The Church of Christ needs a revolution in how, what and why we give. From the very beginning of the “church age” money and giving have been a foundational value of the followers of Christ. No longer did they have to give by the decree of the law but now out of a willingness and cry of their heart they cared for each other and the Word of God or “The Way”. It is evident that it takes money to spread the gospel and that for widows, orphans and traveling ministers care must be given. In the Old Testament or covenant, the priests took care of God’s money and it took care of them. They became a law unto themselves and dictated the use of the tithe, offerings and gifts. They became Pharisees. The New Testament actually begins at Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The examples given under the “Law” should show us the importance of giving, yet we are not under the law but grace and it’s law written on our hearts. From the day of Pentecost, giving is evidenced in the followers of Christ and dictated by their hearts– not the demand of others.
Acts 2:42 –Acts 2:45 (NKJV)
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Acts 4:32 –Acts 4:35 (NKJV)
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
Acts 6:1 –Acts 6:4 (NKJV)
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:5 –Acts 6:7 (NKJV)
And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
It is apparent that from the first, giving was a big part of life in Jesus. People sold possessions, land, and whatever so that all could live without need. Possessions were not seen as belonging to each person but “in Christ” they belonged to the body of Christ , or to Christ— as the need arose people gave.
At first the apostles took care of this “giving” but by Acts 6 They realized that the handling of money was distracting them from their calling “to be devoted to prayer and the ministry of the Word”. They had “the people” appoint others to look after the money, and then had laid hands on these “others” and gave them the job of looking after the widows, orphans and taking care of God’s money. It says after the apostles gave up the handling of the money; “then the word of God spread and the number of disciples multiplied…” Ministers get distracted when the gifts of God’s people are put into their hands and they are made responsible to take care of God’s money. Apostles are to be about God’s word, not God’s money.
We can see by Paul’s writings on money in 2 Corinthians ch.8 and 9 that giving is a great part of the Gospel. Those who received Jesus had to care for others; Paul exhorts the believers to “do” what they had declared they would do. If you will notice, though he thanks them for their care of him, he is concerned for those in need or being persecuted and admonishes the believers to carry out what they said they would do. In Ch. 9 he begins with “Now concerning the ministering to the saints”… He admonishes believers to carry out their giving, and provides a person or avenue for the Corinthians to give and carries it for them or sees to it that their gift gets to it’s destination — but it does not say they laid it at His feet. THEY had determined what to give “according to each person’s heart” and where. Paul just made sure that they did as they had committed because he wanted to see them blessed by their obedience.
I am including part of an old teaching I gave on “giving” years ago. I believe it is appropriate today. In these scriptures it is the responsibility of the people, the body of Christ, to see that widows and orphans in the body of Christ and traveling ministers are taken care of:
Jesus talks quite a bit about giving and that money and how we handle it shows how we would handle the true riches. (Lu.16:10-13). He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Here are some scriptures to get the idea of what Jesus taught and what is found elsewhere on giving. You should read them yourself, and study them. Don’t let me or others tell you what they mean, find out your self. Don’t be deceived.
I started this article with Lu. 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. In Luke 18:12 Jesus brings up the word tithe- not in a good way but as “the way of the Pharisee”. I don’t think he was saying their tithing was wrong but the attitude of the Pharisee was wrong. The tax collector was not right either,(but he repented and didn’t justify himself to God because of what He was doing).
When the widow put into the treasury, her two mites. Jesus told his disciples that she was doing more than tithing.
Mark 12:42 – Mark 12:44 (NKJV) 43So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
Luke 21:3 – Luke 21:4 (NKJV) 3So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
These others may have been tithe givers but, she was giving out of faith, love and she was showing her trust. She was making God first, even before living. That is like Abraham.
In Hebrews Melchizedek is spoken of and Abraham’s giving to him.
Heb 7:1 – Heb 7:12 (NKJV)
1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
4Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham;6but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.7Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
11Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?12For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
Now that is a mouthful. Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek without the law and the sons of Levi received tithes through the law, yet V. 9 says that even Levi paid tithes through Abraham’s giving to Melchizedek. Now we know that perfection is not through the Levital law. Look at V.12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. Remember that now we are kings and Priest and sons of God. There must also be a change in our attitude on giving.
