Giving/Tithing/Alms/Offerings (Murray)

 As Christians, we are not called to hoard our money and finances.  We are instead called to give some of it away (cf. 2 Cor. 9:7).  Speaking of this, I appreciate David Murray’s points on the Christian’s financial giving.  I’ve put some of them below (they are edited for length):

  1. Giving Obeys God’s Command.  The Old Testament has way more commands about giving…than the New Testament. …But just in case we might miss the link, there are also some clear New Testament commands (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7).
  2. Giving Submits to God’s Lordship.  Every act of obedience recognizes that there is a higher authority in our lives, that there is a Lord over us who is entitled to honor and respect. …The wallet is often the last citadel to fall to God’s rule, and even when it does fall, it gets rebuilt and resecured again all too quickly.  But when enabled to submit our wallets to Christ’s lordship, we give clear and powerful testimony that he is Lord of all.
  3. Giving Exhibits God’s Heart.  God is the giver of every good and perfect gift.  He is the superlative giver.  And although God’s gifts are unprecedented, unrepeatable, and unbeatable, we are still called to copy God’s giving, to be minipictures of his infinitely large heart.  What do people think of God when they think of the way we use our money?
  4. Giving Illustrates God’s Salvation.  At the heart of the gospel is sacrificial self-giving.  That’s why when the Apostle Paul wanted to encourage the Corinthians to give more and more, he pointed them to the person and work of Christ (2 Cor. 8:7).  When we give sacrificially, painfully, and lovingly, we draw a small-scale picture of the gospel message.
  5. Giving Trusts God’s Provision.  The biggest deterrent to giving is fear, the fear that if I give away too much, I won’t have enough for this or that.  When we give sacrificially, above and beyond what is comfortable and easy, we express our faith and trust in God to provide for us and our families.
  6. Giving Widens God’s Smile.  The Lord ‘loves a cheerful giver.’  It delights him to see his people gladly opening their hearts and hands to provide for the needs of his church and indeed all of his creatures.
  7. Giving Advances God’s Kingdom.  …Think of what blessing results when we fund the mission of Christ’s church.  …Above all we are investing in the spiritual and eternal welfare of people from every nation, tribe, kindred, and tongue.
  8. Giving Promotes God’s Sanctification of Us.  Giving money, especially when it pains us, is work that requires much self-denial and self-crucifixion.  Every act of giving weakens and breaks our sinful and selfish nature, however, empowering God’s work of grace in our hearts.
  9. Giving Testifies to God’s Power.  …Even secular observers have noticed with amazement how generous Christians often are with their money.
  10. Giving Praises God’s Character.  Giving in a right spirit is an act of worship (Heb. 13:16). It is rendering God a tribute of praise.  It is saying, “You gave me everything, and here is a small expression of my gratitude and praise for all our good gifts.”

You can find all these points with more discussion in chapter eight of The Happy Christian by David Murray.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI

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Guilt Giving

Gospel in Life Study Guide: Grace Changes Everything I ran across this helpful section of Gospel in Life: Study Guide last night at our church’s Bible study.  I appreciate it in light of popular speakers who make Christians feel guilty for having a furnace, an air conditioner, a fishing boat, and good food to eat each day.

“Often books and speakers tell Christians that they should help the needy because they have so much.  That is, of course, quite true.  Common sense tells us that, if human beings are to live together on the planet, there should be a constant sharing of resources.”

“But this approach is very limited in its motivating power.  Ultimately it produces guilt.  It says, ‘How selfish you are to eat steak and drive two cars when the rest of the world is starving!’  This creates great emotional conflicts in the hearts of Christian who hear such arguing.  We feel guilty, but all sorts of defense mechanisms are engaged.  ‘Can I help it if I was born in this country?  How will it really help anyone if I stop driving two cars?  Don’t I have a right to enjoy the fruits of my labor?’  Soon, with an anxious weariness, we turn away from books or speakers who simply make us feel guilty about the needy.”

“The Bible does not use the guilt-producing motivation, yet it powerfully argues for the ministry of mercy.  In 2 Corinthians 8:2-3, Paul tells us that the Macedonian Christians gave generously to the Jerusalem famine victims.  …What was the dynamic that moved them to give?  ‘Their overflowing joy…’ (v. 2) and ‘they gave themselves first to the Lord’ (v. 5). …Their gifts were a response, not to a ratio of income levels, but to the gift of Christ!  Mercy is spontaneous, super abounding love which comes from an experience of the grace of God” (p. 109-110).

In other words, we should help those who need it – but we should do so not out of guilt, but out of gratitude for grace.

The above quote is found in Tim Keller, Sam Shammas, and John Lin, Gospel in Life: Study Guide.

shane lems