Giving

From the Archives: Tipping, Tithing & Grace Giving: Giving in the New Testament

Read the series.

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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What About the Tithe?

The practice of tithing, giving ten percent of one’s income to the Lord, has been a well-established standard among Christians for many years. However, this practice has been challenged in more recent days, with some opposing it vehemently. What’s the problem? For those who reject it, the issue is usually that tithing is “Old Testament” and Christians are governed by the New Testament.

On the surface, this statement is true enough, but like so many issues, requires a bit more investigation.

The Old Testament Tithe

Tithing was unquestionably required under the Law of Moses. In fact, Mosaic Law specified at least two tithes, and in some years, three. It was not simply a tithe, but several tithes. Although it is true that the Law of Moses is synonymous with the Old Covenant, it is not true that the Law of Moses is the same as the Old Testament. It is contained within the pages of Old Testament Scripture, but it is neither synonymous with the Old Testament, nor did it cover the entire history of the Old Testament.

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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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