The Christian Act of Giving – Reasons to Give

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.[1]

Give to Help the Poor

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan[2], 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[3], and to not turn away those in need.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] We are also to give in order to compensate our instructors.[7]

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.[8] For example, Jesus states that it is more blessed to give than to receive.[9] In 1 Timothy 6:18-19[10], 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[11], the one who withholds unduly is impoverished. Another example of giving in the form of a warning is in 2 Corinthians 9:6[12] where a person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.

Conclusion

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.

Notes

  1. 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,

  2. 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.”

  3. Galatians 2:10 (NIV)

    10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

  4. 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.’

  5. 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.

  6. 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.”

  7. Galatians 6:6 (NIV)

    6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.’

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)

    6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

14 Comments

  1. Ronald, I appreciate your passion for Christian giving, but I'm a bit confused by your statement, "Christians are not commanded to give."

    The spirit of your statement seems contrary to the Lord's plain instructions: we are to share generously with others what He has entrusted to us. See, e.g., 1 Peter 4:10 (“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms�); Hebrews 13:16 (“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased�). He blesses us so that we may bless others. See 2 Corinthians 9:11 (“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion�).

    Perhaps your concern is the word "command"? But Paul uses that word in one of the Scriptures you cite, 1 Timothy 6:18 ("Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share").

    Thanks in advance for any clarification you might provide,

    Ramsey

  2. I think 1 Peter 4:10 is talking about spiritual gifts. The others verses mentioned speak more towards a person's character than actual giving. Part of having good character is being generous. But one can be generous with more than just money.

    I'm more focused on the topic of monetary giving within the church. My point is that you are not commanded to give a specific amount in church. Christians are commanded to be good and be more like Christ.

    As far as commands go, how can someone be commanded to give, yet still give without compulsion?

  3. Ronald, thanks for your response. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

    Giving is a spiritual gift. See Romans 12:8.

    I think more people should focus, like you, on the topic of monetary giving in the Church. But you’re focusing on a particular problem that doesn’t seem to exist. Only 7% of Protestants give 10% of their income to the Church. See The Barna Update, April 25, 2005. The Church is plagued by a lack of generous giving. If the Law required Israel to return 10% (or 23½%) to the Lord, ought not we who lean on Grace give more abundantly, not less?

    Finally, biblical commentaries suggest that there can be a command from God without the “compulsion� referenced in 2 Corinthians 9:7. Matthew Henry’s Commentary suggests that this compulsion comes not from fear of guilt before God but shame before man, and that we ought not be motivated by such shame: “Persons sometimes will give merely to satisfy the importunity of those who ask their charity, and what they give is in a manner squeezed or forced from them, and this unwillingness spoils all they do. We ought to give more freely than the modesty of some necessitous persons will allow them to ask: we should not only deal out bread, but draw out our souls to the hungry, Isa. 58:10. We should give liberally, with an open hand, and cheerfully, with an open countenance, being glad we have ability and an opportunity to be charitable.� Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament says very much the same thing: “Verse 7 is often misapplied. Paul is not talking here about how much we give so much as how we give. He told them how much to give in 8:12–15; it was to be in proportion to what they had. But for a believer to give grudgingly, or out of a sense of obligation, is to miss the blessing of giving. Giving must be from the heart, and God loves a cheerful (“hilarious� in the Gk.) giver. Some Christians take this verse to mean that it matters not how much we give, so long as we give cheerfully what we have purposed in our hearts. Absolutely not! A cheerful heart is not a substitute for an obedient heart. Our hearts should be both faithful and cheerful, because we give the right gift with the right motive.�

  4. I agree with pretty much every thing you have said. I also see 2 Corinthians 8:12-15 as being about a giving cycle. There are some not able to give as much, and that should be offset by the people that can give a lot. Ideally, giving should work like a see-saw where the side with the most weight distributes the weight equally among the two sides.

    Thanks for pointing out the verse at Romans 12:8. However, not all of us have the spiritual gift of giving.

    I appreciate your comments Ramsey Wilson. Hopefully we can find a Christian topic we can agree with on fully. I wish you well on your “His evidence” blog.

