pattern of giving exemplified throughout the New Testament is one of
offerings -- not the mandated offerings of the Law, but of true
"freewill" offerings. Examples abound regarding many forms
of giving, including the giving of material possessions (including
money). Before focusing on the New Testament, it must be noted that
even the Law, which was a shadow of good things to come (Hebrews
10:1), contains a number of examples of freewill offerings. These
offerings contrasted sharply with the other mandated and penalty
bound requirements of the Law. Freewill offerings always seemed to be
better at showing the heart of the people, especially when they
cheerfully looked after a need. A few of these examples from the time
of the Law...
25:1-9 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Tell the Israelites to bring
me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man
whose heart prompts him to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to
receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and
scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and
hides of sea cows; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for
the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and
other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. 8 "Then
have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9
Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern
I will show you.
35:4-9 Moses said to the whole Israelite community, "This is
what the LORD has commanded: 5 From what you have, take an offering
for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an
offering of gold, silver and bronze; 6 blue, purple and scarlet yarn
and fine linen; goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and hides of sea
cows; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the light; spices for the
anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9 and onyx stones and
other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
Chronicles 29:16-17 [King David praying...] O LORD our God, as for
all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple
for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to
you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with
integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest
intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who
are here have given to you. (Clarification ours)
the time of the Law, the building of God's tabernacle and subsequent
temple were both from freewill offerings, so that God would be
glorified through the open generosity of His people. This
"shadow" provides an example of how our care for God's
tabernacle today, through the cheerful and freewill gifts of His
people, brings glory to Him. This Old Testament tabernacle is not
representative of a church building in the New Testament; rather it
is symbolic of the living building of the church. The people of the
church -- all believers -- are this new tabernacle, within whom God
dwells by His Holy Spirit.
2:21-22 In him [Jesus] the whole building is joined together and
rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are
being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his
Spirit. (Clarification ours)
this, it shouldn't surprise us that other New Testament passages
remind that we are to especially care for fellow believers.
6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
12:13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
truly were caring for the people -- who are the church -- out of
freewill generosity, imagine how greatly God would be glorified even
amongst non-believers! This generosity should flow naturally from the
love that God has given us...
3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his
life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but
has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear
children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and
in truth. (See 1 John 4:7 too!)
additional examples from the Old Testament era also provide
generalized example for the church. Hosts of timeless principles are
set forth in the book of Proverbs -- nuggets of truth valid before,
during, and after the Law.
11:25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will
himself be refreshed.
22:9 A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food
with the poor.
of these proverbs is reflected in the New Testament era, throughout
the multitudes of examples regarding this topic of giving. This
passage we begin with is not the first example; rather it is arguably
the best, specifically in the breadth of what is covered.
Corinthians 8:1-9:15 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the
grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most
severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled
up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they
were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4
they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this
service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they
gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with
God's will. 6 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a
beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your
part. 7 But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in
knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that
you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not
commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by
comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes
he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last
year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire
to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to
do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your
means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable
according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard
pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time
your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty
will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is
written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who
gathered little did not have too little."
16 I thank
God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.
17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you
with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending
along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his
service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches
to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in
order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20
We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal
gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the
eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.
addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved
to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because
of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and
fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are
representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 Therefore
show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in
you, so that the churches can see it.
is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. 2
For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it
to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia
were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to
action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting
about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be
ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me
and find you unprepared, we-not to say anything about you-would be
ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to
urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements
for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a
generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever
sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give
what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under
compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make
all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having
all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is
written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his
righteousness endures forever."
10 Now he
who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply
and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your
righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can
be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will
result in thanksgiving to God.
service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's
people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men
will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of
the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them
and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts
will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given
you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
giving is not out of compulsion. This conclusion is not new. The same
Holy Spirit that teaches today has taught the church from the very
beginning. The teacher (or pastor) whose writings became known as The
Epistle of Barnabas, though not a writer of Scriptures (nor did
he claim to be), shows clearly what the early church believed in this
regards. Writing circa 100 A.D. (and certainly no later than 132
A.D.) these words follow a few points regarding the formerly mandated
sacrifices and offerings of the law...
he has abolished these things, in order that the new law of our Lord
Jesus Christ, which is free from the yoke of compulsion, might have
its offering, one not made by man. (The Epistle of Barnabas 2:6)
how far this ancient statement is from the following facts regarding
the largest evangelical Protestant denomination in the United States.
