Our Giving -- Some New Testament Principles And Guidelines
By Mike Riley
A querist asks, "According to the New Testament, how much should a follower of Christ give to the work of the Lord?"
Relative to our giving, the following are some New Testament principles and guidelines that we should seriously consider:
- As followers of Christ, we must first have a desire to give -- Note the following texts: "...they were willing of themselves ... as there was a readiness to desire it ... if there is first a willing mind ... not grudgingly or of necessity" (2 Corinthians 8:3 ; 2 Corinthians 8:11-12; 2 Corinthians 9:7 ). No gift without a willing heart is adequate.
- As followers of Christ, we must be willing to fully give ourselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5) -- God's interest is in the giver -- not the money. The individual who first gives himself, is not likely to be stingy with money.
- As followers of Christ, we must love others -- The Corinthian's gift was proof of their love (2 Corinthians 8:24). If Christians truly love souls, giving in order to preach the saving of Christ is easy. If we love the brethren, giving to feed them is natural. We invariably put our money where our heart is (Matthew 6:21).
- As followers of Christ, we must recognize that we are simply stewards of what God has given us (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) -- Our gracious and benevolent God has entrusted us with material goods. However, they still belong to Him, and we must give an account for all we possess (Matthew 25:14-30). The Jerusalem saints understood this premise because "neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common" (Act. 4:32). Having this attitude makes giving easy.
- As followers of Christ, we need to consider that the amount we give depends on our income -- God's principle of giving is, "let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.... " (1 Corinthians 16:2). The more our salary or income is, the more we give.
- As followers of Christ, we need to consider that the amount of our giving depends upon what we have -- Note: ".... it is accepted according to what one has.... " (2 Corinthians 8:12). We must not think we have paid "our weekly tax" on our income and no other claim can be made on us. Just as surely as we have resources, we have responsibilities.
- As followers of Christ, we need to consider the fact that the amount of our giving depends upon the need -- For example, when crisis threatened the Jerusalem church, that special need compelled special giving. Brethren sold their houses and land to be able to give (Acts 4:32-35. They did not ordinarily give this way, but saints were hungry. Extraordinary need could compel us to give all we have (Mark 12:41-44).
- As followers of Christ, we need to consider that our giving is established by priority -- Some questions we might ask ourselves are: "How does my giving compare with my spending for other things? Do I spend more on movies or golf or fishing or hairdressers than God's work?" If our spending for the Lord's kingdom is way down from the top of the list of our expenditures, something is seriously wrong. As followers of Christ who seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), we have the responsibility to use our money accordingly.
- As follower of Christ, we need to consider that giving reflects our thankfulness -- God provides bread for food and multiplies our seed sown (2 Corinthians 9:10). How much do we appreciate God's generosity? As followers of Christ, we have all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). We have been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4), redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7), and given an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). How much does all this mean to us? Paul's last argument to the Corinthians is brief but profound -- "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).