I have avoided the subject of giving in my writing for years. To see the need found in missions for adequate finances and not be a bit upset is a bit tough for me. So I tend to avoid the topic. Money is such a controversial subject. In Christianity it has been a very manipulated subject. We translate the scriptures on the subject to meet our own need or viewpoint and we have so decimated the reality of what scripture has to say.
All who call themselves by the name of Christ, are to “Go” and to “give”. There is no place in the New Testament (NT) for sitting or being a non-participant in missions and giving. Missions could be in your own city or area. Giving is not just about money, it could be a host of things including your time to help some ministry that is reaching out to the lost, (lame, blind and halt) in your local area.
Prison ministries are notoriously not financed by the Church even though Jesus says that when you visit prisoners, it is like you are doing it unto Him. Many who want to know Christ should go back and read the passage about “when you have done it to the least of these”….
I have spent a lot of time telling many, “obedience is needed by Christ followers”… so now I will share a bit of my thoughts on giving.
Without generous, Spirit-led continual giving, missions work will always be a hazard for those sent or going. Although this letter is not about giving to Neil and Dana, we have ourselves had to cancel planned missions trips because of promises of provision not kept. Each of our obedience’s or disobediences to the Lord affects not just our lives but the life of the Body of Christ and the lost in the world.
This letter is mostly a bunch of random thoughts I have on giving. I did not go back and do a thorough study to share. I think there have been plenty of scripture brought out by many through the years in Christianity on giving.
I have always had trouble with the stretching of several of these scriptures in the New Testament for a variety of “selfish” motives. That is one of the reasons that Dana and I very seldom ask for money. I detest the thought of twisting or manipulating scripture for our concerns. I think it would be good for most saints to go back and read what is actually written – without someone telling us how they want us to read.
There is no excuse for not giving (as with not going). We have the commission and the command to be like Jesus.
I do not think there can be any argument about what we are to do and who we are to be.
Our problem is that it is easier for us to live in a compromised state of being rather than being separate and sold out for Jesus. If we use the excuse of all the manipulative teaching on giving for not giving we are simply compromising for the sake of comfort. The world we live in teaches us that compromise is a must. Jesus does not teach that. “Why is it easier to believe and accept a lie rather than walk in the truth”? Just because someone misuses or mistreats scripture does not give me the right to disobey what is clearly written. It should give me even more of a reason to stand for what is right and do it!
I have been known to say over the years, “Every Christian must either go or give, there is no place in the Word that says it is acceptable to sit”. You are either sent or you are sending. Actually I believe every Christ follower must do both, go and give. God is a mission-oriented God. His command is to GO, and to go there must be giving. Therefore we must ALL be involved. Jesus’ goal is to reach ALL with the message. That takes many goers and a lot of givers. (In the armed services I believe I have heard at one point that it takes 27 people to support one soldier on the front lines of any war).
For the most part, Christians have been led to believe that missionaries should live on nothing and have no extras or tools to use as they go. I am not sure where that thought came from but it is ludicrous to send someone to war with no bullets, and without enough food or provision to be effective in battle. The conditions may be deplorable but provision should not be lacking! They are seeking to save the lost and destroy the works of the enemy. How do we do that without provision?
I know that our giving is so messed up in the church and our priorities are so far from the Lord’s yet we must not quit just because we have been in the wrong place or on the wrong road. We must find a way back to Biblical giving as well as going. Excuses are invalid reasons for neglect of duty. Compromise is simply a self-justified disobedience.
Missions gets about $1.06 out of every $100.00 given to the Church according to the year 2000 statistics I have read. About $.05 cents goes to reach unreached peoples. The rest is spent to preach to those already reached.
The “law of the tithe” is not a part of the NT but willingly giving a “tithe” or ‘tenth’ is the example set by Abraham the father of faith. If you study the “tithe” you will find that it had nothing to do with buildings but was used to provide for people (the widow, orphan, stranger and the priest. (Romans, Hebrews, Gal.3 and other places make it very clear that we are NOT under the Mosaic law; that includes tithing). The fact that we are not under the law does not do away with the NT statements on giving, the NT is filled with the reality of our need to give.
