Tithing Full Circle - Pt 4
Welcome to the final, and shortest, installment of the series. Hopefully, you've been on this journey since the beginning. If not, please catch up. I won't waste any more time, so let's begin where we last left off.
We already seen 1 Corinthians 16:2, but let’s look at what seems to be the focal scripture for giving in the New Testament.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8, 12-13
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 12For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. 13Through the proof of this service, they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others.
Observation 1: This seems to be the focal scripture that some churches today teach about giving, not tithing, in the NT. Paul says that each should give according to what he/she has decided; giving the impression that all believers have the freedom to choose how much they will give. Another interesting fact is the part of not out of necessity, which means not to give out of need (hold that thought, as we will definitely comeback to that soon). Let’s look at other translations of this scripture, concerning v7-8.
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty leftover to share with others. (NLT)
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (ESV)
Observation 2: So we see that each scripture translation says the same thing. We have the freedom to decide how much we will give; that’s not the important part though. The important part is how we give; God loves a cheerful giver. It only makes sense that Paul seemingly instructed us to decide for ourselves. Think about it. If we gave out of need or under response to pressure (compulsion), then would we really give cheerfully? Probably not. And don’t we have the freedom to decide for ourselves since we are no longer bound to the law, but have freedom in Christ?
Observation 3: Going back to the section of the verse where it concerns not to give out of necessity, the question just has to be asked. Where did we get the current philosophy of "if you have a need, sow a seed?" Unless anyone can explain that in a more clear sense, 2 Cor 9:7-8 makes that philosophy unbiblical. Essentially, we shouldn't give out of need because it appears as if we're trying to barter with God; I'll give God this, and hope He gives me that. That philosophy, and the mentality driving it, is a very deceptive one due to it cheapening the real reason behind giving, and tainting our motive for giving.
Observation 4: Not only does Paul state how we should give, but in verses 12-13 he also gives the reason why we should give as the NT church. Giving isn't just for the saints, there is another reason why we should give. The art, practice, and principle of giving is used to build a bridge between the local church and the lost. When the lost, poor, hungry, homeless, sick, etc. have their needs met through the generosity of the church, they will glorify God. That's the aim of giving in the NT, so people will be drawn closer to God and in doing so, give Him all the glory, and hopefully surrender their life to Christ. Read all of 2 Corinthians 9 to understand the context.
Final Thoughts: We now, according to Paul, have the freedom to decide how much we will give. Otherwise, he would have said that we should give our tenth or tithe. He doesn’t say that or anything remotely similar. He implies that we have the freedom to choose for ourselves. If you want to give 30% of your income, excellent! That’s your choice. If you want to give 10%, good! That’s your choice and not a required amount like it was under the law. This freewill giving concept goes back to Abraham, when he gave freely to Melchizedek because he wanted to (which was pre-law).
I told you this installment was the shortest one. I truly do hope that you have learned something different behind tithing, giving, and the original biblical context of both. There will be a conclusion section coming within the next week that summarizes the entire series. Until then, feel free to go back over the other installments and please share this with your friends and colleagues.
Until next time, grace and peace.