The subject of “Giving” can be a controversial one at times and there is a lot of confusion and imbalanced teaching about it. The goal of this lesson is to give you a balanced understanding of what God’s Word says about it. Matthew 6:19-21 says “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: (20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Firstly, let it be understood that as Christians our number one priority is the Kingdom of God, and we should be focusing on earning heavenly rewards NOT earthly ones. This is so important in today’s world – because many people, even Christians, would try to persuade you that God is interested in making you very wealthy, or having a nice car and having a great life NOW – some will even go so far as to imply that you are not living under the blessing of God if you are poor or are struggling to make ends meet. Others are anxiously spending all their time working so hard to have food to eat, and to have clothes to wear. They focus so much on the tangible things of life that they have no energy, time, or money to give to the Lord. This is not good! Our first focus needs to be on the Lord! “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mat 6:25-34).
The Word of God is not saying that we should not CARE about eating and having clothes, but He is saying that we should not WORRY and stress out about these things. If we seek First the King of God, and HIS righteousness than He will look after the needs that we have.
The Foundation for Giving
Giving is not just having to do with your money or your substance, but also has other implications. In II Corinthians 8 the Apostle Paul was lauding the Macedonian churches for the way they had financially supported him during a time of great need (for him AND them). In the same exultation the Apostle Paul gives us the proper order of our giving. II Corinthians 8:5 “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.” This is God’s order in Giving.
1. Give yourself to the Lord.
These disciples of Paul firstly gave THEMSELVES unto God. This is the first step to giving. God does not receive your offering if you have not given yourself to Him. This certainly is speaking of a salvation, born-again experience, but it also goes above and beyond that. It could also be speaking about being wholehearted towards God, your devotion to Him, His ways, and towards His call, will, and purposes for your life. Many people think that their giving will excuse or cover up their sinful lifestyles. Many people like this will come to church, but are not really devoted to the Lord – they are hypocrites – and they are hoping that God will see how much money they have put into the offering plate and NOT see all the wicked things they are doing. We must have God’s order in our giving.
2. Give yourself to the Church or the Ministry God has put you under.
These Christians willfully put themselves under the authority of the Apostle Paul. He was their spiritual father, but today many people are rebelling against their fathers. Rebellion is a very big issue in our world today. The spirit of the world is rebellious, stubborn, and independent, demands equal rights, and has no respect for authority. This spirit is pervading our society, and is even in the church. I know of countless men who have risen up in rebellion against their Pastor, split the church, and went and began their own church in another place. This is the spirit of Satan – this is exactly what he did in heaven (Isa 14:11-14). God does not accept the offering of a person who is living in rebellion, or from a person who is always wandering from church to church, but never placing themselves under the authority of anyone. We need men and women of higher spiritual maturity and authority to speak into our lives, and even correct us when we are straying.
3. Give of your increase.
Now that we have dealt with the other two aspects of giving we can deal with the issues of money and our substance. The Lord gives us two different categories of giving our substance or our wealth:
A) The Tithe – The word “tithe” simply means ten percent. In the O.T. the Israelites were required to give ten percent of all their increase to the Levites and Priests. These tithes were used by the Levites and Priests for their support and that of their families. They depended on the tithes because the priesthood was their full-time “job”. The tithe was not only money, but it also consisted of fruits, vegetables, cattle, and many other things. In the New Testament we use the tithe as the “basis” for our giving, since the Father of our faith – Abraham – paid tithes, even before the enactment of the tithe into “law” (Gen 14:20). The tithe is something that every Christian needs to give, and it is recommended that it be given to the local church where they are attending. In our modern society, most people are paid “wages” in the local currency – so the tithe should be 10% of your “net wages”. It is best if you pay your tithe as soon as you can once you receive your wages – whether you receive them weekly, or monthly. In some countries they are still measuring their “profit” by grain, wheat, cows, or chickens – in that society it is acceptable to give those things to the church for the support of the ministry, but it may be more convenient for the ministry if one was to bring the monetary equivalency to the church instead.
