TITHING GIVING - VERSES - GRACE GIVING
By: Tony Butler, Pastor
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I believe God hates it when
churches are built on people going into personal indebtedness in the name of
tithing. Only give what you have and are able to give to the church in
accordance with what your own yielded will has determined. Let that
determination flow out of grace and not law. If you have a determination to give
more than what you have then wait on God and trust Him to supply your desire. In
the mean time, 'Pay your bills on time!'
How To Encourage Grace Giving
It is commonly taught by pastors behind the pulpit that '10% tithing' is the beginning place for the Christian. After the tithes come the offerings. The first is mandatory the second is voluntary. That isn't solid biblical truth!
Tithes mix with grace in the same way works mix with grace. They don't!!! (Romans 11:6: And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.)
God wants us to abound in giving but only in a certain kind of giving, GRACE GIVING'!!!
(2 Corinthians 8:7: Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.)
1. First, Encourage Entire Sanctification 8:7
Christianity isn't one dimensional. There are other things that need to abound in the believer as well as giving. God wants all the fruit of the Spirit to abound in His people (Gal. 5:22-25). No Christian can come to church and listen to a sermon and put money in the plate and find God's blessing. God wants us to be sanctified wholly; body soul and spirit (I Thess. 5:23). He wants us to be saved, to have proper a knowledge of His Word, to be diligent in our life for Christ, and to be filled with love for one another.
Giving without growing in personal sanctification is meaningless. God wants us to abound at grace giving but we can never arrive at grace giving without abounding in the work of the Spirit in our hearts as we walk with Him and developing loving relationships with the brethren.
Grace giving is inconceivable without walking with God. If one isn't sound in doctrine, dedicated to serve, or unloving then he can never operate fully in grace giving. Unfortunately, because of lack of sanctification in the lives of the majority of professing believers, (in my opinion) is why most pastors resort to law, pressure, guilt, manipulation or any other means in order to get the people to give so that the needs of the church are met.
A church's budget and the size of special offerings are not the spiritual indicators of how blessed a church is, much less how spiritual the congregation is. It might reveal the opposite. It might also reveal just how proficient the pastor is in shaming and manipulating people. There are some expert ones out there!
Unfortunately often times pressure, gimmickry, emotionalism and competition are tools to raise money in the church. I know the debates about the 'what abouts' will rage on this subject until Jesus comes. It is too bad the Macedonians didn't think about having a cake sale, or putting their pastor in a dunking tank at 1$ a throw. Or better yet, a free set cart wheels to the one who sales the most raffle tickets.
I am not trying to be a legalist, I am merely stating that if the people of God abounded in the fruit of the Spirit and in all diligence and gave in grace I don't think there would be a single need not met in the church. In our own church we do garage sales and other forms of fund raising. My intent isn't to condemn but only wonder what if'..
As a pastor I will never command our people to give or tithe. My heart is for them to Know Christ as Savior and Sanctifier. As they grow in grace I believe His grace will manifest in every area of their lives so that the will of God will be done in the way of God. That we will 'Be' before we 'Do', and that what we do will be for the glory of God, having first given ourselves to Him.
2. Secondly, Encourage By The Examples Of others 8:8
One of these days I want to give a sermon called 'The Big Buts Of The Bible'. Paul wasn't about to command the Corinthians to give 'but' he would lay before them examples of others. At times, all of us have had the thought, 'If they can do it, then I can do it. I have been so encouraged by other believers that have gone victoriously through trials. When I find myself in the same kind of trial I think about those others that plowed the way for me as an example. I think to myself, 'God got them through it, He can get me through it. He is faithful'!
In my opinion, Paul is conveying the idea to the the Corinthians (who had more resources than the Macedonians) that if the impoverished Macedonians found a way to give to God there are no excuses for them not to give. If you don't have the money God is able to supply it. If you do have the money then think about the sacrificial Macedonians and the examples they set by willingly giving through joy. Only spiritual blessing will flow into the lives of all of us who respond in the Spirit concerning giving.
The apostle Paul, after sharing about God's grace in the impoverished Macedonians tells the Corinthians that the Macedonian giving was a test for the them (because they had more money) to prove the sincerity of their love. How can we know the grace of God is truly operating in our lives unless it is tested? How can we properly evaluate what is in us without seeing some examples to use for our own heart inspection?
