The New Testament Teaching on Giving

It is that time of the year again — the “Christmas season.”  Many call this time a “season of giving” — a season when people “give gifts” to each other.  And because people do that, it is also a season of buying — and selling!  Many commercial companies realize their greatest profits during this season more than at any other time of the year.

Preachers often bemoan the fact that, while the people are “exchanging gifts” with each other, they forget to give to the cause of Jesus Christ, who many say is the “reason for the season.”

Some preachers also exhort people to “put Christ back in Christmas.”  Other preachers counter that Christ was never in Christmas in the first place, and thus He cannot be put back in it.  [For a backgrounder on where the tradition of Christmas really came from, see this link:  http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE , select "Books & Booklets" and scroll down to the booklet titled "The PLAIN TRUTH About Christmas."  See also:  True Worship and "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!"]

So, what’s the New Testament teaching on giving?  What did Jesus Christ and His disciples teach about giving?

Roots of New Testament giving

As the Creator, Owner and Sustainer of the whole vast universe, including our planet earth and all that is in it, God is a God of love (1 John 4:2).  That love He has manifested in His freely and generously giving us all things:  the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and other resources that enable us to live comfortably.  He has also given us other people with whom we can enjoy sharing these things.  God is the greatest Giver of all!

Most importantly — because all of mankind has sinned, following the footsteps of our first parents Adam and Eve (Romans 3:23; 5:12) — God has given us, in love, His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be a ransom for the sins of mankind so that those who believe in Him will not die but have everlasting life (John 3:16; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). [See:  "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!" and  The Ransomed of the LORD.]

Our Creator foreshadowed that love by making “tunics of skin” to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21) after they had sinned.  In all probability the skin was that of a sheep, which was to picture the coming “Lamb of God” who would cover, and thus take away, the “sin of the world” (John 1:29).

In Revelation 3:18 Christ tells the sinful Laodicean Christians to buy from Him “white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”  Here Jesus equates sin with spiritual nakedness that can only be covered with a “white garment” that has been washed and “made white in the blood of the Lamb [Jesus]” (Revelation 7:14).   Revelation 19:7-8, properly translated, shows that the Church of God (as the future “wife” of the Lamb Jesus) is “made ready” when she is clothed in “fine linen,” which is “the righteousnesses of the Holy One” [Jesus Christ; compare with Romans 4:1-12; see also:  Peter Knew "The Holy One" and The Children of Abraham].

Thus it is significant that among the first acts of the first generation of mankind was to offer to their Creator something of their produce.  Cain offered produce from the ground, while Abel offered the firstborn and the “fat” [the best or choicest] of his flock.  God accepted Abel’s offering, while God “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Genesis 4:3-5).

The Bible does not make clear why this was God’s view of Cain and his offering.  It couldn’t have been the fact that Cain offered produce from the ground.  Leviticus 6:14-23 shows that a “grain offering” — a produce from the ground — is something that God requires also as an offering that is a “sweet aroma” to Him, together with animal offerings.  God must have seen in Cain an unacceptable attitude in giving his offering to Him.  Possibly Cain, unlike Abel, did not give the best of his produce, or he may have given it with a grudging spirit (compare with 2 Corinthians 9:7).  Jude 11 places “the way of Cain” in the same category of unrighteousness as “the error of Balaam” (see Numbers 22 -24; 25:1-3) and “the rebellion of Korah” (Numbers 16:1-35).  1 John 3:12 testifies that Cain “was of that wicked one” (Satan).

Genesis 4:9 reveals that early on “men began to call on the name of the LORD.”  Possibly they would have accompanied that call with offerings from their flocks.  Several generations later, we see Noah — the lone survivor, with his family of seven (his wife and their three sons and their wives), of the Great Flood in his day — offering, in thanksgiving for God’s deliverance of him and his family, clean animals to the LORD.  And God received Noah’s offering as “a soothing aroma” (Genesis 8:20).  God thus blessed Noah and the generations after him with the promise never to destroy all air-breathing creatures again through a worldwide flood (Verses 21-22).