It appears that compulsion has become way of life in their churches
(and they are not alone). When something is represented to be an
obligation, it becomes coercion regardless of claims to the contrary.
Bullying (a synonym of coercion) does not have to be physical or even
done openly with words. Placing someone as a second-class Christian
or unrepentant sinner (robbing God) is still mental coercion.
primary method for promoting stewardship in Southern Baptist
congregations is teaching that a 10 percent tithe belongs to God, is
due to God, and should be given to God. ...
Eighty-three percent of congregations surveyed indicated they
promoted giving in this fashion. The next most common approach to
encourage giving was to preach sermons on the topic of stewardship.
Though coercion is not employed, both methods indicate that tithing
is considered an obligation for a Christian. (Emphasis ours. Southern
Baptist Congregations Today, Phillip B. Jones, February 2001,
pdf document found on www.sbc.net)
statistics showing an average giver only at two or three percent,
instead of the demanded ten percent, it appears that coercion doesn't
work to well. Perhaps it's time for the church to discover the true
principles of New Testament giving, such as those found here in this
letter to the Corinthians.
The apostle Paul unquestionably considered giving to be a continual
part of Christian living. Without ever pointing to a tithe or
compulsory form of giving, he continually offered pointers on how a
believer should be thinking.
Philemon 13-14 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he
could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the
gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so
that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced.
Giving is not just about money.
Giving is not to be forced. We should not be trying to force, guilt,
or coerce anyone into giving.
Giving is to be spontaneous, from a heart full of love.
This passage is in regards to a possession rather than money. Yet it
concerns extraordinary circumstances because that possession was a
run-away slave, who unquestionably would have been of financial
benefit to his owner. Though the circumstances of a Christian owning
a slave are not typical of today, the foundational giving concepts
behind this passage still apply.
While thinking about possessions, take note that those who have
established a new law of tithing for today's church demand a tithe of
your property as well.
Should I tithe an inheritance? ... Answer: An inheritance is
increase. It is what God has increased you with. Therefore you tithe
everything that comes into your possession from that inheritance. (Common
Questions on the Tithe by Pastor Simon, http://www.teachingpages.co.uk.)
Taking to heart a principle from the last Bible passage we examined,
that giving is not to be forced, the true principle for a believer is
one that will be echoed throughout this entire section: Use it all
for God's glory! If you want to sell a possession, or some of it, and
give to the poor, to missions, or to your church, then it is within
your power and right to do so. Can you see how different this is from
the legalistic requirement of the new tithers? For example, if you
inherited a piece of property that you know a Christian camp could
use, the tithe legalizers would tell you that you must first sell it,
or some of it, or use some of your other savings (if you have them)
to pay at least ten percent of its' value to your church. Only then
could you think about giving it to that Christian camp. Mercifully,
in the freedom we have been given in the New Covenant, this is not
necessary. Give as God leads! Remember that the modern tither's
scenario wouldn't have been in view even in the Old Covenant either,
since property was never a focus of the Old Testament tithe.
We began this section with a long excerpt from the second letter to
the Corinthians. The first letter had much to say regarding giving as well.
1 Corinthians 16:1-3 Now about the collection for God's people: Do
what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every
week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with
his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will
have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of
introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
Giving is to help God's people spiritually and physically. Freewill
gifts are all that are in view here, not tithes. While some say that
the "in keeping with his income" is justification for
setting a percentage of income (i.e. 10%), the phrase "as he may
prosper", used in many other translations, conveys the thought
better. God only desires that you share as you are able. A percentage
amount is not set anywhere in this passage.
This passage is a reflection of the early church's instruction that
the poor not be forgotten (see the next passage under consideration;
Galatians 2:10). Even in the Law, when an equivalent statement
"in keeping with his income" was used, namely "in
proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you (Deuteronomy
16:10)", it was not used in conjunction with the tithe, but
rather in combination with free-will offerings (see Deuteronomy
16:16-17). The context of the passage in Deuteronomy carried the full
implication that these freewill offerings be used for fellowship with
family and employees (servants), plus a reminder to not forget those
in full time service to God, the poor and helpless, and even the
outsider, "the alien" (see Deuteronomy 16:11, 14). The
result of this generosity, even in the Old Testament, is promised to
be "joy!" (See also Deuteronomy 16:15).