IN the Old Testament the priest served the Lord in the temple for only a period of time for the most part, not their whole life. it was done on a rotating basis. Because they inherited no land nor could they work all the time, when they were in the house of the Lord they were provided for. (They had to travel to this place and stay there for a period of time then go home again).
IN the New Testament, there is a change; we are all priests and more, Sons! We each have the responsibility of stewardship. We are the temple. There are so many scriptures about giving in the New Covenant. Jesus talks about it and the book of acts demonstrates the new church giving to each other, Acts 2:44 – Acts 2:45 (NKJV) 44Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,45and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. In the book of Acts we see them giving a lot and it seems to be a primary part of the gospel they practiced. Let’s look at Paul as he talks about it in 2Cor. 8-9.
2 Cor 8:8 – 2 Cor 8:15 (NKJV)
8I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
10And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.12For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
13For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality.15As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
When Paul talks about giving for the provision of the saints it was to be a “testing the sincerity of your Love”. It was not by commandment. Giving is to be a result of your trust and faith. It is a sign of the reality of your love to others and their need.
Who did the people give to in these passages? What did they give to? Nowhere in the New Covenant did the people give to build “churches”, they had no buildings of their own. They met in other’s buildings and from house to house. The money they gave went to feed those who didn’t have or to the traveling ministers who could not work. When Paul was staying in a place for a period of time we see that he worked. We know that when the apostles traveled that they received from the people for their work amongst them. (We see no evidence that money was given to preachers who were staying in one place and not taking trips or traveling). The money was also given to the widow and orphans, the poor, those without or those being persecuted.
2 Cor 9:1 Cor 9:14 (NKJV)
1Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready;4lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting.5Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. ( it was to be willingly offered not a command.)
6But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.7So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9As it is written: Here he lets them know what the result of sowing sparingly will be, His goal in giving was to help those in need, we need to remember that. The Father rewards us, yes, but it is a byproduct of our love being expressed! We are showing His righteousness by giving.
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
10Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.12For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.
The giving in this passage is for the saints, not a church building. IT was to be given willingly and not from a command, but as each one purposes in his own heart. We are enriched “for liberality”(v.11). Look at v.9 “He dispersed abroad, gave to the poor—His righteousness endures forever”. Our giving is to disperse the Gospel to the world, that they might see HIM.
That we are to give is apparent, but it is to be of faith. IF we give sparingly we will receive sparingly. Etc. but we are to give because the Father has given to us! It expresses His love.
I want to do a small side note here, there constantly are surveys being done to see who is giving what and where it is being spent. I have one such survey from the year 2000. The church in America receives about 98 billion each year in gifts.
Out of every $100.00 that comes into the church, $98.95 goes to taking care of the building and pastors and programs in the “church” only $1.05 goes to missionary funds. Out of that $1.05 for missions $ .99 goes to programs that are reaching out to already reached people groups, it goes to support existing churches in other areas. (not really a bad thing). $.05 cents goes to reach unreached people groups around the world, to support missionaries or ministers reaching out to areas where church hasn’t been established.
How much of your church budget is spent on feeding the poor or giving to saints in other areas that have nothing because of persecution or poverty? What amount goes to ministers who travel to other places to plant the Gospel? Those who give up their lives and home to go reach others? Most of us support what makes us comfortable or is easy, not necessarily what the scriptures say we should support. If that is all we can do for what is truly God’s heart, maybe we should read the scriptures afresh?
Another thing taught to Christians in most charismatic groups is that of “giving to receive”. That is not the purpose of giving. It is to meet needs, getting will happen, but we give to help others and to demonstrate our love and faith, not because we will receive more so we can have more.. Leaders have taught 2Cor. 9:6 and Lu. 6:38 to show us how “to get”… Jesus’ heart gives because there is a need, NOT TO GET – We are to be like Jesus who said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Giving shows faith and love, and trust. It reveals the Father’s heart in our lives.
