Giving is an often a hidden and tricky subject even in the halls of our churches. Churches call it stewardship; the secular world calls it charitable giving.
As Christians what is our responsibility to God and community in the areas of giving?
This post is part of a multipart series on giving and tithing after the cross. It starts with the question, “Should a Christian Tithe 10%”, then heads toward a biblical understanding of giving after the death of Jesus.
Clarity of the heart and motivation in giving is of a great concern. I discuss this through jokes from the pulpit in A Crazy thing Happened on the Way to the Offering Plate.
This post discusses who should give, when to give, how to give as a Christian as outlined by Dr. David Croteau in his books You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe, and Tithing After the Cross. (Tithing After the Cross is much easier to read and only $2.99 on Kindle books!)
Dr. Croteau’s extensive research concludes that the tithing requirement is/was fulfilled by the death of Christ on the cross.
In fact, tithing under the Old Testament Law seems only to be a precursor to something much deeper.
Giving, radical giving, by Christ followers is addressed by Jesus and Paul in the New Testament. Both teachers speak forcefully about giving as voluntary, sacrificial and generous. The early church of the Acts exemplifies this radical giving model.
Supporting the Church
Supporting the church is a matter for all members according to Paul. We see this in the support of Paul himself as he is helped to spread God’s message by the churches he plants. Giving is universal no matter the amount; all Christians are exhorted to give.
Systematic Regular Giving
In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul asks believers to give on the first day of the week as he had taught the Galatians. This he says is so no collection will need to be taken when he arrives.
Systematic giving keeps the lights on in the houses of worship and creates a sound base for more radical giving if we know the basic functioning needs of the church body are paid.
Transparency And Correct Use Gifts
Jesus speaks often of the misuse of funds among the Pharisees. Church history also leads us down a long and dreary path of misappropriated funds.
Transparency and accountability by those who handle the offerings of the church congregation is an absolute must.
Attitude of Giving
This post speaks directly to the preparing of your heart for giving and why that is far more important to God than the gift itself.
After Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic law by dying on the cross, Christians are no longer obligated to tithe. They are however called to advance the kingdom of God by radical generosity. The example is set by Jesus who freely gave himself as a sacrifice.
The Macedonian Church “begged” to give money to Paul’s mission out of love for Jesus.
Our voluntary sacrificial giving to the work of Christ on earth represents this gift. 2 Corinthians 8:3, 2 Corinthians 9:7
Intentional giving looks for opportunities to meet a genuine need. This type of giving is not completed by guilt or a pressing bill or a “tit-for-tat” attitude.
Jesus put it this way, if you see a brother without a coat and you have two, give one of yours to him.
Instead of hiding in our church communities we need to look for ways to give our time, talents and money, intentionally.
Find Joy In Giving
This is a true imitation of God–finding joy in giving. God does not give out of grief or sorrow and neither should we.
Enjoying our abilities to bless others with the gifts we receive from God is a cause for great joy. It is an honor to behave as God would toward another.
Just watch a young child trying to share what they have with another. The child sharing receives great pleasure when his gift is received.
All a Christian’s possessions are at the service of the Lord. A hard pill to swallow when you have worked hard for something.
As the authors of God and Money share, each of our purchases, possessions, jobs, vacations, gains, and losses need to intentionally expand the work of God’s Kingdom.
How many of us stop to think is the purchase of this or that something that will glorify the Lord.
This was the problem with the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18:18-24.
“He did not want to use his possessions for the glory of God, but for the comfort and glory of himself.” (Tithing After the Cross)
After all, they were all given to us by God from the start.
How Much do I Need to give?
After the cross, this is a difficult question. 10% is easy math. Maybe we are asking the wrong question.
Often the question sounds like this, How little can I give to keep God happy? It is a business deal. If I keep God happy with my giving, He will bless me.
Paul gives us a radically different perspective
8 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God granted to the churches of Macedonia: 2 During a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity. 3 I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, 4 they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, 2 Cor 8:1-4
The Macedonians were begging to give. When have we ever begged to give?
Why Does Jesus Not Leave Us With a Set Figure for Giving?
Paul does not give an exact amount either. Each believer is to give “as he has decided in his heart”.
A set figure limits generosity. In daily walking with Christ, my heart is challenged and changed. My attitudes about my money, my time, my talents are questioned and moved.
This has left many churches with the “give as you feel led’ attitude. This I believe steps away from our responsibilities in our relationship with God. I do not believe this was Paul’s message.
How much do I need to give is the wrong question. Maybe the question needs to be reversed.
If all we have is given to us by God and for us to use to honor God, then the real question becomes how much do I need to keep?
This new question does not leave us giving God grudgingly the first or the last of our time, energy and income. It is designed to have each person review all of their lives in God’s light. To stand in His presence with gratitude for the small and large and ask; “How can each piece of my day, my work, and my relationships be of service to your kingdom?”
Follow along on the Giving Journey