The bible has a lot to teach us about money. In fact there is more teaching about money than about even such an important subject as heaven. So we should not be ashamed about studying this important subject.
However, many Christian leaders and organisations are exploiting people and over-focussing on money. A careful study of the scriptures both safeguards us against such unscrupulous practices but also helps us to handle money in a biblical way.
Borrowing is normally unwise and something to avoid (Prov. 22:7). There is a tremendous pressure to live above one’s means with the increase in availability of CREDIT CARDS; the “buy now – pay later” and instalment plan schemes as well as taking an advance/borrowing from your salaries and paying back in instalments. So often, because of debts your giving to the Lord is severely limited.
What about tithing principles from the New Testament? It might surprise some Christians to know that the NT has no teaching on tithing as God’s required way of giving. Tithing is mentioned a few times in the NT and it is revealing to study what these references are about.
Mt. 23:23-24; Lk. 11:42: The Jewish religious leaders were hypocritical about their spirituality and Jesus indicts them about their false ways. Jesus does not forbid them from tithing but tells them there are more important matters that they should pay attention to.
In Lk. 18:12 we have the story of the Publican and Pharisee and again tithing is mentioned only to show up the Pharisee’s hypocrisy.
Limited giving—tithing 10% and feeling relieved that you have done your duty.
We now move to see the Macedonian Way of Giving —
We get a great amount of teaching on godly, biblical giving from 2 Cor. 8 and 9 and these two chapters warrant careful study.
Look first at 2 Cor. 9:1-5. You see a rich church – the Corinthian Church – that had promised to give for the past one year but had not fulfilled their commitment. They were now being reminded about their pledge and Paul uses sarcasm and tells them he had boasted to the Macedonian churches about their giving and didn’t want his boast to be in vain.
- THE EXAMPLE OF THE MACEDONIAN CHURCHES: 8:1-5
Verse 2 describes two difficult situations but in both of them these believers had godly responses.
The Situation: Severe affliction – vs. 2a
The Response: Abundance of joy – vs. 2a
The Situation Deep poverty – vs. 2b
The Response Riches of liberality – vs. 2b
Why were these poor and severely oppressed people able to respond in such a godly way?
- 1: They received the “grace of God”. Grace is not just God’s blessing for us. It is also God’s blessing through us to others. Giving offerings is effective when God’s grace comes to us and giving itself is grace.
HOW DID THEY GIVE? vs. 3-5
- According to their ability: vs. 3
- Beyond their ability: v. 3
- Freely and willingly: v. 3
- They begged to have the privilege of giving: v. 4
- They considered giving a gift and fellowship/partnership in the ministry: v. 4
- They first gave themselves
- To the Lord: v. 5 } both by the will of God
- To God’s servants: v. 5 }
- THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST: 8:9; 9:15
Jesus was rich but CHOSE deliberately to become poor. His purpose was to elevate us to His riches. This is a gift that is priceless or inexpressible.
- THE EXORTATIONS TO GIVE: 8:6-12
- This kind of giving is God’s grace in operation: v. 6, 7. Giving is putting action to our claims.
- It is a test of love: v. 8
- Don’t just think about it – do it! vs. 10-12. Have a “willing mind” then give according to your capacity.
- There needs to be sharing and equality in God’s Church: v. 13, 15
- THE EXCITING PRINCIPLES: 9:14
- God Is Pleased With A Willing And Cheerful Giver: 6,7
- Applies the principle of reaping and sowing: v. 6
- Plans/purposes: It is your personal decision: v. 7a
- Do not give grudging or because of pressure: v. 7
- God Blesses Godly Giving: 8,9
- Grace abounds to such givers: v. 8a
- All sufficiency in everything à for every good work will be provided in abundance. v. 8b
- To buy God: expecting God to give you more in return; heal your diseases; etc.
- It is not false prosperity gospel. God says we would prosper not for ourselves but to do more good to others.
- God Multiplies Spiritual Blessing: 10-14
- Increases our fruits of righteousness: v. 10
- Increases our capacity to be liberal: v. 11a
- Increases worship of God: vs. 11b, 12
- Increases intercession for the giver: v. 13,14
Matt. 6:19-21, 24, and 33 – It is investing in Eternity
- Give sacrificially – it is really an investment: 2 Sam. 24:24; Mk. 12:41-44; Phil. 4:15-19; Heb. 13:16
- Give generously: 1 Chron. 29:1-9, 17