In my studies I found no law in the New Testament that says we must tithe. I find a lot of scripture that says we should give. It shows our love. We should give in faith that works by Love (Gal.5:6) … God should be first. This would seem to be the mandate of all scripture.
Jesus talks about giving a lot and says that how you handle your money tells how you will handle “the true riches”(Lu.16:1-13.) . The father of faith, Abraham gave a tenth before the law was established and that is one of the examples of his faith (Heb.7:1-12). In Acts they gave so all could have equally (Acts 2:44-45), Paul says in 2Cor. 8 that giving is to help all be equal, that there would be no lack. In ch. 9 he says it should be done out of a willing heart.
Interestingly enough, I find that it does not say that a church building is the storehouse of God. Nor does it say that we must give to those who are pastors only. In fact I find nowhere that says much about pastors, let alone about giving to them. It does say that an elder is worthy of double honor and a workman is worthy of his hire (1Tim.5:17). Of course elders are over a whole city. Most of the workers we see in the New Testament who received support were traveling from place to place spreading the gospel to new places or people. We see from Paul that He received from churches as he traveled (Phil. 4:15) and we know that Peter and John did also.
Neil’s opinion; (not worth much)! We should give because we are to be love and God set the example. We are the sons and priests of God, He lives in us — not in church buildings. We are responsible to hear His voice and obey. We should not judge who to give to by what they are “doing” but instead we should give what the Father tells us to where He says to.. Traveling ministers should be taken care of if they are following the examples found in the New Testament. More of our money should be spent on Missions since Jesus says “Go”. We should do more discipling and less converting. (I have this thing about Ministers and Pastors making more than the average wage of those they have in their church, why should they live better than anyone else). The New Testament scriptures say there is to be an equality.. I don’t find living higher than others to be the Principle of Christ or The Father. Getting is not the goal but having to give is. Here are some more scriptures on the subject.
Mt. 5:42, 12:43; Lu. 3:11; Ac. 20:35; Ro. 12:13; Ga. 6:6; Is.58:10; Pro. 3:9; Ac. 11:29; Ro 12:8; 1Co.16:2; Deut.16:17; Ezr. 2:69; Lu.11:41; Mt 23:23; Pro. 11:24, 21:13, 28:27; Ecc. 5:13; Le.25:35;
Here are a few on strictly tithes—Ge. 14:20, 28:22; Le. 27:30; Nu. 18:21, 18:24; De. 12:6, 12:11, 12:17, 14:22, 14:28, 26:12; 2 Chr. 31:5, 31:12; Ne. 10:37-38, 12:44, 13:12; Am. 4:4; Mal. 3:10.
I have been spending most of my time overseas during the last few years. I don’t like a lot of what I see as I travel and minister to the church of Jesus. I see many who live very well and put a lot in savings at the expense of the church and those they are supposed to be reaching. I see others with nothing, doing the same work. I see many in the congregations with nothing, poor. When home it is hard as I see such extravagances by ministries, but like Paul says I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in. I work when i can and minister when called. I do get tired of churches crying for more money like beggars. I dislike the twist to scriptures by ministers that tell people if you don’t give to me or my ministry you will not be blessed as much as if you do. I am tired of television evangelists who hound the body of Christ so they can wear patent leather shoes and live in mansions. I would like to see small ministries and large ones judged by the fruit not the take or the size of their buildings or ministries. I want to see the body of Christ walking in the fullness of Christ looking just like Him. I am tired of teachers who don’t teach and preachers who don’t equip and build up the saints so the saints can do the work of the ministry.. Leaders are to be under the body preparing them to minister not preaching at them or living above them. The Bible says to go to the entire world, make disciples and preach. Jesus says to give (Lu 6:38) and you shall be given to.
Bless all who read this and may the Lord show you the truth and how to edify Him and be like Him in your going and your giving. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! Neil
May the Lord be your guide and may your giving be a blessing and the result of your intimacy with Him. He wants you to walk with Him not just serve Him. Let our service be a result of our position not to gain a position.
John 14:12 – John 14:15 (NKJV)
12“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.14If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
15“If you love Me, keep My commandments.
All Scripture referenced are in the NKJV.