Many people have all kinds of financial problems and other difficulties in their lives. When people talk to me about their problems – one of the first things I want to know is “are you tithing”? Are you giving your 10%? – Because the Bible gives us some pretty powerful statements about giving.
Mal 3:8-11 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 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. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
Firstly, the Lord, through His Prophet, tells us that we are actually stealing from Him by not paying our tithes – that is quite powerful! How could you possibly have God’s blessing on your life if you are stealing from Him? He says “you are cursed with a curse”! Now I have been in countries where there is a lot of witchcraft going on, and people will curse each other – but this is a curse – a form of witchcraft – that you bring on yourself – simply by not giving God His 10%. And people wonder why they never have enough money for the things that they need – they are living under a curse. Then the Lord encourages us to bring in our tithes and our offerings. The Lord says to “test me in this” – the Lord does not encourage us to test Him in very many cases – but He is challenging us here to Test Him in our tithes and offerings.
And what does the Lord say He will do for us if we give our tithe?
i. He says to them “see if I will open the windows of heavens for you, and pour out a blessing, that you won’t even be able to receive all of it”. Wow! that is quite a promise from the Lord. Opening the windows of heaven can speak of the rain that a person needs for their crops to grow, but it can also speak to us of many other blessings that the Lord wants to give to us as we walk in obedience. It speaks of an abundance of provision in our lives – such as food, finances, and other things. It can also speak of spiritual blessings – Such as – hearing the Lord speak to us; or having him Open up our understanding of His Word in a new way; or sensing His presence in our lives in a more pronounced way. No matter what the blessings are – the Lord wants us to test Him and see if we will not be the recipient of these blessings.
ii. He also says that he will “Rebuke the Devourer for your sakes”. Many people don’t really understand what this is saying. When we do not live according to the Lord’s ways, when we are disobedient, or when we don’t have God’s order of giving in its proper place – the Devourer (Satan) has a right to “eat up” and devour our substance. This is part of the curse that was spoken of. This is the reason why people are always in debt, and never have enough money for anything. I believe that poverty is often a curse on people because they do not give – and the only way out of that poverty is to give and tithe so the Lord can rebuke the Devourer. Some people make a lot of money, and yet they are still always complaining that they do not have enough. Now, certainly there is an aspect of wisdom in our spending decisions, and budgeting – BUT the principle thing here is that they are not tithing. Therefore, the Devourer has a right to siphon, steal, and destroy everything that they make.
Many people like to make excuses for not tithing. One of the major excuses that people use is that they don’t have enough money to tithe. I can understand this thought, because when the finances are very tight you often don’t think it is possible to “spare” 10%. However, the Lord wants us to trust Him with our money – if we will give our 10% to the Lord FIRST – you will find that the Lord always seems to have a way to make all the other ends meet together. The Apostle Paul tells us of a church in Macedonia that gave to His ministry even out of “deep poverty” (2 Cor. 8:2). You see not having enough money is not a good excuse to NOT tithe – remember now, that it is all God’s money. He is the one who has provided that financial provision for you in the first place. What we do with our money is very revealing of our character – it shows where our heart is, what we really love, and in whom (or what) we trust. By giving our tithe even when the money is tight we are telling God – “I trust in you Lord, I trust You with my money, and I trust that You will be my provider”.
I have seen these principles to be true in my life and I can personally testify that God’s ways are right! When I was not walking with the Lord I was in debt, and could not make enough money to pay all my bills on time. I was in financial shambles – the Devourer was literally devouring everything that I made, and I had a good paying job. When I began to give the Lord His 10% of my paychecks – I began to see Him do wonders and miracles – Not only in my finances, but also in many other areas of my life. Within two to three years I was completely debt free, and in Bible School preparing for the ministry. Since that time I have seen the Lord provide for everything that I have needed – even to the point that I am now living in Africa – relying solely upon the support of churches. Test the Lord in this area – just as I have done. He will honor His Word!