Saving up a number of smaller gifts, or gifts from multiple
individuals, for a particular purpose is encouraged. The local church
body may administer the final distribution of the gifts, utilizing
individuals set apart for that purpose. (Being set apart does not
mean that a person has to have a special status or denominational
ordination; merely that a body of believers chose them for that
purpose, with ability and reliability in view).
Giving should be first on the basis of greatest need. At that time in
church history, the particular need of the church in Jerusalem was
exceedingly great. The church there was under continual persecution,
with many believers having their possessions and properties
confiscated. The giving being done here was not merely an issue of
being nice - it was urgently needed! Yet in the midst of this
urgency, no specified amounts or percentages were being demanded as
they trusted that God would supply through the generosity of His
people, where the need had been made known.
The next two passages, both with a common theme, will be examined together.
Galatians 2:8-10 James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars,
gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they
recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to
the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10 All they asked was that we
should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Romans 15:25-27 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the
service of the saints there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased
to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27
They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if
the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe
it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
Giving is first and foremost to assist the poor, both physically and spiritually.
Taking care of the poor was considered to be so important that it was
singled out as first and foremost in instructions to the Gentile church.
Giving should also help those who shared the good news with you.
The second conclusion, above, focuses on a prominent issue: the need
for believers to be taking care of the poor. This was never a
secondary issue in regards to giving. So, before continuing with the
overall topic of giving, a number of specific questions need answers.
Why is care of the poor, in and out of our churches, such a low
priority of most church budgets and, likewise, in regards to
How can churches claim that their new tithe must be paid to the
"church first", or only to the church wherein the giver has
exhausted their resources? This "church first" principle is
often demanded even if the individual has poor and needy (physically
or spiritually) that they could be helping directly and immediately,
including those of their own family and neighbors.
Can a portion of my tithe go directly to a needy family? No, it is
best to give to the church first. ... the church is the first and
worthiest recipient of Christian giving. As a rule of thumb, our
tithes should go to the church, not anywhere else. ... By all means,
we should give directly to the needy, but only in addition to-not in
place of-our regular giving to the church. (Point 10 of Questions
about Tithing, www.generousgiving.org)
If you have something left over, feel free to help out the poor! This
is an incredible claim that moves caring for the poor from being a
forefront issue to an afterthought. The whole idea even violates the
timeless principle set out in Proverbs...
Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when
it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, "Come
back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-when you now have it with
you. (Consider also James 2:15-17, 4:17).
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, encouraging them to work with an intent
to have something to share.
Ephesians 4:28 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.
The whole message of the New Testament, for the church both then and
now, is that giving is an act that comes from love.
Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38
This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like
it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Teaching that actions stem from real love must be a primary biblical
message for the church, as this is the message that permeates the New Testament!
To say that God will bless us in giving is quite different than
saying "God promises to bless our obedience in giving", as
the tithers and other legalizers advocate. Obedience comes from an
obligation to follow a command or defined requirement. The New
Testament message to the church is one of opportunity not of
obligation! While it is true that there is a generally stated
responsibility for all believers to be living a life of giving -- a
message that all believers are to be instructed in -- this serves to
teach people how to show their love. Again, the only
motivation under grace is love.
There's no surprise that many of the passages we examined in this
section come from Paul. This apostle went to extraordinary lengths to
be an example to other elders and leaders of the church regarding
their need to live a life of giving. Looking out for the weak was his
way of life (which encompassed caring for the widow, children, the
poor, those spiritually in need, etc). Read Acts 20:28-35 taking
special note of the last verse...
Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of
hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus
himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
The topic of giving always seems to get bogged down in money. In fact
the scriptural life of giving, that we are called to, includes far
more than mere money. A picture used throughout the New Testament is
that of stewardship. Simply put this is the message that believers
are faithful servants entrusted with all of the Master's goods.
1 Corinthians 4:1-2 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of
Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it
is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful
We live in the Master's house, we eat of the Master's food and we
benefit from His belongings.
Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world,
and all who live in it
Since everything belongs to Him, we don't really give it back to Him,
directly or in ritual. We're now called to use it as He would have us
to! A shadow of this same principle was found in the Old Testament
Law, regarding the giver eating his own tithe. It's a matter of
obedience -- doing what the Master commanded -- that is fully at the
heart of this issue. If we consider all we have to not belong to us,
our usage of it all becomes an act of love.