  5. Thanks for the well wishes, Ronald, and the constructive dialogue.

    I was thumbing through Randy Alcorn’s “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” today (for a different reason) and stumbled onto his discussion of 2 Corinthians 8-9. I found it more helpful than the other commentaries I shared previously. Hope you find it useful, too.

    “When Paul says a man shouldn’t give under compulsion [in 2 Corinthians 9:7], he isn’t talking about the normal week-to-week operations and ministries of the church to which every member must contribute. He is talking about a one-time special offering (for the needs of poor saints in Jerusalem). Because this was above and beyond the regular needs of their local church, it called for a contribution above and beyond their regular giving. . . . Is Paul saying that a believer should never feel any compulsion to give to the needs of his church, to the poor, or to world missions? Is he implying that if we are reluctant to part with our money that we shouldn’t? No!
    Do we share our faith only if we feel led, read our Bible only if we choose, love our spouse only when we feel inspired? Of course not. The principle is not ‘give voluntarily or don’t give at all,’ but ‘as your heart is moved, give voluntarily above and beyond your regular giving.’� (Alcorn at 201-02)

    Given your interest in Church giving issues, I highly recommend Alcorn’s book.

    Take care,

    Ramsey

  6. There is a continuing responsibility of availability for the Christian. Again of the Macedonian Christians, Paul reports that “they gave of their own accord” (II Cor. 8:3). They gave voluntarily, willingly, eagerly. They wanted to participate in the grace of God. In fact, in II Cor 8:4 Paul says, “they were begging for the grace of participation in the support of the saints.”

    Most of the “begging” we see today is not Christians begging to participate in a particular grace-expression of Christian giving. It is usually the manipulative fund-raisers begging, pleading, appealing, making their pleas for donations to their cause. What a perversion, to turn “Christian giving” into mere fund-raising. They have honed it into a statistical science as they put on their “stewardship campaigns.” They can predict within a few percentage points how much will be extracted as they psychologically manipulate people to trigger their guilt and emotions. Local congregations receive almost weekly solicitations from organizations wanting to put on “stewardship campaigns” and share in the profits.

    Raising funds is not Christian giving! Many religious organizations spend large percentages of their income on raising more funds. Radio and television “ministries” have been known to spend as much as fifty percent of their ministry air-time to raise funds.

    I was appalled when a pastor was selected by the other pastors to “take the offering” at a community service because he was adept at “taking an offering.” What they meant was that he was a psychological manipulator, a religious promoter, who knew how to extract money from people. Tragic!

    It is not Christian giving unless we freely choose to participate in God’s grace of giving, prompted by God, and not manipulated by man! Notice what Paul says in II Cor. 9:7, “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion…” We are to “choose beforehand” to give, convinced that this is what God wants to do through us. We must beware of impulse-giving, which can be so easily manipulated emotionally. They show us graphic pictures of starving children and tell gruesome stories of human suffering, which play on us psychologically, activating pity and false-guilt.

    A pastor friend had so many missionaries coming to share their work and yanking at people’s heart-strings and purse-strings, that he determined to avoid impulse-giving by only receiving gifts for the missionary one week after he had departed. People would then have time to “purpose in their hearts” what God would have them to share. Paul was doing a similar thing in I Cor. 16:2,3, so as not to allow his personal presence to be an incentive for impulse-giving or social approval-giving.

    Christians are to give as they have “purposed in their heart, not grudgingly or reluctantly” (II Cor. 9:7). If we are convinced this is what God wants to give through is, there will be an eager willingness. It will not be like “pulling teeth” or extracting funds.

    You do not have to give! It is a choice. You certainly do not have to give in order to be a Christian; that would be a criteria of “works.” Once you are a Christian and the Giving God and the Love of Christ lives in you, then you want to give. God wants to express His character through you. But it is still a choice, a choice of faith.

    Paul says that our giving is “not under compulsion” (II Cor. 9:7). The root word means “to bend the arm.” We do not give because our arm is being bent and we are being coerced, pressured or manipulated. Paul was not manipulating the Corinthians Christians to give by competitive rivalry with the Macedonian Christians or vice-versa. There was no “contest” to see who could give the most, no comparisons to spur one another on and play one against the other, no thermometers displayed to see who could meet their goal the soonest. These are perversions of Christian giving.