Abraham’s giving

Not too long after the Flood, Abram (later renamed Abraham) responded to God’s blessing of deliverance for his nephew Lot from his captors by giving the priest-king Melchizedek a tenth of all the spoils from his victorious warfare with Lot’s enemies (Genesis 14:1-20;  Hebrews 7:4).  [Incidentally, this shows that tithing does not cover only plant and animal produce, as some say is all that Leviticus 27:29-32 requires.  Luke 18:12 also shows that the Pharisees gave a tenth of all that they possessed -- including money and other precious things.  Why should God be "robbed" of His rightful tenth by non-agricultural practitioners (Malachi 3:8)?  See:  The Whole Counsel of God.]

Whether or not Abraham gave a tithe of all the spoils in response to a command from God to “tithe” (give a tenth) to Him, we cannot judge from Genesis 14:1-20.  However, in Genesis 26:5 we see God declaring to Abraham’s son Isaac that “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”  This was long before the law of God, which includes that statute on tithes (Leviticus 27:30; Malachi 3:8), was given through Moses.  Was tithing a part of some pre-Mosaic law?  More likely than not, yes!

Interestingly, Hebrews 7:6 says that Melchizedek “received tithes from Abraham.”  [The New International Version (NIV) renders this verse as "collected a tenth from Abraham."]  One collects something that is due oneself, just like a company collects payments due it from its customers or clients.  Verses 7-10 highlight the priesthood of Melchizedek as superior to that of the Levites by asserting that Levi (or his children the Levites) who collected or received tithes from the children of Israel in fact paid a tenth to Melchizedek through Abraham, while Levi was still in Abraham’s “loins” or body.  [See:  The Mystery of Melchizedek Unlocked.]

Paying and giving — opposites?

Years ago, I heard someone say that we pay tithes to God as a debt we owe Him, while we give offerings freely, out of the abundance and generosity of our hearts.  The idea has thus been bandied about that, since tithes are commanded or required and specified as separate tithes or tenths of one’s “increase” or income, one doesn’t really “give” tithes but only “pays” tithes.  And since paying tithes is commanded as a “law” by God, then paying them is done (according to this line of thinking) by compulsion and not willingly.  2 Corinthians 9:5 is often used to refer to tithing “as a grudging obligation” instead of “a matter of generosity.”

What is the Bible truth of the matter?

Firstly, the apostle Paul’s statement in the passage quoted above is not about “paying tithes.”  Rather, Paul is here teaching about generous giving of help or relief for the “saints” (living Christians) whose material needs had to be supplied by the more able Church brethren (2 Corinthians 9:12).  Paul called this “ministering to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:1).

In his earlier letter to the Corinthian brethren, Paul had mentioned to them about “the collection for the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:1).  This was to be their “gift to Jerusalem” (Verse 4).  This gift was a part of Paul’s pledge to fulfill the desire of Christ’s apostles at Jerusalem for Paul to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10).

Acts 11:27-30 reveals that this “collection” was taken up in response to a “great famine throughout the world” that especially affected “the brethren dwelling in Judea.”  Thus relief had to be sent to them from other brethren.  In Romans 15:25 Paul mentions his going to Jerusalem to “minister to the saints” there, through the brethren’s contribution for the relief of “the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.”

If there can be either generosity ["cheerful giving" (2 Corinthians 9:7) or grudging obligation [as "of necessity" (Verses 5 an 7)] in giving aid to the needy, can there also be the same attitude of mind and heart in giving or paying tithes to God?  Most certainly!  And not only is this true with tithing.  It is also true with obeying all the other laws and commandments of God.  One can delight in God’s law and obey it with a willing and cheerful heart, or one can merely pay lip service to that law and keep it grudgingly — dragging one’s foot, as it were.

Abraham is said to have given a tenth (tithe) of the spoils [of war] to the High Priest Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:4; Genesis 14:20), whereas Levi, while still in his father’s loins, paid tithes through Abraham (Hebrews 7:9).  [Incidentally, this should disprove the claim of some that the tithe which God requires of His people includes only the tenth of one's livestock and plant produce (Leviticus 27:30, 32).  The Pharisees gave a tithe of all that they possessed (Luke 18:12) -- including money and other valuable things.  Why should God be "robbed" of tithes due Him (Malachi 3:8) from businessmen and others who are not engaged in agriculture?]

