Today we want to talk about the nature of giving; sometimes called tithing.

We’ve had some people ask us about how to give, what is our philosophy of giving, what does the Bible say about giving, what is required vs. what is permissible, etc.

Furthermore, we’ve been having quite a few people come to faith recently and we’ve been receiving some questions on the nature of giving. How does it work? What does God expect? And more broadly, how is the Christian supposed to think about it?

Beyond that, it’s also the time of the holidays, and so some are wondering about charitable organizations vs. just giving to the local church. Should they give above and beyond, or not? There seems to be a lot of need out there, so how do I figure out what to give to, if anything at all?

We’ve also been teaching our new members classes, where Christian giving is discussed, and so some good, honest questions are being asked. One of the commitments you make when you become a member at our church is that you commit to faithfully give to the work of the Lord through our church. So the question is; what does that mean, and what does that look like?

In light of that, we thought we would just commit a short episode to Christian giving.

And so our plan, here, is to develop a quick theology of giving for you, and, then give some practical suggestions along the way.

A Theology of Christian Giving

The Tithe

First, of all, you’ll often hear of the idea of tithing in churches and certain Christian circles.

The idea of tithing is an OT concept. The word “tithe” literally means “10th” in Hebrew.

In Leviticus 27, God is instructing the nation of Israel through Moses on the issue of offerings. And in v. 30, He says, “'Thus all the tithe (or a 10th) of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S; it is holy to the LORD.”

We see this also in other places (e.g., Deut. 14:22; 28, et. al.)

Furthermore, Proverbs 3:9, states, “Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce.”

So there was also the requirement to make certain that you gave to the Lord from the first of your fruits. The idea here was offering the Lord your best. You were not to take care of all your needs first, and then give to the Lord from what you had left over.

Rather it was a great act of faith. You were to give to the Lord from the first of your harvest. The idea, here, is that if you gave to the Lord from the first of your firsts, then He would be faithful to provide for all of your needs.

So Prov. 3:9 states, “Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce…”

But, then, v.10 is the key… so that your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.”

So the idea of titing didn’t really have anything to do with God needing money, or offerings, or the fruit of a person’s harvest. He is God and needs nothing from anyone.

Rather, the concept was to teach the nation faith… but faith in the God who supplies.

They were to trust that God would always be faithful to His promise to provide. The way that they demonstrated their faith in a tangible way, was by being obedient to give a 10th from all that they had. Again, that 10th was required to come from the first (or best) of their harvests.

So that’s the basic concept of tithing. It simply means a 10th. Now the key, though, is that this is where good hermeneutics come into play. The idea of the tithe was commanded to Israel alone in Mosaic Law. And so, as a result, it’s not something actually commanded of the Church.

Some churches will teach that Christians are required to give 10%, based on this OT principle, but it’s not actually commanded anywhere in the NT.

So what’s required of the Church?

There’s many passages that we could look at. But first, it’s important to keep in mind that the idea of the tithe is not actually present in the NT, so 10% is not something Christians must give.

Rather, the Bible gives some principles, and so these principles should control our giving. Before we get into, let us recommend an excellent resource by Randy Alcorn:

Money, Possessions, and Eternity.

If you want a shorter version that you could read in one or two sittings, we highly recommend the Treasure Principle.

These are incredible resources that we cannot speak highly enough. In fact, some of the following principles will be drawn from His book.

Principles of Giving

Principle #1 - God already owns everything.

Psalm 24:1 - “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

Haggai 2:8 - “‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Deut. 8:18 - “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

The point, here, is that it’s important to keep in mind that God does not need our money and gifts. Nor does He need our talent, time, and skills for that matter.

Much like in the days of Israel, God didn’t need Israel’s offerings. He already owns everything, and is therefore, not dependent on us. This principle is so important to keep in mind, because right away it helps us understand that giving is more about us than it is about God -- something we’ll develop as we go along.

Principle #2 - God supplies your wealth.

Matt. 6:31-33 "Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' 32 "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”

2 Cor. 9:10 - “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness…”

There are many more we could point to, but if God owns everything, He is also the one who enriches us.

So the only reason we have anything (e.g., money, time, skills, etc), we have because God supplies it from His sovereign grace.

This is so key, because once we forget that God is the supplier of anything we have, we’ll quickly begin to negotiate when it comes to giving.

So if God owns everything, and supplies us all that we have from His good pleasure, the principle to understand is that all of us are essentially His money managers.

This concept is picked up Matt. 25 in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25)

The idea is that God does not give, but rather, He entrusts.

It is His money, and we need to be faithful stewards of it. So the question is, how are we stewarding His money?

Do we view our money as something simply to be spent on us, or is it something with which we’ve been entrusted with to faithfully steward for the purpose of the kingdom?

And this is the critical shift in perspective that Chrsitians ought to have.

Principle #3 - Get an eternal perspective.

Here, the idea is that anything you keep is what you will lose, and anything you give is what you will keep.

Matt. 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Here, the command is one that is motivated by eternity. There is a put off/put on in this passage. The negative command is “Do not lay up our treasures on earth. The positive command is “Lay up treasure in heaven.”