    Neither was Paul encouraging the Corinthians to give because of what other people would think, to safeguard their reputation. Giving for social approval is not Christian giving. Jesus exposes such giving for social approval in Matthew 6:2-4:

    “When therefore you give alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

    An example of the consequences of giving for social approval is relayed in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying about their giving.

    Christian giving is a choice as one has purposed in his heart before God. It is a choice that should not be manipulated by emotion or mandated by percentage.

    No study of Christian giving would be complete without discussing the gross misunderstandings that many Christians have about tithing. Yet Paul does not even mention tithing in this extended reference to Christian giving here in II Corinthians 8 and 9. For good reason! The ten percent tithe so often advocated is not a new covenant, New Testament, concept. In the old covenant tithes were levied to support the priesthood, but in the new covenant every Christian is a priest, “priests to God” (Revelation 1:6) in a “royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9). Christians are not under the compulsory obligation of Old Testament tithes!

    Richard Plache writes of the “tithing fallacy” and states,
    “Tithing was instituted as a law in the second year after the Exodus. …it was intended to provide the Levites with sustenance and payment for their services.

    The only ones ever authorized to receive tithes were the Levites. Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible to keep the tithing law. This is the reason Orthodox Jews, who still believe in the validity of the old covenant over their lives, do not tithe! No one is qualified to receive tithes now that the priesthood and temple have gone.

    …it is absolutely impossible for anyone today to truly obey the…law of tithing.” 6
    Christian giving is not a matter of compulsory mandated percentages! What often happens when the ten percent tithe is regarded as “Christian giving,” is that people think that the ten percent belongs to God and the ninety percent is mine to use as I please. But, as has already been explained, it all belongs to God as owner and giver. All things are one hundred percent His, and we are to discern how He wants to utilize all one hundred percent of it.

    Some Christians pride themselves saying, “I’m a good Christian giver; I’ve never withheld God’s ten percent!” Is that not the same kind of logic that might say, “I’ve got a good Christian marriage; I’ve never committed adultery!”? Such logic is to miss the entirety of the positive factor of Christ’s life in us.

    Christian giving is total-life giving! Not “under compulsion;” not mechanically mandated; not legislated, perfunctory giving.

    Those religious leaders who are honest enough to admit that tithing is not a Christian obligation are often quick to construct another form of obligatory moral duty. They want their members to feel a sense of obligation, a sense of “have to” or “ought to,” so that there will be consistent income to pay the expenses of the organization. So they refer to the “law of giving,” the “principles of love-offerings,” wherein the giving of Christians should supersede what was required of Israel, just as the new covenant supersedes the old covenant, and thus Christian giving should supersede ten percent. But this is still a percentage-based sense of obligation that is not consistent with true Christian giving.

    Worse yet are those who try to “lay on” Christians the obligation to “pay God back.” There is no way we can make payment for services rendered. Such is to lose the understanding of God’s grace altogether.

    • Hmm. Few points in here are actually very pointed and expressed in almost bitter language that someone would actually suggest you should tithe or that the suggestion of a tithe is done to manipulate money from people. I know of people who make tithing a part of their outliving of what they have interpreted as following Gods will. I would think it to be very arrogant to suggest that that rational is in anyway wrong. In fact I know of people who give far more than that as they understand the need to give far more than many people who don’t give a brass farthing to any form of Christian ministry, be it a church or another Christ based ministry. It is absolutely a matter of conviction. It is not the place of either those who do or don’t agree to provide condescending statements upon ones conviction of giving.

  7. The relationship of giving to worship becomes important very early in the Bible, as early as the fourth chapter of Genesis. Following the fall of Adam and Eve, the next important incident regarding man’s relationship to God involves the sacrificial offerings of Cain and Abel.

    Cain evidently thought that anything he brought to God should have been acceptable to God. He was concerned with pleasing Himself by his offering, not God. When God pointed out that Cain was falling short, Cain’s response was to become angry at both God and his brother. Cain’s violence towards Abel reflected Cain’s poor attitude toward God.

