Many people believe they should in some way give financially to their church. But how and why they should give are the questions that come up. in other words, how to give to the church?
Over the years I have heard many different answers to these two questions about giving: that we should give a tithe to the church, we should give to be spiritual, we give otherwise God will not forgive us, and that if we give more money then God will bless us with more money.
Although some of these sound true, sadly they give no biblical motivation (why) or method (how) for New Testament giving. Thankfully the Bible does demonstrate three ways of giving that show us the appropriate methods and give us wholesome motivation for how to give to the church.
First-fruits giving is proportionate giving. When we give of our first-fruits we give God the first, the best, and according to how he has blessed us. In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel brought the first-fruits of their produce and flock. Abraham also carried on this kind of giving when he gave a tithe to Melchizedek. Later on, God instituted several “tithes” under the OT Law, which were also a form of first-fruits giving, and we certainly see proportionate giving in the NT.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Pastor David, we are not under the OT law… I don’t have to tithe!” This is true, and you are probably grateful that it is so, for the Jewish people gave close to 23% of their income through three different tithes (“tithe” means 10%; the biblical examples are usually based on a tenth)!
However, first-fruits giving flows through the New Testament as well. God desires that we honour Him with a portion (a proportion) of our increase (cf. 1 Cor 16:1-2 and 2 Cor 8:12-15). First-fruits giving is not just a percentage, it is giving back proportionally according to how the Lord has blessed us. Maybe your faith has not grown to give a 10% tithe. Begin with something. Maybe start with a lower portion, and ask the Lord to increase your faith and to give you more grace so that you can give more.
Free-will giving is voluntary giving. This second kind of giving we also find throughout Scripture, and usually in respect to a specific need and individuals voluntarily give. It is based on the person’s desire—What would you like to give? Old Testament examples include special temple offerings (Ex 36:7; 2 Chr 31:10), and New Testament examples include missionary offerings and general church offerings (1 Cor 16:1-2). One of the best examples of free-will giving is found in farming:
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NKJV) Many passages indicate that the New Testament believers gave voluntarily (Acts 2:44-45; 2 Cor 8:1-5.), and this principle is practiced at Faith Baptist Church.
We give in faith when we are convinced by God to give at a particular time, for a particular cause, and in some cases beyond what we can afford. Even though every gift can demonstrate our faith in God, sometimes God asks us to do more.
Sometimes God’s people gave above their means, trusting God for His provision. For example, the widow of Zarephath gave not knowing how the Lord would provide (1 Kings 17), and the churches of Macedonia gave when they were extremely poor (2 Cor 8:1-4). Certainly, these were unique situations, but they do challenge us to believe God and grow in our own faith.
Now perhaps you would say, “When I am rich I will give.” But notice the order in which Jesus Jesus encouraged us to give:
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. ~ Luke 6:38 (NKJV)
All giving should be an act of faith, trusting God to provide and bless.
Giving is a grace
Why would God call giving a grace? It’s called "a grace" because we will need God’s help to learn how to give and to do it well! Ask God to help you grow in this area and to provide for you. Ask God to strengthen your faith; to teach you contentment and to help you stay committed to Him.