We are going to back up this morning and go over Philippians 4:14-19 and look at some important principles on grace giving. We briefly looked at verses 14-19 to develop our fifth principle on contentment - be concerned for others.
Now we want to look at these verses to see what they can teach us about giving. It's not easy to keep a clear perspective on giving because we are constantly being bombarded by appeals for our money. There are the solicitations for money that come in the mail, and religious broadcasts on T.V. and radio spend much of their time asking for money. We're bombarded by techniques, giving gimmicks, church stewardship drives, budget drives, and all kinds of things that attempt to get our money.
You can take courses in certain schools on how to raise your church budget. Or you can read material on how to develop a tithing church, or get slick things going like: Paycheck Sunday, or All tithe Sunday, Make up Sunday, how to have a pledge system, how to motivate people, and how to make them feel guilty and give more. Then, if you really feel desperate, you can hire out of town experts who will come in and raise money for you for a piece of the action.
Mark Twain said that he was so sickened by the long appeals for money that not only did he not give what he planned to give, but he took a bill out of the plate when it was passed in front of him.
In the midst of all the gimmicks, programs and strong arming that's going on in the Church, we need to know what the Bible says about giving. We need to adopt the mentality of the Bereans:
Acts 17:11 (NKJV) These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY TO FIND OUT WHETHER THESE THINGS WERE SO.
What we do with our money is a very important issue. We are all responsible to God for the stewardship of our money.
1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV) Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Everything that God gives us is a test of our loyalty to Him, especially our money. We are all stewards and we are all responsible to be involved in giving a portion of our money to the Lord. Look at what Paul told the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (NKJV) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
Notice that Paul says, "Let each one of you" - every believer is to be involved in giving. Giving is an important function of the spiritual life. Giving is an aspect of worship.
Philippians 4:15-18 (NKJV) Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
Worship is: "honor paid to a superior being." It means: "to give homage, honor, reverence, respect, adoration, praise or glory to a superior being." Worship is a consuming desire to give to God, and it involves the giving of ourselves, our heart attitudes, and our possessions. The worshiping believer is the giving believer.
So, first and foremost our giving (when done properly) is an act of worship, it is an expression of love. But, secondarily giving is necessary to support the leaders in the Church and to support the needy in the church.
The believer has a financial responsibility to provide for those who are ministering the Word to him.
1 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NKJV) Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Do you sailors have to pay for your cruises? Do you have to support yourself while you're out at sea? No, the Navy gives you a paycheck. Soldiers do not fight during the day and then work a civilian job at night in order to support themselves.
Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? The farmer does not have a side job in order to support himself. He makes his living off the farm.
Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? The shepherd gets the benefit of the flock he shepherds. In any labor, the person who does the work has a right to live off of the work.
Examples from life are instructive, but Paul did not rest his case on self-evident observations. The right of a Bible teacher to be supported by the church is not only taught by custom, but it is an Old Testament precept. In verses 8-10, he appeals to the Old Testament law.
1 Corinthians 9:8-9 (NKJV) Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about?
Paul's argument was not merely a human judgment because God's law taught the same thing. In biblical times, an ox was used to help thresh the grain. The Israelite farmer spread his grain on an outdoor threshing floor, which was hard, smooth, and level. A flat board weighed down with stones or people was drawn over the grain by a team of oxen or horses that walked in circles around a post. The ox was permitted to eat as much grain as it desired while it was doing the heavy pulling. If a Jew muzzled the ox, he ran the risk of a scourging in the local synagogue.
The quotation about muzzling the ox comes from Deuteronomy 25:4. The context indicates that this text does not refer to animals, but to men and their service for God. The theme of Deuteronomy 25 is human compassion, decency and fairness. It gives laws regarding dignity in punishment (25:1-3); a proverb on wages for work (25:4); care for widows (25:5-10); indecency (25:11-12); accurate and honest weights and measures (25:13-16); and the command to destroy the Amalekites for their unfair war against Israel (25:17-19). Not muzzling an ox, therefore, was probably a proverbial expression concerning just renumeration. Paul quoted this same verse when he wrote to Timothy and encouraged the church to pay their ministers adequately in 1 Timothy 5:17-18. It is a church's responsibility to see that their minister is adequately paid for his work.
