by Ed Stevens
An outstanding characteristic of the Adamic natural man is covetousness. In fact "the love of gain" is said in I Timothy 6:10, R.V., to be "the root of all evil"! To have instead the love of giving requires regeneration, a being "born again", with the "love of God shed abroad in our hearts". John 3:7; Rom. 5:5. Christian giving is "a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God". Phil. 4:15-18. As for the unsaved: "The sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord". Prov. 15:8.
The Bible's first mention of giving is found in Genesis 4:3-7. Cain and Abel brought "an offering unto the Lord". "By faith" in Christ, the promised "Seed of the woman", Abel brought his offering and was accepted of the Lord. Heb. 11:4; Gen. 3:15. Cain's offering was rejected in that he lacked this faith and "was of that wicked one". I John 3:12. God accepts no one nor his gifts apart from faith in Christ!
A basic truth about Christian giving was displayed by the Macedonian believers in that they "first gave their own selves unto the Lord". II Cor. 8:5. This "reasonable service" is in accordance with the teaching of I Corinthians 6:19, 20 — "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's." Also, He is glorified in all giving "as unto the Lord".
Faithful preachers and spiritual Christians realize that the "grace of giving" is one of the "good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them". Eph. 2:10. They know that "godliness with contentment is great gain", in contradistinction to "men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness". I Tim. 6:3-6. They know the flourishing state of sects and cults is not of God! When they speak about giving they will say with Paul, "Not because I desire a gift,
but I desire fruit that may abound to your account". Phil. 4:17.
Some preachers remind one of the offspring of the horseleach described in Proverbs 30:15, as continually crying, "Give, give". They can't preach without a salary, "church" machinery must be kept going, heavy building loans on competitive steeple-houses must be paid off, etc. Does God's Word sanction such carryings-on? A search here may be enlightening to many professing Christians.
These "horseleach" preachers, invariably place their hearers under the law, they must give tithes —of necessity! It is quite remunerative to them and their programs. All of the fast growing cults and most denominations follow this method. People are frightened into believing they will be cursed and not blessed if they do not "bring all the tithes into the storehouse". What storehouse? Certainly, not God's, for, "He dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet: Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool. What house will ye build me, saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" Acts 7:48, 49.
Yes, man-made religious systems depend altogether on money for existence and continuance. Not so the true church of Jesus Christ, "the church which is His body", which He builds as a spiritual building, "an holy temple in the Lord in whom ye [all believers] are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit". Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:21, 22.
By "rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15), we know that under the dispensation of the law, Israel had a literal "storehouse" in a literal temple to which all Israel was commanded to bring tithes. All this was superseded in this dispensation of the church which is Christ's body, by physical bodies of believers being "the temple of the Holy Spirit". Grace now supersedes law. Rom. 6:14.
HOW TO GIVE
Certain of God's ways and dealings with man are unchanged by dispensations as, chastisement, and granting special favor to those who truly fear, love, and obey Him. It has always been His will that we give of our means in self-denial. "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man bath and not according to that he hath not". II Cor. 8:12. Thus, whether one is able to give much or little, it is to God "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God". Phil. 4:18.
We repeat, every believer and all he has belongs to the Lord. He is accounted a steward, and "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful". I Cor. 4:2. The apostle Paul, " a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (I Tim. 2:7), gave plain instructions in the matter of giving, as found in I Corinthians 9 and chapters 8 and 9 of II Corinthians. Christians today are not put under a tithing law, as was Israel, but are told: "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver". II Cor. 9:6, 7. Some will purpose a tithe, some less, some more. The word "cheerful" can also be rendered, "joyous", or "prompt". In verses 6 through 11 we are told what God can and will do for and with bountiful givers:
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work . . . And He that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness: ye being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God." R.V.
Here we have a blessed promise that one's ability to give will be increased in proportion to that which has already been given. This enrichment "unto all liberality" glorifies Christ and the gospel and increases thanksgiving to God. It also provides personal "sufficiency in all things".
Surely God will bless any Christian who follows the pattern of giving laid out in I Cor. 16:2 of consistently setting aside a portion of their income each week for the work of the Lord, as the Corinthians
were here exhorted to do in making a collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem.
We take care (and God commands it — Rom. 13:1-7) to "lay by" in taxes for Caesar, as we prosper, and no reward is offered. Shall we have less care for the Lord and His cause, who promises rich reward for time and eternity? Which is more important?
