Biblical Giving

Tags: Giving, Doctrine
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Biblical Giving
Biblical Giving will help you to understand God’s purposes for giving in the church today and how you might give according to God’s standards. This is a vital teaching for a confused church.

Biblical Giving

It is perfectly acceptable to give 10, 20, or even 90 percent of your income to the local church, if that’s what you want to do. However, to do so biblically, it must be by the exercise of your own free will, and not coerced, because the Bible says:

“Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Some ignore what this passage is teaching and say that God requires you to give a certain amount to the church. However, this is simply not the case.

Notice how it says, “Let each man give according as he has determined.” It does not say, “Let each man give according as the pastor has determined.” Neither does it say, “Let each man give as God has determined.” That’s because God has not determined how much you should give. He has left that up to you.

When you are told that you must give a certain amount, this then changes a very important teaching. God never intended to bind you to a certain amount, because that then affects your motives for giving. No longer will you give because you want to help meet a need. You will now be giving because you are required to give a certain amount.

What then should our motive for giving be? Our motive should be that if we are faithful in our giving, we will reap a harvest. Sometimes reaping a harvest becomes a secondary teaching in the church, when in fact it is the only reason given in the Bible why we should give.

“Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

What then will we reap if we are faithful in our giving? The answer is that we will reap a harvest of righteousness (see verse 10). In the Bible, this harvest is always souls and never money or material items. For example, at the end of the age when Jesus comes back, it says:

“He who sat on the cloud thrust his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.” (Revelation 14:16)

Notice the imagery. This passage is about a harvest of souls won into the kingdom of God for all eternity. And that is also exactly what Paul is teaching in 2 Corinthians 9:6. Verse 10 goes on to speak of the harvest of righteousness, and it is eternal souls that Paul is talking about.

On the other hand, if you begin thinking about other motivations for giving (what you can get, or how to please people), then you have entirely lost the focus of what the Bible teaches. This issue is a very deep one, because people even seek to find justification with God through their giving. Yet justification with God does not come by the works of the law but by grace alone. For the Bible says,

“You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

So if in your stewardship of giving, you place yourself under a “law” like this, then you have also placed yourself under a curse.

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse ...” (Galatians 3:10).

And so it is no wonder the Holy Spirit does not find the clean vessels that he is looking for, to do his work through, because people are continually seeking to be justified by the works of the law in the church. Real, biblical, giving is not like that at all. It comes straight from the heart, with no obligation to have to perform for anyone. You are giving because you want to, and because you want to see God’s kingdom grow. And that’s enough. That’s the whole reason you should give. God puts no other burden on you in this regard. But this is far from the teaching of many churches.

The Old Testament Tithe

Now, let’s talk about the Old Testament tithe. The tithe of the Old Testament was a tax. It was not a freewill offering like is supposed to be practiced in the church today. The Old Testament tithe was a required tax to the government of the day, just like we also have required taxes that we must pay to our own governments. There is no difference in this regard.

In Old Testament Israel, the government officials were the priests, since the nation of Israel was under a theocratic system of government. This is not practiced in any other nation. Therefore, when God said there was a curse on the nation for not paying the tithe, this curse was indeed a national one that affected the entire country, because they were not paying their taxes. Therefore, the classic verse which is quoted by many pastors in churches is,

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation.” (Malachi 3:8-9)

However, as can be seen from this passage, that was a national curse. That’s why it says, “You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation.”

This has nothing to do with freewill giving in the church. Zero. Otherwise, what Paul taught could not be true! Inasmuch as he wrote,

“Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Thus the Old Testament tithe was law. It was a tax. It was required giving. It was payable to the government of the day, namely, the Levites. And the Levites were not even allowed to own land.

In the New Testament, we are also told to pay our taxes. That is found in Romans 13.

“For this reason you also pay taxes... Therefore give everyone what you owe: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if customs, then customs; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:6-7)

However, these taxes are not payable to the church ministers, but to the government.

In Old Testament Israel, there were three tithes, and not one. Two were annual, and one was every three years, totalling around 23 and 1/3 percent of a person’s income. However, it was not even payable in money, but in things like grain, material, and other products.

Paul never taught tithing for the church. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 8:7, Paul refers to the “grace of giving” and grace is not law. The two are completely different. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus mentioned tithing one time in connection with the nation of Israel only. He never taught tithing for the church.

Malachi 3:9-12 is about taxation in Israel. Because it mentions both a national blessing for tithing and a national curse for not tithing, it is often used to motivate people to give in the church. But to use this passage to teach giving in the church contravenes freewill, grace, giving, as taught in the New Testament. This passage is simply incompatible with what the New Testament teaches on freewill giving in the church.

