Giving vs. Tithing (Part 2)

        Giving vs. Tithing (Part1)

     In the New Testament, Jesus says very little about tithing. When Jesus talks about tithing, He is talking of His kinsmen who are Jews. He points out that their obedience in tithing should be outweighed by their obedience in greater things: justice, mercy, faith and love (Matthew 23;23; Luke 11:42), In one instance, Jesus quotes the Pharisee who haughtily portrays himself in prayer as better than the humble and repentant tax collector, because the Pharisee says that he fasted “..twice in the week,” and gives”…tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:9-14). In these scriptures, Jesus tells us that only the tax collector was justified and not the Pharisee. Jesus Christ does not hold the obedience to the tithe in high esteem in these instances. The tithe was used by the unrepentant Jews as symbolic of their adherence to the Mosaic Law. Jesus Christ came as the fulfillment of the Law. He came to save us who could not fulfill the law unto salvation. Remember, He was the only man without sin and the only one who could truly fulfill all of the Law as given in the Old Testament. In other words, Jesus came to earth to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. That is why our lives in Him must be based on faith and not on keeping the law, if we are to establish a right relationship with the Father. This perspective becomes very clear in Hebrews 7 and throughout the New Testament. Jesus Christ is greater than the Law of the Old Testament. The covenant and the gospel that He brings to God’s people is greater than all that was brought to the people by Moses.
     When we see tithing talked about in Hebrews 7, it is representative of the Mosaic law of the Old Testament, which could not save us. Jesus brings to us a greater hope fulfilled in a new covenant. Everything about Jesus not only fulfills the law but also goes so far beyond the law. He is the greatest High Priest, the perfect High Priest Who lives forever and intervenes on our behalf forever with a greater and a perfect hope that only He can bring to us.

Hebrews 7: 18. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

     In the New Testament a new concept is introduced to and through the Body of Christ. This concept is called giving and the first place that we see it is in Acts 4: 31-5:11. This phenomenon occurs while the church was still in Jerusalem. Let us take some time to look at these verses to see what we may learn from them.

Acts 4:31 – 5:11

31) And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
32) And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33) And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34) Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35) and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
36) And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
37) having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

1) But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2) and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5) And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6) And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7) And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8) And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?
And she said, Yea, for so much.
9) Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10) Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

What was the purpose for giving?

     The giving was an outward expression of the change that occurred inside of them spiritually with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The believers are of one heart and one soul, united by the Spirit of God. There is a recognition that everything that they had belonged to God. Therefore they did with their possessions as the Spirit directed them. They used their possessions to give to anyone that had a need. Many who had land or houses that could be sold, sold them and gave the money to the apostles for distribution so that no one was in financial need. Actually, this is the second time that this happened with the coming of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 2:43-47.
     Who did the giving? From what did they give?
All of the believers gave by selling their possessions and goods according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. They brought the money for all that they sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet. The apostles were responsible for distributing the money to meet the needs of those who were in the Body of Christ..
     What is the result of holding back from God?
The Apostle Peter makes it clear that the believers’ giving was totally voluntary. The believers were not required to give everything that they owned. Led by the Holy Spirit, believers made the commitment or vow to give to the Body of Christ so that no one lacked. The decision to give is a commitment unto God. Holding back from God or not keeping the vow to God is the same as lying to God and resulted in the deaths of Ananias and his wife Sapphira.
     This lesson is not intended to scare the reader into giving to God, but it is intended to teach you the need to give, and the importance of keeping your commitment to God. In Jerusalem then, there were needs that only the body of Jesus Christ (the Church) could meet. Today, we send people off to government agencies to help meet their needs. These agencies are not meant to take care of people's needs, but we, as members of the Body of Jesus Christ, are to meet these needs. We call ourselves Christians. That means Christ-like, so we must start acting like Christ. When Jesus walked on earth, did He not meet the needs of the people in a physical and spiritual way? Yes, He did. Then, why do we have a problem meeting the needs of people? Could it be that we just might get to know them and they will stop becoming numbers to us?

     "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food; and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,' notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body,' what doth it
profit?" James 2:15-16

     All of us have been confronted with or have seen someone in need. Why did God let that person come into your life or into the church just at that time? Does God know what resources He has available to Himself? The Church is one of these resources that He has available to Himself. He has the right to use it when He wants and how He wants. If this is the case (which it is), then let us examine how these resources are to be established in the church.

            In I Corinthians 16:1, 2, we have the formula for giving.
1. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

     The formula can be examined in three parts.

1. How often should I give?
Paul directs believers to give every week.

2. When should the giving occur?
The giving should occur weekly on the first day of the week (Sunday).

3. How much should I give?
Paul does not speak of tithing here or giving a tenth. He says to give according to how God has prospered the believer. This is a voluntary decision that is made with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You, as a believer in Christ, have to honestly come before the Lord, examining how the Lord has blessed you, and give accordingly as the Spirit leads. Your commitment is a vow before the Lord that you must keep. The believer cannot lie to God without consequences.

Preparation for next month’s Hot Topic: Giving vs. Tithing, Part 3 requires you to be familiar with II Corinthians 8 and 9. For the next few weeks, please study these chapters slowly and carefully, allowing God to talk to you about giving.