The Basic Biblical Priorities Are Simple And Straightforward
Our God is a giving God. Giving is one of his attributes. Christians should take great joy in being able to reflect and share in God’s attributes through the act of giving. Should Christians exact a tenth of all their income to the local church? How are believers to gauge their giving? Both the Old and New Testament help us sort out and resolve the confusion many feel about giving. The basic biblical priorities are simple and straightforward. Giving comes first. The following six principles of giving teach us how to give:
1. Give Secretly
Giving is an intimate act between the giver and God. It is a practice that is privately guarded and secretly performed. Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Mt 6:1). We forfeit our reward with our Father in heaven should we openly practice and proudly announce our giving before men and women. The giver is accountable to God and to no one else—it is virtually no one else’s business. The giver should seek God’s responsiveness in obedience to the act of giving rather than people’s admiration in the hypocrisy of exalting oneself (Mt 6:2-4; Lk 18:9-14)).
2. Give Generously
How much should we give? We find two types of giving in the OT. The first type is tithing meaning one-tenth. The second type is the freewill offering, a gift that is over and above the tithe (Ex 36:3). In fact, in the OT we find several types of tithes—one for the alien, the orphan and the widow (Deut 14:29). Others were for Israel’s social and cultural needs as well as for the support of the government (1 Sam 8:11-18). Tithing of all crops and herds was required for the support of the Levites and priests (Lev 27:30-33).[i] The New Testament does not give emphasis to the importance of maintaining the Old Testament tithe practice.[ii] The model of giving today equates that of the OT freewill offering—a voluntary act by the individual rather than a mandated act by the law. Though the freewill offering was not a straightjacket approach to giving, no fixed amount or percentage of income, it was not without scriptural instruction (2 Cor 9:6). It went beyond the letter of the law to the practice of giving in the Spirit of Christ (2 Cor 3:6). Giving allows us a concrete demonstration of our faith in God under grace.
3. Give Purposely
A third principle of giving is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7a where Paul says, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind…” One with a made up mind has come to terms with a heart purposed for giving. This entails planning ahead by deliberately thinking through our giving in advance even before the act is carried out. Yet we ought not to forget that there exists an act of freewill giving that was experienced in the OT—giving that flows freely and spontaneously from a thankful heart. People gave of their time, talents, and finances, not out of a sense of duty or in anticipation of a promised blessing, but out of a grateful life given by a generous God (Ex 36; 2 Chr 35; Ezr 1:4).
4. Give Cheerfully
In the second half of 2 Corinthians 9:7b lies a fourth principle: “…not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving purposely guards the giver in being robbed of the joy of giving. A cheerful attitude before God is the goal of the giver. Anything less, grudgingly, forced or last-minute, dampens the state of cheerfulness. A planned timeframe that is reasonable and purposeful cause us to cultivate a spirit of gladness in our giving.
5. Give Sacrificially
The fifth principle is found in the story of the widow’s offering that amounted to all she had. Jesus used her example saying, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mk 12:41-44). There is a great difference between the contribution of the rich and the commitment to of this poor widow. The former cost them nothing in that it was of no great consequence to give what they didn’t need to exist and depend on God for. While the latter did not hold back all she had to survive on in the knowledge that God will ultimately take care of her every need. By faith we give sacrificially of what we have in order to fully depend upon God for our daily bread (Mt 6:8,11, 25-34; Phil 4:19). Why should the widow selfishly grip her last two copper coins in order to subsist rather than trust God with empty hands that he can fill it with her needs and thrive by daily depending on him? We also need to be mindful that Jesus gave himself as the prime example of giving, “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
6. Give Proportionately
The sixth and final principle reminds one to give in proportion to your prosperity. Paul wrote, “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn” (2 Cor 16:2). Consistent with the NT approach to giving, the apostle did not put forth a hard and fast rule on specific amounts or percentages from what one earned, but reminds believers that giving should be done in proportion to the extra income that God blesses one with (Deut 8:1; 1 Chr 29:1). We should not only give regularly, but also proportionately to the One who prospered us in the first place (1 Tim 6:17). Financial prosperity in our lives should not give us license to spend it as we choose. It is not our ticket to a self-indulgent lifestyle that embraces luxury nor is it a lax lifestyle that curbs our spending habits. Prosperity in one’s life means a greater opportunity for engaging in the godly attribute of giving. As God enriches our lives, we need to take inventory of his gracious blessing and reevaluate the portion we ought to return to him for the furtherance of his work in the kingdom.
In the practical sense, the OT tithe has been absorbed into the NT teaching on giving. It has not only paralleled the freewill offering practiced in the OT, but also exhorts us to give secretly, generously, purposefully, cheerfully, sacrificially, and proportionately on a regular basis with a thankful heart toward a giving God.
