Contrary to popular belief, Christians are not commanded to give. Giving is something done voluntarily. Giving should not be done under compulsion, coercion, duress, or conviction. There are some exceptions, of course. Within this article, I will give Biblical insight into the Christian act of giving.
We are not commanded to give. Furthermore, when you do give, you are to give what you have chosen in your heart. So why give at all? I will now go into the Biblical reasons why you should give.
Give to Help Fellow Believers
If you have plenty, and your brother doesn’t, wouldn’t it be ideal that you would give in order to help your brother?
In the 1940s, shortly after World War II, Japan was in economic turmoil. Most of Japan’s cities were in ruin, and there seemed to be no hope. However, under the Marshall Plan, Japan quickly rebuilt its cities and economy. Today, Japan is an economic powerhouse that has influenced the way many American companies do business. America helped a country in need, and that country was able to repay the United States in many ways.
Just as America helped a country in need, Christians are given many opportunities to help those who may need a little boost. This help could come in the form or helping churches in need, or even fellow Christians who are less fortunate. The goal is to provide what others need, so that those who were once in need can now provide for others.
Give to Help the Poor
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus talked about three types of people. One was a priest, another a Levite, and another a Samaritan. The priest and Levite saw a beaten man, yet walked on by. The Samaritan took it upon himself to look after the beaten man. Jesus used the Parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate what a good neighbor is really like. Those who take pity on those less fortunate than us are true neighbors.
The Bible instructs over and over again to remember the poor, and to not turn away those in need. Jesus placed such an emphasis on giving to the poor that he called those who refused to help the poor unbelievers.
One point regarding giving to the poor is stewardship. Should we freely give out cash to the random beggar on the street? The choice is ultimately up to you, but I feel it would be better to give to someone you personally know and trust.
My philosophy on giving to random beggars lies within the verse of 2 Thessalonians 3:10:
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
Give to Help Family
There is one verse that I found with regards to giving to family. The verse is rather poignant with regards to giving because it is almost an obligation or command. We are taught through scripture that giving is voluntary, but there seems to be an exception: giving to family.
The verse in regards to family is 1 Timothy 5:8. The verse more-or-less says that we are to provide for our relatives and immediate family; to not provide would be denying the faith and being worse than an unbeliever. Ouch. So anytime you are at odds on whether to give to support your family, please remember the above verse.
Once again, stewardship comes into play here. Use discernment with family members. I wouldn’t be very wise to give a family member money for groceries if that family member has a known gambling or drug habit. There are other ways of giving besides money.
Give to Support the Pastors and Elders
The church will not survive on its own. One can liken the church to a potted plant. Without water from external sources, the plant cannot survive. The plant will soon grow strong and can be planted in order to grow deep roots. However, the plant still needs to be watered.
There are several key verses that call on us to support our church. We are to give to the church in order to support our pastors and elders. We are also to give in order to compensate our instructors.
Give to Get Rewards
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were given frequent flyer miles every time we gave to the church? There are some churches that take credit cards, so for some this is actually a reality. However, the point of giving is not to accumulate points towards some goal. We are not giving into a lottery system that periodically blesses one individual with riches. Instead, the rewards that are spoken of in the Bible speak beyond Earthly gain.
Most of the verses I have stumbled upon in regards to rewards speak about righteousness as a reward. For example, Jesus states that it is more blessed to give than to receive. In 1 Timothy 6:18-19, the rewards that are spoken of consist of heavenly treasure.
There are other examples of giving that are given as a warning. These verses give the incentive to give in order to avoid punishment. In Proverbs 11:24-25, the one who withholds unduly is impoverished. Another example of giving in the form of a warning is in 2 Corinthians 9:6 where a person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.
There are many reasons to give. We give in order to:
- Help fellow believers
- Help the poor
- Help family
- Support the church, its leaders, and its ministry
- Gain rewards — whether eternal, or on this Earth
There are many more reasons to give besides the reasons I have pointed out. Please feel free to explore the above reasons and perhaps add your own in the comments.
- 2 Corinthians 8:14 (NIV)
14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
- Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
- Galatians 2:10 (NIV)
10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
- Matthew 25:35-45 (NIV)
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
- 1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)
8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
- 1 Timothy 5:17-18 (NIV)
17The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
- Galatians 6:6 (NIV)
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
- 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NIV)
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
- Acts 20:35 (NIV)
35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
- 1 Timothy 6:18-19(NIV)
18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
- Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)
24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.