Is there, then, an essential difference between giving and paying?  Can one “pay” money or goods to another person without also “giving” the money or goods to him?  It is evident from the Scripture passages cited above about Abraham, that he both gave and paid a tithe of all — no essential difference here!

Of course, in the language of commerce, to give (as in “free of charge”) is different from paying for something.  But when it comes to tithes and offerings, we can both give and pay them. “Pay your vows” is a command by God (Deuteronomy 23:21; Psalm 50:14; 22:25; 66:13; 116:1, 18; Proverbs 7:14).  But Leviticus 23:38 also tells God’s people to give their vows with their gifts and freewill offerings.

God said of Israel’s King David that he was “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22) because, among other things, he delighted to do God’s will and obey God’s law with a grateful and cheerful heart (Psalm 40:8; 22:25; 61:8).  He gave generously to God by preparing quality material for His temple (2 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 7:51).

May we become, like David, men and women after God’s own heart — loving and giving!

The supreme test of Abraham’s obedience and giving came when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his promised son Isaac as a burnt offering to God.  Abraham’s attitude of unquestioning obedience and selfless giving assured him of God’s blessings (Genesis 22:115-18).  Abraham came to be known as “the father of the faithful” (Galatians 3:7; Romans 4:16).  [See:  The Children of Abraham.]

Jacob, who followed Abraham’s example [probably as taught by his father Isaac (Genesis 18:19)], also promised to give God a tenth of all that God would give him (Genesis 28:20-22).  Presumably Jacob did this in his lifetime — as did his descendants, the nation Israel.

“Old covenant” giving

With Moses came the Law of God, which became the foundation of the “old covenant” between God and the children of Israel. The statutes and ordinances that required all kinds of offerings, tithes and generous giving to others may be summed up by Proverbs 3:9 — “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.”  With it is God’s promise of reward:  “So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Verse 10).  [Incidentally, this promise includes wine as a blessing, not a curse.  See:  A Matter of Life and Death, especially the box titled "Is drinking alcoholic beverages a sin?"]

Tithes and freewill offerings became clearly required in the Law of God (Leviticus 27:30).  Deuteronomy 15:22-29; 16:10, 16-17 specifies that, besides the tithe that goes to support the ministry of the Levites, God also requires a separate tithe to be used by the person in observing God’s annual holy days, and a separate tithe (given every three years within a cycle of seven years) for the poor and needy.

God, who declares Himself as unchanging, cites the giving of tithes and offerings as a way to return to Him (Malachi 3:6-8).  He considers withholding the tithe from Him as robbery!  He pronounces a curse for disobeying this law, as well as blessings for obeying it (Verses 9-12; Proverbs 3:10).  [See:   Just What Does God Mean -- "I Do Not Change?"]

Besides the various tithes and offerings, God also commanded Israel to be generous, merciful and just to the poor in their need at any time (Deuteronomy 15:7-11; 24:6, 10-15, 17).  The sabbatical release (in the seventh year) and the jubilee (in the 50th year) also commanded this generosity, as did leaving a part of one’s harvest for the poor (Deuteronomy 15:1-6, 12-18; 24:19-21; Leviticus 25:1-54; 19:9-10).

Over and above tithes and offerings, Israel also had opportunities to make and pay vows (Numbers 15:3, 8; 30:2; Deuteronomy 12:11; 23:21).  In addition, the Israelites also showed their generosity in giving material copiously to “fund-raisers” such as Moses called for the furnishings of the tabernacle in the wilderness, as well as offering their skills in the building and furnishings of that tabernacle (Exodus 35:4-9, 21 – 36:4).

Israel’s history, however, shows the people on many occasions as having neglected or failed to obey God’s laws on giving (2 Chronicles 31:4; Nehemiah 13:10; Malachi 3:7-9; Isaiah 1:16-17;2:4; 10:12, etc.), as well as God’s other commandments.

Why did the people fail?

A missing ingredient

Israel didn’t have the heart or spirit to obey God’s laws (Deuteronomy 5:29).  God had not yet worked then to give them a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27) — except for chosen men and women (a “remnant”) in whom He had placed His Spirit (1 Peter 1:10-12).  These were they whose hearts God had “circumcised” so that they were able to love God with all their heart and with all their soul (Deuteronomy 30:6; compare with John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2-3; Romans 5:5), as God commanded Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

This “missing ingredient” — God’s Holy Spirit — in the rest of the people of Israel made the old covenant inferior to the new.  This is what was deficient with the first covenant, for which reason “God found fault with the people“(Hebrews 8:7-8) — not with the law.  God’s Spirit is a gift that God gives willingly to those who ask Him, but according to His conditions — true repentance and baptism (Luke 11:13; Acts 2:38).