    Just as with Cain, what we give to God in worship is a part of our relationship with God. A good gift is one that blesses and pleases the receiver. Since God is the Creator and actually needs nothing from us, the reason to give has more to do with our relationship with God than with God’s need for anything to be provided for His work (Psalm 50, Acts 17:24-28). The Law of Moses prescribed which sacrifices were to be given to God and the responsibilities each person was to assume for the support of the priesthood. When a sacrifice offered under the Law of Moses was given in the right manner, it was called “a soothing aroma to the Lord” because it represented the commitment of God’s people to serve Him in a manner that pleased Him (Genesis 8:20-21, Exodus 29:18, 25, 41, Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17, 2:2, 9, 12, 3:5, Numbers 15:13, 28:13).

    Although as Christians we no longer bring sacrifices to the Lord, it is nevertheless true that when we offer things to the Lord this represents sacrifice in the sense that we are depriving ourselves of something in order to give something to God. When offered an opportunity to give to the Lord something that had been given to him as a gift, David said, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.” (I Chronicles 21:24). David’s insight is one of the most significant in the Old Testament concerning offerings, and contrasts with the attitude of giving often criticized by the prophets of Israel. The book of Malachi, the last Scripture inspired of God before the New Testament, points out that the lack of commitment to serve God was evident in the giving patterns of the people. Rather than offering the best of their flocks, the worst representatives of the flocks were being offered in sacrifice. In other words, animals were being offered in sacrifice that the farmers didn’t want anyway. They were reserving the best for themselves and giving the leftovers to God. This was equivalent to offering no true sacrifice, to seeing worship as a mechanical exercise rather than as part of a relationship with a living God, and to treating God with contempt. Further, what was given at the Temple provided the support of the priesthood. Without suitable sacrifices, the ministry was not properly supported.

    My grandmother told the story of a minister who lived next door to her. Part of the support the congregation offered the minister was to provide gifts of clothing. However, what the congregation gave was castoff clothing that was unsuitable to wear. One Sunday the minister dressed up his family in the clothing that had been donated. Only after the congregation saw how shabby the minister’s family appeared did they start donating clothing that was presentable! In this case the difference was obvious. In most cases, it is up to us to care enough about our relationship to God and our support for His ministers to give in the same spirit as David, who deprived himself in order to honor to the Lord.

    The Old Testament presents us with the first reason to honor God with our gifts, which is that as our Creator He is the Sovereign Lord of all creation, a living Being worthy of the highest reverence. The New Testament introduces another, gratitude for the gift of Christ at Calvary. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich . . . Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 8:9, 9:15). The love of God which stems from a deep appreciation of His nature and gratitude for His grace stimulates Christians to give joyfully and sacrificially (II Corinthians 8:1-5, 9:7, Mark 12:41-44).

    In the Old Testament the tithe was established as a guide to giving (Deuteronomy 14:22ff., Malachi 4:8-12). This guide seems to have ancient roots that lead us to believe that it is an appropriate guide even for those no longer tied to the worship defined by the Law of Moses (Hebrews 7:1-10).

    However, for Christians, there are considerations beyond the tithe that modify the nature of Christian giving. These are laid out by the apostle Paul in his letters to various churches. Much of the discussion of giving in the Pauline epistles is due to the offering Paul was collecting for the churches in Palestine. This offering also plays a prominent part in the book of Acts, where it is shown to be the reason for Paul’s final visit to Jerusalem.

    The division of the church into Jewish and Gentile portions was of great concern to Paul, not so much because there was a cultural division with the church, but because of the danger that the church would think of itself as two separate parts rather than as one Body of Christ in the world. Disagreements between Jewish and Gentile Christians had often been sharp, and had been the occasion for open conflict between Christian believers, as is seen in Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and the Acts of the Apostles (although some of this conflict involved a group called “the Judaizers,” a sub-Christian group that preached a false Gospel, claiming authority from but not really representative of the apostles in Palestine). Since there was a great famine in Palestine at the time, Paul saw this as an opportunity to unite the two great branches of Christendom by demonstrating in real terms the concern of the Gentile churches for the suffering brethren of Palestine; while at the same time reducing the suffering of Christians in Palestine. To accomplish this goal, Paul was ready to risk imprisonment and death, believing, as he did, that the outcome would affect the ability of the church to be fruitful in the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.