Giving is very much a part of the NT experience as laid out by Jesus, Paul and others. I cannot think that less than 10% is sufficient, but it does not give us a percent of what to give in the NT. It says to give according to our heart.
The NT begins at Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. At the beginning of the Church age, in the Acts, we see that from the very first money was an issue. The people were arguing about which widows should receive what. This makes it evident that money was being given from the very beginning. It was not about whether Peter, John and the rest of the Apostles got anything. Interestingly Peter and the Apostles wanted nothing to do with the money or the distribution of it. They told the people to appoint elders or deacons to take care of the money. They were to be about the “Word of God and prayer”. (seeking and saving the lost, destroying the works of the enemy,and equipping and edifying the believers).
Jesus says that how we handle money or mammon depicts how we will handle the rest of our living. And if we are not a “good steward”(faithful) with “unrighteous mammon”, (our money), then we cannot handle true riches,(the Kingdom of God)…
What does it mean to be a good steward or faithful with money? I am not sure I know all that entails, as life is different for each of us. But giving toward the work of God’s Kingdom is a part of being a good steward according to what is written in the NT.
In 2 Cor.8-9 Paul says that each man should “give as he purposes in his own heart”. Note; it does NOT include the option of NOT giving. The giving was for the “saints in need or being persecuted” (2 Cor.9:1). Giving was to be not grudgingly but cheerfully. It was to be according to an equality- no one was to give out of lack or abundance.(that does away with the give to get mentality). He says here that we will receive according to our giving, but it says that the increase is so you can give more – not have more. It seems that the only leaders that received compensation in NT writings were those who were traveling or, “GOING”, so they could not hold a job. When Paul stayed in one place very long it appears he worked to support himself. (I find no hard and fast rule on this, Jesus says a worker is worthy of His hire and it we preach the gospel we should live by it. So each Christian worker who lives at least partially or wholly through the giving of others must find what the Lord is saying and obey). Whenever I was home from missions work, I worked at anything the Lord allowed me to, until I started to receive Social Security. (Dana and I live on our SS and the money in Father’s Hand account is for provision of 3-Springs and travel to do ministry in the USA and in other countries as we believe this is what the Lord told us to do).
Jesus seemed to set the same example as Paul. He is not shown to live off others until He travelled. He was given to as a babe, but I find that nowhere does He ask for money for His need or His ministry needs. Paul says he resided in being “abased and abounding” yet lived at peace in both cases. I find no record of Him asking for money for Himself either. (If someone promised to give something he would hold them accountable but we see no place where he asked for money for His need). We can see by what is written that HE SEEMED TO ALWAYS BE ASKING FOR PROVISION FOR OTHERS and holding others accountable to give as they promises or purposed so that those who gave would be blessed by giving…
We find that all through the Bible GIVERS are rewarded for giving, but we also see that it was not their goal. Giving and receiving was simply a result of obedience to the heart sold out to God. Going, giving and receiving is the result of being “SAVED” and being about His work and purpose.
Where did we come up with “give to get”? Are we bargaining with God? I will obey you if you give back to me. Are we trying to coerce Him? Giving with selfish motivations is totally the wrong motive and will not bring us what we long for—His Love, presence and power. We need to give because He gave and asked us too. It is His way.
(On a personal note; I recognize that most people feel that a “church building” is essential to Christianity and that meeting there on Sunday morning is a must. I am not one of those people. We DO need to gather together and “forsake not the fellowshipping together of the saints”, yet I struggle with buildings and all they cost us. Maybe my opinion is the result of the mission work Dana and I are involved in and the work we do here and overseas. Most believers feel that a nice building or a big one shows Jesus in a positive way to the world. I do not think that really works but it is a personal opinion. (The buildings we have are for the most part only open a couple days a week and then only a few hours each day? There are exceptions.
