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Giving

Giving is a subject vastly under taught in the church today.   Many ministers are nervous about speaking on the subject as it might appear they are seeking more money for a raise.   Rarely have I found that to be the case.   Giving of finances is but one part of giving but it is an important part, without basic funds, the work of the church is hindered and sometimes just keeping the doors open is difficult.    This article will focus on three parts of giving:

God’s Giving to Us

Giving of Our Time

Giving of Our Finances

God’s Giving to Us

Before we look at the giving of our time and money, let’s look at what God has given us.  Let’s start by looking at the first verse in the Bible and I am sure you can quote it by heart.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   Genesis 1:1

If this had not happened, I would not be writing this and you would not be reading it.   I know that is stating the obvious, but the point is clear, without God our very existence would not be.  God gave us everything; does it get any better than that.   We have a problem with sin in our lives and we all sin, even the best life that a Christian can live, there is still sin, it is impossible not to sin.    God gave us a way out of that too.   He gave the best of Heaven to cleanse us, His Son, Jesus.    There are many passages that I could give you but the following one states it very clearly.

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.   Romans 5: 8-11

Through Christ we have the pathway to Heaven.  Not only did God give us everything that we have on earth, He gave us Heaven too.   If you don’t think it is much, try matching it some time. 

Giving of our Time

It is said in the church that 15% of the people do 85% of the work.   It has been my experience that those numbers are fairly accurate and that is a shame.  The Bible teaches that all of us have gifts from God and that we are to use those gifts to build up the church and do the work of the church.   Some folk’s gifts are different that others and God meant it to be that way.   As the hand is different than the foot, each has a positive function so the body can work as a whole and work in harmony. 

I have heard Christians say; well I can’t teach or preach.   So what, you can do something.  You do have a gift and you need to discover it and use it.   Is preaching a sermon or teaching a Bible class any less important than giving a sick person a ride to the doctor, making a food dish and taking it to someone who is ill or just visiting that person, maybe help with cleaning or mowing the lawn.  Not to the person who is sick, just ask them.  If you say you can’t pray publically, pray privately for them, God hears either prayer equally.   There are so many functions going on within the church, there is something to do.    Remember the Great Commission of Christ, go and make disciples. 

19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Matthew 28: 19-20

You say I can’t teach, so what.   Every church has teaches and you can tell people how great God has been in your life, get them to come to church and there are members who have this gift of teaching who can work with them. 

I understand that there are times when things conflict and you cannot be at every function of the church, work at everything going on, nor should try and do it all, you will burn out. Read Exodus 18: 17-27 and see the advice Moses got from his father-in-law Jethro about trying to do it all and burning out.   But if you are not doing anything, that is bad.  It is God’s plan that all of us do some things, that is why He gave each person gifts, to work and build up His church.   Look for things to do; there is always something you can do.

Giving of our Finances

Now the touchy issue; the giving of our money.  First, it is not our money, it is from God.   Ask yourself this question, if Genesis 1: 1 had not occurred, would you have any money?   Answers itself doesn’t it?   In recent years I have heard this from a few folks and scripturally it is not accurate: They say that Christ built only one church and giving to anyone church of your choosing is fine.   True, Christ did build only one church but God recognizes individual congregations. 

Let me give you another example of this.  Some say church attendance is not really necessary and that Hebrews 10: 25 is not a commandment.

25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

I have had folks tell me this is not a commandment because it does not specifically say, Thou Shall Attend Church.   Let me give you this advice.   Don’t be flippant or superficial with God’s word.  An attitude like that is one who is looking for a loop hole, not looking to serve God.   Now let’s read the entire passage, Hebrews 10: 19-29:

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY." And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

That puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?   That is what happens when a single verse is taken out of context.  This passage tells me that church attendance is mandatory and if you have a different take on it, I will leave that between you and God.   Before I return to the subject of Giving, answer this question to yourself.    Why did Christ come and build the Church, is it for you to ignore at your convenience?    I know that is a little harsh, but think about it.

Now, back to the subject of giving and let’s look at our first question, giving to any church is fine.   What people have said it that you don’t necessarily have to support the congregation you regularly attend.   Do you?   Let’s see that the Bible has to say.

