By Pastor Brad Bailey; incorporating portions from Rich Nathan, Vineyard Columbus (OH)
"Just as you excel in everything else ... in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness ... see that you also excel in thegrace of giving." 2 Cor 8:7
Giving As A Life Pattern
A life pattern is the way a person structures his or her life. A pattern is built or drawn from the values that a person develops over time. These values come from many different sources including family, friends, culture, and God.
A new life pattern which fully reflects the reality of God does not fully develop at the moment an individual first begins a relationship with Christ. Our old values have created certain habits and ways of thinking. When a person becomes a follower of Jesus they are discovering and entering a whole new understanding of reality. Maturity involves a process of confronting old attitudes and actions that are deeply ingrained in us.
Certainly for all of us, one of the basic values that is confronted when we become a follower of Christ concerns our view of giving. Very simply, most of the world treats giving as a social obligation which can easily be resented or relegated as a luxury for the rich. Yet when we come to God’s Word we see something very different.
Why Does God Want Me To Give ? (Twelve good reasons to give)
1. Giving is a part of living in covenant with God…. restoring my relationship as “manager” of all the earth. (i.e. stewards, caretakers, etc.)
The original mandate… “God created human beings…he made them male and female…blessed them, and said, ‘….I am putting you in charge..’ ” Gen. 1:27-28 (GN)
A steward is someone who manages or administers the property or affairs of someone else as an agent. The message of the Old and New Testaments is that human beings act as stewards of God for creation.
For the Christian, achievement is not measured by how much one makes or how much one has. The measure of a Christian is how well possessions have been used with respect to their owner… God.
2. Giving allows me to remember that everything has ultimately been given to me by God.
"Always remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the ability to produce wealth. Deut 8:18
3. Giving allows an opportunity to express gratitude to God.
“No man should appear before the Lord empty -handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you." Deut 16:16-17
“Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come to worship him.” Psalm 96:8
4. Giving allows me to experience God’s faithfulness in a tangible way.
"'Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' 'In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse.., because you are robbing me... Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won't have room enough for it!” ... Mal 3:10
5. Giving establishes the trust that releases God’s blessing.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him... Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing." Proverbs 3:5,6,9,10 (It is believing God can do more with 90% than I can do with 100%.)
"Give and it will be given to you... For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38
6. Giving allows me to draw closer to God.
"Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Matt 6:21
7. Giving allows me to experience the joy of God.
God is a giver. Anytime we imitate God and do the works that He does, e.g., share our faith, forgive another person who has sinned against us, pray for a sick person, or give financially, we are tapping into the very life and being of God. People who hoard never have an opportunity to experience God's life. Only givers can experience the joy of God.
"God so loved the world that He gave his only Son..." John 3:16
“God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you.” 1 Peter 4:10 [NLT]
8. Giving brings a blessing in return
"A generous man himself will be blessed." Proverbs 22:9
"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25
"It is more blessed to give than receive." Acts 20:35
9. Giving is liberating… an antidote to materialistic anxiety.
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to be generous and willing to share." 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Many people are anxious about their financial futures because they haven't learned about the paradoxical nature of the Christian life. People who hold tightly to their money will be in bondage to financial concerns. People who open their hands freely in giving will experience emotional liberty in financial matters. Jesus was not a wealthy man, yet He was a man who had tremendous financial security and peace.
10. Giving allows me to support what I believe in.
One of the best ways for a person to support a cause that they believe in is to give money to that cause. Political and social organizations certainly understand the importance of financing. Of course financial giving is not the only way to support something. Giving our time, praying for that cause, and supporting it with encouragement are all other valid ways to support a cause; but giving financially is certainly one major way to support what we believe in.
11. Giving allows me to share in the special calling God has given my particular Fellowship.
Churches are involved in a wide number of ministries that no one person could, by themselves, do or invest time in. For example, as the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, together we are sharing in outreach projects that touch 3,000 to 5,000 lives a year in our community, providing a home for women in crisis pregnancies on the Westside, and planting churches in India and Asia through partnerships God has given us. These are just a few examples which no one of us could do all alone, but a person who shares in the giving of our Fellowship can participate in.
12. Giving allows me to invest in eternity.
"... Give happily to those in need, and always be ready to share whatever God has given you. By doing this, you will be storing up real treasure for yourselves in heaven - it is the only safe investment for eternity. 1 Tim 6:18-19 (LB)
God takes note of everything we do in secret for Him such as our secret prayer, our secret fasting, or our secret giving (Mt. 6). Whether there is a huge payoff hereon earth (the book of Malachi tells us there is an earthly payoff) there will certainly be a heavenly payoff for those who give financially toward the work of God's kingdom. “You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.”
Conclusion: God doesn’t “need” us to give … we do. Our financial giving is to be understood more in relationship to maturity than ministry. For God is not interested in raising money but raising children (i.e., trust, values, compassion).
What Should I Give?
Central to living in covenant relationship with God….a covenant of trust…was the giving of both “tithes and offerings”.
- “Tithe” simply means “a tenth part. Tithing is returning the first 10 % of the resources I’m given back to God.
- An “offering” is anything I give above and beyond my tithe.
In an affluent society, we need some guidance for our thinking about giving. In Old Testament times the tithe was the king's portion. After a king conquered and subjugated the people, the people would render to him a tithe (a tenth of the produce of their land). Because Israel was conquered by God's love and care, Israel became obligated to render to the Lord a tithe. Tithes were used for several purposes: the maintenance and support for the priesthood (Num. 18:21-24); tithes were paid to the poor (Deut. 14:28-29); and a sacred tithe was given that would be associated with a fellowship meal (Deut. 14:22-27).
The tithe represents God’s covenant relationship with us…. declaring who He is to us… and who we are to Him.
“ ‘… and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.’ When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce, … Then say to the Lord your God: "I have removed from my house the sacred portion …” You have declared this day that the Lord is your God … And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised …” Duet. 26:10,12-13,17-18
Following the changes from the original covenant of Law (Old Testament) to the new covenant of grace through Christ (New Testament) we find:
- Tithing is lifted from it’s legal limitations to that of the ultimate spirit that lies behind it…. raising, (not lowering), the principles involved, including…..
- God as the only true provider who desires us to trust Him alone for our needs.
- His absolute ownership of us.
- Our responsibility as stewards who must give account for how we invested our lives.
- The generosity fitting of our call to be like Christ, who chose to give up riches that we could receive spiritual riches.
- The support of those set apart in ministry as “worthy of wages”.
- Our high calling to participate in the Lord’s ministry.
- The commitment Christ called for was always greater, not lesser, than that of the Law (Matt. 5-7, esp. 5:17-20; Heb. 10:29, 11:4)
- Jesus raised the challenge of ultimate trust ….by lifting up those who gave everything (Matt. 19:21; Mark 12:41-44)
- Jesus commended tithing…. while calling for underlying hearts of compassion and justice.
“You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.” Matthew 23:23
- The early church, in their freedom, gave far more.
“They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need.” Acts 2:45
Conclusion: Our giving is a vital part of living in covenant relationship with God, as represented by, but not limited to, a personal commitment to tithing in particular.