Giving at church is an act of worship. You do not give to the church, but to God by means of the church. Giving is not for God, but for you. God does not need your money, but you need to give, because it shows you that you are more dependent on Jesus than on the offering. So, how much do you give?
Over the course of time, many pastors and teachers have taught people should give a tithe, which would be ten percent. However, that is Law giving and never taught for the Church Age believer. If someone says they give a tithe, they are implying they are keeping the standard of the Word (the Law), but the tithe was an Old Testament standard and there was not one tithe, but three! In other words, those who lived in Israel gave two tithes for two years and then a third tithe every third year. That means on the third year, they gave three tithes in one year!
The three tithes were strictly for what was given to God. That does not include anything that was required by the king or government. The first tithe was for the maintenance of keeping God’s Word, teaching God’s Word and the function of the sacrifices in the tabernacle and later the temple. The second tithe was for the celebrations in Jerusalem three times per year at the Passover, Feast of Weeks and Feast of Tabernacles. All the people brought a tithe of their increase and everyone had a party before the Lord of worship, celebration and fellowship. The third tithe was collected every third year and kept at the temple for the assistance of widows, orphans, strangers in the land and Levites. The three tithes, if averaged out over three years, would be about 23%. So if you say you tithe, then you should be giving 23% of your income! But the Bible does not teach tithing in the New Testament.
The Bible teaches grace giving. The first aspect of grace giving is that every believer is to be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than function under a set standard. Paul wrote, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal 5:18 NKJ) Tithing is living under the law. Since a believer will seek to be led by the Holy Spirit he may be moved to give more than 10 percent. He may be motivated to give 20 or 30 or 40 percent. Those with children who are grown and still have a good income with a mortgage that is paid, may have considerable excess income that is not needed for living. Yes, a person can take the extra cash and spend it on travel and luxurious living, but that is not why a person is called to live on earth. A believer is called to sacrifice for the sake of others and lead others to Christ. The luxury and comfort will all come when believers get to heaven. Consequently, God wants His children dependent on His Spirit rather than a fixed number. The Holy Spirit may lead someone to give sacrificially, so that many might be led to Jesus through their giving.
The second aspect of grace giving is it must be deliberate. Paul wrote, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:1-2 NKJ) Paul wrote, “On the first day of the week…” God wants us to be dependent on Him to decide each week how much should be given. He does not want His children to be passive or just going through the motions without thought. He wants them to think and consider how they should be dependent on His Spirit to know how much to give.
The third aspect of grace giving is it is private. Paul wrote, “…lay something aside…” In other words, it is laid aside so it is ready, but it is not set aside for show. Jesus said in Matthew 6:3, ”…do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” God wants His children to grow up and give like grown ups, that is sacrificially, rather than under a rule that children need.
The fourth aspect of grace giving is it must be proportionate. Paul wrote, “…as he may prosper.” Under the ministry and conviction of the Holy Spirit, the believer will determine what proportion he will give to the Lord’s work.
Now it is best to read through 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, but I refer you instead to the message on Grace giving presented on August 18, 2013. This message and the one before on August 11 explain in detail Law giving and Grace giving. Grace giving is not for children. Grace giving does not mean a person does not have to give anything. That is a childish distortion of grace. On the other hand, rules are for children. Children need rules and to be told what to do, because they have not learned how to make wise decisions that honor God and bless others. Mature Christians depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance. God wants His children to grow up and live like parents who are willing to sacrifice for others. When you do, you will experience God’s blessing and inherit eternal rewards that beyond human understanding.