Summary: The New Testament does not teach Tithing! If you are a tither, you are following the teachings of the Old Testament.
REMINDERS TO CHRISTIAN GIVERS
INTRO: The New Testament does not teach Tithing! If you are a tither, you are following the teachings of the Old Testament. If you are not tithing, you are not even up to the standards of the Jews. As Christians we are not commanded to tithe! READ TEXT!
Several years ago, Pete Lunati, businessman and Sunday School teacher at Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, told an inspiring story about his grandmother. She was converted to Christ at 12 in northern Italy under the ministry of a missionary from England. There came a need for greater financial support for this mission, work. She wanted to give, but having no money, she decided to cut off her long, beautiful hair (which was the fashion of that time). She wrapped it in an attractive scarf, presented it to the missionary, and asked him to sell it. The money earned would be her gift to spread the gospel to others who had not heard.
Her simple sacrificial gift challenges our complacent attitudes and responses in giving. We are also challenged in our giving by the gracious response of the Macedonian believers as recorded in our text. They were the pace-setters in Paul’s efforts to give a worthy offering to the poor believers in Jerusalem.
I. WE ARE REMINDED WHAT TO GIVE (v. 5).
We are to give ourselves to God. The Macedonians had learned that God wanted them to give themselves. And He still calls us to first give ourselves to Him.
Committing ourselves to Christ as Lord involves giving ourselves in service. The Macedonians gave themselves to Christ then offered themselves in service as God willed through Paul’s leadership. We do not give ourselves to God in isolation from daily life. Commitment to Christ is commitment to serve Him.
We also give ourselves by giving our money. The immediate concern of the Macedonian congregation was the relief offering. This was inseparably tied to the gift of themselves to God and to Paul as willing servants. If we give ourselves to God in service, we will not have to worry about our need to give. I will take care of itself!
II. WE ARE REMINDED HOW TO GIVE (v. 2).
These five verses give us ample reminders of how we are to give ourselves and our money to the Lord.
We are to give faithfully. Many would have described the circumstances of this congregation as desperate. J. B. Phillips translates their financial condition as “being down to their last penny” (v. 2). Even so, they refused to excuse themselves from this opportunity to give. Faithfulness is to characterize the Christian giver’s response — whatever the circumstances may be.
We are to give willingly. The Macedonian response surpassed even Paul’s expectations. Their willingness and even eagerness is described in v. 4. “begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints” (NASB). Though needs must be presented, no one is forced to give. Christian giving is giving willingly.
We are to give spiritually. The Macedonian desire to give was based on their commitment to Christ and their interest in fulfilling His mission. It was more than a financial decision. It was a spiritual concern, a part of their response to God. Giving to God is not a financial arrangement as much as a spiritual commitment.
We are to give generously. The Scripture suggests that this band of believers gave beyond their ability (v. 3). They remind us that Christian giving is to be marked by growth, generosity, and even sacrifice.
We now know what and how, but is there a reason to give?
III. WE ARE REMINDED WHY TO GIVE (v. 2).
The real motivations prompting our giving sometimes escape the best of us.
We give in response to God’s grace. He has freely given to us. Notice what the grace of God was doing in the churches of Macedonia. Christian giving is not to magnify the gift as much as the great Giver.
Christians give because God has given Himself in our behalf and poured out His grace on us. The Macedonians could testify that giving to God because He has graciously given to us in Christ brings immeasurable joy. Only God’s grace can explain their unusual situation — deep poverty, generous giving, and abundant joy (v. 2).
We give to demonstrate commitment to Christ and to minister in His name. Harold Songer has pointed out that in the New Testament era, the Greco-Roman religion promoted giving to get desired favors from their gods.
Judaism taught giving in response to God’s command but in so doing to earn God’s favor. Christians give because God has given to them in love, to meet needs, and to support the spreading of the gospel and establishing new churches. Christians do not give to get, they give to get things done.