An extension of the topic of giving goes beyond money and external
physical things. As a believer, my body is no longer my own, it too
belongs to the Master. My taking care of it is part of being a good
steward of the Master's belongings.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of
the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You
are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God
with your body.
Even our time is not our own, it belongs to the Master! The wise use
of our time in carrying out the Master's business should be 100%.
Taking the time to dwell on good things and to spend time in God's
word is necessary daily.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's
mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing
to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any
longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what
God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is
noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or
heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of
peace will be with you.
This doesn't mean that we have to be in a Bible study or church
service all the time. Taking captive all thoughts should be a
continual process. Remember, 100% of my mind belongs to God!
2 Corinthians 10:5b ...and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all
your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
It's important to understand priorities of giving. The spiritual
upbringing and instruction of far too many children has been
neglected by being too busy with church or perhaps even with work (to
be able to pay a monetary tithe). Others have shifted the
responsibility for this spiritual instruction almost completely to
the church. God, in contrast, makes it clear that you are to
be giving of your time to teach and example these things to
your children. Which do you think better honors God; working extra
hours to make a few more dollars to give to the church, or spending
extra time with your family?
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is
old he will not turn from it.
Ephesians 6:4-5 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead,
bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
As we consider priorities in regards to giving of our time, another
major one concerns our spouses. Far too many Christian
marriages fall apart because one or both were unwilling to give the
time it takes to make any relationship work. The enemy of the best is
the good. Many of the things that consume a person's time are good
things, but they have to be held in proper perspective. As a person's
relationship to their husband or wife suffers or falls apart, how do
you think God would view any of these excuses: I didn't have time for
my marriage because I was to busy working or I was too busy helping
out at the church or homeless shelter. While each of these things is
good, if they supersede what should be our greater priorities they
become wrong. We are called to honor God in our relationships 100% of
Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the
church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her
by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to
himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other
blemish, but holy and blameless.
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own
bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one
ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as
Christ does the church- 30 for we are members of his body. 31
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be
united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This
is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves
himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to
his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body
does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same
way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his
wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a
time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together
again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
If you are single and you believe that God wants to use most of your
time directly for service to others, then as God calls and enables,
stay single (1 Corinthians 7:7-9). But -- and make this clear -- if
you are married, God will never call you to neglect or divorce your
spouse (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Mark 10:6-9).
Working to provide for your family, or relatives, is also a valid use
of your time. Some citing their version of new tithe law have
claimed that giving should be to the church before helping out even
family in need. But, Scriptures could not be clearer on what is more
honoring to God.
1 Timothy 5:7-8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and
especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is
worse than an unbeliever.
The old expression "charity begins at home" is one that is
based on this Scriptural truth. If our families are in need of
clothes, food, shelter, medical care, etc., then our priority must be
to use the resources God has provided us, whether physical goods,
monetary wealth, or time, first to help our own families.
Believers need to understand that we also have a spiritual family
that we should likewise seek to take care of. Brothers and sisters in
Christ cannot turn their back on their eternal family.
Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens,
but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household
Helping this household may include direct intervention, giving to
assist with physical needs or to hardship, but it can include far
more. Giving to help meet spiritual needs is equally valid. Assisting
your church to become a place of edification and education may be an
important part of this.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to
all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
1 John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid
down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our
brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother
in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions
and in truth.
Dividing our time wisely, in an effort to give 100% to God, includes
even sleep, rest and relaxation. Many under the Law, including the
Pharisees, had missed the very reason God instituted a weekly day of
rest -- we need it! If you aren't getting enough rest you are harming
yourself and ultimately your ability to serve God through every
aspect of your life.
Mark 2:27 Then he [Jesus] said to them, "The Sabbath was made
for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Jesus showed us that resting on the Sabbath was not a matter of
legalistic nit-picking, but an opportunity to rest and be refreshed,
which could likewise include helping others. The day is no longer
important, for it was the Law that mandated Saturday only and from
this we have been set free.
Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat
or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon
celebration or a Sabbath day.
Following Jesus' resurrection, the church began to celebrate this
event on a weekly basis through a gathering on that day. Using Sunday
as a time of rest is a good and logical thing wherein most, in our
society, do not have to work. The principle still applies; man needs
a "Sabbath", or a time of rest. A believer's
"rest" includes, or should include, spiritual rest. By this
we mean an opportunity to be fed spiritually. This was the reason
that believers sought a new common day of worship on Sunday, an
opportunity to gather together for fellowship, correction,
encouragement and instruction.