    Paul used the metaphor of manna to explain Christian stewardship. He pointed out that when the Israelites were in the wilderness, those who collected more than they needed had nothing left over, while those who did not collect as much had as much as they needed (II Corinthians 8:13-15, Exodus 16:12-18). This, Paul taught, was how Christians were to understand their role as givers. God’s provision for Christians would leave a surplus in some places and a need in others. If those who had a surplus shared that surplus with those in need, the needs of all would be taken care of (II Corinthians 8:14).

    While not diminishing in the least the tithe as a goal in Christian giving, it is nevertheless true that the tithe has too often become a rod with which the uncaring have increased the suffering of those in poverty. Are those who have little to deprive their children, the sick, or the elderly of food and needed medical care by giving a tithe of what they have? Paul answers, “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have” (II Corinthians 8:12). What kind of God asks people to neglect their children? Certainly not the kind of God who inspired I Timothy 5:8, James 1:27, and I John 4:17-18. Certainly in Jesus’ parable of the talents, each person who came before Him was made responsible for what each had been given, not for more than each had been given (Matthew 25:14-30).

    This very parable also emphasizes, however, that we have a deep responsibility to Christ for what He has given to us. As the tithe has been abused as a form of discrimination against the poor, it has also often been used as an excuse for wealthy Christians to spend money upon themselves that they were given to meet the needs of the Body of Christ (Matthew 23:23-24). “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28). “Whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (I John 4:17).

    There is certainly nothing wrong with asking God to give us more so that we can provide more for His work. The goal of all Christians must be both to provide for their own needs and to have something left over with which to help others (Ephesians 4:28, II Thessalonians 3:6-15). On the other hand, the primary role of the Christian is to be a steward of what God provides. If this is our goal, then whether we are given a little or a lot, we will live by the same rule, the service of Jesus Christ.

    Christian stewardship, then, calls for a prayerful and realistic assessment of what we have to give, and giving it in such a manner that Christ is glorified. Although this means that Christian giving is a form of “investment” in God’s work and God’s people, it is foreign to the view that the Scriptures are somehow an “investment portfolio” with a better financial return than secular investment portfolios. Christian giving has the same goals as giving in the Old Testament: the support of God’s ministers, the relief of the poor, and the spread of true knowledge of God.

    All of these goals are in concert with the role of the church, which is why it is right and proper to make the giving of tithes and offerings a part of formal worship. In every way, Christian giving is representative of our total commitment to serve our Lord.

  8. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Wikipedia article you linked to state that Japan did not receive any aid through the Marshall Plan?!

  9. We give also in response to God – like when we see God we want to praise Him, we want to give our hearts, our lives and yes our money too – because of amazing He is. Giving is an act of worship.

  10. Ronald, I glorify God for such concern you have in this article about giving. This is important to the church of Christ now.

  11. solomon udofia

    June 5, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Thanks a lot. Christians are not suppose to pay tithe. no example is found in the new testament. To help others know more… I suggest hebrew chpt 7 :1-17 b read carefully. Pay attention to verses 5,11,12-14. How ever Christians should give abundantly. Not because we are told to give freely as we purposed in our mind therefore we decide to give sparingly. Read 2cor. 9:6. May GOD help the reader to read with understanding. Amen.

  12. I hear all your points on giving. but I still don’t understand when a person says giving is not a command. Exo 25:1-2 God tells Moses to tell the children of Israel to “bring an offering” for Him (God) though there is a condition on how their attitude should be when they give, the key point here is for them to bring an offering ( That is a “COMMAND”) and willing is a conditions and not voluntarily.

  13. Its all about attitude!

    All of you are reading the same bible but you display different views. Who shall we believe?

    Thats why its important to leave the subject to believers and their God who lead them through Holly spirit.

    Whether you give it or not life goes on

    If you are giving little to church but spending much to your family and close friends and relatives to reach to their needs is that not a kind of serving God?

    Besides all will stand before Him on judgement day.

    Get prepared to justify your deads.

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