What the Bible teaches about giving
Our heart behind teaching on giving is captured by the scripture “Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” Whenever we teach on giving in our services it is after taking up an offering because we want people to give freely and not feel pressured.
We understand that for new believers giving to a church may be a foreign concept and for many giving freely is something that is developed over time as their faith grows and they learn to trust God. So, we hope that by reading and reflecting on the scriptures and principles below you can get a better understanding of giving.
We know that over the years some folks have developed extreme views about giving financially to The Kingdom of God or been totally turned off the subject There have been extremes of greed on one hand and a total disregard to the Biblical teachings on giving on the other. Regardless of what others have done, we have committed our lives to living by God’s principles and according to His Word- we have found that it really is the best way to live!
Giving an offering to God is Biblical, an act of faith and worship
In the very start of the Bible, before priests and the establishment of a Temple, we see that Cain and Abel both provide an offering to God. The Bible is silent as to whether God required this of them, or they simply made the offering. In Genesis 4, the Bible records the story…
“When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift.”
God rejected the offering given by Cain but accepted the gift given by Able. We do not know the exact offering that Cain gave but we do know why the gift of Able was accepted – It was the best portions of the first fruits that he had. In Hebrews 11:4 we see what motivated the gift of Able – Faith.
“It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.”
So, we can see from this story that our giving should be motivated by faith. It recognises that God has given to us all that we need and in faith believe that He will continue to provide for us.
We are stewards of everything we have
The Bible teaches us that God provides every good thing in our life and gives us the ability and strength to make wealth. King David sums up this truth in 1 Chronicles 29:12-14…
1 Chronicles 29:12-14
“Wealth and honour come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!”
Also, in Deuteronomy 8:17-18…
“He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, to fulfill the covenant, he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.”
Giving acknowledges and gives thanks to God for all that He has provided us with.
God wants us to trust Him to provide all that we need in life. Jesus taught that we are not to worry about what we need, but if we seek first His Kingdom (as contrasted with the things of this world) and His righteousness (His way to live) and He will give us all that we need (See Matthew 6:33).
Freely giving a Tithe is a Biblical pattern for believers today
We see two occasions in the Bible where people make offerings to God before the law came through Moses. Abraham met up with a Priest call Melchizedek. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of all the goods he had recovered from a battle (Genesis 14:19-20). Jacob who lived before the law also promised to give God ten percent (tithe) of all that God gave Him as an offering.
God made it a requirement under the Law that all the Israelites (except the tribe of Levi) give a tithe of all they earnt. In Leviticus 27:30 God prescribes that “One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.”
The purpose of the tithe was so that one tribe of Israel, Levi could look after the affairs of the temple. In Numbers 18:21 God says, “As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel.”
In the New testament we see the Apostle Paul instruct Timothy that, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
Again in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 the Apostle Paul draws upon the same principle. 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 states, “Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.”
As Christians, we are no longer under the requirements of the law, but we see that the church has a similar need – people to give their full attention to growing the Kingdom of God. There is no specific teaching in the New Testament on what amount to give although Jesus endorses the practice of tithing in Luke 11:42 and we have the examples before the law and the law itself to see God’s desired standard. Imagine if everyone in the church tithed. In a congregation of 200 people you would have 20 full time paid staff. Unfortunately, this does not take place and most churches that size only have 2 or 3 staff who are not all full time. We believe the kingdom of God would rapidly advance in our area if we had 10 or more full time staff.
A Spirit of Generosity
The overwhelming teaching on giving in the New Testament focuses on developing a generous spirit. The Apostle Paul encouraged believers to embrace a generous nature when it came to give. In 2 Corinthians 9:7-11 He states, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”
Again, the Apostle Paul writes to Christians to encourage them of the example set by the Christians in Macedonia. He states in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, “Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.”