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Tithing Versus New Covenant Giving
3John 1:2: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
Many professing Christians fail to recognize that this passage reflects God’s will for their lives. God desires prosperity and health for His children. "Prosperity" will be the primary consideration in this hub; however, please note that both prosperity and health are related to "even as thy soul prospereth."
There are actually Christians who think that it's wrong to pray for and expect prosperity, yet they would like to have carloads of money. Some even go to the extent of severely criticizing those who seem to be "specially favored." But God has no favorites. Prosperity is available for saint and sinner alike. But for the Christian who desires to truly live with and for God, the principles of prosperity must be viewed in a spiritual light. There are many Christians failing to reap God’s abundance because they lack proper understanding of the spiritual nature of prosperity. First we must realize that God’s will for His children is to always have all sufficiency in all things:
- 2Corinthians 9:8: "And God is able [and willing] to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:"
- Psalms 37:25: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."
- Philippians 4:19: "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Tithing falls under the cause-and-effect laws of the Old Covenant. Financial prosperity for God's people in the Old Testament hinged upon tithing. Tithing was established as God’s basic law of prosperity for the Children of Israel and has been practiced by many religious people ever since. Even successful unbelievers recognize giving as a vital principle of prosperity. However, we're not going to spend much time in this hub on laws, principles, tithing and whatnot, because they all fall under the terms of the Old Covenant and have been superseded by the terms of a new and far more glorious covenant.
Ours is an Age of Grace, and we as born-again believers are not under law but grace. For believers of The Gospel, giving of our resources (time, labor, finances or whatever) is a manifestation of being fully persuaded that God by grace, through Christ, is our sole source of supply and prosperity. For many people, the spiritual laws that govern giving and receiving remain a great mystery and paradox: that you can give something away and be richer after you give than before. However, for the Christian who is familiar with the terms of the New Covenant (the terms of God's grace in Christ), the gospel becomes the driving force behind all giving.
- 2Corinthians 9:7 (BBE): "Let every man do after the purpose of his heart; not giving with grief, or by force: for God takes pleasure in a ready giver."
Both what to give and how much to give are covered under "every man after the purpose of his heart." This is a tremendous truth regarding New Covenant giving. And hey, if you purpose giving a dime on every dollar then by all means please do so. However, this verse speaks in terms of giving from the heart, not from the calculator. If the heart is wrong the giving will be wrong. Right giving requires first having a right heart. You can't fix the heart by fixing the giving; you must fix the heart and the right giving will follow. And the heart is not just some nebulous term for having the right feelings or a strong will power; it is the innermost place of our mind, our inner thoughts, that part of our mindset where our true beliefs reside. A right heart requires right doctrine. Managing and maintaining the heart is that one thing we have been given by God to do. The people who do so are referred to as "the ready givers," and those who God "takes pleasure in." As a matter of fact, "it is impossible to please God without faith [believing what He says]" (Hebrews 11:6). Managing and maintaining the heart is what "renew your mind" and "put on the armor of God" are all about.
- Proverbs 23:7a: "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."
And we see "renewed mind" as being key for becoming a "ready giver" and one in whom "God takes pleasure in" as we continue reading from 2 Corinthians Chapter 9:
- 2Corinthians 9:12-15: "12 For the administration of this service (the service of giving) not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment (proof) of this ministration (the service of giving) they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
It is clear from these verses that the "giving" of these saints was a product of being in subjection to the gospel of Christ. 1) They were thankful to God and therefore gave abundantly. 2) The grace of God was manifested from the inside out. 3) Their gospel-produced actions spoke loader than any words ever could have. This is why the gospel of Christ, the grace of God, is referred to here as "the unspeakable gift" - it is the gift that keeps on giving. Their giving was a matter of grace upon grace... grace flowing from God... into the givers... outward from the givers to the other saints (Christians). This giving of the Corinthian saints, having been a genuine gospel-produced happening, is why Paul wrote "thanks be to God" and not "thanks be to the self-disciplined religious legalistic givers." The Apostle Paul also said elsewhere, "I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1Corinthians 15:10).
Sharing with others in the body of Christ, be it your time, your talents, your money or whatever, gives wings to the life we have in Christ. Life will never be dull for you if the gospel of Christ is producing giving to others, for it is a literal investment in your spiritual and material prosperity. Gospel minded giving greases the pipeline for financial prosperity and every other physical and material blessing. This does not mean, however, that we can buy our way into prosperity or other material blessings (or even the prized heavenly treasures); we are simply dedicating and devoting the coin of our hearts to our Creator when we believe the gospel of Christ. We simply accept God's grace in Christ (we believe God) and thereby “walk by faith, not by sight.”
The material and spiritual realms are so closely aligned that everyone who has experienced gospel-produced-giving has grown in the blessed grace of giving. Giving from the grace of God that we build in our hearts (with gospel realities) multiplies God’s inestimable gifts of supply to others and to ourselves. Giving is simply one of many practical ways whereby we have opportunity to be seeking God first, to be working with Him as our partner, to receive prosperity according to His love and riches in glory.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20: "... Know ye not that ... ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price."
When we allow anyone or anything to get between us and God, such as not considering our material possessions as belonging to God, we are simply defeating ourselves.
There are so many areas that Christians purpose in their hearts to give, but here are the two prime areas of concern for true members of the Body of Christ:
1) Saints to Saints (believers giving to believers):
- Romans 12:13: "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality."
- Acts 2:42-47: "42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine [which was The Gospel] and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear [awe, reverence, respect for the things of God] came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions [plural - they sold what was extra, their plurality] and goods [again, they sold their excess, not what they needed], and parted them to all men, as every man had need [What sense would it have made for them to sell what they themselves needed? None. They didn't sell what they themselves needed. They were not doormats for Jesus. God willed prosperity for them all.]. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
- Acts 4:34, 35: "34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands [plural] or houses [plural] sold them [they sold their excess], and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."
- Romans 15:25, 26: "25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."
2) "Tribute Money" (financial support for ministers of Christ, God's ministers, those who teach you and others THE Gospel (see the hub The Genuine Gospel - Recognizing the Counterfeits):
1Corinthians 9:14: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
- Romans 13:6: "For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing." [Romans 13 deals with the governing structures of the body of Christ, not the systems of the world as many erroneously teach].
1Timothy 5:17, 18 - God's Word Translation (GWT): "17 Give double honor to spiritual leaders who handle their duties well. This is especially true if they work hard at teaching the word of God. 18 After all, Scripture says, "Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing grain," and "The worker deserves his pay."
If you believe what our heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have done for you and others you will give, and you will give from a heart of love. It is the proper heart (the proper mindset) regarding God's love for yourself and others that brings on giving in genuine and eternally profitable ways. And it's not only about giving money. Some people are called to serve in that way, but others are not. You may be "purposing in your heart" to cut someone's grass or sing them a song. Whatever the case, do it because you want to, not because you have to. And if you don't have a heart for giving, it might be best to just forget about giving for now and invest your efforts and resources into getting the gospel into your heart, into believing God. If we want to believe God in such a way as to produce a giving heart we must look to His Word about what He has made us to be in Christ, what has been accomplished for us by Jesus, who and what we are in Christ, in God's eyes, our true identity. Right believing comes from hearing God's message concerning His only begotten Son, including all that He has made His children to be in Christ.
Christian giving is to be a matter of "overflowing." God works in us to give out of our plurality (our excess) not out of our need or lack. He truly does desire for us to prosper and be in health, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." - 3 John 1:2