*TITHES AND GIVING*
*3.THEIR GIVING WAS NOT BY COMMANDMENT, NOR OF NECESSITY*
Under the law, a tenth was commanded and its payment was a necessity, not required for salvation but as an act of obedience to God; under grace, God is not seeking the gift, but an expression of devotion from the giver. Under grace no law is imposed, and no proportion to be given is stipulated; and, while it is true that God works in the yielded heart both to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil.2:14), He finds pleasure only in that gift which is given CHEERFULLY, or more literally, ”hilariously” (2Cor9:7). If a law existed stipulating the amount to be given, there are those, doubtless, who would seek to fulfill it, even against their own wishes and thus their gift would be made “GRUDGINGLY”, and “of necessity.”
It is true that to support the work of the Gospel we must have money, but it is not the amount which is given important to God, but rather the DIVINE BLESSING upon the cheerful gift that accomplishes the desired end. Christ fed five thousand from five loaves and two fishes, and there is abundant evidence to prove that wherever the children of God have fulfilled their privilege in giving under grace, their liberality has resulted in “all sufficiency in all things” which has made them “abound unto every good work,” for God is able to make even the grace of giving to “abound” to every believer (2Cor9:8).
*4.THEY GAVE THEMSELVES*
Acceptable giving is preceded by a complete giving of one’s own self (2Cor8:5). This suggests the important truth that giving under grace, like giving under the law, is limited to a certain class of people. Tithing was never imposed by God on any other than the nation Israel. So, Christian giving of money is limited to believers, and is most acceptable when given by believers who have fully YILDED THEIR LIVES to God.
Some hide behind the tithe to avoid giving more than 10%, also to avoid giving themselves, Luke18:12
*5.THEY GAVE SISTEMATICALLY*
Like tithing, there is suggested systematic regularity in giving under grace. “Upon the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him” (1Cor16:2). This injunction is addressed to “every man” (every Christian man), and thus excuses none; and giving is to be from that which is already “IN STORE”, not a promise or pledge concerning funds which they have not yet received.
Sadly, today believers are everywhere urged to make their “pledge” based on what they hope to receive. Some borrow to give to God, it is not doctrinal.
*6.GOD SUSTAINS THE GIVER*
God will sustain grace-giving with limitless temporal resources (2Cor9:8-10;Luke6:38). In this connection it may be seen that those who give as much as a tenth are usually prospered in temporal things; but, since the believer can have no relation to the law (Gal5:1), it is evident that this prosperity is the fulfillment of the promise under grace, rather than the fulfillment of promises under the law. No blessings are thus dependent on the exact tithing. The blessings are bestowed because a heart has expressed itself through a gift. There is no opportunity here for designing people to become rich. The giving must be from the heart, and God’s response will be according to His perfect will for His child. He may respond by bestowing spiritual riches, or in temporal material blessings as He shall choose. Giving is NOT MAKING BUSINESS with God: ‘I give you this much so now you have to return back 5-10 times’, as some say.
When someone becomes a Christian, he might even become poorer, because of persecution, but also because of his giving money as led by God, also loosing business opportunities that now he refuses because they might separate him from Christian fellowship (schedule of business, ethics and other reasons) but God will not forsake such a believer Ps37:25
*7.TRUE RICHES ARE FROM GOD*
The Corinthian Christians were made rich with heavenly riches. There is such a thing as being rich in this world’s goods and yet not rich toward God (Luke12:21). All such are invited to buy of Him that gold which is tried in the fire (Rev3:18). Through the absolute poverty of Christ in His death, all may be made rich (2Cor8:9). It is possible to be rich in faith (Jas2:5), and rich in good works (1Tim6:18); but in Christ Jesus the believer receives freely “the riches of grace” (Eph1:7), and “the riches of glory” (Eph3:16).
Some preachers use the TITHE TO MANIPULATE believers to give, as these preachers are often pocketing the money.
A godly preacher motivates his church to GIVE IN LOVE 2Cor5:14, taking Christ as example.
A healthy church will present at least once a year the church SPENDINGS TO THEIR CONGREGATION in a special meeting: ‘this year our church has received this much money and this much we spent on rent, this much on chairs or other building-related materials, this much for tracts and evangelism costs, this much for the poor and brethren crisis, this much on staff wages (pastor’s wage itself can be a bit confidential or private but church should be able to guess from the staff budget just about roughly how much the pastor gets) and so on’. All expenses should be documented with receipts and witnesses signatures. The pastor should not handle church money, but an accountant. Ushers (at least 2) should collect the offerings and give them under signatures to the church accountant.
A PASTOR CAN RECEIVE A WAGE 1Tim5:17-18, 1Cor9:6-14, GIFTS for ministry Phil4:10-20 and at times the pastor might REFUSE TO RECEIVE anything from the church for the sake of testimony and to prove to them he is not after their money 2Cor11:7, 12:13-15, at times the PASTOR MIGHT WORK with his own hands to sustain himself financially Acts18:3.
It would be good for the sake of testimony if a church would be registered with an organization for FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY, as accountants of such an organization verify the bookkeeping and can testify once a year, through a yearly certificate, that the church is handling the money in a godly way. One of the most appreciated organizations is ECFA (www.ecfa.org); our church, ‘Greater Grace’ is registered with it.
Since giving should not be compulsory or by force, tithes are gives before God, secretly, WITHOUT ENVELOPE WITH NAME of the giver or else it becomes MANIPULATION: pastor manipulates the believers to give and believers manipulate pastors with the amount they give, requiring positions or changes in the church. In the Old Testament the priests were not checking on Israel if they gave all their tithe or kept back a bit; in Malachi 3 the levites were receiving nothing of their rights from the people’s tithes and they ran to villages to work for their sustenance, study the context; nobody counted if the tithe was exact when one brought it forward, it was between the bringer and God.