Tithing did not originate in the law of Moses. Abraham and Jacob gave tithes long before that law. Gen. 14:20; 28:22; Heb. 7:4. After all, setting aside a tenth is the simplest and easiest computing possible in systematic giving. Also, we should not forget that "whatsoever things were written afore-time were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope". Rom. 15:4. Paul declared, "For our sake" it was written in Moses' law, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn". I Cor. 9:9, 10. He inferred that "they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel", v. 14. In Galatians 6:6 it is: "Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."
We must not think that God limited His great "prove me" promise of Malachi 3:10 to Israel alone: "Prove me now herewith [the tithe] saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room to receive it." Have you ever tried proving God, Christian reader, remaining true under testings of your faithfulness? Many have been the testimonies of blessed results in so doing!
WHAT ABOUT DEBTS?
Unpaid debts, unfulfilled obligations, work ill to one's neighbor. Hence the command: "Owe no man anything but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor . . . ". Rom. 13:8, 19. Some Christians, indeed, think with this command in mind, that paying off debts to man supersedes giving to the Lord. Shall we owe God that we owe not many anything? Surely, He should come first, as seen in Proverbs 3:10 — "Honor the Lord" with thy substance and with the firstfruits of thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty... ". Then we can trust God as to getting debts paid off. He never fails!
When debts are made an excuse for not giving, a love of gain and much catering to the flesh is often displayed in continuous buying, with increased desire for ill-afforded luxuries. Of such it is truly said, "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy", and, "He gave them their request, but sent leaness into their soul". I Cor. 15: 48; Psalm 106:15. How foolish to seek reward for the flesh now in this very short life and have none in heaven for all eternity!
Unavoidably, sometimes large doctor and hospital debts are acquired through sickness. To meet this problem, the Christian with meager means may rest on God's promise found in Psalm 37:5, "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass". "Casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you", I Pet. 5:7. Other Christians, prayerful for guidance in giving will be led to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ", remembering the members of Christ's body should have "the same care one for another". Gal. 6:2; I Cor. 12:25.
How true the Lord's words, "The poor ye have always with you"! Paul re-iterated this in saying, "Ye ought to support the weak and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive". Acts 20:35. Please read Deut. 15:7-11 on this subject.
"He that giveth to the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse." "He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again." Proverbs 28:27; 19:17.
"A faithful man shall abound with blessings; but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent." Prov. 28:20.
"There is that scattereth yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." Prov. 11:24. Thus, John Bunyan biblically wrote: "There was a man, some call him mad, the more he gave the more he had!"
"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Prov. 11:25.
TAKE HEED IN GIVING !
When giving is directed to the ministry and the work of the Lord generally, God's warning to Israel, which is applicable to Christians today, should be remembered:
"There shall be a place which the Lord thy God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offering in every place that thou seest; but in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose . . . " . Deut. 12:13, 14.
Where has the Lord caused His name to dwell since Israel and her house-of-God-temple were set aside? In modern conflicting and divisive "works-ofthe-flesh" sects? Gal. 5:19-21. In competitive, denominational (named apart) mortar-and-brick "church" buildings? Of course not! He has set His name in that Christ-built spiritual institution of which He alone is the Head, "the church which is His body", to which He himself joins all believers throughout the world "daily". Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18; Acts 2:47. This "body" is also termed God's "family" and "household". Eph. 3:15; 2:19. There must Christian giving be centered, not "in every place that thou seest", or, "the church of your choice"— a common utterance of evangelists, but not by God's Spirit!
"Let ours [in God's family] also learn to maintain good works for necessary wants, that they be not unfruitful." Titus 3:14, R.V. Margin. There those who are rich are charged: "That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate", or "to sympathize", margin. I Tim. 6:17, 18. Building on other foundations brings no reward, but "loss" at the coming judgement-seat of Christ. I Cor. 3:11-15; II Cor. 5:10.
God calls all sect-bound, sect-supporting true members of Christ's body to "Come out from among them, and be ye separate", desiring their enlightenment as to their identity in that body and proper giving there "as unto the Lord". II Cor. 6-14-18; 7:1. None should be guilty of contributing in any wise to Satan's fast growing isms and schisms. They should lay their all on the altar of "Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood". Rev. 1:5. To believe Satan's lie about doing "more good" in man-institutionalized religion is to disbelieve Christ's wisdom and sufficiency in His established church! We pray you, think it over in the light of God's Word. Believe it! Then act accordingly!
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich"— rich in salvation, rich in good works, "rich toward God." "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!" II Cor. 8:9; 9:15.
Let us "abide in Him" and in all His will for us, "that when He shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him in His presence". I John 2:28.
Christ-centered nonsectarian literature sent free "in the name of the Lord Jesus". Col. 3:17
Return to Navigation