Summary: If we are to grow in the grace of giving, we need to give prayerfully.
In 2 Corinthians 8:7, Paul tells us:
“But since you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you - see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” - 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)
In our text for today, we have described the child of God who is growing in the grace of giving. (READ TEXT)
We’re going to think together about the implications of this description here in just a moment, but I want us to understand how this person has determined in his heart what to give. Paul tells us the answer, I believe, in his words to the Philippians:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anythingwe can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and mindsas you live in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Paul says we are to pray about everything - which includes our giving. If we’re to grow in the grace of giving, we need to give prayerfully.
Last time we looked to Malachi 3:8, which tells us that there are two ways we are to support God’s work financially: by giving our tithe and giving offerings. What’s the difference?
1. A tithe refers to giving at least 10% of my income to support God’s work through His church.
Tithing was commanded by God in the Old Testament:
“A tithe of everything . . . belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” - Leviticus 27:30 (NIV)
Tithing was commended by our Lord in the New Testament:
“You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” - Matthew 23:23 (NLT)
Now, while the cross of Christ has set us free from the burden of the law, it has not set us from the standard of the law. Therefore, on this side of the cross, we find that tithing should be at least 10% of our income. Why? Three reasons:
A. Because of how Jesus taught us to view the law.
“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!” - Matthew 5:21-22a (NLT)
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” - Matthew 5:27-28 (NLT)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” - Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you.” - Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV)
B. Because of what Jesus said about our righteousness.
“I tell you that you must do better than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees.” - Matthew 5:20a (Easy to Read)
C. Because we are called to live by a “higher law”.
“For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
- Romans 8:2 (Amplified)
Through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we can be empowered to live a life that meets and surpasses the standard of the law! Therefore, if 10% was the standard for regular support of God’s work in the Old Testament; the standard for regular support of God’s work in the New Testament will be at least 10%, but perhaps more as God guides in growing in the grace of giving.
How do I know if my tithe should be more than 10%? Seek God’s face until you hear God’s voice and do what He tells you to do.
“God speaks by His Spirit through His Word, through prayer, through circumstances, and His church to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways.” - Henry Blackaby
A Deacon in my last church shared with me how God had blessed him financially and he told me that as a result of prayer, his tithe was at that time up to 14% of his income.