So often people with more resources aren't genuine or sincere in their hearts. They take many things for granted and can easily get a superiority complex. I can think of nothing that would make people that have more think about their own sincerity and walk with God than to see people who are deeply impoverished walk into sacrificial giving. Paul made the Corinthians who had so much more think about their responsibility because of the Macedonians who had so much less, yet walked in grace and liberality in the midst of their deep poverty.
I know of a church in Florida that wasn't a real missions minded church boast that they gave $13,000 dollars to missions. It was a well to do church with about 500 members. They were thrilled about themselves and were so proud of their seemingly wonderful accomplishment (They had the resources to give much, much more). Our little church of about 175 gave about $45,000. We had a very missions minded pastor. What do you think the congregation of 500 would think about their boasting if they knew a little church like ours gave so much more sacrificially than what they gave.
Please understand that I am glad the church gave $13,000 to missions, but don't miss the point. I am merely saying that if missions was emphasized in that church of 500 and the congregation heard examples of miraculous supply and sacrificial giving of other congregations that gave to missions that flowed out of sacrificial giving and joy produced by grace, then it would have been a test and opportunity for them to examine their own genuineness. It is not comparing ourselves among ourselves but rather it is seeing the light of God in others and allowing that light to test our own heart.
When an uncircumcised Gentile showed more faith than any Jew in Israel (Mt. 8:10), it had to have made an impact of Christ's disciples causing them to desire an increase of faith in their own life. I am regularly challenged in my spirit by the testimony of others.
3. Thirdly, Encourage Grace Giving By Him Who Came In Grace - 8:9
The only kind of giving under the New Covenant revolves around grace because the foundation of the New Covenant came by grace. (John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.) Everything Paul is saying is in the context of New Covenant grace giving.
In this passage Paul is using Jesus as an example like he did with the Macedonians. Jesus like the Corinthians, had more goods. He was rich. He was the Lord of glory. He had everything. Though He was rich He voluntarily gave of himself to the point of poverty that we could be made rich (possess all things) in Him.
Jesus did what He did for our sakes. In His poverty He went the cross and gave everything He had for those who were completely destitute of any righteousness. By taking our place and punishment on the cross he reached his hand into His own deep poverty, bore the sins the of the world on His own body as a sacrifice for sin and freely offered the gift of salvation to any who would come to Him in faith (Jn. 3:16). All who would would believe on Him would receive of the riches that flowed out of His poverty. His righteousness would be imputed to us by grace through faith. (Eph. 2:8,9; 2 Cor. 5:21)
Think about the comparisons between the Macedonians and Jesus and you will see how Paul is trying to reach the hearts of the Corinthians.
1. They gave themselves to God first He first gave Himself to the Father.
2. They gave willingly/voluntarily Jesus went voluntarily to go to the cross.
3. They didn't give under pressure Jesus was not coerced to give Himself.
4. They didn't give under emotionalism Jesus didn't give under emotionalism.
5. They gave out of grace and joy Jesus came by grace and joy
Paul's intent is to show what the heart of those who have been blessed with many goods should be towards brethren in need. We all should think about how at one time we were the needy ones that Jesus saved. We need to think about the riches He possessed in glory and the fact He could not save us unless He gave up His goods and become poor. We profited by His poverty on the cross and were made rich.
If Jesus would do this for us, then we should be willing to give our goods to help other brethren. The giving becomes the riches of others. We should all consider implement such thinking in our giving, especially giving to missions.
4. Only Command What Has Been Openly Promised - 8:11
The only legal aspect of giving is Christians doing what they said they would do. There have been many times people have trusted money from God for a particular reason but afterwards having received the money, they are tempted not to follow through on what they said. It is an easy thing to rationalize. For example, 'God I have set aside this money you supplied for missions, but my car just broke down and I need the money to fix the car. God you know I wanted to use it for missions but I need my car fixed'. NOT!!!!
It is the time to perform what you said you were going to do. Any pastor would be standing on solid ground here. Now the giving is about your word concerning a determined amount of money which was voluntarily promised with no coercion. There comes a time to put your money where your mouth has been. Trust God for more money to fix your car, but keep your word to God.
5. Relieve The Church From All Guilt Of Not Having - 2 Cor. 8:12
Think about it! When it comes to giving, the proper mindset of willingness must be first place in the succession of action. This sets the pace for every other mental and spiritual motivation. The willingness should flow from what you have and not from what you don't have. It shuts the mouths of those that talk about what they would give if they only a million dollars.
