What Is The New Testament Paradigm for Giving?
The New Testament paradigm for giving is that of generous grace giving—meaning that believers are to give freewill offerings to supply the needs of the church and its outreach to the community (including the poor) and the world—to accomplish its mission here on earth. Giving is a Christian virtue or grace that all believers are to abound in.
2 Corinthians 8:7
The Paradigm Of Generous Grace Giving
- The local church started with Jesus and His disciples, and it was established when they received and were filled by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was part of the “festival of weeks” in which the Israelites were required to come to Jerusalem. So when Peter preached His sermon at Pentecost there were many people present to hear it and they “added unto them about three thousand souls.” Also, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Presumably, many of those who became believers that day were living away from home and, understandably, they wanted to continued steadfastly in all they were learning about Jesus. Thus, as the church was in its infancy and having a great need before them, the believers sold their possessions and goods, and then distributed the proceeds to anyone who had a need, so that all who believed had all things in common. Through Acts, this becomes characteristic of the church, that is: generous grace giving.
Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 9:36, 39; 10:4; 17:9-10; 21:23-25
- As the church continues to grow and spread, the giving within the church (as presented in the rest of the New Testament) doesn’t fit the Old Testament patterns of the four different “tithes,” but it does resemble the freewill offerings to the Lord. These offerings are characterized by: (1) giving with a willing heart; (2) giving to God and for His work; (3) giving according to what a person had and what they wanted to give; (4) giving was done by expressing great joy before the Lord; (5) giving expecting it would be blessed by God.
Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-9, 20-29; 36:1-7; Deuteronomy 16:9-12, 16-17; 1 Chronicles 29:6-9; Proverbs: 3:9-10; 11:24
- The believers and the church at Jerusalem exemplified generous grace giving in there specific situation, but they eventually suffered “great persecution” and there was a great famine throughout all the world. They became in great need financially. Believer’s from Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia determined to send relief unto the believers in Judaea/Jerusalem to help meet their needs. From these examples, we can learn principles about how God wants us to meet needs through generous grace giving. Today, believers should continue to grow in this Christian virtue of giving. First, we give ourselves to God—meaning we make a personal commitment of our lives to God. Second, we earnestly desire to give generously as we have opportunity because of the grace of God in our lives and strive to abound in this area, knowing: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 8:1; 11:25-30; 20:4, 35; 24:17; Romans 15:25; Galatians 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:4-7
Principles Of Generous Grace Giving
- Giving should be complementary—the spiritual and material workings within the church should be characterized by “equality” or “balance”. This means things should be equally sufficient or that one’s abundance in an area meets the needs of another where he is lacking in that area and vice versa. For example, at this time the Corinthian church (Gentiles) could financially help the Jerusalem church (Jews) and the Jerusalem church (Jews) could spiritually help the Corinthian church (Gentiles). This principle also overflows into pastors having the privilege to work in the ministry full-time and to be supported by the church, thus refraining from working for a living outside of their ministry. They sow “spiritual things” among the people they are ministering to, thus in return they have the right to reap “material things” from them.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15; Romans 15:27; (1 Corinthians 9:1-18; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; Galatians 6:6)
- Giving should be proportional—the amount we are to give should be: (1) within our financial ability and how God has prospered us—meaning our ability to give is based on what we have (if we have much, we give much; if we have little, we give little). This also means there is no required amount that we are to give, but it is proportional to what we are able to financially give within our means; (2) beyond our financial ability—meaning we are to make sacrifices so that we can give more than what would be comfortable. (3) below our financial ability—meaning we are able to give more than we are but we don’t.
Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:2b; 2 Corinthians 8:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
- Giving should be regular—the process of giving should be routine or have a pattern to follow so that we can excel in our giving. Paul told the church at Corinth to store up the amount they were to give every Sunday (this amount could be different each week based on their occupation etc). This way the collection of money they were going to give to the church at Jerusalem would be ready and there wouldn’t be any last minute pressure on the church to give (often results in giving little). We might be very eager and enthusiastic to give but we have to be intentional about our preparation and execution to give so that it can be done joyfully and generously and not covetousness or have to be coerced.
1 Corinthians 16:2a; 2 Corinthians 9:1-5; 2 Corinthians 8:10-12
- Giving should be cheerful—the process of giving should be a delight or joy and not a burden. Everyone must give as they purpose in their hearts. It is a privilege and not an obligation. It should be voluntary and not involuntary. It should be deliberate and not impulsive. Thus, we need to have the following motivations when giving: (1) To emulate Jesus—He was rich but became poor for us that we might be made rich. (2) To trust in God’s abundant provision—if we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly, but if we sow bountifully we will reap bountifully—meaning there are temporal and eternal rewards for giving based on how we give. (3) To glorify God—God loves a cheerful giver and we want to please Him—thus we don’t give grudgingly or with a sad heart, nor because we are forced to, but because we want to worship God. (4) To testify of grace—our giving gives evidence of the exceeding grace of God in us and our confession of the gospel of Christ; (5) To give thanksgiving to God—many people will give thanks to God because of our giving just like we have given thanks unto God for His unspeakable gift—salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone.
2 Corinthians 8:8-9; 9:6-15; Romans 15:26-29; Hebrews 13:15-16; (John 10:18; Romans 8:32)
- Giving should be honest—the process of dealing with money that is given through the church needs to be done in a way that is accountable so that it can be done with honesty before God and men. When they were going to send the money to Jerusalem, the churches chose people they judged to be commendable to deliver the money so there would be no reason for criticism. Also, we should be honest personally—meaning that we shouldn’t be deceptive about how much we give or give just to be praised by others. We should strive to be honest in all financial matters.
1 Corinthians 16:3-4; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24; Acts 5:1-11; Matthew 6:1-4
- What did giving look like at the establishment of the church?
- Does the giving in the church look like the Old Testament tithes or freewill offerings?
- What are five principles of generous grace giving?
- What are five motivations for giving cheerfully?
- Are you excelling in the Christian virtue of giving?