God, speaking through the Apostle Paul gave these instructions in the first letter to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2:

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

We see God had directed the Galatian churches and is now directing the members at Corinth to put aside and save.   This is a commandment to a single church and we see it was also made to other churches.   This shows that God recognizes the individual duties of each church.  There are other verses about being a cheerful giver, but I want to look at how God views individual churches.  God knows each church has work to do.

We see that God recognizes individual churches in that through the pen of the Apostle Paul, He addressed the church in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica and so on.   The inspired writer sometimes started the letter out specifically addressing that individual church and other letters addressed the churches within a specific geographic region.   Here are a few verses showing that God address a specific church.

2 To the church of God which is at Corinth,…  1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God which is at Corinth…   2 Corinthians 1:1

To the saints who are at Ephesus…   Ephesians 1: 1

To the church of the Thessalonians…   1 Thessalonians 1: 1

Probably one of the most telling areas where God addressed the church individually is the Seven Churches of Asia in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3.   Now I know and understand these instructions are for us today also, as well as the churches throughout time.   But let’s take a look at a few things about this to see that Christ looks at the individual efforts of each congregation, that is what is each church doing, good or bad.   In these seven churches, about one church (Laodicea) Christ had nothing good to say, in another church (Smyrna) He had nothing bad to say and the remaining five, it was a mixed bag of things they were doing right and things they were doing wrong. The point is, Christ looked at each congregation individually, what individuals were doing within each congregation.   Christ even acknowledges the efforts and practices of specific people in the church such as the church at Sardis in Revelation 3: 4

4 'But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Here Christ knows the problems but recognizes that some don’t have that problem and while some in the church will not make it, others in the same congregation will make it because they are worthy.  Christ clearly recognizes the efforts of each individual within the church.  Another interesting point, Christ addresses each separate congregation in a specific way.   Here is the first of the seven churches in Revelation 2: 1

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

Each church is addressed in the same way.    Read the following passages in Revelation, 2:8, 2:12, 2:18, 3:1, 3:7 and 3:14.   This shows a specific acknowledgement by Christ that He knows the specific actions of each church and the specific actions of each member of that church.   How should we give?   We give of our time and of our finances to support the work of our home congregation.   When it comes to finances, I am going to tell you how I was taught and what my practices are.  I know many, many members who do the exact same thing that I do.  Look back at I Corinthians 16: 2.

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save

When we do our family budget, my money goes out in the following priority.

God First

Myself Second

Bills Third

You pay God first and foremost.   Nowhere in scripture does it ever say that God is to be put in the second or lower position.   In fact it says the opposite; that God is first in everything and that comes to our finances also.  It also means to live within your means, don’t overextend yourselves.  Here is what I do and I hope this helps you.   I budget and put in the same offering each week.   Now what if I am absent one week for any reason?   Is that a week off from giving, can I keep the money for myself?   Remember what I said earlier, it is not a good idea to look for ways around God, but look to God for everything.   If I cannot make it to either service on Sunday, I do one of the following things:

  • I give the money to a fellow member to put it in the offering basket, or;
  • I will put in double the amount the week before or week after. 
  • If I am gone for 2 or 3 or 4 weeks, I make sure that each week is there and the amount is never reduced.

Some churches now have a web page to give, which our congregation does, you can give that way. Some may have a problem with this, but think about this: The Bible says to give, it doesn’t prescribe a method. For example, many write checks now, but did they have checking accounts in the first century?

Some members, who receive their money on the first of the month, will budget for the month, then put it all in on the first Sunday.   They could divide it up and put it in each week, but choose to do it this way.  This is all they have to give so they are not holding back. 

What if I attend another congregation, which I do when I travel, do I give them my offering and not my home congregation?    The answer is simple:  No, my offering remains with my home congregation and is never reduced by the amount I may put in the offering plate at the congregation I am visiting.  Also, if I donate to a Christian cause, such as an orphanage or some large radio or TV work, can I withhold that amount from my donation?   I would not do that, I support the work of my home congregation first, and any other work I may support is an additional amount over and above the offering I give to my home congregation.   My home congregation, like all congregations has bills to pay, a minister to support and many other things which cost money.