A willing mind is the mind that is open to the leading of God. God sees what you have and he understands you can only give out of what you actually possess. That means the amount will vary greatly from Christian to Christian. It isn't the amount that is important but the willingness that will submit to the leading of God operating out of grace. This is plain speech by Paul as to how we are to give in the church. You don't give by faith, you give in accordance of what you actually have! (Pastors screaming everywhere now, 'What!!!! Blasphemy!!!')
What I am saying is biblical. Faith only comes into the picture when you don't have the money to give but you want to give. Therefore you trust God by faith for what you don't have. When God brings the money (or whatever it may be for what you are trusting) to you then you have it. Now it is according to what you HAVE! Now that you have it, you do with it what you said you were going to do with it.
The Macedonians gave out of poverty through God supplying to them so they had something to give. The Corinthians had money. They didn't need to give out of poverty. All they had to do was to determine to give to God how much of what they already had. That is the decision most people have to make concerning giving. For some it could be 3% of what they have and other it could be 90%. It all depends on their willingness and the work of grace God is operating in their hearts. It is totally unique to each person and totally voluntary.
6. Instruct The Church To Meet Their Obligations in life First
Think about it! We all have to pay our bills. We all have to eat. We all have to provide for our families. These are things clearly taught in the bible. If your giving to God excludes these things you are only deceiving yourself about giving to God. (See: I Tim. 5:8)
If giving in the church is in anyway over emphasized to the point of your failing to meet your personal obligations then you need to re-evaluate and come into grace giving and give from the basis of what you can give versus what others demand that you give.
7. Encourage That What Goes Around Comes Around - 8:13-15
In this case, 'The other men' are the poverty stricken Jews in Jerusalem. What Paul is saying in these verses is simply that he isn't trying to put a burden on Corinthians so that others are relieved. So many people give with a bad attitude because they think the asking for their money is with improper motive or is excessive. (In a way I can't blame them) Giving and giving can seem more like a taking at times which can feel more like a burden than a blessing.
In my opinion, what Paul seems to be saying is, 'Give what you can now to help others because a day may come where you are the one in need and others will help you. Therefore your giving will produce an equality.' I have seen this many times in my life and in the lives of others. Jesus said, Give and it shall be given to you.' I am amazed at the times when I am in trouble that God sends someone to help me out. That is the principle of this verse. God didn't want them to have a burdensome attitude but rather a mindset of equality. What goes around comes around. You never know what life will throw your way. God is saying that when you grace give you can be assured when you are in need that the same grace is going to be there for you as well. Amen!
Paul told the Ephesians to work honestly with their own hands so that they would have to give to him that is in need (Eph. 4:28). The idea is my gain is another's supply. This doesn't work by formulas or by law. It is a work of grace under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is God in control of our lives and finances. When grace is operating we share with one another meeting each other's needs. This isn't communism, this is grace operating in an open, loving, willing heart for the glory of God. No one can legislate this. This is why communism and socialism fail. The biblical church runs on the Word of God, grace, the Lordship of Christ, and the filling/ guidance of the Holy Spirit.
For every need God has the supply when His people give according to grace. Just as love is superior to the gifts of the Spirit, grace giving is a far better way of giving than law giving under Moses.
So much more could be said about grace giving in chapter eight but this is enough to get you to see how grace giving is superior to law giving. For pastors that worry about the bills, I can assure you that grace givers will give more instead of less. To get more people into grace giving, pastors would be better off emphasizing to Christians who they are and what they have "in Christ" through grace instead of preaching so much about tithing. Instead of preaching law and duty, pastors need to proclaim grace and love. (For people that think grace needs to be balanced please go to "Doctrine", press the "Grace" tab and read the three grace articles. You will be amazed at how incredibly ignorant such a statement would be. Lest you think Jesus needs to be balanced)
I encourage you to seek more principles of grace giving in chapter nine. Pray and ask God to help you abound this grace. God loves a cheerful giver!!!
What I Am Not Saying By Writing This paper
Many pastors would be terrified by the things I have written because they have lack of confidence in what God can do in the hearts of their own people. They are prone to think that only by law and coercion can the payrolls, bills and needs be met in the church. These are the very pastors that tell their people to trust God to meet all their needs.
