Christians understand that we have the gift of eternal life because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. If we are to honor Him and follow His lead, we too should be sacrificial, generous, and giving. But where does God weigh-in on the matter? Here we look at several scriptures on giving that tell us exactly how God feels about it.
To the Church
The idea of giving back to God came about long before Moses and the Law. On his return from rescuing Lot, Abram gave a tenth of all the spoils to God in gratitude.
Genesis 14:18-20 New King James Version (NKJV)Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
When we return a part of our increase to God, He promises to give us even greater returns. This is the single occasion where the Father gives us permission to test Him and it is the cornerstone verse of all the scriptures on giving.
Malachi 3:10 New Living Translation (NLT) “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!”
To the Poor and Needy
Our Lord Jesus Christ is a staunch Defender of those who cannot fight against those who oppress them. He holds a special place for them in His heart. When we adhere to the principle He established in caring for those less fortunate than us, Jesus credits us with caring for Him.
Matthew 25:35-37, 40 New King James Version (NKJV)“…For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?' … And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
Could there be anything more precious to one who belongs to Christ than actually ministering to Him? Not likely. To bolster this concept, here are a few more passages about God's desire for us to take care of the needy among us:
Isaiah 58:10 New King James Version (NKJV)If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul,Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 1 John 3:17-18 New Living Translation (NLT) If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God's love be in that person? Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Proverbs 19:17 New King James Version (NKJV) He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.
Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave His disciples what we have come to call The Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19 New King James Version (NKJV) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Those called to spread the Good News of Christ throughout the world have a difficult task. Not only must they learn how to teach a person who is ignorant of the Lord, some who are even overtly hostile, but they must also understand the culture of the peoples they will be visiting and the laws of the countries they will be entering.
To accomplish all this they need money. Very few people can fund their own excursions and God understands this quite well. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul on how he felt about the support he received on his trips. This passage is a clear example of scriptures on giving:
Philippians 4:14-18 New King James Version (NKJV) Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
Also, examine the instructions of Jesus Himself when he sent the seventy out to spread the Gospel:
Luke 10:4,7 New King James Version (NKJV) Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.
Getting the Message Across
Knowing the Scriptures is a vital component in understanding our Lord's desires, but equally important is imparting this to the flock. Here are a few ideas to bring the scripture-based giving message home to the congregation.
Tithing: Propose a challenge to the church. Ask the members to commit to a period of time to regularly tithe, three months or six months perhaps, and experience the blessings themselves. Some may need counseling to accomplish this; it's not an instantaneous happening and some people will need coaching to get past the inevitable bumps in the road.
Caring for the Needy: Put on a skit with someone serving Jesus on one side of the stage, with people serving the poor on the other side. Mimic the actions of those giving food and drink to the poor with those serving Jesus.
Missionaries: The tried-and-true method is bringing those in the field into the church to speak. As they see the difference missionaries make in the lives of people in need, the knowledge that their money is well spent will encourage future giving.
Asking for money can be awkward for both parties. However, a solid understanding of scriptures on giving paired with effective communication will go a long way towards easing the discomfort. If you're looking for more great ideas on how to talk to your congregation about giving, give us a call, we'll be happy to help.