...

     

  6. Giving blesses me with a greater capacity to give.
    Prov. 22:9— A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.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.II Cor. 9:6—Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

     

  7. Giving is better than receiving.
    Acts 20:35—In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

     

  8. Giving little can be much—Mark 12:41-44
    Mark 12:43—Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44] They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

     

  9. Giving faithfully to others will assure God's resources will be available to meet my needs.
    Clarification: Notice the promise is for my needs, not my wants. Phil. 4:18—...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.

     

  10. Giving to others in need is a pleasing gift to God.
    Phil. 4:18—...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. Matt. 25:40—The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

     

Those are pretty amazing benefits, but if they were the only reasons for our giving to God and His church, they would not be enough. There must be a higher motivation. The highest motivation for giving is summed up with the following phrase:

The Grace of Giving

In 2 Cor. 8-9, we have a complete presentation of the grace of giving. This is not tight-fisted or miserly giving, nor is it wild or careless. Rather, it is true, generous, abundant, and hilarious giving.

A great famine struck Palestine, and Paul wanted to enlist the churches' aid to help in the relief of the Jewish Christians. There was a great response from the Macedonian churches: Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

Paul writes in 2 Cor. 8:1, "And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches." Since true giving originates in grace, God's grace and goodness are the only true motives for giving. If you can't recognize anything that God has done for you, don't give anything!

This kind of giving is not a duty, but a joyous privilege. On the other hand, some give because they feel guilt; others because it's a tax write-off. Some want to gain a reputation—Acts 5:1-11; others give in order to get something. Some even give in order to look good to God.

Macedonian giving ignored the obstacles. In verse 2, Paul refers to the fact that out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. They persisted through the tests and ignored all the possible excuses (affliction—"Things are just too hard right now;" poverty—"We don't have enough money to make it ourselves..."). Their joy overflowed their affliction and poverty, and they gave beyond that which was even logical or expected.

What's more, these people asked for the privilege of giving. v. 4—"...they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints." (Note: This doesn't happen often!)

Their giving was also in the biblical sequence, in keeping with God's will. v. 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." They did the unexpected, giving themselves first to the Lord, then to others. This is a tremendous key to a giving heart—the giving of self first, followed by everything we have.

How we think about our possessions is very revealing. The Macedonians understood the concept of "ministering capital." We, too, have been entrusted with the oversight of God's resources to use as ministering capital. Think this concept through—it means everything we have is God's. We have been given the privilege of being a steward and investing to get a return. God owns it all (Deut. 8:18; Lev. 25:23; 1 Chron. 29:14; Ps. 24:1; 50:10; Haggai 2:8; Ez. 18:4; Rom. 14:8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are to be stewards (Matt. 21:33-46; 25:14-30; Rom. 18: 8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Lk. 16:10-11; 19:12-27).

We see from Paul's letter that this church's giving became a model to the Corinthians.

 

vv. 6-7—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."
Paul called them on to maturity, but only as he reminded them of where they excelled. He pointed out their excellence in
  • faith
  • complete earnestness
  • speech
  • their love for Paul
  • knowledge

Paul loved them too much, however, to leave them incomplete in any area; he wanted them to excel in the grace of giving. He knew that people respond and act maturely only when they are taught and called into maturity. Paul was not putting guilt on them, nor was he calling for two thermometers to measure who would give more—the Macedonians or the Corinthians. He was giving them a measuring stick for themselves.

v. 8—"I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others," he said. And in case the Macedonian example was too close to make an impact on the Corinthians, Paul illustrated the grace of giving with the ultimate example.

The Gracious Giving of Jesus

Jesus' motive for giving was grace.

 

—"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich...").

Oh, the love that drew salvation's plan,
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man.
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span, at Calvary.

"Freely you have received, freely give"—Matt. 10:8.

His manner of giving was self-emptying. At one time Jesus was rich, "yet for your sakes he became poor..." (v. 9b). We won't find that evidenced in the gospels. We find reference to the riches of Jesus, however, in John 17:24 and Phil. 2:5-11. Jesus borrowed often from others while He was here. Why? Why did Jesus become poor?

His purpose for giving was for the enrichment of others: that they might become rich ("...so that you through his poverty might become rich)." Do we really understand how rich the Lord has made us? (2 Pet. 1:3-4). How would we be without Him? How wrong, then, it seems to horde our gifts and riches.

With Christ's example in mind, here are:

 

The Grace Giving Principles for All Believers

v. 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."

Again, this passage is focused on giving to the poor, but from this section of Scripture we can see principles for all kinds of giving, including tithing.