Let me make myself very clear about my views on giving. Every Christian will be called upon by God to give because that is part of His very nature. Some have to give and others don't. Those that don't have to give should pray and ask God to supply for them so they can give. The church bills, salaries, and supplies have to be paid. Missionaries must be sent forth which requires money. Everyone knows and understands these things.
For me personally, I began my Christian life as a tither. Like many others, that was what I was told God expected of me. However, now I am a growing in grace giver as specific needs arise and as God leads. (I need to say here what we give isn't just relegated to giving to the church, but also outside the church)
I truly want to enlarge myself in the grace of giving. By doing so I have been confronted my own selfishness and materialism. I have found myself arguing with God at times but my greatest prayer is for Him to help me understand this grace and grow in it.
I encourage my people towards grace giving. Grace giving is giving with biblical understanding and progressive spiritual maturity. Grace giving thinks beyond just throwing a dollar in the plate or tithing. Grace giving is foremostly about a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and then about giving. Every church has needs that must be met. I know that many churches force tremendous financial burdens on their people simply because there may have been some less than wise decisions that weren't truly of God which could include real estate, building, ministry programs, special events, and more staff, thus applying the pressure to always give more to the point that the congregation feel as though they hear more about tithing than they do about Jesus.
I am absolutely convinced that great sermons can be preached on the blessedness of giving without going to the law of tithing or using any kind of pressure techniques. I am convinced pastors would be wise to spend more of their time building up the saints by teachings of sanctification than they would by preaching on tithing, worrying about the bills, trying to build more buildings and expecting the saints to pay for it all.
Grace giving proceeds out of sanctification not out of duty. The Holy Spirit knows the needs of the local church and the needs of the ministries that will flow outside of the local church. The Spirit Who leads people to the local churches is quite capable of putting on their hearts where their giving is to start and how to stretch their giving into grace giving. Grace giving is giving that is pleasing to God. If any man tithes to God and thinks he is spiritual let him only say, 'I have done my duty under the law that kills' (See: 2 Cor. 3:6-9).
For me, I want my giving to reflect God's work in my heart and my walk with God. Giving is a very serious subject and invokes a lot of passion and debate. This paper is just one more voice in cyber space. I pray that somehow God will use this to help others to discover more about this grand theme of 'Grace Giving' and to hear what the Word of God and the Spirit of God has to say to them. Peace be to you all.
Summary talking Points On Tithing Vrs. Grace Giving
1. The 'Historical Tithe' giving in the lives of Abraham and Jacob aren't sufficient proofs that Christians should tithe.
2. The 'Mosaic Law Tithe' was never given to the church. It was given to Israel alone.
3. The Tithe was a theocratical tax on the twelve tribes of Israel to support the priesthood and its ministries.
4. The book of Malachi was written only to Jews and the Levitical priest sinning against God.
5. The curses and judgments in Malachi pertain to the Jews of that day and not to any Christian that is part of the church.
6. There is more teaching in the two chapters of II Corinthians 8 & 9 concerning New Covenant giving in the church than all the verses that teach Mosaic Tithing in the Old testament combined.
7. There is not a single instance in the NT where Christians are commanded to tithe.
8. Taking offerings in the church is biblically legitimate.
9. All grace giving is completely voluntary.
10. A willing mind always precedes grace giving.
11. There should never be any pressure put on any Christian to give. Informing of needs is legitimate.
12. The only people who can be pressured to give are those that promised to give voluntarily but are failing to keep their word.
13. Grace giving is preferred over gimmickry fund raising.
14. All Christian giving should come from a genuine cheerful desire to give.
15. No one is to give what they don't have.
16. No one is give money to the church that has already been obligated to pay for contractual services.
17. The fruit of the Spirit should be developed in the believer's life along with grace giving. The virtue of Grace giving flows out of that sanctification.
18. Grace giving is a sign of genuine spiritual growth.
19. A believer should only give what he/she has and never should go into debt to give to the church.
20. Meeting the needs of the family come before giving to the church.
21. If a man desires to give to God but doesn't have the extra money then he should pray to God to supply the money so that he may receive it from God as his supplier in order to give it for the purpose it was asked of God.
I know this has been lengthy but I have done my best to shorten it. I could have filled it with a lot more scripture. But what scripture I have listed is plenty sufficient to start you on a detailed study of this subject. May we all be wholly sanctified resulting in the fruit of the Holy Spirit being seen in our lives unto the the glory of God. Amen
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