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the
habit of doing , but let us encourage one another - and all the more
as you see the Day approaching.
While no longer a law, with penalties and mandated adherence, this is
something we do out of love for our Lord, as we endeavor to best
serve Him with 100%. While not really the topic of this work, it's
interesting to note that the Law never mandated getting together
weekly for worship. In fact, worship was forbidden in the synagogues
until after the destruction of the temple. It was only at the
mandated festivals in Jerusalem that people came together to worship.
Isn't it great how we have been freed to worship God whenever and
wherever His people get together!
We've met and read about believers that actually feel guilty about
enjoying themselves. When they find themselves at a point where they
are enjoying life, or a time of relaxation or entertainment, they
feel guilty because there are those who cannot. Of course there is
excess, when one's focus becomes entertainment, enjoyment, and
relaxation to the point of sloth, but this does not negate that God
does give us things and times for our enjoyment! It's all about balance.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world
not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so
uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us
with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to
be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In
this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm
foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life
that is truly life. (Emphasis ours)
All the things we have considered so far are good uses of our time
and efforts, along with more "religious sounding" things
such as prayer, exercising whatever spiritual gifts and talents God
has entrusted us with (Romans 12:1, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4),
Bible study (2 Timothy 2:15), and making disciples (Matthew 28:19).
All of this is part of using 100% of our time and resources for the Master.
Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise
but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the
days are evil.
Making the most of every opportunity will never happen by becoming a
list making (or following) legalizer. The same God who told us to
make the most of every opportunity was the one who freed us from this
legalistic system. Yet, some have tried to say that since the Law is
a shadow of things to come (Hebrew 10:1), it merely means that the
Law's mandated 10% is now the minimum they must give to their church
(of course disregarding all we've learned so far about the tithe).
Does the tithe apply to us today, or was it just for Old Testament Israel?
The tithe does apply, but not in the way we might think. ... The
overarching standard of giving in the Old Testament is the tithe. In
the New Testament, however, the tithe is never commanded and rarely
even mentioned. ... So the scarce mention of the tithe in the New
Testament is evidence not that God expects less of us today but that
far more is possible. The tithe is still a helpful divine guideline
insofar as it reminds us to give our firstfruits (i.e., the first and
best of our income) to the Lord. But by New Testament standards, the
tithe is only the beginning. ... Does the tithe apply to us today?
Yes, as the starting point of Christian giving. (Emphasis theirs.
Point three of Questions about Tithing, www.generousgiving.org.)
Even if it was the same tithe that was being spoken of, this concept
becomes absurd if applied to other areas of the Law. Imagine trying
to take other aspects of the Law and be more zealous about them! The
result would be churches full of "super Pharisees." Again,
it must be emphasized that the message of the Law was not the letter
of it, but the truth behind it! Telling people that the Law required
ten percent so grace now requires more, gives the legalizer all the
ammo they need to pat themselves on the back when they give their 11%
to the church... while at the same time neglecting their family, the
poor, etc. This is not a "straw man" scenario, as far too
many churches claim that giving the tithe to the church comes first
and that giving it in spite of hardship is your obligation. One well
known financial ministry demands that even a person in bankruptcy
continue to pay their tithe before repaying any creditors! Repaying
what is borrowed is commanded of the righteous (Psalms 37:21, Romans
13:8), tithing is not for the New Testament believer. Which will be
found to be better honoring God?
So what does grace require? 100%! Does this mean that we have to give all
our money to a church? (Some cultic organizations have actually gone
there). No, it means that our life of Christian stewardship is 100%.
Every aspect is to be lived as an act of giving... to ourselves
(caring for our bodies and spouse, whom we are one with), to our
families (in time and provision), to the household of faith (caring
for the weak and poor and those serving in ministry, especially
missions and evangelism), and to outsiders (as we help all poor and
needy, both physically and spiritually). Living a balanced life of
love is a way of life - 100% giving all the time! While the Law
pointed to this in a shadow, far too few found it. With the example
and revelation of grace in the New Testament, plus the indwelling of
the Holy Spirit in believers enabling us to now live it, the church
has no excuse.