Giving is an act of worship and the natural response of a thankful heart. Who we are, what we do, and how we use our resources are all connected.
The information below is meant to communicate our beliefs and values about giving by providing a Biblical overview of the topic and how we apply those to our own lives today.
The concept of first fruits is introduced in the book of Genesis. Cain and Abel present their offerings before God. Both bring gifts, but Abel's gift is the first and best of his stock and Cain's gift is not. God shows Abel favor and respect for his openhandedness. Giving first and consuming second affirms our understanding that God is the source of all we have.
We may be tempted to give back to God after…
· After we’ve paid our bills, we give God a portion of what’s left
· After we’ve covered the absolute necessities—shelter, food, clothing—then we start calculating how much we will give God
· After we get out of debt, then we will start giving
There are lots of “afters” that can get in the way of being faithful stewards of the money God has given us. But it’s clear from scripture that God comes first.
The way the Bible talks about this is with the concept of first fruits. Remember that the Bible was originally written for a mostly agrarian economy—first fruits meant the first grain to be harvested, the first oil to be pressed, the first wine that’s ready to drink, the first offspring of farm animals. “You must also give to the priests the first share of the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, and the wool at shearing time” (Deuteronomy 18:4 NLT).
For us, first fruits means giving to God first, before deciding what to do with the rest of the money he has given us. We ask God how much he wants us to give and then we make that the first check we write or the first e-payment we make.
It’s guaranteed that this will feel risky at times. Faithful giving takes faith, and we know that “faith is spelled R I S K.” But our God is completely trustworthy: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Mal. 3:10 NLT).
Old Testament Tithes & Offerings
The Hebrew word for tithe is “ma’asrah,” a tenth part. The Greek word for tithe, “apodekatoo,” also means ten percent. We see in scripture that the Law of the Old Testament required that a tithe (ten percent) of one’s income be given to the Lord at the place of worship.
In contrast, an offering was something that was given beyond a person’s tithe. It was not a requirement of the Law but a voluntary gift of love to God.
New Testament Giving
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He made it clear that generosity of heart was what pleased the Father, not only giving a tithe to follow the letter of the law as in the Old Testament. In the Book of Matthew, we see this as He confronts the religious leaders who were giving their 10%, but their hearts were not responsive to God. They were missing the important things.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices... But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. Matthew 23:23
In many instances, Jesus praised people for or commanded people to give everything they had (Matthew 19:21; Mark 12:43-44). In Acts, we also see many examples of the early church members giving “to anyone as he had need” (Acts 2:45). Throughout the remainder of the New Testament, believers are encouraged to give generously, not just to fulfill an obligation to the Law (2 Corinthians 8:7).
When we come into a relationship with God through Jesus, we come to understand that God is the source and provider of everything we have, which means that He owns it all! Therefore, we are not owners, but entrusted stewards. We are simply to act on His behalf to use what He’s given us in any way He asks.
Steward: a person who manages another's property or financial affairs
When we give, we also receive
When we give as an act of worship and trust in God as our source, He is pleased with our trusting and cheerful hearts. And though He does not reward us for our giving, there are spiritual benefits for obedience in stewardship:
- Giving is the antidote to materialism.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
- Giving strengthens our faith.
When we see God provide for us as we give how He instructs us, our trust in him continues to increase.
- We understand God’s blessing comes through giving away what we have been given.
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38
Instructions on Giving
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
- Remember that giving is a demonstration of faith and trust, not merely a legal obligation.
- It’s best for our giving to be the first of what we receive. (Proverbs 3:9)
- Giving 10% to your local church is a good starting point (Malachi 3:10)
- Remember that the other 90% is God’s as well – be open to Him showing you other opportunities to give, such as special funds, other organizations, missions or people you know in need.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
Where do I begin?
- Pray. Ask God how much He’d like you to give and where.
- Decide on a percentage of your gross income to give, not just a dollar amount.
- Put giving into your monthly budget.
- To ensure faithful and generous giving, write your giving checks first when paying the bills. Or if you use an online bill pay system, schedule your giving payments before your other bills.
Giving Here at Vineyard Community Church
What else does the Bible say about Giving?
- In the Old Testament
- Before God gave "the Law" through Moses
- And Abel also brought an offering - fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering. Genesis 4:4
- The Tithe: established in the Old Testament
- A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. Leviticus 27:30
- Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year...so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. Deuteronomy 14:22-23
- In the New Testament
- Jesus' words:
- Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:21
- Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on." Mark 12:43-44
- Other examples:
- All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Acts 2:44-45
- All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales. Acts 4:32-34
- For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you - see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:3-7