Paul continued his appeal to Old Testament law in:
1 Corinthians 9:10 (NKJV) Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
The word "altogether" is the Greek word pantos, it should be translated: "assuredly." He did not mean that the command has exclusive reference to man, but he did say that the command was assuredly given for our sakes. Paul took a figurative expression from the Old Testament and applied it to the principle of paying a pastor for his work. As the ox works, he is to have the freedom to eat some of the corn that he is treading. In the same way, "he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.". As the worker and the ox work in hope, so should the Christian worker. He should work in the hope that he will be supported in his work. This principle is supported by custom and has the sanction of Scripture.
In verse 11, Paul appealed to basic community justice:
1 Corinthians 9:11 (NKJV) If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
"If" is a first class condition in the Greek and could be translated since. "Since I have taught you about the Lord, since I have taught you about spiritual things, since I have encouraged you in the word of God, shouldn't you provide material things for me?" The Greek philosophers received an honorarium for their instruction; didn't Paul have the same right when teaching them spiritual things? Those who teach the Word of God have the right to expect support from those they teach. Paul taught this principle to the Galatians.
Galatians 6:6 (NKJV) "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
This is a basic principle of the Christian life: If we receive spiritual blessings, we should in turn share material blessings. If you are being taught the scripture, you have an obligation, a duty, to give to those teaching you. If you are not being taught the scriptures, than you have an obligation to go somewhere where you will be taught.
In Acts 20:28, Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders to feed the church of God. The Pastors responsibility is to feed and lead. And your responsibility is to be in a church where you are being taught, and to support those who are teaching you.
Romans 15:27 (NKJV) It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.
It is basic community justice to share material blessing with spiritual leaders.
Paul established, beyond question, the clear principle that a Christian worker has the right to be supported materially by the church. Are all pastors qualified to be supported by the church? Are there any specific qualifications? Yes, I think they are given in 1 Timothy 5:17-18:
1 Timothy 5:17-18 (NKJV) Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."
We are to support those elders who rule well. The word "rule" is from the Greek word proistemi which means: "to lead, care for, manage, guide, and protect." F.F. Bruce translates it as: "elders who direct the affairs of the church well." We are also to support those who labor in the Word and doctrine, that is, those who give themselves to study of the Word of God. Therefore, we are to give to support the teaching pastors of the church.
The Scriptures also teach that we are to give to support the MISSIONARIES.
Philippians 1:3-5 (NKJV) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
Philippians 4:14-16 (NKJV) Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
In verse 15, the word "shared" is the Greek word koinaneo, which means: "to share with others, communicate, distribute, be a partner." They were partners with Paul in the gospel ministry through their giving. They were helping spread the gospel.
So we are to give to support the teachers in the church and the missionaries, and we are also to give to support the NEEDY in the church.
Romans 15:26 (NKJV) For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the POOR AMONG THE SAINTS WHO ARE IN JERUSALEM.
2 Corinthians 8:4 (NKJV) imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
The word "fellowship" here is the Greek word koinonia. An analysis of the various ways koinonia is used in the New Testament reveals that its most common usage is to indicate the sharing of possessions with those in need.
Romans 12:13 (NKJV) distributing [koinoneo] the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV) But do not forget to do good and to share [koinonia], for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
So, our giving is also to go to the meeting of needs of people in our fellowship.
Proverbs 19:17 (NKJV) He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.
I believe that your giving should go to the local church for its leaders to distribute as they see fit. Notice these texts:
Acts 4:34-35 (NKJV) Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and LAID THEM AT THE APOSTLES' FEET; AND THEY DISTRIBUTED TO EACH AS ANYONE HAD NEED.
They didn't take their money and give it to people that they felt had needs, they gave their money to the church leaders and they distributed it to the people who had needs.
Acts 11:29-30 (NKJV) Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and SENT IT TO THE ELDERS by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Again, we see that the disciples gave their giving to the elders so they could distribute it. The elders of the church should be the ones who are most informed as to the needs of the people.
So, our giving is an act of worship and it is to be used to support the church leaders, missionaries, and the needy.
Giving is the responsibility and duty of every Christian. Giving is not God's way of raising money, giving is God's way of raising children. Every time we give sacrificially, we give away a little of our selfishness and God is honored.
I think that the Scripture is very clear that we all are to be giving, the question that is so debated is, "How much are we to give?" You might be surprised to hear that the Bible teaches that the amount that we give is voluntary - brought about by one's own choice - free, spontaneous, un-compelled. The Bible teaches Grace Giving! And grace giving is voluntary.