[i] Albert J. Johnson, A Christian’s Guide to Family Finances (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983), 43. According to Johnson, “The role played by tithes in supporting the nation and the needy has largely been taken over by the government.” The OT tithe, as we know it, has been replaced by government’s form of taxation. Taxes today are collected and apportioned for welfare, social security, arts and sciences, and other government expenditures.
[ii] Ibid., The few references to tithing address the abuse of the tithe (Mt 23:23; Lk 18:11-12). Hebrews 7:5-9 is the exception in which the tithe was brought out to prove a point concerning the priestly order of Melchizedek.
© 2009 Gicky Soriano
Augustine M Kabutha on May 02, 2019:
When you trust God be transparent ,accountable andfaithfull to God everything will be well to you
Ernest Nuamah on October 30, 2018:
I'm grateful for this article. It has been helpful to me. I was asked to teach on the topic of giving in my church and this artucle has helped me to deliver on the topic. God bless you.
ashish on May 31, 2018:
Chin chin from Philippines on June 28, 2017:
Wonderful summary of how we, Christians, ought to give to God. I've heard it said that how we give is more important than how much we give. God sees what is in our hearts.
tom on January 16, 2012:
for years I am guilty of not giving because 10% wasn't a possibility because of debt. Guilt consumed me! Thanks for freeing me!
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on May 26, 2011:
Lita C. Malicdem
May God bless your life as you learn to put to practice these principles.
Lita C. Malicdem from Philippines on May 26, 2011:
The 6 principles may sound light and easy to do, but they're not, really. This is a good hub for me to learn how to give. I love the parable in #5. Thank you.
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on December 29, 2010:
christ4ever, Thanks for giving my hubs a read and linking it with your related topic. I'll definitely give it a read. God bless you.
Rev. Teddy C. Ryan III from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia on December 29, 2010:
I just stumbled on your Hubs and will read them more now that I know you are here. I've linked your article to a series I likewise just wrote on the topic: https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Well-Done...
Keep up the excellent work in His service!... Rev.Ted
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on August 10, 2010:
smacky, Feel free to share this hub. Thanks for the visit and may God bless you.
smacky on August 10, 2010:
good job.kkep it up....can I share this in our church?
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on July 08, 2010:
Dexter, I appreciate the visit and your encouraging words. Thanks and God bless you.
Dexter | techathand.net on July 08, 2010:
Great article.. I love when you say give secretly :) keep up the good work. and keep the good fight of faith
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on February 20, 2010:
Technically, there's truth in what you say. Yet there are those cases wherein I myself have given towards a needy individual, church or cause in the form of cash rather than checks. Cash in an unmarked envelope is untraceable. The identity of the giver remains incognito. It's only through this act that giving can be done in secret.
Thank you for interacting with the material in this hub. All blessings.
scheng1 on February 20, 2010:
Give secretly is the part that most of us do not follow, especially when there is tax incentive to declare our donation to charity.
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on February 16, 2010:
maheshpatwal, Thanks for your visit and comment. Blessings to you.
maheshpatwal from MUMBAI on February 16, 2010:
Very beautifully written hub with a nice message of humanity....... hope all people think in the same way as written in bible
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on February 01, 2010:
Deborrah, May God enrich your life and ministry as you continue to give secretly, generously, purposefully, cheerfully, sacrificially, and proportionately. All blessings to you.
DeBorrah K Ogans on January 31, 2010:
Gicky Soriano, his was really nice! You have wonderfully explained and inspired others to give "God's Way!" Giving from the heart utilizing the above principles is beneficial for both the giver and receiver! "God Loves a cheerful giver..." Thank you for sharing this inspiring and insightful "Message!" In His Love & Blessings!
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on January 13, 2010:
restoremyheart, I appreciate the visit and comment. God bless you.
restoremyheart on January 12, 2010:
I never read such detail, on the gift of giving! It was quite nice. Thank you:)
Gicky Soriano (author) from California on October 12, 2009:
JesusEater, feel free to recommend this article to your disciples. I am glad that this "Understanding Series" of hubs is bringing clarity to those interested in the basic tenets of the faith. Thank you for your generous support and encouraging comment. It pleases me so much that I can serve your church through these hubs. May God bless and deepen the walk of your church's disciples as they seek to advance the kingdom.
JesusEater from Quezon City, Philippines on October 12, 2009:
This is really great material and clears up many issues (I don't know why some have issues on this) on giving. Can I recommend this article to our disciples for reading? Provide a link to this from our website? Thanks for this hub, Gicky! This is another Kingdom advance to set up here. God's glory!
thefount from North Central Louisiana on August 31, 2009:
This is a good format for teaching. Thank you so much.
Isabel_Belicia on August 29, 2009:
Great hub on giving - It is truly and act of Worship
AKA Coffee Snob
James A Watkins from Chicago on August 29, 2009:
Amen! Brother, this is a great article about giving. Let us pray this article is widely read and makes a difference in the world. Thank you. Good work.