There is much debate in our day and time about “giving”. Some people feel that those who have are obligated to give to those who do not have for the sake of equality. Usually those who preach this doctrine want to give other people’s money to the needed but not their own. Take Obama for example. He wants the American public to spread the wealth yet he himself gives less than 1% of his income to charity. What a great example of hypocrisy seen here. I will not go political in this post even though I would like to sometimes. I want to talk about the importance of giving if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ. The debate among many so called believers is “do we have to tithe in the New Testament like the people of Israel did in the Old Testament.” There are as many views on this subject as there are people but we will look to the source, the Word of God. I never want to give my opinion because it can be wrong yet the Word of God is never wrong so we will see what the Word says.
- Giving in the O.T. was required by God. God had to require it because He was dealing with people who had hard, stubborn hearts and did not have the Holy Spirit. They needed to be reminded and taught how to respect God as the Scripture says in Deuteronomy 14:23, “You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always“. As we know well, people are quick to forget the good that was done to them and especially the one who did the good. That is exactly the problem that God faced with Israel so He set up a way to constantly remind them of His goodness to them. Not only was the tithe used to teach the people to respect God but it was also used to continue the ministry of the priests, that is, teaching the people how to have a relationship with God. “We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God, and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns.” (Nehemiah 10:37)
- Giving for the believers is to surpass that of the O.T. As I said in the intro, there are many people who do not believe that we have to give the tithe as believers in the N.T. Jesus, the One who brought in the N.T. period teaches believers that their righteousness must surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees (who lived under the O.T. righteousness). Look at Jesus’ words here, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees did tithe and Jesus said that our righteousness (believers/Christians) must surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees. In other words we must do what they did but more. They were giving even though they were doing it with impure motives. Here is how they were giving, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23) Tithing is the minimum that Christians should give and not the maximum. Not tithing goes against the N.T. teachings of Jesus Christ.
- God wants to use our giving for our benefit and the benefit of others. Giving is a double edged sword, blessing the one who gives and blessing the one who receives at the same time. God uses giving to teach us and encourage us as well as encourage others and draw nonbelievers to Him. Giving first of all proves your sincerity and love. People can tell you that they are sincere and that they love but God desires more than empty words; He wants actions. Here is what the Apostle Paul says, “I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.” (2 Corinthians 8:8) Secondly, giving meets the needs of others so that you will have your needs met when you are in need. “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality— at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK.” (2 Corinthians 8:12-15)
- God is interested in our motives for giving. God not only wants us to give but He wants us to give with the right motives; not expecting anything in return or grudgingly or under compulsion. God wants us to give cheerfully, first of all giving ourselves to Him and then giving what we can to meet the needs of others. You do not have to be rich to give; in fact those who are poorer (middle class and below) are the ones who give the most. This is nothing new. It was happening back in the 1st Century. Here are a few verses to verify what I have just said. “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;” (2 Corinthians 9:6-10) “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5) “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:34-36).
In conclusion, God is interested in our giving. He was the first to demonstrate giving and He requires that we follow in His footsteps. Let’s use our resources to further the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that we will be blessed and we will be a blessing for others. May the Lord help us in this endeavor. God bless.