I heard a pastor once say, “You have not even started to give until you have given ten percent.” This is simply not true and gives the church a bad name. Pastors who teach this need to repent. For God is going to hold them accountable for the “guilt trip” they put on people, and how they skewed people’s motives for giving. This is a very serious crime, because it distorts the hearts of the people. The Bible says,

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

However, when a pastor says you are required to give a certain amount, he is bending heart motives. It is very serious, because this actually tramples the gospel message. In the Bible, it says,

“Hey! Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)

In short, the gospel is meant to be free. There is no charge to attend a church, and there is no charge to be part of a church, either.

Now let’s talk about stewardship. Where should you give your money? Well, we are commanded to give, but the amount is not stipulated. Furthermore, we are responsible to invest wisely. Therefore, we are to invest in places where the work of the gospel is happening, where God’s kingdom is being furthered. This is part of being a good steward, and we will be rewarded for that. But the greatest reward is in the fruit that is born out of giving. This fruit is the harvest that will be reaped, because you have been faithful to sow good seed on good soil. In other words, you have made investments of time, talent, or treasure, to furthering God’s kingdom.

It is audacious, bold, and corrupt, to say that a person owes a certain amount of their salary to the church. It will not be honored in the end. All who do so will have to stand before the Lord to give an account for how they deceived the people with their finances. That’s a huge accountability. Pastors who have done this are in grave danger. One day the Lord will judge all these things.

Systematic Giving

It is quite all right to teach systematic giving, and one can even make a suggestion on how to do that. However, to mandate a certain amount or to show any type of favoritism or preference based on the amount that is given is to fall into the trap of James.

“For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in, and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing and say, “Sit here in a good place;” and you tell the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit by my footstool” haven’t you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers. Didn’t God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him?” (James 2:2-5)

And so those who do not obey this will be judged “without mercy.”

“So speak and so do, as men who are to be judged by a law of freedom. For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13)

There is something to be said for systematic giving in the church. But it is not to be mandated in terms of the amount that you give! Nevertheless, if your church is a responsible church, and is seeking to win souls into the kingdom, then you should consider it a privilege to give to the work of God, and you should give cheerfully and regularly. This is true New Testament giving.

The Wheat and the Tares

In the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30), Jesus once again teaches concerning the harvest of souls. The last verse says,

“Let both (types of plants) grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30)

The wheat represents souls won into the kingdom of God. The Bible says,

“Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)

It should be obvious what this passage is saying. First, the seed is what you give (sow) in order to be used by God to reap a harvest of souls for God (so they might have eternal life). There are three things you can give:

1. Your Time.

2. Your Talent (giftings).

3. Your Treasure (money).

Any of these constitute “seed.” And you are responsible for all of it!

Benny Hinn has consistently taught that when you give money, you should expect to get back money in return. He has taught this repeatedly over many years. This teaching is heretical (false) and plays on your motives, so beware! The novice, and untrained person in the Scriptures will be influenced by this and be corrupted in their reasons for giving. This can lead to a very dismal future for you, because instead of focusing on souls won into the kingdom, you are now focusing on what you can get. This is a real pollution of your motives. Beware.

In 1 Corinthians 9, it says,

“If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things?” (1 Corinthians 9:11)

What is the writer (Paul) saying? Is he saying that if you sow spiritual things, that you will reap spiritual things, and that if you sow material things like money, that you will receive material things in return? Certainly, he is not teaching that.

Paul is simply saying, “If we sowed in one form, is it too much that we should receive some credit for our labors?” Indeed, one person can sow spiritual things (like teaching God’s word) and receive in return things like money or food. Pastors who teach well receive back wages. This is perfectly acceptable. They need money to live. But to give money in order to get money is not what the Bible teaches. It is a complete corruption and alteration of what the Bible teaches.

When, in 2 Corinthians 9:10, it talks about increasing the “fruits of your righteousness,” this is harvest imagery. You are sowing your time, talent, and treasure, in order to produce a harvest of souls. Now look at John 4:36, and you will find the identical imagery!

“And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” (John 4:36)

When it says you are gathering “fruit unto life eternal,” it means you are being used by God to bring people into an eternal relationship with him. This is harvest imagery. I could go on for hours since this theme is repeated dozens of times in different parables and teachings. It is a truly foundational teaching of the Bible.

In yet another place, Jesus said,

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

Once again, the fruit here is souls won into God’s kingdom for all eternity. Are you getting the picture yet? That is why when preachers tell you to give in order to get money, they are totally corrupting your motives for giving. It is a travesty of the highest order!

With Jesus, the focus of your giving is always winning souls. It’s not about you and what you can get. It’s about souls that you can win for the kingdom of God! This focus on winning souls is what pleases God, because he cares for souls — and you should, too!

In yet another passage, Jesus says,

“Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Luke 16:9)

In this passage, Jesus is saying to use your money (mammon of unrighteousness) to influence people for God’s eternal kingdom. That’s what the expression “make friends” is all about. It means to win them for Christ. They are not your friend (or God’s) if they reject Christ. Instead, they are enemies of God, because,

“whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (see James 4:4).

But as soon as they come to know Christ, they will be both your friend and God’s! Thus, Jesus is telling you to evangelize in this passage (Luke 16:9). Then, you will have eternal rewards because these souls are eternal!