Let us be reminded that God is the owner of all the wealth and all the substance and minerals (gold, silver, precious stones) of the earth. He does not NEED our money, but He does demand that we give Him 10% of what He has entrusted to us. He allows us to use 90% of it – He is not asking for very much. The work of God and the spreading of the Gospel depend on people who will pay their portion. If every Christian would tithe like they should, there would not be any lack for the work of God in the nations – we would not have all the problems of financial shortages that are on the mission fields today.
B) Offerings. Offerings are different from the tithe. The tithe is a requirement for us as obedient Christians who walk in the steps of faithful Abraham, but an offering is voluntary, in one sense. In another sense we are required to give offerings, but the Lord does not specify how much and leaves it up to us to decide with our wisdom and as the Holy Spirit leads us –as to the amount of the gift. The Bible does tell us that when we come to the house of the Lord, to appear before Him, we should not come empty-handed (Deut 16:16). The amount of our offerings should be determined by our financial situation, and our zeal for the Lord. An offering is not only money, but can also be our time, our resources, our food, or any number of things. An offering is a Gift that goes above and beyond the tithe. This Gift could be given and designated to a specific need. The giver of the gift has control over where the offering is given, whereby a tithe cannot be directed by the giver. Perhaps there is someone who is poor and has a specific need – an offering would be something that you give to help meet that specific need. Perhaps there is a special fund for building the church building that is an appropriate time to give an offering.
The Promises of Multiplication
Because of man’s tendency to doubt and to make excuses the Lord put many promises in His Word concerning multiplication to the one who gives. The promises were given as encouragement to those who don’t have a lot to give…and money is tight – and they may be concerned that they don’t have enough. The Lord wants us to be encouraged that He will look after all of our needs, if we will be faithful to give to the Lord.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
The Lord is going to give back to us according to the measure that we have given – but it will be multiplied above and beyond. The Word of God re-emphasizes the point in 2 Cor 9:6 where the Apostle Paul writes
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully”.
He is likening our giving to the farmer who sows seeds. You always reap more than what you sow (one seed often results in a multitude of fruit and seeds) BUT you always reap in proportion to what you have planted. If you only plant a few seeds – you will only get a few trees. Even though there is multiplication you still will only reap in the proportion that you have sown. This is an encouragement to give as much as we can, but it was not meant to be a promise of abundant riches and great wealth. God gives and blesses the giver to encourage Him to keep giving out to the Lord’s work.
Our Motive for Giving!
Our motivation for giving should be – obedience, devotion to the Lord, and a desire to see the furtherance of His kingdom. It is a wrong motive to give if you are giving so that you will be rich. The majority of the people in this world who tithe and give are not abundantly wealthy. However, they always have what they need, and often above and beyond. It is a false teaching that God wants to make us overly rich with earthly goods – this may be true for some people, but it is not true for everyone. God is not a lottery system – or a “Get rich quick scheme” or a “pyramid scheme” – God is not interested in making you overly rich.
There is a wrong mentality in the world today of “give me give me”. Many people want a handout, and they want something for free, and this mentality often carries over into the church and in people’s attitude to giving to God. They give for the sole purpose that God is going to “Give Me” something greater in return. The Bible does say “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov 10:22). There are many great blessings in the Bible concerning wealth, blessings, and prosperity. These promises are always conditional. These blessings come on a life that is in total obedience and surrendered to the will of the Lord.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Jos 1:8).
Often times these promises are fulfilled after times of leanness and severe testing. Don’t be discouraged if you are living in obedience and are not experiencing the abundant blessings – the fulfillment comes to those who endure and don’t give up! The point I want you to understand is that these great blessings from the Lord always have conditions. It is a wrong motive to give with the attitude that God “has to give you something much greater than you have given.”
