God’s Heart in Giving

Tags: Giving, Doctrine
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God’s Heart in Giving
God’s Heart in Giving will help you to understand God's purposes for giving in the church today and how you might give according to God's word.

God’s Heart in 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. The passage is clear that it is left up to each person how much they want to give.

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 this can affect your motives for giving. What then should our motives be for giving? Our motives are to be tied in with reaping a harvest of souls. For the Bible says:

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

When it comes to giving, harvest imagery is used, because winning people for Christ is a harvest in the biblical sense. The harvest is never money or anything else. 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.

Real, biblical, giving 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.

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. The Old Testament tithe was a required tax to the government of the day (the Levites), just like we also have required taxes that we must pay to our own governments. In Old Testament Israel, the government officials were the priests, since the nation of Israel was under a theocratic form of government (and these government officials were not allowed to own land, their land was provided by the state).

Israel had a unique type of governmental system. It did not work this way in any other nation. Therefore, in Malachi 3:8-9, when God said there was a curse on the nation for not paying the tithe, this curse 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. Otherwise, what Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 9:7 about freewill giving could not be true.

“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)

Now tithing itself was a form of taxation. But it was payable to the government. It just so happened that the government were the Levites (the religious leaders). But in today’s society, it is not the case. We pay our taxes to a secular government. Taxation is covered in Romans 13, where it says,

“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)

Clearly, these taxes are not payable to the church ministers, but to the government officials. 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 or produce.

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.

I heard a pastor once say, “You have not even started to give until you have given your ten percent.” This really grieves me and God. God is going to hold these leaders accountable for the guilt trip they put on people, and how they skewed people’s motives for giving. When a church leader says you are required to give a certain amount, this is an assault against Paul’s clear teaching on the grace of giving.

Even as God in Christ freely gave to us from his heart, we are invited to give of our heart in supporting the work of God. But if giving is mandated, it is no longer by grace.


Now let’s talk about stewardship. Where should we give our money? 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.

The greatest reward is in the fruit that is born out of giving. This fruit is the harvest that will be reaped, because we have been faithful to sow good seed on good soil. In other words, we have made investments of time, talent, and treasure, in order to further the work of God’s kingdom.

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 described by 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)

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 we 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)

The seed is what you give in order to be used by God to reap a harvest of souls. 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!

Some preachers have incorrectly taught that when people give money, they should expect to get money back in return. However, this is not consistent with the following passage of Scripture. 1 Corinthians 9:11 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 Paul who wrote this passage saying? Is he saying that if we sow spiritual things, that we will reap spiritual things, and that if we sow material things like money, that we will receive material things in return? Certainly, he is not teaching that. He 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.

When, in 2 Corinthians 9:10, it talks about increasing the “fruits of your righteousness,” this is harvest imagery. In other words, we are to sow our time, talents, 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 we are gathering “fruit unto life eternal,” it means we are being used by God to bring people into an eternal relationship with him. This is harvest imagery. This theme is in many parables and teachings. In yet another passage, 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. With Jesus, the focus of our giving is always winning souls. It’s not about us and what we can get. It’s about souls that we can win for the kingdom of God. 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 the mammon of unrighteousness (that is, money) to win souls. That’s what the expression “make friends” is all about. Thus, Jesus is telling us to evangelize in this passage. Then, we will have eternal rewards because every soul is eternal.

Why is Jesus saying that they will receive us into everlasting habitations? That is because some of the people we win for Christ will die and go to heaven before we do. When we die and go to heaven, they will be waiting for us. They will welcome us as we enter these eternal habitations. Our works will truly be appreciated. Thus, even as Jesus said, they will “receive you into everlasting habitations.”

What an amazing opportunity God has given to us by calling us 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 us 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 we focus on sowing the word of God into people’s lives, it will eventually bring forth a harvest of souls. 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? Once again, it is souls. Those who are influenced by us will also win souls. In Luke 16:9, Jesus says, “when ye fail,” referring to when we die. When we fail, meaning when we die, we will be received into eternal habitations. Luke 16:9 is all about winning souls into the kingdom of heaven, and I encourage you to memorize this verse.

Another similar passage about winning souls is given in Matthew 6:19-21. Jesus said,

“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 are the “treasures” Jesus is talking about? Once again, he is talking about souls. Thus, through and through in the Bible the emphasis is on souls, and so this should be our entire motivation for giving. There need not be any other motivation, and this is the only motivation provided in the Bible. Another passage in the Old Testament reads,

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

Again, this is harvest imagery.

Does the Bible teach giving to get money as some claim? Actually, no. The Bible teaches us that we should work with our hands. This is how we are to earn our money. Quick money is not taught in the Bible. We read,

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

But what about Luke 6:38? This is commonly used to teach giving money in the church. It says,

“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)

Yet, if you read this passage carefully, you will see that it is about giving mercy, and not giving money at all. It’s about having a right heart attitude. We know this from the context. The two verses that precede this say,

“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)

Yet in Proverbs 3, we read,

“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)

Does this passage not teach giving money to get money? No, certainly not. Because that would contradict other passages like Ephesians 4:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Proverbs 6:6-11, and many other passages that teach that we are to work in order to have food to eat and have our needs met. There are many passages that teach stewardship, and stewardship is all about using our gifts wisely.

When we use our gifts wisely, we can earn income. That income can then be used to help others. But merely giving money to get money is never taught in Scripture. In that case, we could simply give money, go to bed, and expect the money to arrive in the mail. This is completely unbiblical, and the world laughs at Christians who believe this. And rightfully so.

Instead, the above passage, which talks about our barns being filled with plenty if we honor the Lord with our wealth, is about being a faithful steward of our wealth. If we bless others, then we will do well and God will continue to bless us and provide us with opportunities to create wealth. It’s the opportunities that God gives us by being faithful, not the money itself.

But if we hoard our wealth, we will come under a curse. Thus, the passage is all about having a proper attitude in terms of the stewardship of our resources.

Thus, the Bible teaches us to work in order to gain money. We are to be willing to share our money with others, as the Lord leads us. Part of this giving is to help support Christian ministries.

However, giving money to get money is not taught in the Scriptures, but giving to win souls for Christ is. This is the harvest that is frequently taught in Scripture.

Furthermore, as we show God that we are being responsible, God will continue to entrust us with opportunities to have money so we can continue to be a blessing to others.

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