Giving In New Testament

 Our New Testament points us to the highest and most noble reasons for giving. In addition, it provides priorities and principles that will give us the guidance we need to establish a plan of giving that:

  • Accomplishes what is important to us
  • Strengthens our faith in God
  • Grows us in spiritual maturity
  • Enables us to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us
  • Honors and pleases our God

Tithing In The New Testament

     Jesus affirmed that all believers under the Mosaic Covenant should tithe. (Matthew 23:23).

     Abraham was justified by faith in the eyes of God "that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised." (Romans 4:11). This spiritual father of believing Gentiles gave tithes to Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God and Christ has been made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1-17).

     Although not mentioning the tithe specifically the apostle Paul makes reference to the priests of the Mosaic covenant having their physical needs met from the tithes and offerings of the people (1st Corinthians 9:13). He uses this as one of the reasons why ministers of the gospel should be supported by Godís people in the church age (1st Corinthians 9:14). This is the sum total of references to tithing in our New Testament.

     It is interesting to note that in 177 AD a disciple by the name of Irenaeus wrote that Jesus did not abolish the tithe, but put into it a deeper meaning. His statement carries some weight because Irenaeus was converted under the apostles and taught by them.

Love Is The Motivation Of New Testament Giving

     God Himself, is the primary example of this truth. He is the Supreme Lover and ultimate Giver. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten SonÖ" John 3:16.

     On the night before His crucifixion Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."" John 13:34, 35.

     After His resurrection Jesus met six of His disciples after they had spent the night in fruitless fishing. He directed them to cast their nets on the other side and they caught 153 fish in their net. After they finished a fish breakfast He asked Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" When Peter answered that he did, Jesus responded, "Tend my lambs", "Shepherd My sheep", and "Tend My sheep". Jesus was saying, "If you love Me then leave the fishing business and give Me the rest of your life shepherding My sheep". Jesus wants us to serve Him because we love Him. R. G. Le Tourneau, a Christian Industrialist, gave the following testimony:

     "Iíve never been much of a preacher of tithing. My "life verse" has been Matthew 6:33 ---"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."

     My philosophy has been ---We should serve God because we love, not because we are making a bargain with Him. Many marriages go on the rocks because it was a bargain rather than love. ĖYou do something for me and Iíll do something for you. In the same way people say, "If I do this for God, will He do something for me?" Thatís not love. That is a bargain. I often say "if you love the lord you will serve Him, and if youíre not serving Him it proves you donít love Him. And if you donít love Him, it proves you donít know Him."

     My motto has been ---Not how much of my money do I give to God, but how much of Godís money do I keep for myself..

     I hope you are now beginning to understand what I meant when I began by saying that Iím not much of a preacher of tithing. If under the law the people of God gave one tenth to the Lord, then shame on us, living under grace, if we donít do better. The tithe may be a place to begin if you are not now giving to the Lord, but it is no place to stop. If you get a vision of what our salvation cost; see Christ on the cross, the cruel nails in His hands and feet; the mocking crowd; and the weight of our sin paying the penalty for you and for me it will put your service and giving on a different plane. He gave Himself willingly to give us salvation from our sin. If this grips us, we canít help but love Him. We will then say with the songwriter ---"love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." This may be a strange place to inject humor but I believe a little story illustrates how we sometimes say we "love" but yet have a bit of reservation or reveal that our motives are not entirely pure.

     A young man had a sweetheart and he said to her, "I donít have a yacht, a convertible, and all the nice things John Brown has, but I love you." To which she answered, "I love you, too, but tell me more about John Brown."

     This somewhat humorous story may make my point stick in your mind, ---only the grace of God can save us from a superficial declaration of love for God. True love, based on an understanding of Godís grace; deep gratitude for the gift of salvation through our Lord will settle the problem of what I should give to God. Because my thinking will be turned around to consider that all I am and have belong to Him and I am a steward for Him while serving Him in this life.

     It is easy to sing, "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise." Only Godís grace in a life can make it come true. Man, selfishly inclined, canít do it in his own power. It takes Godís power.

     Let us feel the motivating power of these words: "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love". (Romans 12:10) "Owe no one anything except to love one another; for he who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8) "For the love of Christ compels usÖthat those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again." (2nd Corinthians 5: 14-15) in regard to Paul exhorting the Christians at Corinth to fulfill the commitment they made to give a certain amount to relieve other suffering saints he wrote, "I speak not by command but I am testing the sincerity of your love." 2nd Corinthians 8:8

     Most of us will need to seek and be receptive to this work of Godís grace in our heart for we are much more adept by fleshly nature at grasping than we are at giving.

