A Study on Charity and Contribution
OFTEN, “giving” is not thought of with joy, but with reluctance and fear. Each of us has experienced the empty promises of the world, but in the Kingdom of God we need to learn that God has made all things new. Our Father is faithful, and no matter how many promises He has given us they are all "yes" in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). He promises that if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness then all the things we need will be given us as well (Matthew 6:33). As dearly loved children then we are called to learn to trust our Father and to trust His promises. He calls us to give with faith. To give, understanding that He is the supplier of all our needs and He will never let us down. If we hold back we are saying God hasn’t taken care of us and we are in need. In the world you don't usually give without knowing what you're going to get as well. You want to know what’s in it for you.
Jesus understood this worldly mentality, which is why he told His disciples in Matthew 19:24-30:
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Everything is promised and guaranteed to the person who gives everything up for Jesus! Before we get into what “giving” is all about, let's go to the book of Daniel to examine the kind of attitude you need to have to joyfully give:
Daniel 3:16-19 teaches about a situation in some disciple’s lives that proves the type of "working conviction" that is the cornerstone of joyful giving:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual…
In verse 18 we see the kind of faith that we can have as children of God. These men were so sure of God's promises and of their destiny that they were able to overcome any fear or doubt that may have hindered them from doing God's will. Notice that our Father did not let them down (read the rest of the verses to see what happened)!
This kind of tust, one that confides in the eternal God, is what makes possible joyful giving.
We have to be careful, however, not to adopt a kind of mentality that would try to negotiate with God. If someone would say, “I have given up everything to follow you, and I still haven’t received what I want!” Do you think this person has really given up everything? You cannot negotiate or barter with God, although He is the one who challenges us in so many ways to entrust our material lives to Him. Check out these two verses:
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
God actually tests us so that we will grow in our trust in Him! The challenge we receive from these two verses is to step out of what we can see, measure and judge, and to let God lead us into the territory He desires for us. And He's not asking us or requiring us to accept mediocre or run-of-the-mill lives in exchange for spiritual, unseen blessings. Jesus spoke of measurable, countable, perceivable blessings, and of course, also of the spiritual kind. But let's talk about the material blessings for the moment.
First, let me assure you I'm not preaching a Gospel of prosperity here: "give to God to get rich" or something like that. But I want you to experience true material and spiritual blessing that comes as a result of building intimacy with God when you walk by faith and not by sight.
Examine Matthew 7:8-11
8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
It is up to us to ask, seek, and knock. The catch here is what we're looking to find, receive and have. God is faithful, He will give you bread even if you're asking or looking for stones. And if you ask with wrong motives, remember:
James 1:5-8; 4:2-3:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
God gives us a clear goal for all our seeking, asking and knocking efforts. He says in Matthew 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Jesus came with an attitude of “giving”, not “getting”, even unto death (Phil 2:1-16)! He calls us to give whatever we have, trusting in Him to provide for us. "For he who gathered little did not have to little, and he who gathered much didn't have to much." (Exodus 16:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 8:15)
Who's measuring stick are you living up to? What is it that you seek to find and have for yourself? Here are a couple of examples of what joyful giving is not:
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways.
6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways.
8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD.
9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.
13 "You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?'
14 "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?
15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"
16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
17 "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.
18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
Now we will examine from other passages of Scripture what godly giving is all about. Please do this part for homework.
On Contribution & Charity
1. The Commands and Principles Behind Good and Holy Giving
- 1 Corinthians 9:6-18 One of the principal uses of our regular contribution
i. Verse 6: Ministers have the right to refrain from working at a secular job.
ii. Verse 7: Ministers should never have to serve at their own expense.
iii. Verses 8-9: Even the Law of Moses taught these principles.
iv. Verse 10: Those who preach should preach in hope of making a living from those whom they are teaching.
v. Verse 11: Sowing spiritual things give one the right to reap your physical things.
vi. Verse 12: Preacher and teacher support is a right to be used “over” people that are taught.
vii. Verse 13: The Levite priests ate from what was sacrificed by the people at the altar.
viii. Verse 14: The Lord directed that those who preach the Gospel should get their living from the Gospel ð 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 – how Paul earned his keep – he pulled out all the stops.
ix. Verses 15-17: Paul didn’t want the unspiritual of Corinth to say he was preaching the Gospel for money.
