God desires us to give of everything that we have freely received, but we’ve designated this portion to specifically discussing financial giving. We’ve done this because most controversy revolves around this particular topic.
GIVING AND TITHING
Contrary to popular belief, you do not receive any blessing from God when you give or tithe (there are benefits to giving but we’ll discuss that later).
Let’s address tithing specifically. Under the law, you are blessed based on your works. Tithing is one of those works (Malachi 3:8-10). But even under the law, tithing is only beneficial if you keep the whole law. This is exactly what Paul addresses concerning circumcision:
Romans 2:25 NKJV
For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
If you want to receive from God based on your tithe then you must keep the whole law, otherwise your tithe is regarded by God as no tithe at all.
We must receive from God by grace, through Jesus Christ (as spoken of in “Salvation”). And that principle applies to everything, including finances.
TITHING BEFORE THE LAW
But you may say, “tithing is before the law though! It goes back to Abraham and Jacob!”
Yes, tithing was before the law. Abraham tithed, but not as a means of blessing—just like circumcision, burnt offerings and sacrifices were before the law. They were practiced as a shadow of things to come, not as a means of blessing or covenant with God.
Let’s look at Abraham and Jacob (those not under the law, like us). Were they blessed because of their tithe?
Genesis 14:18-20 NKJV
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him [Abram] and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High… And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all.
Pay attention; was Abraham blessed after he tithed? Or was he blessed after Melchizedek brought bread and wine (a symbol of Jesus)? Abraham was blessed before he tithed, based on the symbol of Jesus.
WHAT ABOUT JACOB?
Genesis 28:12-13, 20 NKJV
Then he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, a ladder… and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said “…the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants…” (20) Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “…of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Jesus refers to himself in the New Testament as the ladder that Jacob saw. Did God pronounce blessing on Jacob through “the Ladder” or through Jacob’s tithe?
Jacob saw the ladder and then God pronounced over him what we’d call “the blessing of Abraham.” Then at the end of the chapter Jacob promises a tenth (a tithe).
The truth is, our examples (Abraham and Jacob) were not blessed because of their tithing. They were blessed after “seeing” Jesus. And so are we!
What we just showed you is an exact parallel to what Paul showed the Jews concerning circumcision. The Jews thought they had covenant with God through circumcision. Paul showed them that Abraham had a covenant with God two chapters before he was circumcised (Romans 4:9-10).
ARE THERE BENEFITS TO GIVING?
Yes, there are benefits to giving to a Christ-centered ministry, but not from God directly.
When you support someone, even with a cup of cold water, you are uniting yourself with them. Therefore you share in their results.
Matthew 10:41 NKJV
He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
Do you receive reward from God for supporting a prophet? No, the prophet’s reward comes to you because you have united yourself with him.
You can unite yourself with what ministry is doing by supporting it.
3 John 1:8 NKJV
We therefore ought to receive such [ministers], that we may become fellow [literally, “united”] workers for the truth.
Supporting a Christ-centered ministry has benefits but not from God directly. When God blesses a ministry and you unite yourself with it (by giving, serving, etc.) the blessing that they are receiving from God yields benefits in your life.
The same principle applies in different situations as well (1 Timothy 5:22, 2 John 1:10)
WHEN SHOULD WE GIVE?
1) Support the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, especially when we receive from it
1 Corinthians 9:11 NKJV
If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
2) Supply the needs of other believers (meeting biblical criteria)
2 Corinthians 9:12 NKJV
For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God…
2 Corinthians 8:14 NKJV
…now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality.
3) Meet the needs of those who are truly poor (meeting biblical criteria)
Galatians 2:10 NKJV
They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.