A time would come — and has now come — when God would put His laws in the people’s minds and write them on their hearts (Hebrews 8:10, quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34).  It takes God’s grace — God’s unmerited favor — through the Holy Spirit, to help mankind love God and obey His law, starting with His “elect” or the “firstfruits” or “firstborn” of His divine family.  [See:  Predestination, This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation, Freed From Bondage, God's Spirit and Obedience, and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

New covenant ushered in

In the fullness of time, Jesus came to fulfill all that is written about the Messiah in the Law, the Prophets and the Writings [the Old Testament] (Luke 24:27, 44).  While Moses came with the Law, Jesus came with “the glory of the One and Only … full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17).  [See:  Moses and Jesus -- Are They Contraries?]

When we fully appreciate God’s grace and truth through Christ, we will understand that grace does not do away with God’s Law.  Instead, we will understand that the Law cannot save; it can only instruct or guide (Romans 3:20;  7:7; 1 Timothy 3:16-17) — and condemn (Romans 3:15; 7:9 – 13; 2 Corinthians 3:7-9).  But when God writes His Law on our hearts as we come under the new covenant in Christ, we will come to love God’s Law as a way of life, much like the anonymous writer of Psalm 119 effuses with delight in God’s Law.

The apostle Paul affirms that, by faith, we don’t nullify but rather uphold the Law as “holy and just and good” (Romans 3:31; 7:12).  A true Christian shows his love for God by obeying His commandments (John 14:15, 21, 23) — and that joyfully (2 Corinthians 9:7; John 15:11; 1 John 5:2-3).  [See:  Freed From Bondage, Law Added to Law TransgressedTransgressions Under the First CovenantThe Two Laws in Hebrews 10, and The Law of Christ.]

Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).  He added:  “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Verse 18).  We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that the present heaven and earth have now passed away, and therefore the Law of God has passed away also!  The “new heaven” and the “new earth” have not come yet!  These won’t come until the present heaven and the present earth are first dissolved by fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10-12).  After that, the “new heavens and a new earth” will come down from heaven with God the Father Himself, who will dwell forever on this renewed earth with His glorified children (Verse 13; Revelation 21:1-5, etc.).

Jesus thus warns all not to break “one of the least of these commandments,” nor to teach others to do so (Matthew 7:19).

Jesus “fulfilled” God’s Law by being the perfect, unblemished sacrifice for sin and the perfect High Priest that the sacrificial animals, rituals and the Levitical priesthood of the Mosaic Law merely foreshadowed (Hebrews 8-10) with flickering glory (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).

In another sense, Jesus fulfilled God’s Law by making it “full” — to include not just the mere letter of the Law but its spirit or full intent, which is 100% love for God and love for neighbor equal to love for oneself (Matthew 22:37-40, quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5).

Law magnified

In His “Sermon on the Mount” which some Bible scholars have hailed as the “New Torah,” Jesus shows how He has magnified the Law of Moses (as prophesied about the Messiah, in Isaiah 42:21).  For example:

  • Murder — not just actual killing, but mere hating without a cause (Matthew 5:21-25)
  • Adultery — not just the actual sin of having sexual relations with a person other than one’s legal spouse, but merely looking lustfully at someone other than one’s wife or husband (Matthew 5:27-30)
  • Enemies — not cursing or taking revenge on them, but loving and praying for them (Matthew 5:4347)

Jesus even magnified the second commandment (to love neighbor or brother as oneself, Matthew 22:34-40) by putting a new twist to it:  “A new commandment I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 15:34).  That’s taking God’s commandment to a new, higher level!

The apostle Paul, whom the resurrected Jesus Himself taught by “special arrangement” (Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Acts 2:16-18), reflects Jesus’ command when Paul exhorts husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church …” (Ephesians 5:25).  Paul also magnified the 8th commandment, against stealing, by urging Christians:  “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 5:28).  This does not do away with the 8th commandment but rather transcends it by not merely being passive (not stealing from others) but instead actively going out of one’s way to give to the needy.