So there you have it.  I hope this article makes you think about how you are giving.   Just remember, God gave you everything, are you looking to give back the same way.  I will close with a passage from Romans 6: 23:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Giving

Giving is a subject vastly under taught in the church today.   Many ministers are nervous about speaking on the subject as it might appear they are seeking more money for a raise.   Rarely have I found that to be the case.   Giving of finances is but one part of giving but it is an important part, without basic funds, the work of the church is hindered and sometimes just keeping the doors open is difficult.    This article will focus on three parts of giving:

God’s Giving to Us

Giving of Our Time

Giving of Our Finances

God’s Giving to Us

Before we look at the giving of our time and money, let’s look at what God has given us.  Let’s start by looking at the first verse in the Bible and I am sure you can quote it by heart.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   Genesis 1:1

If this had not happened, I would not be writing this and you would not be reading it.   I know that is stating the obvious, but the point is clear, without God our very existence would not be.  God gave us everything; does it get any better than that.   We have a problem with sin in our lives and we all sin, even the best life that a Christian can live, there is still sin, it is impossible not to sin.    God gave us a way out of that too.   He gave the best of Heaven to cleanse us, His Son, Jesus.    There are many passages that I could give you but the following one states it very clearly.

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.  

Romans 5: 8-11

Through Christ we have the pathway to Heaven.  Not only did God give us everything that we have on earth, He gave us Heaven too.   If you don’t think it is much, try matching it some time. 

Giving of our Time

It is said in the church that 15% of the people do 85% of the work.   It has been my experience that those numbers are fairly accurate and that is a shame.  The Bible teaches that all of us have gifts from God and that we are to use those gifts to build up the church and do the work of the church.   Some folk’s gifts are different that others and God meant it to be that way.   As the hand is different than the foot, each has a positive function so the body can work as a whole and work in harmony. 

I have heard Christians say; well I can’t teach or preach.   So what, you can do something.  You do have a gift and you need to discover it and use it.   Is preaching a sermon or teaching a Bible class any less important than giving a sick person a ride to the doctor, making a food dish and taking it to someone who is ill or just visiting that person, maybe help with cleaning or mowing the lawn.  Not to the person who is sick, just ask them.  If you say you can’t pray publically, pray privately for them, God hears either prayer equally. 

There are so many functions going on within the church, there is something to do.    Remember the Great Commission of Christ, go and make disciples. 

19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Matthew 28: 19-20

You say I can’t teach, so what.   Every church has teaches and you can tell people how great God has been in your life, get them to come to church and there are members who have this gift of teaching who can work with them. 

I understand that there are times when things conflict and you cannot be at every function of the church, work at everything going on, nor should try and do it all, you will burn out. Read Exodus 18: 17-27 and see the advice Moses got from his father-in-law Jethro about trying to do it all and burning out.   But if you are not doing anything, that is bad.  It is God’s plan that all of us do some things, that is why He gave each person gifts, to work and build up His church.   Look for things to do; there is always something you can do.

Giving of our Finances

Now the touchy issue, the giving of our money.  First, it is not our money, it is from God.   Ask yourself this question, if Genesis 1: 1 had not occurred, would you have any money?   Answers itself doesn’t it?   In recent years I have heard this from a few folks and scripturally it is not accurate: They say that Christ built only one church and giving to anyone church of your choosing is fine.   True, Christ did build only one church but God recognizes individual congregations. 

Let me give you another example of this.  Some say church attendance is not really necessary and that Hebrews 10: 25 is not a commandment.

25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

I have had folks tell me this is not a commandment because it does not specifically say, Thou Shall Attend Church.   Let me give you this advice.   Don’t be flippant or superficial with God’s word.  An attitude like that is one that is looking for a loop hole, not looking to serve God.   Now let’s read the entire passage, Hebrews 10: 19-29:

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY." And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

That puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?   That is what happens when a single verse is taken out of context.  This passage tells me that church attendance is mandatory and if you have a different take on it, I will leave that between you and God.   Before I return to the subject of Giving, answer this question to yourself.    Why did Christ come and build the Church, is it for you to ignore at your convenience?    I know that is a little harsh, but think about it.

Now, back to the subject of giving and let’s look at our first question, giving to any church is fine.   What people have said it that you don’t necessarily have to support the congregation you regularly attend.   Do you?   Let’s see that the Bible has to say.

