August 16, 2015

4 Instructions by the Apostle Paul on Giving that May Surprise You

It is amazing the pressure, fear and condemnation put on God’s people to give. 

Don't misunderstand me. Having been a pastor, I understand the pressures and concerns of ensuring that those buildings we like to call "the church", are able to keep it's doors open. 

I understand all the intangibles and financial resources required to make those building we call "the church" function. 

At the same time I've been blessed to have been given revelation that the institution we call "church", and the model that is and has been used in the western world for the last 1700 years is not scripture, and therefore flawed.

By now I have already lost some readers. They have left my blog and clicked on something else. Not a problem. As the scripture says, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." Romans 14:5 

My purpose in writing this blog post is no different from any other post I've written over the years. Teach to inform, teach to transform, ask questions that need to be asked, and to deal with issues the traditional church refuses to deal with. 

When you read articles and see news reports, like:
What we are seeing is a graphic illustration of ministries fearing and struggling for survival. What we are seeing is a machine that has been propped up by man made business models, strategies, and techniques, however well intended they may be, starting to crack like thin glass. 

It is an indication that church leaders have either forgotten or are ignoring the words of our savior. "When you meet the needs of others, you are doing it unto Christ." Matthew 25:31-46 

This issue of church survival has become a trend, and there are many reasons behind this trend. From selfish kingdom building to ignorance stemming from bad teaching on what church is as well as how it should function. From dying communities, to the increasing numbers of people leaving what is called "church". 

The New Testament is clear on giving. We are encouraged to give, and give generously, cheerfully, willingly, not out of necessity (pressure). However, believers should use some wisdom when giving, and stop allowing others to pressure you into giving to them only. 

Christians must stop wasting what God has blessed us with (what is holy), on schemes and programs that are unholy. "Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you." Matthew 7:6 NLT 

Believe it or not, God may not want you to give to a certain person, group or organization. He did not bless you with the ability to give, just to see it squandered away.

One thing that I know for sure, is that Christians need to do a better job at determining and watching the people, groups and organizations that they give to, and their ability to manage funds. "You will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16 

How much longer will believers continue to invest in projects and programs which do not benefit the lives of those in need? 

There is a lot of waste of God's resources by those who say they are "doing God's work".

The Bible teaches us to give "as God has prospered us," in other words, "according to our ability and means." (2 Corinthians 8:11, 2 Corinthians 9:5-13, Acts 11:29) 

The Greek word for "means," is signifying possession and ownership. That means, what you are giving is fully yours, not credited or loan- based. 

Here are four instructions by the apostle Paul found in 2 Corinthians 8:11-13 on giving that may surprise you. 
  1. "Give in proportion to what you have." How do you decide how much to give, and what about the differences in the financial resources that you have compared to others?

    Each person should give as much as he or she is able, and each person should decide how much to give. Giving out of fear, guilt, intimidation, ignorance and a lack of wisdom does more harm than good.

    "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure." 2 Corinthians 9:7

  2. "Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly." Your willingness to give is more important than the amount you give.

    If you are not able to give, then don't. If you have some concerns about the person, group or organization, that's OK."You will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16

    It's also OK to find out more about them before you decide to give. "If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning." Romans 14:23

  3. "And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have." Paul wants believers to give generously, but not to the extent that those who depend on you (your family, for example) must go without having their basic needs met.

    Even sacrificial giving must be responsible giving. "He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him."

    Mothers, it's hard to respect and obey when the utilities are consistently being turned off.

  4. "Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves." In this verse, Paul reiterates verse 3.

    When I hear phrases like, "Give until it hurts", it is an indication that the individual making the statement gives no consideration to the issues that may be present in the lives of the people. It sounds good if you're not the one experiencing the hurt.

    If you are one that believes in this phrase, I will simply ask you to consider not hurting your family and/or relatives who depend on your financial support.
    Take care of your responsibilities first. Then, if you have anything left, freely give.

    Did you know that Jesus denounced giving to God while ignoring responsibilities? (Mark 12:41-44, Mark 7:10-13, Matthew 22:21, 17:25-27)

    If you are a church leader, I ask you to hear what Jesus says about this matter.

    "What sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.
     Luke 11:46
A wise giver has a keen ability to discern wise investments, and gives unto the Lord at His promptings, not at man's appeals.

Did you know that Matthew included more counsel on the wise use of money than any other Gospel writer? Matthew 6:19-20, 25:14-30.

Scofield wrote, "In contrast with the law, which imposed giving as a divine requirement, Christian giving is voluntary, and a test of sincerity and love."

When Paul spoke of giving, he was always clear it wasn't a commandment or law. 2 Corinthians 8:8

Jesus and Paul made clear the sacrifice was more important than the amount. Mark 12:42-44, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 12. 

Jesus taught freedom from obligatory giving. Matthew 17:24-27 

For more on this subject, see my book, Clever Lies and Assumptions

See also my earlier blog posts:

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