Letter versus spirit of the Law

Doing the mere letter of the Law — especially that on tithing — but not from the heart or according to the spirit and intent that God has given the Law is, to Paul, the way of death.  He wrote:  “…the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

The Pharisees, of whom Paul was formerly one of the chiefs, were masters in this way of death.  They tithed meticulously and did all the other minute details of the Mosaic Law and their man-made rules.  Yet they missed the whole point of the Law: love for God and love for neighbor, as evidenced in justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23; Mark 7:1-23, etc.).  For all their meticulous tithing and other outward show of righteousness, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for devouring widows’ houses and being full of lawlessness in their hearts (Matthew 23:5 14, 25-28).

True to His purpose, Jesus did not come to abolish tithing and the other commandments on giving that many might consider “least.”  He clearly told the Pharisees not to leave the matter of tithing undone while they were to mind the weightier matters of the Law (Matthew 23:23).  One might reason:  Jesus’ command here was for the Pharisees, not for everyone.  But then, Jesus tells all:  “…unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).  Stern words, these!

Christians surpass the “righteousness” of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law by faith in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, which then imputes Christ’s righteousness on them, as Abraham’s faith did on him (Romans 5:17-21; 4:9-13).  But, from the practical point of view, how can our righteousness in Christ surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law if we only give 10% of our income as they did?  How much less if we give less than 10%?

More than mere duty

In His parable about the “unprofitable” or unworthy servant (Luke 7:7-10), Jesus tells us that if we only do what is our duty, we are unprofitable or unworthy servants.  As Christ’s disciples, we do have a duty to render to God “the things of God” — money (or other resources) due God, as taxes were due Caesar (Matthew 22:21).

As the ever-reigning High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, does Christ have a right to “collect” a tenth of all that we have?  Most certainly!  But how can Christ’s priesthood be “superior” to the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 8:6) if there is only a tenth or less of the people’s giving for Christ’s “temple” [Christ's Church (Ephesians 2:19-22)]?  A superior Priest and King deserves more than a tenth of His people’s resources!  And that’s what His profitable or worthy servants give, and should give.

Little appreciated is the gracious giving by those who followed and ministered to Christ during His earthly ministry.  The disciples obeyed Jesus’ call to leave everything — their business and homes — in order to devote themselves to full-time service to Christ (Luke 5:11, 27-29; Mark 10:23; Matthew 19:27; Luke 18:28).  [This was similar to God calling the Levites to full-time service in the tabernacle and, later, the temple.]

What did Christ’s disciples, who thus forsook everything they had, live on?  As a miracle-worker, Jesus could simply have produced money and resources through miracle after miracle.  But He chose to use human instruments to provide for their needs.  Certain well-placed women (many of them unnamed) supported Jesus and His disciples “out of their own means” (Luke 8:23).

When we consider that Jesus taught His disciples to obey the Mosaic Law during His ministry (Matthew 8:4; 23:1-3; Mark 10:3; Luke 5:14), these women would have rendered to the Levites everything that the Law required for temple service (tithes, offerings, sacrifices, etc.).  Their support for Christ’s ministry would have come from resources over and above those they gave for Mosaic requirements — both in money and service. In this way Jesus’ ministry had the financial means even to “buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor” (John 13:29).  In other instances Jesus laid it on the hearts of “men of peace” to provide lodging, food, clothing or transport for Himself and His disciples (Matthew 10:9-13; 21:1-3; 26:18; Luke 10:3-8).