God, speaking through the Apostle Paul gave these instructions in the first letter to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2:

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

We see God had directed the Galatian churches and is now directing the members at Corinth to put aside and save.   This is a commandment to a single church and we see it was also made to other churches.   This shows that God recognizes the individual duties of each church.  There are other verses about being a cheerful giver, but I want to look at how God views individual churches.  God knows each church has work to do.

We see that God recognizes individual churches in that through the pen of the Apostle Paul, He addressed the church in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica and so on.   The inspired writer sometimes started the letter out specifically addressing that individual church and other letters addressed the churches within a specific geographic region.   Here are a few verses showing that God address a specific church.

2 To the church of God which is at Corinth,…  1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God which is at Corinth…   2 Corinthians 1:1

To the saints who are at Ephesus… Ephesians 1: 1

To the church of the Thessalonians…   1 Thessalonians 1: 1

Probably one of the most telling areas where God addressed the church individually is the Seven Churches of Asia in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3.   Now I know and understand these instructions are for us today also, as well as the churches throughout time.   But let’s take a look at a few things about this to see that Christ looks at the individual efforts of each congregation, that is what is each church doing, good or bad.   In these seven churches, about one church (Laodicea) Christ had nothing good to say, in another church (Smyrna) He had nothing bad to say and the remaining five, it was a mixed bag of things they were doing right and things they were doing wrong. The point is, Christ looked at each congregation individually, what individuals were doing within each congregation.   Christ even acknowledges the efforts and practices of specific people in the church such as the church at Sardis in Revelation 3: 4

4 'But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Here Christ knows the problems but recognizes that some don’t have that problem and while some in the church will not make it, others in the same congregation will make it because they are worthy.  Christ clearly recognizes the efforts of each individual within the church.  Another interesting point, Christ addresses each separate congregation in a specific way.   Here is the first of the seven churches in Revelation 2: 1

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

Each church is addressed in the same way.    Read the following passages in Revelation, 2:8, 2:12, 2:18, 3:1, 3:7 and 3:14.   This shows a specific acknowledgement by Christ that He knows the specific actions of each church and the specific actions of each member of that church.   How should we give?   We give of our time and of our finances to support the work of our home congregation.   When it comes to finances, I am going to tell you how I was taught and what my practices are.  I know many, many members who do the exact same thing that I do.  Look back at I Corinthians 16: 2.

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save

It says on the first day of every week and I will address this a little later.  When we do our family budget, my money goes out in the following priority.

God First

Myself Second

Bills Third

You pay God first and foremost.   Nowhere in scripture does it ever say that God is to be put in the second or lower position.   In fact it says the opposite; that God is first in everything and that comes to our finances also.  It also means to live within your means, don’t overextend yourselves.  Here is what I do and I hope this helps you.   I budget and put in the same offering each week.   Now what if I am absent one week for any reason?   Is that a week off from giving, can I keep the money for myself?   Remember what I said earlier, it is not a good idea to look for ways around God, but look to God for everything.   If I cannot make it to either service on Sunday, I do one of the following things:

I give the money to a fellow member to put it in the offering basket, or;

I will put in double the amount the week before or week after. 

If I am gone for 2 or 3 or 4 weeks, I make sure that each week is there and the amount is never reduced.

Some churches now have a web page to give, which our congregation does, you can give that way. Some may have a problem with this, but think about this: The Bible says to give, it doesn’t prescribe a method. For example, many write checks now, but did they have checking accounts in the first century?

Some members, who receive their money on the first of the month, will budget for the month, then put it all in on the first Sunday.   They could divide it up and put it in each week, but choose to do it this way.  This is all they have to give so they are not holding back. 

What if I attend another congregation, which I do when I travel, do I give them my offering and not my home congregation?    The answer is simple:  No, my offering remains with my home congregation and is never reduced by the amount I may put in the offering plate at the congregation I am visiting. Also, if I donate to a Christian cause, such as an orphanage or some large radio or TV work, can I withhold that amount from my donation?   I would not do that, I support the work of my home congregation first, and any other work I may support is an additional amount over and above the offering I give to my home congregation.   My home congregation, like all congregations has bills to pay, a minister to support and many other things which cost money.

So there you have it.  I hope this article gives you some things to think about how you are giving.   Just remember, God gave you everything, are you looking to give back the same way.  I will close with a passage from Romans 6: 23:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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