Should I give to the church? Why? Is it biblical? How much should I give?
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
~2 Cor. 8:9
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more”
Introduction. Giving is a hard thing for various reasons however that does not mean that we are not to do it.
Why should we give? We give not because of some legalistic command. We give because we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we by his poverty might become rich (see 2 Cor. 8:9). The Bible says that we love because He first loved us but we also give because He first gave to us.
He who deserved to be blessed was cursed in order that we who deserved an eternal curse could receive eternal blessings. The LORD cursed Christ and cast Him off and blessed us and kept us. The LORD hid His face from Christ and was unmerciful and showed us His face and was gracious. The LORD gave Christ ill favor and gave us sweet favor and (shalom) total wellbeing (compare Num. 6:24-26).
Upon Christ was the punishment that brought us peace (Is. 53). Christ redeemed us by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). Timothy Keller has said it well, “If you grasp substitutionary atonement in both your head and your heart, you will be profoundly generous… Think it out! The only way for Jesus to get us out of our spiritual poverty and into spiritual riches was to get out of his spiritual riches into spiritual poverty.”
How much should we give? In the Bible, we see that really we are expected to give all we are to the LORD (See Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Rom. 12:1 for example). It is important to keep that in mind when we think about putting a figure or percentage on how much we’re supposed to give. Further, it is important to realize that all we have was a gift from God in the first place (1 Chron. 29:11-12; Job 41:11; Ps. 24:1; Ps. 50:10-12; 1 Cor. 4:7; Rom. 11:35).
In the New Testament, Jesus basically says we ought to tithe, that is give at least 10% of all we receive (cf. Matt. 23:23). In the Old Testament there was a tithe for Priests and Levites (Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:21-24), community celebrations (Deut. 14:22-29), as well as a tithe for the poor every three years (Deut. 14:28-29; see also Lev. 19:9-10). This equals out not to 10-percent but 23.3%, averaged over a three year period. This does not take into account the first fruit offerings (Lev. 19:23-25; Num. 15:17-21) and free will offerings (1 Chron. 29:1-9). It should be noted that we are in a different situation then the Israelites. However, does it make sense that God would expect less of New Testament Christians who know the promised Christ and have the Spirit indwelling them?
We would do well to read Malachi 3:8-12 and ask how it applies to us. We should greatly fear hearing the LORD God, who gives to all mankind life and breath and everything say, “you are robbing Me” (v. 9). It is my opinion that if you are not giving God at least 10 percent you are robbing Him. However, do not forget that God demands everything.
God expects us to be faithful stewards of all He has entrusted to us. In the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) the master gave his servants money to invest when he was gone and he expected a profit when he returned. If we invest a lot of money, we expect a higher yield. God is no different. God has given us much and will expect much of us (Luke 12:48). We must be faithful with all He has entrusted to us.
We do not truly own anything because it all belongs to God (cf. Deut. 10:14; Lev. 25:23; 1 Chron. 29:11-12; Job 41:11; Ps. 24:1; Ps. 50:10-12; 1 Cor. 4:7; Rom. 11:35). We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it. Everything we have is on loan from God and we do not deserve it. Actually, we deserve nothing but hell fire and everlasting torment. What do we have that we did not receive (1 Cor. 4:7)? 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. ” We must use whatever God has given us, spiritual gifts or monetary gifts, to “serve others.” Note, however, that we are “stewards of God’s varied grace” so we cannot expect our serving to look the same. We will all steward differently depending on how God has graced us but we must all strive to be good stewards.
Conclusion. May our philanthropy always be in step with our theology! I cannot tell you what to give but I can tell you that you must give and you must give out of worship. You do not ultimately need a transaction-change but a heart-change that leads to transactions. Likely, a heart-change that brings bigger, better, and more frequent transactions for the Kingdom.