About Jesus Steve Sweetman
the case, I see this as another example of
New Testament thinking concerning giving of money.
The idea is to “set aside some money in relation to your
income”. There’s no mention of any certain percentage here.
That’s up to the individual doing the giving.
This may appear to be percentage based giving to some people, but
I don’t think that’s Paul’s
intention. Paul was simply
asking the Corinthians to do their best to give according to how much
money they made. The
percentage would differ from person to person.
see Paul’s request for help as being voluntary and Holy Spirit led, as
seems to be the practice of first generation Christians.
Jesus has freely given to us and He wants us to freely give to
others, especially to those
in need. Paul makes this
clear in 2 Cor. 9:7 when he said, “each man should give what he has
decided in his heart to give…”
It is interesting to me to note that more New Testament verses are devoted to Paul’s special fund raiser for the poor than any other circumstance concerning money. If you study most church’s spending habits, helping the poor is near the bottom of the list of expenditures. This isn’t New Testament thinking.
the words Paul uses here about these people. They were going through
“severe trials”, and living
in “extreme poverty”, yet they gave with “overflowing joy” and
let’s be clear. When I say
that Christians aren’t obligated to tithe, and shouldn’t give
“under compulsion, I’m not
saying they shouldn’t give. Our
whole life should be one of freely giving because Jesus has freely given
to us, and money certainly isn’t the only aspect of giving.
the poor widow who gave her last penny at the
people, including Christians, say “I’m too poor to give. I
need to be given to”. This
is the welfare mentality that in the long run keeps poor people poor.
This is not New Testament thinking.
Poverty is no excuse not to give. If you have absolutely no money
to give, you could be like John in Acts 3:6 who said, “silver and gold
I do not have, but what I have I give you…”.
If you’re that poor, I’m sure you have something else that
you can give. Everybody
has something they can give.
Let’s look closer at 2
Cor. 8 where Paul speaks of
the Macedonian Christians. I’ve
already pointed out that they gave with “rich generosity and
overflowing joy from their extreme poverty”.
In 2 Cor.8:3 we see that
the Macedonians gave “beyond their ability to give”, much like the
poor widow in Luke 21. Paul
used this sacrificial giving as an example for others to follow.
Verse 4 says that “they
urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in the service of
the saints”. These people
viewed giving as a “privilege” and they “urgently pleaded” with
Paul to give. They
couldn’t give fast enough, and they certainly didn’t need to hear a
long winded tithing sermon to motivate them.
Verse 5 tells us that the
Macedonians “first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us…”.
That’s the key. You
give yourself to Jesus first and He inspires you to give to others.
You might say that to the degree you’ve given yourself to Jesus
will be the degree in which you give to others.
So really, your generosity is more of a reflection on your
commitment to Jesus than it is a
reflection on your commitment to the church group you’re associated
with. This is what all
church leaders need to learn. Helping
people give more of their lives to Jesus reaps better results than
twisting their arms to tithe.
In verse 7
Paul encourages the Corinthians to excel in the “grace of
giving”. Giving is an act
of grace, and it often takes God’s grace to help us give as we should.
In verse 12 Paul says,
“for if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to
what one has, not according to what he does not have”.
This makes it clear. Giving
is a matter of a willing heart which places the emphasis on our
motivation, not on the
amount we give or don’t give.
From this passage we
learn that New Testament thinking concerning the giving of money is that
poverty is no excuse not to give. Giving
is an act of grace and often takes God’s grace to help us give.
We give because we’ve first given our lives to Jesus and we
shouldn’t feel bad when we can’t
give as much as we’d like, and we shouldn’t make others feel
bad when they can’t give as much as they’d like.