Jesus loved to tell stories about people and money. Again, according to Jesus, giving isn’t an “unspiritual” subject, rather our spirituality is very strongly connected to our giving (Luke 16:10-13; Luke 12:13-21; Matthew 6:19-34). The apostle Paul also frequently addressed our attitudes towards monty and giving (1 Timothy 6:8, 17-19), and the early church set a wonderful example for us in generous living (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-37).
The Old Testament is similarly full of timeless financial wisdom with great relevance for us today, especially those of us who feel unable to give because we haven’t learned to manage our finances wisely (Deuteronomy 8:10-18; Proverbs 21:25-26, 22:7; Proverbs 22:26-27).
If we were to summarize the teaching of the Bible on giving we could identify some timeless principles that should characterize our practice of giving today. For example Christ followers should give:
IF WE WERE TO SUMMARIZE THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE ON GIVING WE COULD IDENTIFY SOME TIMELESS PRINCIPLES THAT SHOULD CHARACTERIZE OUR PRACTICE OF GIVING TODAY.
They know that God is the source and ultimate owner of all they have. They are so grateful for his provision that they give as a way of saying “Thank you!” (2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Proverbs 3:9-10)
They understand that Christ gave himself for us, and so they joyfully present all they are and have back to God as a “living sacrifice.” They learn to “give until it hurts” and then give a little more until it feels good! (Romans 12:1-2, 8; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9)
They try to give as high a percentage of their income as possible, recognizing that 100% of what they earn and have is a gift from God, and seeing the tithe (10%) as a long-established Biblical benchmark which may well be exceeded as they prosper. (Gen 14:18-20; Leviticus 27:30, 32; Malachi 3:8-10; Luke 14:33; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
As resources flow in, they offer the “first-fruits” back to God, desiring to honor God with a portion of all they earn. They don’t just give on occasional impulse, but instead give as a regular, planned part of their budgeting process. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Proverbs 3:9-10)
They are committed to a local church and support the church staff and ministries from which they derive benefit. (1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:13-14)
As they are able, they contribute to the cause of Christ at a community and global level with the possessions and money that God has entrusted to them. Inspired by both the example of Christ and the greatness of needs around them, they don’t hold back. (2 Corinthians 9:6-11)
They give their offering not just to an organization, but rather to God—and they give willingly, and not under compulsion, but with a spirit of joyful worship as their resources flow out to serve others. Knowing that God gives so extravagantly to them and will provide for them, they seek to follow God’s example and want to give willingly. (2 Corinthians 9:5-7)
Counting on God’s promise of provision, they anticipate seeing God work in their own lives—including financially—as they give. They see giving not as a “loss,” but rather as a “gain.” (Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6-14; Malachi 3:8-10)