If we are going to have buildings we should not need a bigger one until we are meeting daily in the one we have. Until it is used 6-12 hours a day, WHY would we build more?
Look at the money we could put in missions or use in helping other believers or those lost in the world if we did not have to support a building, along with the maintenance and salaries generated by it. The saints in ACTS met from house to house. That is the example they left us.
Abraham, the father of faith, was rich, but we have no scripture reference that he ever asked those following him for money. Instead he took care of them! The world gave to him and he gave to his faithful followers. He was their provider! NOT the other way around. He had a lot of people in his tribe. He lived in a tent just like they did. His herds, flocks and all that was given him was used to provide for all those who followed… Now there is a thought! Maybe we should be the same kind of example to the world and follow the Abraham’s model. We should care for the widows, orphans, lost and persecuted saints… instead of laying up treasures on earth, living in bigger houses with better cars and expensive clothes. I find no place in the NT where living in excess is shown as being the way we are to “show Christ”. It is neither scriptural nor Christ-like.
At 3 Springs and in Father’s Hand Ministries we endeavor to model Jesus lifestyle and living. We do not charge others for coming to get healed, delivered, trained or to live here for weeks or months to learn more about living in intimacy with Father. Our desire is that they be restored, filled up and then go to the world equipped in Christ. We believe that God will provide for us to help them body, soul, and spirit. And when sent from here, they are sent to do the same!
Jesus demonstrated that money given to Him, (he had a treasurer so someone was giving to them), was not for Him to have “possessions”. He provided for His followers, not them for him. He used his money, as far as I can tell, to care for others and feed and house the disciples as they travelled with Him. Paul definitely did not amass possessions in his living. He received money and taught that every Christian should give “whatever he purposed in his heart”. But we see that most of what came to him was used in ministry or given to “persecuted” saints.
I haven’t really quoted any scripture completely in this paper. As I said, I feel that anyone who wants can look up the truth. I thought I would let you go back and read the NT and see for yourself. If you read the scriptures in content concerning what is spoken of about money and giving, you will find the truth. Then you have a choice; believe what you read, or read what you believe or have been taught. Giving is not about getting. It is about nee
JESUS SAYS THAT IT IS VERY HARD FOR THE RICH TO ENTER THE KINGDOM, harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle; so why do we want to be rich? Why do we feel that if we are rich the people will see Christ better? Being rich does not show Christ it generally shows selfishness and self-indulgence. (I am not against being rich or having enough to live on in whatever society we are in, and I realize the “enough” is defined differently by each of us). But, scripture is scripture and the truth is not to be compromised. The rich young ruler’s problem was not just money but the Old Testament laws. Jesus was really asking him to give up his old way of living (living under the law) and “follow Him” or live in relationship with Jesus, (move to the NT revelation). His problem was that he could not give up his old ways, habits and provision to live in the freedom of relationship.
What scripture says it means. Somehow we must let go of our past ways and move to the way Jesus says to live. The law will never bring us what we are looking for. We must be goers and givers. NO ONE in Christ is outside that realm.
Each of us, in our obedience and disobediences, affects the kingdom of God and the world around us. Our decisions to go or give will affect Jesus’ purpose being done. Do not be deceived; what you sow affects what we all reap. If my obedience is based on what is in it for me, I have already missed the point. I am sent like Jesus. My obedience is about OTHERS.
Money is not the “fix all” for the gospel, that would take our obedience to do, but to spread the gospel WILL ALWAYS require money.
I will end with a story from the early 80’s.
Three of us were going to a small town in Nevada to do two days of ministry. God had spoken to us to go and we had purposed to follow Him. On the day we were to leave, we had no money for gas or anything else. We packed the pickup with the sound system and our bags anyway, and sat waiting for God to provide. In another town, several hours later, a farmer out plowing his field was overwhelmed by the Spirit. He shut down his tractor, drove 30 miles and gave us some money. We prayed for him, thanked him and then proceeded to the Nevada town. Upon arriving we refueled the pickup and paid for our hotel room. The owner of the hotel turned immediately and gave the money to his wife who went across the street and bought groceries. (evidently the family was hungry and in need).
