Under the Old Testament economy, believers were to tithe, which is to give one-tenth of all produce or earnings. The commandment was given. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).
In the New Testament era, there is no fixed percentage required to support the work of ministry. Consider then, twenty-four New Testament principles of giving on the basis of grace.
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35, English Standard Version).
Principles of Grace Giving: 2 Corinthians 8–9
Only Christians have a right to give to the work of the ministry.
- “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:1).
Giving is to be according to grace, and apart from coercion.
- “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Cor. 8:3).
Before giving of money, the heart should be given to God.
- “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Cor. 8:5).
Gracious giving encourages others.
- “Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also” (2 Cor. 8:6).
One area of Christian grace enhances another.
- “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also” (2 Cor. 8:7).
The giving of financial resources is a great indication of the true status of the heart.
- “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love” (2 Cor. 8:8).
Christ has set the best example of giving.
- “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
Grace giving is planned as well as spontaneous.There is a settled commitment to make giving a part of one’s Christian ethics.
- “And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have” (2 Cor. 8:10).
Giving is to be based upon financial reality. In the Old Testament economy giving was a fixed portion of one’s income. In the New Testament the principle is not as rigid.
- “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Cor. 8:12).
God’s people are not to exploit one another.
- “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:” (2 Cor. 8:13).
God and God’s people will honor and remember those who honor and remember others in time of need.
- “But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:” (2 Cor. 8:14).
The New Testament saints are not to be overshadowed by the Old Testament believers.
- “As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack” (2 Cor. 8:15).
The guidelines for grace giving are reasonable, being rooted in love and concern.
- “But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you” (2 Cor. 8:16).
All moneys given to the work of the Lord should be accounted for.
- “And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; 19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: 20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:” (2 Cor. 8:18).
Christians should be concerned what God and man says about their financial dealings.
- “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. 23 Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf” (2 Cor. 8:21-24).
Excessive pleas for money based on guilt, manipulation, or gimmickry, is beneath the dignity of a Christian, and is a poor reflection of faith and trust in God’s people to do right in this area.
- “For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: 2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Cor. 9:1).
God does hold His people accountable for what they do with the resources entrusted to them. While Paul commends the Christians at Corinth, he also holds them accountable.
- “Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:” (2 Cor. 9:3).
There is shame when God’s people give large sums of money to matters that do not promote the kingdom of God, and the salvation of souls.
- “Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness” (2 Cor. 9:4-5).
There is a spiritual principle of sowing and reaping.
- “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6).
The spirit in which money is given to the work of the ministry is just as important as how much is given.
- “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
Those who put the interest of God’s work first will not lack funds.
- “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever” (2 Cor. 9:8).
One reason why God gives us resources is so that we can give to others.
- “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:11).
Grace elicits a spirit of thanksgiving to God and appreciation.
- “For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;” (2 Cor. 9:12).
Grace giving induces prayer.
- “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” (2 Cor. 9:14).
Let these principles of grace giving prevail in the Church, and there will never be a lack of resources for God’s work.