Very often people ask or wonder "what are the basic biblical principles for Christian giving?" As we seek God's answer to that question and contemplate our own giving to the Lord's Church in response to the clear teaching of His Word, perhaps it would be wise and helpful to review those principles. First, I would encourage you to read the following passages in the Word of God itself: Matthew 6:1-4; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:9-15; and 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. In our review of these four New Testament passages, we find at least Ten Principles for Christian Giving:
- The Lord Jesus expects and requires us to give.
Jesus said to his disciples, "when you give" not "if you give" (Matthew 6:2)! Hence, Christian giving is not optional, but rather essential. We often hear folks say: "in the Old Testament they had to give, but not in the New-now we only give if we want to." This is clearly not Jesus' teaching. He expected all his followers to be givers. Christians will give. Are you giving?
- The Lord Jesus wants us to give for the right reasons.
Jesus warned his disciples not to give for the sake of being admired by men. "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them," He said (Matthew 6:1). When we give, we must be careful to examine our motives. We ought to give for the glory of God and the good of His people. We must desire His approval of our giving, rather than the praise and admiration of people. Are you giving for God's praise or man's?
- The Lord Jesus wants us to practice benevolent or charitable giving.
Jesus said "When you give to the poor..."(Matthew 6:2,3). Jesus is specifically teaching about "alms" in this passage: aid, charity, or benevolent offerings for the needy. This is why benevolences are a very important part of our Church budget. We are corporately committed to obeying this mandate from the Lord. Do you give amply enough to the Church that she can be generous in benevolent giving?
- The Lord Jesus reminds us that our giving is ultimately to the all seeing heavenly Father.
Jesus said "When you give...; you Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:3-4). When we give, we are not simply adding to the Church budget, we are giving up a thank offering to the Father Himself. Thus, we must all give "as unto the Lord." Our ultimate goal in giving is to please Him. Are you conscious of the fact that your giving is to the Lord and seen by the Lord?
- The Bible Teaches that Christian giving is an act of worship.
In connection with the previous point, we see this truth stressed in another way in Paul's words "On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save" (1 Corinthians 16:2). Paul here teaches the Corinthians that their taking up of the collection is an act of worship which is to be a part of their regular Lords' Day worship. When we put our money in the plate, we are worshiping Almighty God in accordance with His Word. Note well, Paul is speaking here of a "collection for the saints" -this is giving by the Church to the Church for the Church. Did you realize that giving is a part of worship? Is your worship in this area abundant or inhibited? Is giving to the Church a priority with you?