After getting the hotel and fuel for the trip home, I had a 20 dollar bill left. That was what the hall rented for. Father told me to give the money to the couple with me so they could eat. The first night’s meeting was awesome, to say the least, and I was overwhelmed at His goodness to those who had come. There were a lot of tears and repentance in the place and that is a whole other story.
At the end of the meeting I counted the money, 21 dollars – awesome,- enough to pay the hall rent. Father said, “eat on that and tomorrow I will give you money for the hall”. So we had a snack that night, breakfast the next morning and lunch. I then was broke again and had no money for the hall rent.
After lunch we were back at the hotel sitting praying for the evening service. One of our friends from home was traveling through the area, hauling some horses somewhere, and stopped by. Father told me that he would give me 20 dollars. So as I sat and waited to see what would happen, the man reached into his pocket, realized he left his wallet in the truck and asked his wife if she would get it for him. I was so excited but when he got it he simply put it in his pocket. No money! They left; the couple with me had a bit left of the money I gave them so they went to get a snack at the restaurant. I had started to take a shower when the husband of this couple comes back in and told me that our friend had came back to town after leaving and gave him 20 dollars to give to me. As he started to hand it to me, the Lord spoke and told me to give it to them again! He said He would give me 20 that night in the offering bucket. So I told the husband to keep the money and get a real meal for he and his wife with it.
I finished my shower got dressed and went to the hall to pray. I had no money for the rent and was a bit squeamish over this little detail. Father asked me if I trusted Him? — Ha, of course I did, or so I said … (more sweat and fear occurred after the proclamation of my trust in Him).
God basically shook the whole place that night, people were laying on the floor, many of the chairs were knocked over – all had fell out in the Spirit, and many got up saved, healed or delivered. After Father had finished and the meeting ended I checked the hat at the back of the room and found $17.99. Even though I had just had one of the greatest meetings I have ever had, 17.99 is not $20, I was mad!. God had promised me $20. What was I going to do? $17.99 will not pay the rent?
The couple I was with left after helping me clean the hall and went to have a bite of food with the money they had left, not knowing I did not have the money for the hall. I finish mopping the floor of the hall and fumed a bit more about the money with God. At about 11:30-12 midnight, as I was completing the mopping, a young child came into the hall carrying 2 bills and dropped them in my hat still at the back of the room. I began to smile as there were 2 bills and to have $20 I knew one must be at least a 5. How cool. I went to look and it was two 1’s. I still was short 1 penny from having $20. I had 19.99. That is just wrong!
Still mad, I closed up the hall and headed for the restaurant. When I got there the husband of the couple who had done the music ministry asked me what was wrong. I told him that God had promised me $20 but I only had 19.99. I was a penny short. He looked at me kind of in shock, then exclaimed, “I know where your penny is” and disappeared. When he came back he told me how he had watched this penny fall from our friends pocket when he had checked for his wallet in the hotel room. But since it was only a penny he had not said anything. That penny that he thought had no value was the completion of Father’s promise to me.
I got to share that testimony with the man who rented us the hall, and many others through the years. A confession of God’s faithfulness.
One, when God directs and we purpose to obey, God provides! In the provision to complete His direction for us to go was the obedience of others, the farmer who left his job, came and gave to send us; those who gave at the meeting (even the one who gave after the meeting by coming back to give $2); and my friend who gave $20.01—
Two; even if you only have .01 cent to give, it may be what fulfills the need of the one sent. That penny meant more to me than the 19.99 I had gotten as it completed God’s promise.
What if any one of those involved had not gone or given?
We must give account to the Lord for our walk. There is a judgment coming first to the House of God whose home we are, then the world.
In Father’s Hand, neil