Christ Has Directed Us To Establish Priorities For Possessions

     Jesus put a strong emphasis on the proper use of possession. In the gospels He gave 38 parables and 19 of these touch on the use of possessions. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke one out of six verses are discussing the use of possessions and nearly all of that comes from the lips of Jesus.

     In His sermon on the mount Jesus save His most complete statement concerning priorities. Because of space limitations we summarize Matthew 6:19-34.

  1. We are not to lay up treasures on earth because they are subject to decay and theft (verse 19). "Treasures" are the things we place the highest priorities on because they are most important to us. Some "thieves" are sickness, death, slanderers, cut-throat competition, etc.
  2. We are to lay up treasures in heaven because they are not subject to decay and theft but are eternal. (verse 20). Some of those treasures would be (1) our citizenship and residence in heaven (2) souls we influenced to put their faith in Christ (3) Christians we ministered to and assisted in their spiritual growth (4) our faithfulness in serving and honoring our God and our Savior. (5) the churches and other Christian ministries we strengthened by our financial and physical support.
  3. Our treasure or highest priorities gain control of our affections and those affections will, in turn, control our intellect and our will. (verses 20-25). When our top priorities are earthly they draw a curtain of darkness over our understanding whereas eternal, heavenly priorities flood our understanding with light (verses 22, 23). Earthly priorities will make earthly possessions our master whereas heavenly priorities keeps God in His rightful place as our Master (verse 24). Earthly priorities will place us in the grip of anxieties whereas heavenly priorities will enable us to rest peacefully in Godís care and provision (verses 25-32.

     Our highest priorities are to be Godís kingdom and His righteousness (verse 33). Godís kingdom during the church age is best described as "Godís Kingdom In Mystery Form". It is the time when God is "taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name." Acts 15:14. God is recruiting citizens for His kingdom in power when Jesus reigns as King for 1000 years on earth and then forever in the New Heavens and New Earth, Godís righteousness is positional and personal. The instant that even the worst of sinners truly receives Jesus Christ as their Savior they are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21 etc. etc,) As believers yield to the working of God in them "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13) they are personally conformed more and more to the righteousness of God.

     One of the most productive things any Christian can do is take whatever time is necessary to establish their priorities of life as they understand the will of God. They should then commit to living their life consistent with the priorities they have established. Some of the things that should be included are: God, integrity, family, church, vocation, use of talents, time and possessions, civic responsibilities and recreation.

Godís Supernatural Blessing On The Smallest Of Gifts Can Accomplish Great Things

     All four gospels record the miraculous feeding of 5000 men with a boyís two fish and five little barley cake.

     Some 5000 men assembled on a Galilean mountain to hear the teachings of Jesus. The time came when they were hungry. Jesus tested His disciple, Philip, by asking, "Where are we to buy bread that these may eat?" Philip responded that 200 days wages for a common laborer would not be sufficient to buy the food that would be necessary. Andrew, however, said, There is a lad her, who has five barley loaves, and two fish; but what are these for so many people?" Jesus directed the men to sit down in groups. He took the loaves and fish and gave thanks. He then began breaking the fish and loaves and giving the broken pieces to His disciples. In turn, they distributed the broken pieces to the multitude. After the multitude had been fed the disciples took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces that had not been eaten. In countless ways that miraculous multiplication has been duplicated down through the centuries when sincere giving from limited resources received the blessing of Christ.

God Measures What We Give In Proportion To What We Have Left

     On one occasion Jesus positioned Himself and His disciples so that they could observe the chests where worshippers put their gifts to God. Wealthy people put in great gifts from their riches. One widow gave two mites which has a value of less than 1/4th of a penny. Jesus gave this appraisal to the giving, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had, her whole livelihood." Mark 12:43, 44. Surely, this widow had a great love for her God. She also had to trust Him for her next mealÖfor she had given everything she had.

The Law Of The Harvest Is Operational In Christian Giving

     Simply stated, the Law of the Harvest is "Öwhatever a man sows, this he will also reap" Galatians 6:7 (See Galatians 6:6-10 for context).

    The clearest and fullest statement on how the Law of the Harvest is operational in Christian giving is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. "But this I say, He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart; not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you always having all sufficiency in  all things, may have an abundance for every good work; as it is written, ĎHE HAS DISPERSED ABROAD, HE HAS GIVEN TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.í Now may He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality which causes thanksgiving through us to God."

When we give according to the will of God we are not giving away our possessions, we are sowing seed that under the blessing of God will return us a bountiful harvest. To the extent we have been faithful in what we possess, God will make it possible for us to be faithful in even more

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.