Last week in the RML Mark we thought about why giving is such an important thing for us to do as Christians. We saw that if we're living with Jesus as Lord of our whole lives, then we'll be wanting to prioritise disciple-making with our time and our money. But of course, that raises the question - how do we decide how much we should give to the gospel? The Bible has a number of things to say on the matter.
This is not a blog saying that you should give away all your money! The Bible makes clear that we should be good stewards of our money, that we should take care of ourselves and our family and not become a burden to others (1 Thess 4:11-12, 2 Thess 3:10-12, 1 Tim 5:3-16)
Poverty is not a reason not to give
Just see 2 Cor 8:1-8, where the Macedonians gave generously out of extreme poverty. Not only that, they begged Paul to allow them to give! I was really encouraged last year by the example set by the church family of my previous church. We had been meeting for several years in the town hall, which we rented out each week. However, the church recognised that there was no guarantee of that arrangement necessarily continuing in the future, and so when an opportunity to buy a permanent building for the church to meet in came up we had a large building appeal. It was a wonderful display of God's grace in people's lives to see how radically generous the church family was; people re-mortgaging their homes in order to give large sums, students even extending their student loans in order to give. Why so sacrificially generous? Because they believed in the urgency of the gospel, and therefore in the importance of securing a faithful Bible-teaching church in the town.
Tithing is not a New Testament command
Even under the Old Covenant, giving 10% was merely a minimum requirement. Now that we know the fulfilment of the old covenant in Jesus, we no longer follow those laws (though we do adopt the principle behind them). Nowhere in the NT is there any expectancy of giving 10% - rather we simply see people being encouraged to give generously (2 Cor 9:1-15)
Give sacrificially whatever your circumstances - don't compare your giving
For some people, tens of thousands of pounds could be given and wouldn't be missed. For others, £10 a month would be a big sacrifice. Nevertheless, we'll see when we get to Mark 12:41-44 the story of a poor widow who gives everything she has to live on - which is only two pennies. It may seem an insignificant contribution, but that's not the point. The point is the heart with which the money was given.
2 Cor 9:7 tells us that: 'Each one should give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver'.
We will all one day reap what we sow
Come back just one verse to 2 Cor 9:6 and we find that: 'Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully'.
As my old minister used to say, "Christian giving is like a boomerang". See Prov 19:17.