13 Mar Giving Our Treasure
To many, money is more than a medium of exchange – it is something to be sought after, to be gained, to be hoarded, to be stored, to be converted into other forms so that it will maintain its value. In Luke 16:1-13 Jesus pointed out the difference between using wealth dishonestly and using it righteously to benefit others. We have an opportunity to use something that is temporal to make eternal changes in peoples’ lives and to extend God’s kingdom. We must use this precious gift of God as God intends.
Principles on Giving
1) Giving ourselves to the Lord first (2 Cor. 8:5): Without giving our heart to Jesus Christ, giving becomes meaningless. (Is. 1:11, 16 & Matt. 5:23, 24.)
2) Right Motive (2 Cor. 8:1): The only true motive for giving is the grace of God, the goodness of God to us. Motive is more important than the act. God is not interested in HOW MUCH we give, but WHY we give.
Eg. Widow’s giving. (Luke 21: 1-4)
Right motives to give can be:
Recognize that God is the Provider of our needs. We receive from the Lord what is due to us. It is not the Govt or our employer who provides our needs. It is God alone. “it is God who gives you ability to produce wealth”, Deu. 8:18.
Give in proportion to our income. Paul says that our giving should be in keeping with our income. Periodically as our income increases our giving should also increase.
Expect results. Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given to you”. Expect from God to provide all our needs and bless our work.
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s” (Matt. 22:21) We pay our taxes to the Govt. It is a deduction from income. Dr Haggai said “You do not give tithe, you PAY your tithe”. That is, giving tithe is not “giving,” but our basic DUTY.
Wrong motives to give can be:
Giving for tax deduction
To gain reputation
To earn favour from God
3) Realization of our opportunities to give are being arranged by God (2 Cor. 8:14, 15).
God gives more to some and less to some in order that those who have more may give to those who have less. Eg. Manna in the wilderness.
4) Control of fund being not operated by one, but many (2 Cor. 8:16-19, 20-21)
Paul is careful to see that the control of fund is not placed in any single hand. Someone is being sent along with Titus.
Accountability can be established by Two signatories to operate the account, maintaining books of accounts, being audited, and publishing the balance sheet.
5) Giving should not come from pressure (2 Cor. 9:5)
Need can be made known but trying to use it as an emotional cause to extract more money is wrong – appealing letters – promise of getting blessing etc. Rather, the Macedonians begged Paul to accept their gifts. (1 Cor. 9:4)
6) Abundant Giving (2 Cor. 9:6)
Eg. Analogy of the farmer and seed.
The farmer sows the seed – cannot gather again – seemingly lost. But the returns of the fruit are proportionate to the sowing.
7) Voluntary Giving (2 Cor. 9:7)
God is pleased with spontaneous giving. God loves a cheerful giver.
8) Expectant Giving (2 Cor. 9:8-9)
We are dealing with God and He is able to give back. If we give in order that we might receive more to give, we are right in line with God’s programme. However, if we give in order to receive more for your self-pleasure, then we are giving for wrong reasons.
God delights to give but not always in material terms.
Our giving to other results in:
(2 Cor. 9: 11-14)
Awakening of gratitude in others.
Stimulates them to pray for us.
Glorifying God with thanksgiving of many.
9) Systematic / Regular Giving
(1 Cor. 16:2)
Giving should be planned.
How Much Should We Give?
Tithe in the OT
Levitical Tithe: This was given to the Levites for their sustenance. Levites did not receive any inheritance rather they depended totally on the tithes given by the other tribes (Num. 18:20-29. 2 Chr. 31:5-12).
Annual Tithe: This was given at the time of feasts and for the maintenance of the temple in Jerusalem. Popularly known as the ‘Celebration tithe’ Deut. 14:22-27.
Triennial Tithe: Every three years, certain portion of the produce was given to poor people, widows and orphans Deut. 14:28-29. 26:12. In our church once in a month we take an offering for distribution to poor and needy.
