Series - Grace Giving

On Being Generous

This article is an add-in to the series of posts on Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving (Part 8). As I have continued to study what the Scriptures say about grace giving, I have seen an emphasis on generosity through both the Old and New Testaments. Grace giving is by definition generous.

I ordered an ice cream cone one time and watched as the server prepared it. She pushed the first scoop all the way to the bottom of the cone. She packed the second so it was even with the top. On this solid foundation, she constructed a towering ice cream edifice that looked like it would fall over any second, but held firm as she placed it in my hand. As I lapped at the overspill, I thought, “Wow, I got more than my money’s worth on this one.” The menu offered one scoop or two. She gave me way more. That’s the way to serve an ice cream cone! No hollow, soggy cone that caves in on empty space as you near the end. Delicious, creamy goodness from the first lick down to the last cold, crunchy bite.

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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Implementing Grace Giving

Most of what I have shared previously unpacks the biblical basis for Grace Giving. See Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This final article will focus on the practical application of these biblical truths. Once you understand Grace Giving, how do you start doing it?

As a reminder, here is a quick review of biblical facts. These are fully presented in the previous articles, so I will just state them here without explanation.

  • Material and financial giving to the Lord has always been a response to grace and an act of grace.
  • The Jewish people under the Old Testament system were required to “tithe,” which means give 10%, of their material and financial possessions to the Lord. There were actually three tithes, so they gave more than just 10%. There is no requirement for New Testament Christians to tithe.
  • The Old Testament followers of God also gave free-will offerings, which were voluntary contributions to show worship, devotion, and thanks.
  • Jesus had a lot to say about giving, especially the motive for it.
  • The New Testament church, described in the Book of Acts, practiced voluntary giving according to people’s individual ability. The offerings were received and distributed through the church.
  • There are two objectives of grace giving presented in the New Testament: supporting Gospel work and helping people in need.
  • The key word in the New Testament that is associated with financial and material giving is grace. The motivation for giving is not obligation or manipulation, but a willing heart.
  • Every Christian should regularly practice the grace of giving.
  • Biblical giving is willing, voluntary, responsive, and generous.
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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: the Objectives of Grace Giving

It’s time to get practical. So far, we’ve looked at grace giving as a biblical principle and concept. Please read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, which are foundational to this article.

To whom and what should we give? As we consider grace giving, is there any biblical guidance regarding the people and causes we should support with our finances? The answer is readily apparent from specific instructions given by the Apostles and from the practice of the first New Testament believers.

Of course the primary objective is to glorify God. Hebrews 13:16 says of grace giving, “with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” But our financial offerings are not burned up on an altar. They provide practical benefit to someone or something. The New Testament specifies who and what should be the targets of our giving.

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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: The Concept of Grace Giving

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. This article will stand somewhat alone, but is best understood within the context of the overall biblical teaching on giving.

Most Christians know that giving of material and financial resources as an offering to God and to support the work of ministry comes with the territory of being a believer. Many have been taught that tithing (giving 10% of one’s income) is the accepted way to give. A key point in this article series is that tithing fades from view and grace giving comes to the forefront in New Testament Christianity.

So the question is, what is “grace giving” and where is it taught in the Bible?

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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Giving in the New Testament

Read the series so far.

Today’s Christian gains big-picture understanding of what the Bible teaches about financial giving by learning the Old Testament background and foundational truths related to the subject. This was presented in the previous article. But the New Testament contains the full teaching that guides what we do in the church and in our individual Christian lives. Join me as we survey Jesus’ teaching, the practices of the newly-formed first century church, and the instructions given by the apostles.

Jesus’ Teaching on Giving

Some say Jesus spoke on the topic of money more than anything else. I haven’t personally verified this assertion, but I do know that He had a lot to say about giving. The following is representative of His teaching on this subject.

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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Giving in the Old Testament

We’re examining what the Bible says to today’s Christian about financial giving. I encourage you to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. They are essential to knowing how the following information fits in the sequence of thought.

Giving material and financial resources in worship to God is not new. Let’s look at giving in the Old Testament context. We can then understand better how the Old Testament principles and practices fit into the New Testament setting and how they relate to Christians today.

The Practice of Giving In the Old Testament

There are three kinds of giving that God instructed the children of Israel to observe. They are sacrifices, tithes, and freewill offerings. Let’s look at each.

Sacrifices

People offered sacrifices to God long before He instituted the sacrificial system into the lives of the Jewish people. A moment of reflection brings to mind Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:3-4), Noah (Gen. 8:20), and Abraham (Gen. 22:1-14). These all gave sacrifices as a form of voluntary worship to God.

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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Three Ways People Give

Read Part 1.

Tipping

People who give at church do it in one of three ways. I’ll call the first way tipping. In our culture there are times when we give a few dollars to someone who provides a service. The most common example is a restaurant server. If he or she gets our order right and delivers it in a timely and cheerful way, we leave a tip of 15% or more.

This is how many people give to God. When the offering is mentioned, they go digging for loose cash, drop a few bills in the plate, and maybe wonder how they’re going to buy lunches or lattes for the rest of the week. Some may plan ahead, considering their income, expenses to support their lifestyle, and how much discretionary money is left. They will arrive at what they feel is a reasonable amount and give that to the Lord.

People who give this way may be fulfilling an obligation, not wanting to seem rude or feel guilty for not participating. Or they may be truly grateful for what the church or the Lord does for them. It is possible that this is all they know, not having been taught what the Bible has to say. So ”tipping” is giving a small portion of your extra resources to God. There isn’t a biblical basis for it. It’s just what people do.

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Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving, Part 1

The Bible does not tell Christians to tithe. But it does tell us to give.

During my early years as a pastor, I taught that there is a principle and pattern of tithing (giving 1/10 of your income) in Scripture and that there is also a principle and pattern of giving offerings over and above the tithe. I taught this because it is what I learned from those who taught me. But as I learned the Scriptures through years of reading and studying, I became aware of facts that caused me to question my own thinking and teaching on this issue and to develop a new understanding of what God’s Word says about it.

One of these facts is that the most extensive New Testament passages on giving as a Christian are about helping other Christians in need, not supporting the work of the church. Most of the principles I had been teaching were from these passages (2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, for example). I realized that I was bypassing the primary application of these truths, which is helping people in need, in order to urge people to give to the church. The very first “offerings” in the newly-formed assembly of believers in Jerusalem were designated to help others in need (Acts 2:45)!

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