PART 3 - THE ALTERNATIVE TO TITHING

PART I

IN THE BEGINNING, GOD ESTABLISHED GIVING.

God's giving starts in the Book of Genesis when God created the heaven and the earth. God created man (and woman), and He gave man everything necessary to sustain life: air, water, food, raw materials for clothing, raw materials to build shelter, etc. God gave man dominion over the earth (v. 1:26).

Genesis 1:29-30 (NIV)
29Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

Genesis 9:3 (NIV)
3Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV)
18But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

God gave us food, but we must harvest the crops. God gave us cotton and other fibers but we must weave the fibers into our clothing. God gave us the materials to make our shelter, but we must put the materials together. God gave us the ability to work in order to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, and protect ourselves.

And if that wasn't enough, God gave us His only son!

John 3:16 (KJV)
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It's important to understand why God gave His only begotten Son - because God so loved the world. The motive was love.

After Jesus was crucified on the cross, rose from death, and ascended to heaven, God gave us the Holy Spirit.

Luke 11:13 (NIV)
13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

From the beginning of time, God, through His love, established giving.

CHRISTIAN GIVING BEGINS WITH OURSELVES.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NIV)
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,
4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.
5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

Notice in verse 5, they gave themselves first to the Lord. God wants us to put Him first in our lives.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV)
10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Matthew Henry says in his Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, "He who holds to the world and loves it, must despise God; he who loves God, must give up the friendship of the world."

WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO DO WITH OUR MONEY?

Many preachers teach that you should first give your money to God, and the way they say you can do this is to give it to the church.

There are two problems with the above statement.

1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)
8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

In 1 Timothy 5:8 we are told to first provide for our immediate family and our relatives before providing for others. In other words, we should provide for our needs, the needs of our immediate family, and the needs of relatives, before we give anything to the church.

Matthew 25:42-45 (NIV)
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

In Matthew 25:42-45 Jesus tells us how to give to Him. We are giving to The Lord when we feed the hungry, give to the poor, etc. Nowhere in the scriptures does God say that when you give to the Christian Church you are giving to Him.

PRINCIPLES OF GIVING.

2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (NIV)
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8And 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.
9As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

The above seven verses give us many giving principles. In verse 6 Paul uses an example of a farmer planting seed. The farmer who plants few seeds will reap a small harvest. The farmer who plants many seeds will reap a larger harvest. But Paul is really talking about Christian giving, not farming. What Paul is saying is that those who give a little will reap a little, and those who give much will reap much.

If you plant seed to grow corn, you reap a harvest of corn. Using this analogy, when we give money, we should reap a return of money. However, God does not guarantee what our blessing will be. God knows what we need, and we should trust Him to give us what we need at the time He knows is best.

In verse 7 we learn that God loves a cheerful giver, and that we should give according to our heart, not under compulsion. This is the exact opposite of tithing. Tithing was an exact amount and was required to be paid. As a Christian, we give according to our heart.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 (NIV)
1Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.
2On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
3Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
4If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

In 1 Corinthians 16:2 we learn that we should give according to our income. There is no set minimum or percentage to give. The higher our income, the more we should give. Those with a small income are expected to give a small amount.

These principles apply not only to giving to a church, but for giving in general. Since tithing ended at the cross, the Christian Church must be supported entirely by free-will gifts. We find in the scriptures guidelines for this giving.

1 Corinthians 16:2 above, we see that Paul suggests setting aside a sum of money once each week for the collections. The principle here is to be systematic. Have a system where you give on a regular basis, whether that be weekly, biweekly, twice a month, or once a month. You might want to time your giving with your paycheck.

The principle of proportional giving is also seen in verse 16.2 above.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NIV)
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,
4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.
5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

In 2 Corinthians 8:2-3 above we see the principle of generous giving as well as sacrificial giving. Notice in verse 4 how they considered their giving a privilege. And as we previously saw, in verse 5 they gave themselves first to the Lord.

Philippians 4:15-20 (NIV)
15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In Philippians 4:16 we see the principle of giving where there is a need. We should give generously to the needy as well as to the church we attend.

1 Corinthians 9:13-14 (NIV)
13Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?
14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Galatians 6:6 (NIV)
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

The preacher has a right to be paid. Nowadays, church goers expect a building to worship in, seating, heating and air conditioning, a public address system, etc. All this has to be paid for. As a member or visitor of a local church, you have a moral obligation to pay your share, according to your means. Without generous givers, the local church doors would have to close.

2 Corinthians 8:10-15 (NIV)
10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.
11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
15as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

In 2 Corinthians 8:13-14 we see the principle of equality. We should not give until we are hard pressed, but we should share with others who have needs. Later, if we have needs, others will share with us. Verse 15 shows the existence of equality.

2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)
9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

As Jesus died for the sins of others, believers should give out of love for the Lord. Our motivation for giving should be love, and the giving of itself. Believers are to give so that all needs are met.

Click here to continue to Part 2.

Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®.
Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society are used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009, 2012 by Gary J. Arnold. All rights reserved.

Preacher@TithingToday.com