Principles:

  • When giving to the poor and needy, the desire and willingness to give is more important than the amount.
    1. Principle: We should begin giving eagerly and willingly—not just when we have some extra we can spare.
    2. Principle: God knows our hearts, and He is not requiring something we don't have. He delights in the one who gives all that he/she can.
    3. Principle: God often supplies the amount we purpose to give in small amounts over a period of time, and if we are not careful, we spend that provision on ourselves, not recognizing it.
    4. Principle: Beginning with an eager and willing faith commitment is a good place to start; it's commendable—vv. 4, 6.
    5. Principle: If willingness to give more is present, this is acceptable to God, even if our giving doesn't reach what we desire—vv. 11-12.
    6. Principle: God loves a cheerful giver—1 Cor. 9:7.

     

  • The giving needs of the body must be met by the equal sacrifice of everyone—v. 13. "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality." This word "equality" is not justification for a kind of Christian socialism—a system devised so the wealth is distributed equally. Paul's argument is for equality not of amount, but of response:

     

    Not Equal Gifts, but Equal Sacrifice

    Equality is "to give when we have to give, and to receive when we have nothing to give." Our abundance is to be given to those who have needs; "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" (v. 14). The illustration of this principle is in v. 15. "As it is written: 'He that hath gathered much [manna] did not have too much, and he that gathered little did not have too little'" (Exodus 16:18). The important thing to note is that God was behind it all.

    These principles have wonderful application when we see the priority of support to which we are called in a local church:

    1. Its needy members—2 Cor. 8:13-15; 1 John 3:16-18; Gal. 6:9-10
    2. Its pastors/teachers—Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor. 9:1-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18.
    3. Its missionary endeavors—Phil. 4:14-18.

    Let's look at each one.

     

    1. Its needy members

       

      2 Cor. 8:13—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."

      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.

      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.

       

    2. Its pastors/teachers

       

      Gal. 6:6—Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

      1 Cor. 9:14—In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

      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," [Deut. 25:4] and "The worker deserves his wages [Luke 10:7]."

       

    3. Its missionary endeavors

       

      Phil. 4:14—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.

    These are our priority areas of responsibility. Some of these needs will be met as individuals are drawn to meet them in secret, or personally—1 John 3:17. But there is also a sense that we collectively have a responsibility to meet some of these needs if we are going to be a part of a church community—Gal. 6:10. There needs, then, to be an equitable system where not equal gifts but equal sacrifice can be exercised—2 Cor 8:13-15.

    Scripture has such a system, and it is called "tithing." The Old Testament requirement was for 25+ percent of a person's income, crops, etc. to go to various places and needs. Today, by paying our taxes we accomplish at least some of those responsibilities through social programs.

    The need remains, however, for support of the pastors; of the cost related to celebration times of the church; of the finances and food to meet social, financial, relational needs of the church; and for outreach. There is only one equitable way to meet all the needs.

 

A Tithe To God

With the grace of giving in mind (and the priority support needed), we can now approach the subject of tithing, and find out what the Bible teaches about it.

Tithe means "a tenth part." The difference between a tithe and an offering is that a tithe is giving 10 percent of my income, while an offering is anything I give in addition. The Bible says, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." God could have said to keep 10 percent and give Him back 90 percent of His 100 percent! Instead, the command for a tithe shows how generous God really is!

Tithing preceded the law in practice and/or principle.

Gen. 14:20—"And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.

Gen. 28:20a-22—20] "Then Jacob made a vow, saying... 22] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

Jacob and Abraham brought a tithe/offering to the Lord, but there is no instruction concerning these offerings nor the giving of a tenth—neither was commanded by God. It must have been a principle; or a gesture that seemed to be appropriate during that day. It could have been part of the oral instructions received from God; or that which was passed on to the next generation.

Gen. 4:4 tells us, "But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering..." Abel made an offering of the firstborn of his flock. On the surface this seems like a spontaneous act of submission or of love, but it may have been a response to an oral command or an obvious principle of bringing the firstfruits/firstborn to the One responsible for it.

It is obvious they understood the need to bring the firstfruits, or had a heightened awareness of the need to honor the Lord for His provision (see Gen. 4:7). God seemed to warn Cain, because Cain knew what was the right thing to do. Before the law, God instructed Cain and Abel. Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament person should have any problem with the fact that every possession is a result of God's provision.

 

James 1:16—Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17] Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

We don't need to guess about the purposes for the offerings and tithes, because later in the Scripture these are made clear. By means of progressive revelation, remember, the truth was more fully explained as we got the law. In the Old Testament, for example, tithing is included in God's instruction to Israel and affirmed in many places.

