8 BIBLICAL TRUTHS ABOUT CHRISTIAN GIVING
by Rick Sluss
God created everyone and everything on this earth — including our ability to earn money. As we contemplate our own giving to the Lord’s church in response to the clear teaching of his Word, perhaps it would be wise and helpful to review eight biblical principles of Christian giving.
1. Jesus expects and requires us to give. Jesus said to his disciples, “When you give,” not, “If you give” (Matthew 6:2). Christian giving is not optional, but rather essential. We might hear folks say, “In the Old Testament days they had to give, but not in the New Testament—now we only give if we want to.” This is clearly not Jesus’ teaching. He expected all his followers to be givers. Are you giving?
2. Jesus wants us to give for the right reasons. Jesus warned his disciples not to give for the sake of being admired by men: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them” (Matthew 6:1). When we give, we must be careful to examine our motives. We ought to give for the glory of God and for the good of his people. We must desire his approval of our giving, rather than the praise and admiration of people.
3. Jesus wants us to practice benevolent or charitable giving. Jesus said, “When you give to the poor…” (Matthew 6:2-3). Jesus is specifically teaching about “alms” in this passage: aid, charity or benevolent offerings for the needy. Do you give amply to the church so that she can be generous in benevolent giving?
4. The Lord Jesus reminds us that our giving is ultimately to the all-seeing heavenly Father. Jesus said “When you give … your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4). When we give, we are not simply adding to the church budget, we are giving a thank offering to the Father himself. Thus, we must all give “as unto the Lord.” Our ultimate goal in giving is to please God. Are you conscious of the fact that your giving is to the Lord and seen by the Lord?
5. The Bible teaches that Christian giving is an act of worship. In connection with the previous point, we see this truth stressed in another way in Paul’s word’s: “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Paul here teaches the Corinthians that their taking up of the collection is an act of worship which is to be a part of their regular Lord’s Day worship. When we put our money in the plate, we are worshiping the Almighty God in accordance with his Word. Note well, Paul is speaking here of a “collection for the saints”—this is giving by the church to the church for the church. Did you realize that giving is a part of worship? Is your worship in this area abundant or inhibited? Is giving to the Church a priority with you?
6. The Bible teaches that Christian giving should be done in light of the incarnation. Many Christians argue about whether the tithe (10 percent of our income) is still the standard for our giving to the church (disputants usually want to show that less than 10 percent is fine). Paul scuttles the whole debate in one verse. He says: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ’s self-giving is now the standard for our giving! We begin from the base of the tithe and aim for emulation of His self-sacrifice. Our giving is to be inspired and instructed by Christ’s inexpressible gift. In light of such a challenge, who could possibly satisfy himself with asking, “How little a percentage is acceptable for me to give?” Do you try to get by with giving as little as possible to the Lord, or do you give in view of the Lord’s costly sacrifice?
7. The Bible teaches that Christian giving should be done in accordance with our means. Paul is quite clear on this: “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Put another way, Paul is saying that you should give in proportion to what God has given you. He said it this way in 1 Corinthians 16:2: “Each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper.” This means at least two things: (1) since we are all supposed to give proportionately, those who have more money are expected to give more, and (2) the Lord never asks us to give what we do not have, or contribute beyond our means. Are you really giving in proportion to the material blessings that the Lord has given you?
8. Christian giving ought to be done with a cheerful attitude. As Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). This is a truly amazing assertion. Paul assures us here that the Lord takes a special delight in those who are joyful, energetic, merry givers. Is there joy in your heart as you give? Can you truly be characterized as a “cheerful giver”?