Ten Essentials about Christian Giving (2)
Ten Essentials about Christian Giving
As a follow-up to our meeting with Kyle Butt, here is a part two of our study on Christian giving.
The four verses we reviewed last week are: Matthew 6:1-4; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:9-15 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.
In our review of these four New Testament passages, we find at least ten principles for Christian giving – here are principles 6-10.
6. The Bible teaches that Christian giving should be done in light of the incarnation. Many Christians argue about whether the tithe (10% of our income) is still the standard for our giving to the Church (disputants usually want to show that less than 10% is fine). Paul scuttles the whole debate in one verse. He says: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ's self-giving is now the standard for our giving! We begin from the base of the tithe and aim for emulation of His self-sacrifice. Our giving is to be inspired and instructed by Christ's inexpressible gift. In light of such a challenge, who could possibly satisfy himself with asking "how little a percentage is acceptable for me to give?" Do you try to get by with giving as little as possible to the Lord, or do you give in view of the Lord's costly sacrifice?
7. The Bible teaches that Christian giving should be done in accordance with our means. Paul is quite clear on this: "For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have" (2 Corinthians 8:12). Put another way Paul is saying that you should give in proportion to what God has given you. He said it this way in 1 Corinthians 16:2, "each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper." This means at least two things: (1) since we are all supposed to give proportionately, those who have more money are expected to give more [we who are particularly blessed materially must remember this], and (2) the Lord never asks us to give what we do not have or contribute beyond our means. Are you really giving in proportion to the material blessings that the Lord has given you?
8. The Bible teaches that the liberality of God's blessings to us is connected to the liberality of our Christian giving. Though it may seem strange, both Jesus and Paul emphasize that there is a relation between our giving to the Lord and the Lord's giving to us. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:6 "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." About this matter J.A. Beet once said: "They who in giving think, not how little they can give, as they would if self-enrichment were the aim, but of benefits to be conferred, will receive back on the same principle. As they do to others, so God will act to them." Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 6:4, where He teaches that our reward in giving comes from our heavenly Father. As someone once said: "The desire to be generous and the means to be generous both come from God." Do you realize that the Lord has given you much, so that you can give much?
9. The Bible teaches that Christian giving must be willing giving, free giving. We learn this in 2 Corinthians 9:7 "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion." But doesn't this contradict what we learned under the first principle, that Christian giving is not optional? The answer is, of course, no. True Christian giving is both mandatory and voluntary. It is required by God, but always willingly given by the believer. Is your giving to the Church something you do wholeheartedly, or indifferently, or grudgingly?
10. The Bible teaches that Christian giving ought to be cheerful giving. As Paul says "God loves a cheerful giver." This is a truly amazing assertion. Paul assures us here that the Lord takes a special delight in those who are joyful, energetic, merry givers. Is there joy in your heart as you give? Can you truly be characterized as a "cheerful giver"?
We have not come close to reaching our potential for giving. Won't you pray that we will give as we ought? That we will give for the right motives? That we will give joyously? And that we will give extravagantly.