 

Mal. 3:10—"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." 11] I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty."

This is one of the last instructions concerning Malachi in the last book of the Old Testament.

Tithing is mentioned in the New Testament as well. Jesus said this about tithing:

 

Matt 23:23—"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

Jesus was doing what He had done in many other places in the gospels (e.g., Matthew 5-7): unraveling the complex list of traditions and additions the Pharisees had made to the law, as well as showing that inward righteousness of mind and motive is what pleases God. The law originally intended to include the heart—1 Sam. 16:7; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:26-27.

God doesn't want us to try to conform to the letter of the law or even the commands of Scripture in our own strength, with improper motivations or heart. He wants us to come to Him recognizing we are spiritually bankrupt and unable to be obedient to the Scriptures, to recognize we can't keep the commands of the Bible because within ourselves we have no power to keep them.

Thus, He wants us to trust Him. He will enable us by His Spirit to fulfill His commands. When we recognize our spiritual poverty (Matt. 5:3), then the King comes in, resides in us, and fulfills the righteous demands of the law through us.

For example:

  • The Pharisees limited adultery to the act. Jesus showed that it was in the heart—Matt. 5:27-28.
  • The Pharisees limited the commands about swearing and honesty to certain oaths involving God's name. Jesus called for honesty and exactness in every area of speech—Mat. 5:33-37.
  • The Pharisees limited the commands about loving neighbors only to certain people. Jesus broadened it to include unlovable people, and even our enemies—Matt. 5:38-47.

Jesus countered the Pharisees' limitations by emphasizing the motive and intent of the heart. He stressed that all people must be loved without limits, and that sin is an act and an attitude. Jesus calls His followers today, too, to participate in true righteousness that originates in the heart and comes only by Him.

The problem was not the Law—it was perfect. It didn't need to be changed or added to. Man's heart needed to be altered by Christ's righteousness, then by His Spirit we could fulfill the righteous requirements of the law—Rom. 8:1-4. The Pharisees, and maybe even the ordinary Jews, were obeying the outward law, but were neglecting the heart—which should have given motivation for the tithe—"...justice, mercy and faithfulness."

 


Why Should I Tithe?
8 Reasons from God's Word

  1. Because Jesus commanded it. Matt. 23:23—Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
  2. Because God commands it. Lev. 27:30—A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
  3. Tithing demonstrates that God has first place in my life. Deut. 14:23—Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.
  4. Tithing reminds me that everything was given to me by God. Deut. 8:18—But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
  5. Tithing expresses my gratitude to God. Deut. 16:17—Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.
  6. God says that refusing to tithe is stealing from Him! Mal. 3:8-10—"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you'? In tithes and offerings. 9] You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me."
  7. Tithing gives God a chance to prove He exists and wants to bless me! Mal. 3:10—"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."
  8. Tithing proves that I love God. John 14:15—If you love me, you will obey what I command.
    2 Cor. 8:7b-8—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.

"Tithing" is an Old Testament principle commanded by God, but in the New Testament is a principle of generosity and sacrifice out of love for God.

 

How Should I Tithe?

2 Cor. 9:7—"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

2 Cor. 8:5—"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." It is important to give cheerfully the first part of what you earn, not the leftovers. Proverbs 3:9-10 reemphasizes this; "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10] then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Give cheerfully where you worship on Sunday (Mal. 3:10).

Give cheerfully with the right attitudes. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).

Give cheerfully on the first day of the week (as you have income). "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" (1 Cor. 16:2).

Give cheerfully and joyfully, not reluctantly/under compulsion (II Cor. 9:7). Give cheerfully and generously (2 Cor. 8:3-4), and give expectantly. Second Corinthians 9:6 reminds us, "...Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."


A Prayer of Commitment

"Father, I know You love me and want what's best for me. I recognize that all I have, or will ever have, comes from You. I am more interested in pleasing You than in having more possessions. I want You to have first place in my life, and I am willing to begin tithing as You have commanded. Out of gratitude for all You've done for me, and in expectation that You will continue to provide for me, I commit myself to returning at least the first 10 percent of all I earn back to You. I want to begin investing for eternity. Help me to remain faithful to this commitment. In Jesus' name, Amen."

 


Additional Scripture references: Ex. 35:5—From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze... 21] and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments... 29] All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do...

Ex. 36:4—So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work 5] and said to Moses, "The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done." 6] Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: "No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary." And so the people were restrained from bringing more, 7] because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.