- Galatians 6:2-10 (context: individual and collective responsibility to those who instruct)
i. Verse 2: Make sure we are bearing and helping with one another’s burdens. We will see that this is primarily speaking of a teacher of spiritual things from the context (verse 8). A way to ensure we can help is to work and provide for ourselves so we can provide for others (Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thess. 4:11,12)!
ii. Verse 3-5: Every member of the church should bear his own load and not be a burden to the Church, so the church can provide for those who are dedicating their loves to instruct the church and the lost the Gospel.
iii. Verse 6: Those who are taught are to share all good things with their teachers in the Gospel.
iv. Verses 7-8: If you spend your money on spiritual things (supporting the teachers of the truth), you will reap eternal life (Matthew 6:21).
v. Verses 9-10: Therefore, never get tired of supporting those who are teaching us in the household of the faith.
- 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 Another purpose of the collection is for other Christians who are in need (Acts 11:27-30, a famine prophesied by Agabus, then in Romans 15:33, Paul is bringing a gift to those who need it.).
i. Verse 1: The same thing was to be done from congregation to congregation.
ii. Verse 2: Since the Church was already coming together on the first day of the week, it was also a convenient time to take up collections on a weekly basis.
iii. Verse 3: Then the already-collected gift could be used without delay to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
- Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thess. 4:11, 12 Each person is to work with their own hands in order not only to provide for himself, but also to share with those in need.
- 2 Corinthians 8:6-15,24 Excel in everything!
i. Verse 6: A preacher, Titus, was used to remind the Corinthians of their need to give their previously-promised offering.
ii. Verse 7: The apostle encouraged the Corinthian church to “see to it” that they “abounded in this gracious work”.
iii. Verse 8: We actually “prove the sincerity” of our love by how much we give (Luke 21:1-4 The widow’s offering).
iv. Verse 9: Christ left us an example of what it means to give.
v. Verse 10: They themselves had first stated their desire to give a special contribution.
vi. Verse 11: We are to successfully complete our giving “that which we have committed to give” according to what we have (which can be saved as we go – 1 Corinthians 16:2).
vii. Verses 13-15: There should always be equality among Christians in the giving, use and enjoyment of physical blessings.
viii. Verse 15: Because we are sharing.
ix. Verse 24: We are to “openly”, in front of the Church, “show them the proof of your love”, and also because of the nice thing that others have said – about you and your proposed gift.
- 2 Corinthians 9:1-13
i. Verses 1-4: Paul had bragged about the Corinthian Church and their pledges to give, and sent ahead messengers to remind them of what they had said so that his boasting about them would not be empty (in vain).
ii. Verse 2: Their enthusiasm stirred most of the others to action – it’s contagious!
iii. Verse 4: Both the Church and you should be put to shame if you are found “unprepared” and not ready for a contribution that you pledged for and know was coming up.
iv. Verse 5: It is only right and biblical to remind people of the “previously promised” contribution that they have pledged, making sure that it is indeed “bountiful” and “not affected by covetousness”. What does it mean if it could have been ready and isn’t? Laziness and greediness!
v. Verse 6: You only get from the Lord what you put out! Nothing more! (You reap what you sow!)
vi. Verse 7: We are not to complain about what we give, or give because others have forced us to, for God loves a cheerful giver!
vii. Verse 8: When your heart is right, God is always able to make sure you have an abundance to complete every good work, including giving!
- Philippians 1:5, 4:14-19 The Philippian Church shared in supporting the preaching of the Gospel as soon as they were converted! We must also follow in this.
i. Verse 16: They sent gifts more than once for the preaching of the Gospel.
ii. Verse 17: when we give, it actually makes a “profit” that “increases/credits to your account” in heaven.
iii. Verse 18: They gave so much that Paul had abundance and was amply supplied.
iv. Verse 18: Our contributions, when given properly, are a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice that really pleases God in Heaven.
v. Verse 19: When we give out of a pure heart, God will supply all our needs.
vi. 4:14-19: They were partners in persecution and sharing financial burdens.
