Posted in giving, theology

On Giving Generously: Amazon Smile

By Elizabeth Prata

Do you know about Amazon Smile? You can tag your favorite charity and a small percentage of all your purchases at Amazon.com goes to that charity as a donation. It doesn’t cost you the customer anything extra. Here is the Amazon web page explaining how it works, but it’s really just that simple. The only thing you need to do is make sure when you shop at Amazon, it’s through smile.amazon.com. I have mine set up as a bookmark. Continue reading “On Giving Generously: Amazon Smile”

Posted in donation, giving

‘Tis the season for giving

‘Tis the Season…for giving.

Though Christians are called on to give all through the year- to church, to each other, to causes- Christmas is especially a time when we think of others. We have the annual Lottie Moon offering, Christmas gifts to buy and give to friends and family, and end of year corporate tax donation drives from Christian organizations, asking for a gift- any gift- just one more time.
(Hebrews 13:16)

Giving should be a joy. It is to the glory of God that we support our pastors (1 Timothy 5:17) and our church ministries. (2 Corinthians 9:7). We love not knowing what the right hand is doing when we give to friends (1 John 3:17) or those in need. (Matthew 6:2-4). We enjoy supporting causes the Spirit has impressed upon us to join with in His work.

I love giving. But I’m selfish, so I have to unclench my fist first. I’m working on it. So I listen to sermons that preach giving and when I read the bible I don’t skip over the parts that tell me to give. I also pray a lot over my selfishness.

Once I heard a John MacArthur sermon and for the life of me I do not remember the verse being explained or the topic. But I do remember the part when he talked about the lottery.

I don’t make a lot of money. OK, that’s an understatement. I live paycheck to paycheck and the smallest of disasters or emergencies will put me out. But the Lord is faithful and though I have had emergencies and disasters I’ve come through just fine. He is faithful! He has proven this over and over- in the bible and to me personally. But even still, I play the imaginary lottery game sometimes.

Even though I don’t actually play, I imagine. “IF I won…what I’d do with all that money”. However, MacArthur said that the lottery doesn’t enter into it. A raise at work doesn’t enter into it. A bequeathment doesn’t enter into it. A giving person is a giving person. A non-giving person doesn’t suddenly become a giving person when a pile of money lands in their lap. Often, the opposite will be true.

The sermon below isn’t the one I’d heard, because it’s from 20 years ago and what I heard was recent. I can’t find the recent one but here is the same gist from his older sermon:

Some people say, “Well, if I just had more I’d give more.” No, I’ve heard that. You always hear them say, “If I had $1 million I’d give it over here and I’d give…if I could just win the lottery. Oh man, if I could just win the lottery.” The question is not what would you do with $1 million. The question is what are you doing with this $4.00 you’ve got in your pocket. What are you doing with the $10.00? What are you doing with the $20.00 or the $60.00? That’s the issue, because Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money. When good things increase, those who consume them increase.”

Speaking of that $4.00 in your pocket. I remember one time years ago, I didn’t give at church that week. I said to myself I didn’t have enough to give. The offering plate came down our crowded pew, and the women next to me was an 85 year old widow. She was saved when she was 75. After years of going to church and believing herself saved when she was 75 it actually occurred. I loved her testimony of what the Lord did for her in salvation at her advanced years- and preserving her life until she was saved. Anyway, as the plate neared her, she uncurled her arthritic hand and two quarters slid out and into the plate. She passed the plate to me. I didn’t have ‘enough’ to give? I had two quarters in my wallet right at that moment!

Her widow’s mite put me to shame.

public domain

I never forgot the chagrin I felt. That was when I asked the Lord to help me with giving. He is faithful in all things and He has been faithful in this too.

Now that some years have passed and the Lord has grown me, I am loving giving now. Not just money, but time, food, service, attention. Whatever I have on me at that moment, I give. The Lord has blessed me and when others give to me, it humbles me and just makes me want to give more.

Will the circle be unbroken? I hope not.

As this season progresses please give generously. Missionaries in the field depend on us. The poor have needs. Ministries at church should be well-stocked with Sunday School materials, curricula, items necessary to edify and educate. Widows need attending to. Children and orphans are wasting away before our noses. It’s not that you don’t have enough to give, but what are you doing with what you DO have?

