Biblical Principles Concerning Contributions to the Church
TO WHOM DO WE GIVE?
When the Christian gives, he may give to individuals or the church, but in the final analysis in doing so he is giving to God (see Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 6:2-4; 22:17-21; Acts 5:4; Romans 14:4-8; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Colossians 3:22-25).
WHO SHOULD GIVE?
Only those who have been united with Christ and His church by personal faith in Jesus Christ should give to the people of God and the work of God. In the Bible, every command or exhortation to give is addressed to believers. Taking funds from unbelievers is prohibited (3 John 5; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
WHY SHOULD GOD’S PEOPLE GIVE? Giving is an obligation
In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Haggai 1:1-11; Malachi 3:7-12) and in the New Testament (Romans 12:13; Galatians 2:10; Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17), the people of God are commanded to give for certain needs. Failing to give for such causes when one is able is therefore an act of disobedience. Not all giving is required, however (see Leviticus 7:16; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15).
Giving is a privilege
The churches of Macedonia were models of generosity in giving, even though they were poor. They gladly gave out of gratitude toward God and love for their brethren (2 Corinthians 8 and 9; see especially 8:4,9). Paul reminds us of Jesus’ teaching that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
3. Giving is one dimension of our stewardship
Very often Jesus spoke of the stewardship of His people in terms of money (see Luke 16:1-13). Our faithfulness as stewards in this “little thing” of money has a bearing on what other (and greater) responsibilities we will be given (see Luke 16:9-12).
4. Giving is an act of worship
The Old Testament saints could only approach God in worship with a sacrifice, and this sacrifice was a contribution, whether whole or in part. In the New Testament, contributions were also described as sacrifices offered up in worship (see Hebrews 9:1-10; 10:1-25; 13:10-16). No offering is taken during the teaching hour. This is so that unbelievers will not feel obligated to give, or think that their giving would contribute to their salvation. Unbelievers do not need to give to God, but to receive the gift of salvation which He offers to them in Jesus Christ. The offering is taken during the worship time, after the Lord’s supper, to encourage the saints to give as an act of worship.
Jesus encouraged believers to give in order to “lay up treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21). Investing earthly money in the advancement of the kingdom of God is one way in which we can lay up spiritual treasure in heaven (Luke 16:1-13).
6. Giving is an act of self-sacrifice
All Christian service should be a sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). In giving, we should not seek man’s praise, but God’s (Matthew 6:2-4). We should not give with the hope of getting ahead in this life, but with the faith that God will reward us in heaven (Luke 14:12-14). We should not give under pressure, but willingly and cheerfully, with gratitude for God’s grace to us, according to our ability (2 Corinthians 8 and 9).
7. Giving is an expression of brotherly love
Giving is an expression of brotherly love and of Christian unity. The principle is set down in texts such as Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 3:11; Romans 12:13; James 2:15-17 and 1 John 3:15-18. The practice of this principle is seen in Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; 11:27-30; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Philippians 3:14-19.