2. What Happens When We Don’t Give Properly or Lie About It?
- Philippians 4:17; 1:5
i. Verse 15: There is no sharing in the preaching of the Gospel.
ii. Verse 4:17: There is no profit credited to your account in Heaven.
iii. Verse 18: God is not pleased or worshipped, but is given a smelly sacrifice.
iv. Verse 19: God will not supply all your needs.
- 2 Corinthians 8:8,24 You will be lacking the necessary “proof” of the sincerity of your love for Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 You will definitely not be someone whom God loves, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- Galatians 6:7-8 You will only reap corruption (rotting or decay) and not eternal life!
- Acts 5:1-11 In Chapter 2, believers were selling everything and had everything in common.
i. Verses 1-2: A man and wife conspired to not keep their pledge to the Lord, but rather decided to hold back some of the contribution which they had pledged for themselves for other things that they may have felt were more important.
ii. Verse 3: The apostle Peter confronted the man and let him know that Satan had filled his heart and that he was actually lying to the Holy Spirit and wasn’t fooling anyone but himself.
iii. Verse 4: All that we have is our own to give or keep, but we should never lie about how much we are giving!
iv. Verse 4: When the man and his woman decided to do this, he wasn’t just lying to men in that decision, he was lying to God!
v. Verses 5-6: Ananias was struck dead just for holding back on some of his previously promised contribution.
vi. Verses 7-8: The apostle Peter gave Ananias’ wife, Sapphira, an opportunity to confess her conspiracy with her husband, but instead, she “put the Spirit of the Lord to the test” and lied.
vii. Verses 9-11: After offering the same lie as her husband (which was really just holding back some details), she too was struck down dead and buried!
- How Should We Give?
- Believing that God is able to bless us even more abundantly.
i. Malachi 3:10 God will open up the floodgates/windows of Heaven!
ii. 2 Corinthians 9:7 Without holding back or under compulsion. (In everything!)
iii. 2 Corinthians 8:12 Compulsion is not biblical giving!
iv. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 Produced by faith, a labor by love, and endurance inspired by hope.
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 So that the grace of God might be seen trough our giving. They gave by the grace of God, because they gave themselves to the Lord.
- 2 Corinthians 9:4 So that no one needs to be ashamed by the amount of the contribution.
- What Does It Take to Give Liberally to God?
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
i. Verse 1: It takes the grace of God and a knowledge of it.
ii. Verse 2: They had an “abundance of joy” and a “wealth of liberality” in the midst of a “great ordeal of affliction” and “deep poverty”.
iii. Verse 3: God’s grace was seen in that once the Macedonians had determined to give to God, God then gave them grace to give “beyond their ability”, and that, “of their own accord”. No one had to push them!
iv. Verse 4: These poor Christians begged very much for what they believed was a favor in supporting the preaching of the Gospel – a privilege!
v. Verse 5: The only thing that makes it possible for anyone to give beyond their human ability is that if they “first gave themselves to the Lord” and to other Christians (“us”) by the will of God. Therefore, if we are not even giving up to the amount that we could humanly afford, it is difficult to claim that we first gave ourselves to the Lord.
- Luke 6:38 It takes a belief that God will give to us until there is no more room to store all the blessings (be stingy to God … guess what??).
- Matthew 6:24-34
i. It takes a willingness to seek God and His Kingdom first, and believe that all things we need for life will be added on to us
ii. Verse 24: you can’t serve both God and money!
iii. Verses 27 and 34 – if we do this, we will hold back!
- Luke 12:13-21 It takes an understanding that our soul may be required of us at any moment and that we should not therefore be laying up for ourselves treasures on earth!
Key Verses: 1 Corinthians 9:14, 2 Corinthians 8:3-5, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Galatians 6:6-8