Philippians 4:10 (NKJV) But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.
The Philippians gave because of their concern for Paul. Your giving is to come from within, inward motivation, not external pressure. You are to give from the heart. The word "care" that Paul uses here is phroneo. It means: "to exercise the mind, to think." Paul's joy came from their voluntary desire to give.
2 Corinthians 8:3 (NKJV) For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,
2 Corinthians 8 and 9 are the normative passages on Christians giving. These two chapters stand out as apostolic teaching on giving. The NASB puts it this way:
2 Corinthians 8:3 (NASB) For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability THEY GAVE OF THEIR OWN ACCORD,
Grace giving is completely voluntary.
2 Corinthians 8:4 (NKJV) imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
They were saying, "Please take our money, we want to share in this ministry." The word "willing" in verse 3 is the Greek word authairetos. It is an adjective meaning: "self-chosen or voluntary." Its only other use in the New Testament is found in:
2 Corinthians 8:17 (NKJV) For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord [authairetos].
There was no pressure, no compulsion, no law, they gave what they wanted to.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV) SO LET EACH ONE GIVE AS HE PURPOSES IN HIS HEART, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
They gave as they purposed in their heart. They gave what they wanted to.
WHAT ABOUT TITHING?
Doesn't the Bible teach that we are to give 10%? I heard a radio preacher say, "I have doubts that a person who does not tithe is a Christian." He also said, "One who does not tithe is under the condemnation of God."
This is an area of great confusion in the Christian church. Is tithing God's mandate for Christians? How many of you have been taught at some time in your Christian lives that you were supposed to tithe? How does a mandatory 10% fit with what I said about giving being voluntary? It doesn't!
Paul has devoted two whole chapters (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) to the subject of stewardship and the word "tithe" is not mentioned. The church's teaching on tithing is legal, it is Old Covenant. I once attended a church that used a campaign slogan, "Tithing is Christian." That is wrong! Tithing is not Christian, it was for Old Covenant Israel, not New Covenant Israel, the church.
Those who teach tithing teach that we have a "God bill." You are to pay your phone bill, gas bill, power bill, sewer and water bill, your mortgage and your "God bill" - 10% of your income. If you don't pay your God bill, God will send out His heavenly collection agency to take it out of your hide, so to speak.
Tithing is taught in the Bible, in the Old Testament, but even in the Old Testament it was not giving. Giving was also voluntary in the Old Testament. The tithe was a debt, it was taxation, not giving. Just like on April 15, you don't send the IRS a gift, you pay your debt. It is required giving - if you don't pay it, you'll go to jail.
Tithing was taxation under the Mosaic economy. Some people teach that we should tithe because tithing precedes the law. They teach that Abraham and Jacob gave a tithe before the law and, therefore, tithing should also be after the law. That's like saying that since the sacrificial system was actually initiated before the law, then we should still be making animal sacrifices today.
The first mention of the tithe is found in:
Genesis 14:20 (NKJV) And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.
When Abram saw Melchizedek, who represented God, he wanted to express his thanks to God for the victory so he gave him a tenth of the spoil. He wasn't told to do this, it was voluntary. This incident is mentioned in:
Hebrews 7:4 (NKJV) Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.
The word "spoils" here is the Greek word krothinion, which means: "the top of the heap, the best of the spoils." So, Abram gave a tenth of the best, not of the whole.
There is evidence that many pagan deities were honored by the giving of a tenth. Ten represented totality, the giving of a tenth was a symbol of the giving of the whole.
The next use of the word "tithe" is in:
Genesis 28:20-22 (NKJV) Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 "so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22 "And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."
Jacob was nowhere commanded to give a tenth, this was completely voluntary on his part.
Who gave the first offering? Cain and Able, it was voluntary as far as we know. Noah got off the ark and gave God an offering - it was voluntary. Before the Mosaic economy, tithing is only mentioned twice, with no command to do it. During the Mosaic economy, tithing became a familiar term. As we study the Old Testament we see that there were actually three tithes.
1. THE LEVITE'S TITHE.
Leviticus 27:30-33 (NKJV) 'And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the LORD. 31 'If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 'And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD. 33 'He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.'"
We are told in Numbers that the tithe was collected and given to the Levites.
