Question: What does the Bible say about giving?
Audio Message on Giving by Pastor Tony Magana
If we have a heart of love we will also have a heart of giving! “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” (Proverbs 28:27) “let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Ephesians 4:28)
Paul said that the churches of Macedonia gave beyond what they could really give because they first gave their heart to the Lord. “For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:3-5)
We are to give first at least a tithe to the church where we are fed spiritually. Then we are to give beyond this to those that God lays on our heart. I know there is a teaching out there that is believed by many Christians, and that is that since we are not under law that we do not have to give a tithe. They teach that now we are under grace we can give anything we want. However this is not the teaching of the Word of God.
We need to understand that giving of at least a tithe was started by God in the hearts of believers long before the law was given. Abraham gave a tithe in Genesis and this is confirmed in Hebrews. He gave because he wanted to give back to God a little that had been given to him. “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.” (Genesis 14:18-20)
Jacob was before Moses and the law, and he gave a tithe of all he had. “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:22) So at least a tithe is a starting point.
If we understand now that this principle is not just for the Jews under the law, we need to take a closer look at Malachi 3:8-11 where God says: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings, you are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in thefield. Says the LORD of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land, says the LORD of hosts.”
So these curses and blessings concerning giving are not just for Israel but for all believers. There is a principle here that is for every believer. “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)
This is the teaching of Jesus who also included the warning that we should not brag to others about our giving. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory form men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
I believe we should give more than what people gave under the law, and by the way, under the law they gave not only several types of tithes, but also free will offerings. Some estimate that this was as much as twenty percent of their income or more. Should not we who live in the age of grace give more than what they gave under the law?
One of the reasons, I believe, Cornelius a Gentile was given special attention by God was because he was not only a praying man, but a giving man. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’ And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it lord?”‘ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms (giving) have come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:1-4)
You may have heard of the widow’s mite which Jesus spoke about: “Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans (Greek “lepta,” very small copper coins). So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:44)
God wants sacrificial giving, and really everything we have is from Him to begin with. Look at the story of a Gentile believer in the Old Testament, during the time of Elijah the prophet: “Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.’
So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.’ And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ So she said, ‘As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’
And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. ‘For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.” (1 Kings 17: 8-16)
God loves for us to step out in faith to trust Him with our giving and He will reward us abundantly. My wife and I have experienced this over and over in our giving. It may not seem like we have even enough money to give at least a tenth, but when we do He some how makes the money stretch. You may laugh, but I know this from experience.
Just to give one example, when I was a pastor of a small church in Oregon, there was a young couple and their family that came to us for help. We had no money at all, but we knew from experience if we helped them God would take care of us and them. So we fed them, and as I was going through my coat pocket there was a ten dollar bill (which was a lot more money then than what it is now). Now I do not know if it was there for sometime and I had just forgot about it, but I do not think this was the case because Marlene and I always knew where our money was. I believe God supplied that money just because we, by faith, helped someone in need.
I know you asked what the Bible says about giving, but I want you to know that these principles of giving still apply today. To give another example, our Pastor was considering giving a stereo console to someone who was unsaved, but his wife reminded him that they had bought it for one hundred dollars and that they should probably not be careless with their money. So as our pastor was praying about it and as he was commuting to work he noticed a bill on the road in front of him. There had been a wind storm the night before and there was some debris on the road but it certainly looked like money, so he got out of his car and picked it up. To his surprise it was a hundred dollar bill. This was God’s conformation that he was to give the stereo console. He did give the console, but as he did he shared with the man how God had provided the money for them. Pastor Tony said, “I don’t know if the man ever received the Lord or not, but at least I was able to share with him the miracle God did.”
Giving is not really giving unless it is sacrificial. Remember the little boy who gave up his lunch to Jesus, and how Jesus feed five thousand people with it. “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ But this He said to test him, for he Himself knew what he would do. Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.’ One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?’
Then Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:5-13) It does not matter how little we have to give, we need to be willing to give it, and God will bless others and ourselves for “sacrificing.”
We are to give with joy, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Cheerful in the Greek is hilaros (hil-ar-oss); Strong’s #2431: Willing, good-natured, joyfully ready. The word describes a spirit of enjoyment in giving that sweeps away all restraints. The English word “hilarious” is a transliteration.
In that same passage Paul says, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully..And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’ (Psalm 112:9) Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, (2 Corinthians 9: 6-10)
In the future people will be shown to be believers by their giving: “When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the king will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 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? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 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.'” (Matthew 25:31-’46’)
The above Scripture goes on to say that those that did not give when they saw those in need were not His sheep and will go into hell. This is pretty strong language but I believe it is the way God feels about giving. Cain said to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) The answer is obviously, “Yes!” Jesus illustrated this with the story of the Good Samaritan. “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’
And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certainman went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave then to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you. So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)
There is so much more we could say about this subject of giving, but I would like to close it with this. Jesus said that He would reward us if we even give a cup of cold water. (Matthew 10:42) God is watching our every action, and He knows our every motive. He wants us to give, because He is a giving God. One of the things we can do is give our tithes to our local church, but then beyond this God will lay on our hearts others to give to by way of free will offerings.
May I suggest some places that I know your money will be used wisely to feed and care for the poor and needy. We have these also on our web sites as links, and these are the names: Food for the Hungry, Joni and Friends, Gleanings for the Hungry, The Voice of the Martyrs, and Teen Missions International, which helps set up AIDS orphanages in Africa, among other youth ministries around the world. God bless you as you give, and thank you for the good question.
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Thanks for the question,
Gary Thomas Panell
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