In addition to this, they gave the first fruits of the crops to the Lord. Duet 18:3-5, 26:1-3. To sum up, a Jew on an average gave one third of his income to the Lord. This is the great challenge for us. If we give just 10% we are giving less than what a Jew in the O.T was giving.
Tithe in the NT
There is no reference about “tithe” in the New Testament. Does this mean that the N.T. does not support the idea? Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. Thus we have to continue the practice of setting aside the tithe.
As seen in the Acts, the early church believers shared with everyone whatever they had. They had everything in common. Everyone gave according to his or her ability and everyone had what they needed. This is more radical than the O.T. EU Students should start tithing from whatever way they receive like pocket money, the scholarship, etc., If this is not practised as a student, can never learn to give as a graduate. I started giving tithe from the loan amount I was taking to do my studies.
The question must be how much can I keep for myself instead of how much should I give to God (George Muller)
To Whom should We Give?
First responsibility is the local Church – 1 Tim. 5:17-18 – for the maintenance of pastor/elder/bishop.
Next responsibility is to evangelism and missionary work. Paul enjoyed gifts for his missionary journeys (Phil. 4:10-16).
Then to the poor- either Christians or non-Christians (Pro. 19:17)
One of the popular notions is that we should give the entire tithe to the local Church. There is no single reference in the New Testament to support this view. Pastors and teachers quote Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse . . . and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing . . .”
What was the storehouse mentioned in the verse? It is the storehouse or treasury in the Temple at Jerusalem where the tithes of the people of Israel was collected and stored. From this storehouse the Levites received their sustenance. And the house mentioned is the Temple in Jerusalem where the Lord inhabited. The Hebrew meaning is ‘dwelling place, ‘habitation’ or ‘shelter. The Temple was the visible symbol of God’s presence.
Today where is the storehouse and the Temple? Paul said “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) Thus God dwells in the heart of every believer. It is no longer the temple or church building. The local church is only a meeting place where we can gather for fellowship. Otherwise, people are representing the Temple. Thus we can say that our tithe should go to believers who are serving God. It can also be used to build the temple of God – believers in our midst and in unreached areas. Paul in his letters to Corinth appeals for collection to be made for the believers in Jerusalem who are affected by the famine.
In the O.T., the storehouse was in Jerusalem. In the it is not a centralised place. All the people of God put together become the storehouse. We can use our tithe to help missions / parachurch organisations like UESI, IEM, FMPB, etc., which are engaged in frontline evangelism, discipleship and missions. There is no need to feel guilty about this.
Till 300 AD churches did not have own building or the so called ‘clergy’, ‘full time workers’. They gathered in houses, pastors ministered while continuing their trade or profession. There was no need for anyone to give tithe to
the church. The money was distributed among the poor and needy both inside and outside the Church. All this changed with the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 313 AD. He started to build churches, cathedrals. In order to manage them people funds were required. People were taught to give their tithes to local church. Thus we can conclude that the teaching given in some of the churches today is not based on sound Biblical interpretation.
We should have discernment while giving/distributing our tithe. If the church is involved in Missions, Evangelism, Ministry among poor, etc., then we should be contributing or else we are free to distribute to other places where there is lot of need. Ultimately we are responsible for proper distribution, accountability of the tithe amount. To say that it is somebody’s responsibility is incorrect.
Stewardship on treasure is as important as time and talents. Let us develop a heart for UESI ministry and own it as good stewards of God. If this is the place God wants us, then let us soak our hands fully and involve whole-heartedly in the ministry. We may go through sufferings or ridicules or do tremendous sacrifices in the days to come. Nevertheless, greater is the joy in working together and building the kingdom of God among the post-matric students of this land.
The author retired as Deputy Commissioner of Customs lives in Bangalore along with his wife Renuka. He has served UESI in different capacities. All their three children also involve with UESI ministry as families in different parts of India. They have considered ministering students with UESI is the specific call for them.