Numbers 18:21 (NKJV) "Behold, I have given the CHILDREN OF LEVI ALL THE TITHES IN ISRAEL as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
Numbers 18:24 (NKJV) "For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the LEVITES as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'"
The Levites didn't have the privilege of a piece of property that they could work to make their living like the other tribesmen. They were to do the Lord's work in the tabernacle and temple and so God provided for their needs. Old Covenant Israel was a Theocracy - a government by the rule of God, mediated through the priests. So, the tithe was collected to support the government, it was taxation, and it was mandatory!
2. THE FESTIVAL TITHE.
Deuteronomy 12:6-7 (NKJV) "There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 "And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 14:22-25 (NKJV) "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 "And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24 "But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, 25 "then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses.
This is a second tithe. It was taken to the central sanctuary for the Feast sacrifices. It was to promote unity.
So, we have the Levites tithe and the Festival tithe that comes to 20%. There was also one other.
3. POOR TITHE.
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 (NKJV) "At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 "And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
Once every three years there was a special additional income tax in order to take care of the poor in the land. This was the "poor tithe" or "welfare tithe." They were also to leave the corners of their fields unharvested for the poor.
Their tithe or taxation worked out to about 25% per year. This isn't much different than the taxation in our country.
Malachi 3:8-10 (NKJV) "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
If you have been in the church for any length of time, I'm sure you have heard these verses used to promote tithing. What these verses are really teaching is that if you cheat on your taxes, you are robbing God. The tithe was taxation in the Theocracy. The "storehouse" was the temple treasury. Tithing was mandatory under the Old Covenant but giving was always voluntary.
In reference to the offerings for the Temple, notice what was said:
Exodus 25:1-2 (NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
There is no 10% mentioned here.
Exodus 35:4-5 (NKJV) And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying: 5 'Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze;
Exodus 35:21-22 (NKJV) Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord's offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD.
Exodus 36:5-6 (NKJV) and they spoke to Moses, saying, "The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do." 6 So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, "Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary." And the people were restrained from bringing,
There is no percentage mentioned here, they were to give voluntarily out of a willing heart. When David wanted to build a temple, notice what the people's attitude was on giving.
1 Chronicles 29:9 (NKJV) Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly.
Notice what the proverbs say on giving:
Proverbs 3:9-10 (NKJV) Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
Giving is worship and it was voluntary, no amount was specified.
Proverbs 11:24-25 (NKJV) There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
This gives us the Old Testament principle on giving.
Tithing was taxation, not giving. Giving was always voluntary - that is, the amount given was voluntary. It is the same in the New Testament.
Matthew 22:21 (NKJV) They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Jesus is saying, "Pay your taxes to the government and give to God your voluntary giving."
Romans 13:6 (NKJV) For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing.
The tithe is never imposed on the New Covenant believer. We don't live in a Theocracy! I encourage you to get a concordance and look up the word "tithe" and its plural in the New Testament. You'll see that it is used only eight times, it is found once in Matthew and twice in Luke, each one is referring to the Old Testament law. It is used five times in Hebrews 7, speaking of a time before the giving of the law when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. Tithing is not mentioned in any of the letters to the Churches.
According to Deuteronomy 12:5, the tithe was to be paid in Jerusalem. So, if you think that you are under obligation to tithe, you're 2,000 years too late and 5,000 miles too far away. This is so clear in the New Testament that the only way we can miss it, is to try to avoid it. Yet, so many still impose it upon New Testament believers.
What about people who say that God is blessing them because they tithe? I don't deny God's blessing on many people, but His blessing is because of the attitude in giving, not because they gave 10%. Their epistemology is wrong. God blesses the willing giver.
If we are not under the tithe, and we are not, and people are to give voluntarily, what will motivate them to give? Bible doctrine - understanding what God has done for us in Christ. Grace giving is voluntary giving because of gratitude. We give out of a heart of love and worship.
2 Corinthians 8:7& 9 (NKJV) But as you abound in everything; in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us; see that you abound in this grace also. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
In verse 7, "grace" is used of "giving." In verse 9, "grace" is used of the atonement of Christ. Paul says here that grace should lead to grace, that is grace shown to us should lead to grace giving. Our motivation for giving is not legal, but out of love and gratitude from a worshiping heart.
Next week we'll look at some New Testament principles for grace giving.
If your giving reflects your love for God, do you love Him? Does your check book reflect it?
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