Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8). I cannot recount the number of messages and Bible studies I have heard regarding Christian stewardship. As far as I can remember, each of these messages and studies centered on the so-called principle of tithing—giving at least ten percent to the work of the Lord through the local church. However, as one studies the New Testament, one quickly discovers no required amount or percentage for giving to the Lord‟s work is specified. I‟m sure at this point many of my fellow chaplains and ministers are shouting heresy! But, an honest look at Scripture will reveal that I am no heretic. Furthermore, understanding what the Bible really teaches concerning stewardship is both God-honoring and liberating!
The Old Testament principle of tithing is one of the most misunderstood teachings in Scripture. We have read and heard “ten percent” for so long that we have concluded this is what the Bible teaches. Many are surprised to learn the Old Testament required giving of three tithes which totaled about 23 percent annually. So, instead of ten cents out of every dollar, now you owe twenty-three! This system is similar to many modern taxation systems throughout the world today. These tithes were used to fund the national government of Israel, public festivals, and welfare. Giving to the work of the Lord, on the other hand, was not regulated as to amount. The Bible says, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, „Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution‟” (Ex. 25:1-2; see also 35:21; 36:6; Prov. 3:9-10; 11:24). This same principle of free will giving is evident in the New Testament. In his second letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul writes, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In other words, our giving is to be planned and done cheerfully. Anything less is considered “grudgingly or under compulsion.” Elsewhere, the Bible says our giving is to be, “as he may prosper,” indicating no required amount or percentage but that all giving to the Lord is to be free will and completely discretionary (See 1 Cor. 16:2). These passages, taken in light of other passages such as Luke 6:38, Acts 4:32-37, and 2 Corinthians 8:1-6, clearly teach we are to give proportionately and sacrificially. This means we are to give both “according to [our] own ability,” and “beyond [our] ability and of [our] own accord” (see 2 Cor. 8:3). We are to give according to what we have, yet sacrificially. Finally, we are to give voluntarily. This is important as I believe much of what we hear today concerning stewardship lends itself to giving by compulsion, manipulation, and intimidation. Free will giving, on the other hand, has always been God‟s plan and should not be confused with Old Testament tithing.
Therefore, the question is, if free will giving is God‟s plan then why is so little said about it from pulpits and in Bible studies? I believe there are several reasons. First of all, I believe many are simply ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches. Secondly, many preachers and Bible teachers believe that unless we guilt believers into giving at least ten percent of their income to the Church, God‟s work will simply go unfunded. Finally, and perhaps even more telling, we simply don‟t believe God who said He “is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8). If we understand and apply this principle, our giving will be with such joy and enthusiasm that we would eventually have to be restrained from bringing more gifts! So, give. Give cheerfully. Give in proportion to how God has blessed you, yet sacrificially. Such giving is pleasing to God. It demonstrates whether or not I believe Him. And ultimately, it honors Him! “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38).
You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
Click on the image to learn more
Striving to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.
Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.