Why is Jesus saying that they will receive you into “everlasting habitations”? That is because some of the people you win for Christ will die and go to heaven before you do. When you die and go to heaven, they will be waiting for you. Thus, even as Jesus said, they will “receive you into everlasting habitations”.

What an amazing opportunity God has given to his people by calling them to focus on soul winning. No wonder the devil wants to corrupt this teaching and make it all about money and your approval before God! That will get you thinking about others things, instead of what is most important!

Are you convinced yet that the entirety of your focus in giving must be about winning souls into the kingdom? Well, it should. In Matthew 13:3-8, there is another parable which is called the parable of the sower. This is about a sower who went out to sow his seed. The seed is the word of God. When you focus on sowing the word of God into people’s lives, it can and eventually will bring forth a great harvest of soul. The last line of this parable reads,

“But other (seed) fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:8)

What then is the fruit? Souls! And those who are influenced by you will also win souls, so your efforts will be multiplied. In the end, you will leave this earth as Jesus made clear in Luke 16:9, when he said,

“Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Luke 16:9)

When ye fail” means “When you die” and when you die, you will take nothing with you. The only eternal reward is that which goes ahead of you and after you by way of the souls that you influenced for Christ while you were still alive and on the earth. Therefore, the wise person will invest his time, talents, and treasure, into winning souls for the kingdom of heaven.

In yet another passage, Jesus says the same thing once more, in yet a slightly different way.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

What is this passage about? Well, I think you know! It’s all about the harvest! Once again, Jesus is telling us to put our focus on making souls for the kingdom of heaven. In the end, this is all that matters. As you do this, you are giving of your time, talents, and treasure. And it should come with some degree of motivation. The person who lacks motivation should examine themselves to see whether they are even saved!

Putting your focus on winning souls into the kingdom of God does not mean you cannot learn to be a good father, mother, student, carpenter, engineer, or tradesperson, or develop some other skill. After all, with these skills, you can serve God (in some cases by earning money), so you can make an influence for the kingdom of God. Everyone in every realm of life has a part to play. God needs fathers, mothers, teachers, software developers, lawyers, doctors, and truck drivers! But the real question is, are your motives in line with what the Bible teaches? And are you determining in your heart to win souls for the kingdom? What is it that God has called you to do, anyway, and where do your gifts lie so that you can have the greatest influence? Think about it!

This harvest is also found in the Old Testament!

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

Please do not miss the imagery! This is harvest imagery. I want to now return to 2 Corinthians 9:10 (previously quoted), so I can cover what it means to “supply and multiply your seed for sowing.” This passage has been misunderstood. It is not about giving money to get money. The Bible is pronouncing a blessing here on all those who have proper motives and who give responsibly in order to fulfill the words of Jesus, in which he said to go into all the world and make disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. 2 Corinthians 9:10 is not promising you will receive money in exchange for giving money but is rather pronouncing a blessing on you for your faithfulness in giving.

Some people will empty their bank in order to “get God” to give them money. This is bad stewardship! When the Bible mentions God supplying and multiply your “seed for sowing,” that is intended for good stewards and not bad ones! It is for the person who has been diligent to be responsible in their calling, whether a father or a mother, or student, a worker in some trade. And when it comes to a vocation (that is, a job), God can use that to help you have an influence either within the company or outside, as you serve God with the money earned (like Paul did, he was a tent maker).

There is a world of difference between God granting you favor in your giftings, and merely dropping money into your hand. Since when has “quick money” ever been blessed in Scripture? For the Bible says,

“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.” (Proverbs 13:11)

Therefore, the Bible teaches that you should gain your wealth by labor and not by giving. Gaining wealth by giving is taught by some preachers but is not found in the Bible. The Bible is always teaching responsible stewardship, and not a means to make money, when it talks about giving. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of bad teaching in the church around this area. So you need to be careful.

A passage that has been frequently misused is Luke 6:38. This passage is about giving mercy, not money.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

We know that it is about giving mercy because of the verses that come before it:

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:36-37)

Again, in Proverbs 3, it says,

“Honor Yahweh with your substance, with the first fruits of all your increase: so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

This passage is about being a faithful steward with your wealth. If you bless others, then you will do well and God will continue to bless you. But if you hoard it, you will come under a curse. This is not meant as a way to make money, but a way to ensure that your heart remains pure, as you continue to have a giving attitude. Your giving attitude is foundational to God being able to bless you.

This same teaching appears elsewhere in Proverbs:

“There is one who scatters, and increases yet more. There is one who withholds more than is appropriate, but gains poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat. He who waters shall be watered also himself.” (Proverbs 11:24)

These passages are about your attitude in giving, even as Luke 6:38 is. If you are not willing to share, but instead are hoarding your wealth, then that will bring a curse. But if you are willing to share, even as God wants you to, then watch God bless you in return so that you can keep on blessing others. This is kingdom giving, and we are all called to walk in it.

 

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