New Testament Principles of Giving
2 Corintians 8-9
A Summary of NT Principles of Giving
We must understand that the NT exposes the grace and the truth of God which came through Jesus Christ.
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17, NIV)
In 2 Corinthians 8 &9 Paul outlines the grace principles that govern NT giving and replaces the OT principle of the Tithe and offerings.
· It is important that we do not make the mistake of teaching a theology of giving based on the OT Law and not on the new principles of "grace-giving."
· The Epistles never mention 'tithes' and the one important offering that God wants is the person him/herself,
o " Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1, NIV)
o A "tithe of everything from the land was to be set aside for use as God might commanded (Lev 27:30-33).
o It was to be used to support those who serve God (Num18:21-23).
o 10 percent was to be brought to the sanctuary for distribution (Deut. 12:5-14; 14:22-26; yearly).
o Another tithe was collected every third year and distributed locally to the needy.
o It was a way for the people to worship God and express their confidence in His ability to make the land produce all that they need and more. (Mal 3:10)
o It was owed to God.
o But it was not the only form of giving that the Law demanded, there was also the principle of voluntary contributions called "freewill offerings."
o They were given spontaneously out of love.
o So that beyond duty there was the privilege of expressing devotion to God through giving and of expressing concern for God's people by giving to the needy.
Contrasted with NT:
o The Epistles never call for a tithe
o There is no single worship center and no priesthood to be supported by a temple tithe
o Giving to support full time ministers is mentioned but nowhere does it say it is to be done by the tithe
o The NT emphasized a concern for the poor and needy and Paul along with others in the church organized offerings to be taken for other churches in need; but nowhere does Paul mention or imply that the tithe is the way for Christians to fulfill this duty/obligation
NT View of Possessions:
o Jesus taught that believers are not to trust in possessions or treasure material things (Mat 6:19-33)
o A shrewd believer would be one who used worldly wealth to prepare for the future (Luke 16:9)
o Wealth and possessions should be handle wisely, “If you can be trusted with little, you can be trusted with much.” (Luke 16:10-12)
o It is impossible to serve two masters (God and money Luke 16:13), therefore God must be first in the believer's life while he uses money in God's service.
o The NT Epistles teach us that God's love is reflected when we share what we have (1 John 3:17-18)
o Paul tells Timothy to command the wealthy believers not to put their hope in wealth but put it in God who provides us with everything. We must remember that "the love of money" is a problem. Believers are commanded to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures in heaven for themselves (1 Tim 6:17-19) ["So that they take hold of life that is truly life."]
o How we use our resources is a way of measuring our dedication to God and to eternal values
o Worldly riches are not evil, the real issue is how worldly riches affect our values and choices.
· Put God first and respond to the needs of others in love--our possessions are used to prepare for eternity.
· Put money first--our full commitment to God fails and we fall short on our obligation to love others
The Study of 2 Corinthians 8-9
New Testament church did not have the same kind of needs we have today.
Funds were given to missionaries
Local elders in full time ministry were supported
Needy widows were taken care of by the congregation
The big collections that were taken in the NT went to support Believer's in lands struck by famine or other disasters.
Giving was essentially for meeting the needs of people, enabling them to survive or carry on ministries that were considered important.
In the NT the Greek word used to express the life of Christians is koinonia, which means "sharing." The family relationship of Believers was a life of sharing financial and material resources.
This is what Paul is appealing to in these chapters--that the congregation should share their material possessions with needy brothers, (vs 7) that they should excel in the grace of giving.
No letters or appeals
No goal charts
In order to better understand Paul's teaching here we must keep in mind two things:
o "giving" is really to meet the needs in the body of Christ
o The NT focuses giving on people needs
8: 1-9 Paul gives two examples:
The Macedonians gave generously, even though they were extremely poor; their attitude was that it was a privilege to share with their brothers
Jesus gave generously, He was rich and He gave it all to become poor, so that we can become rich
Notice that the standard used to measure the believers giving is not the tithe, it was the love for others and Jesus that moved them to give; first, they gave of themselves and then they gave their money.
8:10-12 The Corinthians were willing to give, they had said so earlier. But now they had to fulfill what they had intended to do "according to their means."