Charles Spurgeon:

“Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store” Deuteronomy 28:5 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] Obedience brings a blessing on all the provisions which our industry earns for us. That which comes in and goes out at once, like fruit in the basket which is for immediate use, shall be blest; and that which is laid by with us for a longer season shall equally receive a blessing. Perhaps ours is a handbasket portion. We have a little for breakfast, and a scanty bite for dinner in a basket when we go out to do our work in the morning. This is well, for the blessing of God is promised to the basket. If we live from hand to mouth, getting each day’s supply in the day, we are as well off as Israel; for when the Lord entertained His favored people He Only gave them a day’s manna at a time. What more did they need? What more do we need? But if we have a store, how much we need the Lord to bless it! For there is the care of getting, the care of keeping, the care of managing, the care of using; and, unless the Lord bless it, these cares will eat into our hearts, till our goods become our gods, and our cares prove cankers. O Lord, bless our substance. Enable us to use it for thy glory. Help us to keep worldly things in their proper places, and never may our savings endanger the saving of our souls. (Faith’s Checkbook, C.H, Spurgeon (Page 73)

Posted in church life, giving, malachi, sow a seed, tithing

Does the New Testament teach Christians to offer a 10% tithe?

Short answer? No.

For many Christians in a New Testament church it might come as a surprise that a 10% tithe, or a tithe at all, is not required.

Lon Hetrick at Average Us wrote a blog entry titled Why Pastors Should’t Teach Tithing and it begins this way–
Were you taught the tithing system? I was. I believed it, practiced it, and even preached it myself. But no more. The system goes like this:

  1. Tithing is commanded by God.
  2. Therefore, Christians should give 10% of their income to their “storehouse” (i.e. the church you attend).
  3. God promises to bless people who tithe.
  4. Failing to tithe is disobedient to God, robs Him of His due, and shows that you don’t trust Him to provide for your needs with the remaining 90% of your income.
  5. God withholds His blessing from non-tithers, and they forfeit the peace of mind and security which tithers alone enjoy.

And then Mr Hetrick continues with 4 reasons why he thinks Pastors shouldn’t teach tithing.

As much as I love church life, there is one thing that I have a peeve about. It is when a church decides to carry debt, the tithes and offerings start to decline, the powers-that-be get nervous, and the pastor decides to browbeat preach a series of guilts messages to the congregation on tithing. I am not speaking of my own church but I have seen it happen.

Here is Dr MacArthur at Grace to You on tithing:

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn?
Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9

Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).

The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel.

Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite’s tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today’s income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.

All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified.

New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government–a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel.

The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

“This article originally appeared here at Grace to You” in accordance with their general copyright policies.

Personally I believe the bible is clear on giving. We are to meet each other’s needs, to give generously, and sacrificially. We are to support our pastor and staff at the church. I believe firmly the bible teaches this.

But I don’t like it when pastors who don’t preach verse by verse feel free to pick and choose topics to preach on depending on their personal preference, fears, wants, vengeances, or perceived needs of the church members or the church in general. In this way, when money is tight, their go-to passage is Malachi and we’re off and running with the pressure to give. (‘Oh, nooo, the balloon payment is coming up!) This often means that people are targeted, or passages get left unpreached, and sometimes the meaning gets twisted, as so often the Malachi verse does. Worse, the giving that is done after these sermons tends to be emotional rather than cheerfully biblical.

If a pastor preaches verse-by-verse, money sermons will only come up when the text demands it. Everyone will be clear that the sermon isn’t a personal point he’s making to drive home, targeted at a church need, a controversy only a few know about, or personal likes or dislikes of the pastor, but simply a providential organization of sermons ordained by God as His under-shepherd preaches through the text.

Giving sacrificially doesn’t mean giving wantonly or recklessly. So often the Malachi verse on tithing is not only incorrectly applied to New Testament churches but is taken a step further by telling people to sow a seed, and you will reap a harvest, meaning, give money you don’t have and it will come back to you ten fold just because God will be so impressed with you. We are to shepherd our finances, not throw money away on a great adventure of testing God. You notice the Christians in the book of Acts sold property to give to the church, but they didn’t take a loan, give the loan money, and expect God to subsidize the debt until the property was sold off. They sacrificed, had the money in hand first, and laid it at the Apostles feet. (Acts 4:34).

Here is an essay called Their Greed, Your Seed: Apostasy in the Church Part 3, addressing the ‘sow a seed’ issue.

I urge you to search out the New Testament biblical stance on tithing, and giving- because the two are not the same. Be sure to give generously as your finances allow, biblically and cheerfully!

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Further reading:

Does the teaching on tithing in Malachi 3:9-10 apply to us today?

What does the bible say about sowing and reaping?

Are we obligated to tithe?

Tithing

9 Marks of a Prosperity Gospel Church