Jesus’ teaching on gracious giving

Besides gracious giving as mentioned earlier, Jesus also taught selfless giving.  Here are a few of these teachings:

  • Going the “second mile” — going over and above  duty (Matthew 5:41)
  • Giving to one who asks or wants to borrow, without thought of being repaid (Matthew 5:42; Luke 6:30, 34-36)
  • Loving one’s enemies,  even praying for them (Matthew 5:43-46)
  • Being friendly to strangers (Matthew 5:47)
  • The “widow’s mites” sacrificial giving (Luke 21:1-4)
  • Preaching the “gospel of God’s kingdom” freely (Acts 13-18)

Perhaps the greatest and weightiest form of “giving” which Jesus taught His disciples is forgiving those who sin against us.  He said:  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

New Testament giving

Following Christ’s example and teaching, Jesus’ disciples gave generously of their time, talents and treasures, and taught others to do the same.  Here are several ways by which they showed their generous giving:

  • Selling possessions and goods to supply the needs of the brethren (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37)
  • Healing a cripple, among other miracles of healing (Acts3:1-10; 19:11-12; 20:7-12; 28:7-9)
  • Daily food distribution to widows (Acts 6:1)
  • Ministering to Saul, later renamed Paul (Acts 9:17-19)
  • Ministering to the first Gentile convert, Cornelius (Acts 10-11)
  • Ministering through concerted prayers for the apostle Peter’s deliverance (Acts 12:1-19)
  •  Many instances of the apostles ministering the gospel and God’s grace to Gentiles and the needy brethren; brethren ministering to God’s servants (Acts 13-28)
  • Collection for needy Christians at Jerusalem/Judea (Acts 11:27-30; Romans 15:26-28; 1 Corinthian 16:1-4)
  • Offering ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1)
  • “Macedonian giving” praised and encouraged as example for others (2 Corinthians 8:1-7)
  • Sacrificial generosity of the Galatian Christians affirmed (Galatians 4:15)
  • Giving to others in need encouraged (Ephesians 4:28)
  • Church-approved list of truly needy widows helped through Church funds (1 Timothy 5:3-16)
  • Offering God a sacrifice of praise, doing good and sharing with others (Hebrews 13:15-16)
  • Forgiving one another, being patient and merciful to one another (Colossians 3:12-13; Ephesians 4:32)
  • Using the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Church (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11)

A challenge for Christians today

Christ’s teachings and example as affirmed by His New Testament servants clearly show that generous giving over and above what is required by the letter of the Old Testament Law is required of Christians.  It is symptomatic of the end-times that lawlessness has increased (Matthew 24:12), and the love of many — including true Christians — has turned cold.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the way most Christians give to the work of their church.  Data presented in a Condensed World Mission Course textbook show that Christians worldwide, on the average, give a mere 1.78% of their income to their church, and a pitiful 0.0945% for missions!

If Christ were to return today, indeed He would ask — and we should ask as well:  Would He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?  Where is genuine faith when Christians sing

All that I am, all that I have
I lay them down before You, O Lord

or

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee…
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold

and give for God’s Work less than 2% of their income, let alone 10%?  This is sheer hypocrisy that Jesus would condemn in the strongest terms (Matthew 24:51).  Many Christians today need to recapture the fear that gripped the whole Church when God slew Ananias and Sapphira for saying they would give all to God but withheld a part of it (Acts 5:1-11).

It takes faith to give a dutiful tenth of our income.  It takes greater faith to give beyond that tenth.  It takes even greater faith to give all that we have, if God so calls for it.  This was the case of the rich young ruler who, sadly, would not obey Christ’s call to discipleship — perhaps  even apostleship (Mark 10:21-22).  It takes tremendous faith for one to whom God gives the gift of giving, to give liberally (Romans 12:6-8) — without counting the cost, even to the point of joyfully accepting the “plundering” or “spoiling” of one’s  goods (Hebrews 10:34).  As faithful Abraham’s spiritual children, can we give up our “Isaac” — something we value most — when God asks us to?  Can we give to God our choicest and best as righteous Abel did?

It takes faith to believe Jesus when He said:  “Give, and it will be given you…” (Luke 6:38).  It takes faith to trust God to bless us abundantly in return for our generous giving.

The Work of God languishes in many churches because of lack of funds from church members who give less than what God requires. Churches send out missionaries who have to “live on the edge” and survive only on prayer because provision is not guaranteed them as a good soldier of Christ deserves (1 Corinthians 9:7).  God’s Work can accomplish much, much more if Christian leaders model and teach generous giving as God’s Word teaches.

Thousands have testified about how faithful God is to His promises to bless those who give generously to His Work.  Much more so if people give generously to those preachers who truly minister the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ and of God’s coming kingdom.  [See:  Beware of False Prophets.]

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
220205/241216

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