Paul reminds them that if the willingness is there then the gift is acceptable no matter what they have to give
The point is that their gift is acceptable whether they are rich and have a lot to give or whether they are poor and have a little to give. God is more interested in whether they are willing to give: which reveals the love they have that motivates them to give (Luke 21:4)
8: 13-15 The principle of equality
The goal in the grace of giving is equality
Paul has in mind here the sending of relief funds for Christian brothers and sisters caught up in famine and other natural disasters.
He points out that at that point in time the Corinthians were blessed abundantly and could supply the other's needs; and in turn the others might one day have enough to supply the Corinthians when they have needs
The point is that the blessings (in this case funds) that God supplies to Believers are to be shared with or given to those in need so that they can live and function as God intended
8:16-9:5 Paul encourages them to take action
Notice that the gift was given in order to honor the Lord and to show their eagerness to help (vs 19)
Notice that they are encouraged to act in order to show the proof of their love, so that the churches can see it
9:6-11 Giving is like sowing
Sharing/giving to others is like sowing seed, the more generous you are with sharing/giving the more you will reap
This is not meant to be understood as a promise, it should be taken in its context which shows that this is meant to help us understand that God is able to out give His people
A simple reading of the following verses reveals this:
Vs 8 says, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
The point is that if believers are convinced that God is able to supply their needs they will be free to give generously, without fear that they will deprive themselves or their families when they respond to the needs of others.
It is also important to notice that Paul is careful not to place believers under any obligation to give nor to specify any percentage or specific amount as the right amount to give.
Vs 7 tells us that each man should give "what he has decided in his heart" to give
That decision should not be made reluctantly (unwillingly) or under any compulsion (pressure)
Why? Because "God loves a cheerful giver" who gives because he wants to give
9: 12-15 What are the results of the grace of giving?
o It supplies the needs of God's people
o It expresses thanks to God
o It gives us a reason to praise God
o It reveals the kind of obedience (commitment) that Believers should have
o It leads us to pray (for both the giver and the receiver)
o It allows us to experience the faithfulness of God who supplies all our needs as we use our possessions and wealth to help other believers
· It is wrong to demand or pressure people in any way to give. The command to give and to tithe was given in the Old Testament because man had not been redeemed yet and he would not have given willingly.
· Christians have to remember that they have been reborn and are now in a new position, they have new life, they are "in Christ" and they now live in relationship with God and they are a part of His kingdom and His family, it is a position of Grace that was given to us by Christ.
· This new position means that they now have the ability to live differently (a.k.a. the grace to live differently), and are expected to live a life of faith, a life of obedience and trust in God
· In their new position, it is a given that they are blessed, this comes with their acceptance into the Kingdom along with such benefits as justification, sanctification, holiness, and glorification. These come because they have been united with God (because of their relationship with God)
- 2 Peter 1:3 “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”
o Christians must be careful not to think that because they give they are blessed ; instead they must remember that they are blessed because of their relationship, their position "in Christ," in other words because of the grace of God that was given to them by Christ.
o Christians do not give to get blessed; they give because they are blessed.
· Christians must remember that we live under a "New Covenant" and the "Old Covenant" is not our covenant. (Acts 15)
o In the New Covenant the principle of the tithe is replaced with the principle of the "grace of giving."
· The grace of giving means that the believer has been given the ability to fulfill his/her obligation to love through the grace of giving of his own free will without having to be commanded to do so.
· Living by the principle of the grace of giving is the Believer's way of showing love for God and their brothers.
· There is nothing wrong with asking for tithes and offering s as long as we do it on the bases of the New Testament principle of grace-giving and not the Old Testament principle of tithes and offerings.
o Giving tithes and offerings should be done by anyone who freely and willingly decides to pay them
o All those who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit would consider giving a privilege and willingly give tithes and offerings.
Applications of the Parable of the Shrewd Manager:
1. Use your worldly wealth to gain eternal blessing, for eternal purposes, or for God’s purposes.
2. If you can be trusted with the little (wealth) here, you can be trusted with much (greater wealth) there. If you are dishonest with little, you will be dishonest with much.
a. SO if you have not been trustworthy with worldly wealth, or with someone else’s property, who is going to trust you with “true riches,” or who will give you property.
3. No one can serve two masters; you cannot serve both God and money.