The Bible tells us that it is a greater blessing for us to “give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We want to allow the Lord to shape our thinking in this regard – we want to be givers, NOT receivers – and in the process the Lord will indeed give back to us and bless us – but this should NEVER be the motive for giving. God is interested in furthering His will on the earth, and furthering the work of His kingdom, His Great Commission. If we think that God exists to make our life comfortable and to make us wealthy than in reality what we are saying is that “I am God, and God is a tool for me to accomplish my plans”. Or we are saying that “Money is God and God is a tool for money to accomplish its plans.” You can see that these two statements are very wrong – in reality “God is God, and money and I exist and are tools for God to accomplish His plans”. I trust that you can see the difference.
The Bible says “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and [Money]”( Mat 6:24). Many Christians make the mistake of making money their goal and their god, and the sole reason for coming to church and giving is so that they can become rich, wealthy, and take care of their families. This is the wrong order – that person is worshipping the false-god of money.
The Lord loves conduits for His work – people whom He can use to cause His wealth to flow through. It is a good motive to give if you desire to further the work of His kingdom. The Lord knows that as he multiplies back to you, you will also continue to pour into His Work. He will bless those who have “Teflon coated” hands – and bypass those who have “sticky fingers” who are only interested in enriching themselves. This is the danger of an imbalanced prosperity message – it encourages men and women to be covetous, and to treat the Lord like a lottery system – “give so that I can get more”. If the Lord could trust us as channels of large sums of money – to pass through to His work – then He may use us in that way. However, many people would not be able to be used in that way, because they would want to keep the money for themselves. You see, not everyone is able to handle great wealth without being destroyed and corrupted by it. Therefore, it can be God’s mercy to keep someone from becoming overly wealthy or to have access to great amounts of money because of its power to destroy countless lives. Remember “Beware of Covetousness!” (Lk 12:15). “The Love of Money is the root of all evil!” (1 Tim 6:10).
Another good motive for our giving should be that we are storing up eternal rewards in heaven for what we give.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (Mat 6:19-20).
Many people are focusing on building their houses here on earth, but we should be more concerned about our house in heaven. Every kind word and every gift with a pure motive is sending up “spiritual building materials” for our eternal home (Jn 14:2, 3). We want to get a vision for heaven and begin storing up those kinds of riches – not the silver and gold here on earth that can be stolen. Our eternal treasures are a sure, risk-free investment. Let’s make sure we are giving our tithes and our offerings for the right reasons!
Our Attitude in Giving
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2Co 9:7).
Our attitude should be one of Joy and Cheerfulness – this is the attitude that pleases the Lord. We should not give out of compulsion, or because the preacher incessantly berated us to do so. We should not give out of guilt or shame – we should give out of a heart full of love for our Lord, for people, a desire to see His kingdom expanded, and with great joy. When you come to church determine in your heart what you are able to give and give it with a joyful heart. If you have already paid your tithe, and you don’t have a lot of money to feed your family – don’t let the preacher make you feel guilty about NOT giving enough with your offering. We also need to exercise some godly wisdom in our giving. The Lord may at some point ask you to give the last amount of cash in your pocket and trust Him for the needs of the family, but it doesn’t mean that you will always need to give your last cent. Many people fall into guilt and condemnation because of a covetous preacher who continues to ask for more money in the offering plate. Don’t be condemned by that – give your tithe, and then give your offerings according to what you have to give.
To end this lesson on giving, I want us to remember the little story of the woman with two mites:
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mar 12:41-44).
There was a man of God a number of years ago who had a vision of heaven. While he was walking down the streets and viewing the houses in heaven – he looked up and saw the largest most beautiful mansion in all of heaven. Wow! He thought, who does this house belong to? An angel answered him and said “this is the house of the woman who cast in her last two mites”. You see God often looks at things much differently than we do. This woman was not rich or wealthy in THIS life – but in eternity she is very rich. We want to be those people who give our tithes and offerings for the right reasons and begin the construction of our eternal house in heaven. Let us have this eternal vision in mind as we give and not focus on the temporary and tangible world that we are living in now.