Home Page Of Interest

NEW TESTAMENT GIVING


Some have enquired about what the new testament says about the giving of our money to the LORD.  Very few people come into this discussion or ask about it who do not have some preconceived notions about it.  Few have been raised in a vacuum about these matters and many already have established patterns which they seldom question in light of the scripture.

To say that the average church or religious organization spends quite a bit of time and energy in raising funds would be an understatement.  One can seldom hear a sermon on the TV or radio that does not conclude with strong appeals for funds and it is a common practice to pass the plate every time most churches (so called) gather.  It has even become acceptable in many circles to appeal for money by attaching promises of  temporal blessings to that act of benevolence.  Others depend on the “guilt factor” by painting a picture of the failure of their ministry if folks don’t give.  Yet others appeal to the “fear factor” by warning of the loss of blessings for those who exercise moderation in giving.  The common thread that runs through these appeals is “more is better”.

Under the Mosaic Law (see Lev.27:30-33; Deut.14:22-23) the Jews were taught to bring tithes and offerings to the LORD, though Abraham actually paid tithes,  as did Jacob; before Moses’ law was given. (see Gen.14:17-20; 28:22) In general the tithe was ten percent of their increase.  This was not optional but was more or less a “temple tax” which was to be paid to the Levites in most cases.  They were also taught to bring “freewill offerings” which is fairly self explanatory by its very name.  These offerings were not meant to be the result of the requirement of the law but an offering made by those grateful for the the LORD’s benefits.

There is no lack of those who would try to mold and shape our views about “new testament giving” by appealing to the requirements of the old testament or the desire of the flesh to receive material blessings.  Just like the Judaizers of old they are intent on putting the free-born sons of GOD back under the law from which they have been forever set free by the LORD JESUS CHRIST. (see Rom.8:1; 6:14,15; Gal.5:18)  While a good case can be made for the perpetuation of tithing (at least by example) yet this Mosaic law was not given to the Gentiles but those whose covenantal sign was the circumcision of the flesh.  We who have been circumcised in the heart are not debtors to that which was given not for the righteous but for the lawless and disobedient.  On top of that is the fact that there is not one command to tithe in any of the new testament writings or the teachings of CHRIST HIMSELF. That law which is binding upon the sons of GOD , which are bought with a price, is not a law which demands percentages and quotas but is the perfect law of love.

If the principle (law) of “ the SPIRIT of life in CHRIST JESUS” (see Rom.8:2) is that by which the believer is governed then that must be the basis upon which that same SPIRIT would teach us to be stewards of those earthly goods which HE has placed at our disposal.  We are quite certain that we have nothing that we have not received and therefore our view of what we possess must be governed by that knowledge.  The scripture has several examples of those whose giving was approved of GOD.  The widow who cast in two mites, the cheerful giver, and those whom Paul commended who “first gave themselves to the LORD.” (see II Cor.8:5)  This is the standard by which we ought to look at what we give and what we keep.

The basis upon which new testament giving rests is the very principle of the new covenant which the LORD promised when HE said, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33)  The benevolence of the LORD’s people is the direct result of the measure of grace which HE is pleased to pour out upon HIS children.  Rather than their faithfulness being the cause of HIS blessing, HIS blessing is the cause of their faithfulness.  This is manifested most clearly in a charitable spirit which is given to those upon whom HE is pleased to conform to the image of CHRIST.  The more like CHRIST a man becomes the more benevolent and kind that man is whether it has to do with finances, time, or the esteem of the brethren.   When you find men with a stingy and selfish spirit you will find men who are not much blessed with the presence of CHRIST.

This is illustrated very plainly in the early church when the SPIRIT of GOD rested upon them mightily. (see Acts 4:32-35)  They had little regard to personal gain and wealth, ready to distribute to others as the need arose.  Ananias and Sapphira are illustrative of the flesh trying to emulate the work of the SPIRIT.  They were stirred to give some but stopped short of giving all, thus manifesting their own wickedness and the weakness of the flesh.

That worship with which the LORD is pleased is that which is in “spirit and truth” as HE told the woman at the well, the FATHER seeketh such to worship HIM.  The LORD expressed HIS approval of the act of the woman with the  expensive alabaster box of ointment which she anointed HIM with as she bathed HIS feet with her tears.  This was a costly gift but was given without regard to price by one who was moved to worship HIM.  David refused the gift of sheep by Araunah saying “Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” (2Sam.24:24)  The LORD JESUS CHRIST gave HIS very life for us, and can we be satisfied to give HIM less?

mam