B332 - Set aside some money on the first day of the week (Tithe?)
Every believers is expected to give regardless of their economic well being. In Matt 6:2 (NLT), Jesus said, ‘When you give to someone in need.’ Notice that it is not ‘if we give’ but ‘when we give’. The Greek word for ‘when’ is ‘hotan’ or when and whenever.
In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus sat opposite the treasury observing how people were giving money into the treasury. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins which amounted to only a meager sum of money. Yet, Jesus did not stop her but commended her for giving out of her poverty.
Hence, giving is an expected behavior of believers.
In 1 Cor 16:1-3, Paul laid down a system on how the collection should be done.
- It should be carried out on the first day of every week,
- Members should put aside something in advance to give (as he may prosper).
Believers ought to set aside money on the first day of the week to give to the church.
Is it ten percent of our income? To answer that question, please go to B336, Give according to how we have prospered.
B333 - Don't let your left hand knows what your right hand is doing
Matt 6:2-3, ‘When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, ’
Notice a few things –
- It is ‘when you give’ – Giving is a natural thing, and
- ‘Do not let your left hand’ – In other words, do it without inhibition or an agenda. Once given, don’t assume that we can use our financial muscle to influence the church. Nor should we go around bragging about how much we have given. Once it has been given, it is given.
‘Do not let your left hand knows what your right hand is doing.’
Giving is a private affair where your left hand does not want to know what your right hand has done.
B334 - Give happily
Luke 6:30 says, ‘Give to everyone who begs from you’ and in Luke 8:3, it explains how Herod’s household manager, Susanna, and many others were providing for Jesus and his disciples out of their means.
In 2 Cor 9:7, the Apostle Paul said that ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ and also how we should trust God to give us back what we have given. 2 Cor 9:10 says, ‘He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.’
Our attitude of giving should be one of cheerfulness – knowing that we are ministering to others of the Lord.
B335 - Give to people who cannot repay us in this world
In Luke 14:14, Jesus encouraged believers not to give a feast to our friends but to ‘invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, (and) the blind.’
In 2 Cor 8:3 it talks about the Corinthians who gave even ‘beyond their means, of their own accord.’
The heart of Christians should be one of generosity – to give beyond their own accord and to give to people who will never be able to repay us in this world.
Please also see B143, Contribute to the poor who are in need.
Agape love is generous and sacrificial. It brought Jesus to earth to sacrifice his life so that we can live forever with God.
B336 - Give (amount) according to how we prosper (Tithe?)
Almost all evangelical churches encourage that tithe be ten percent. Hebrews 7:2 explains that ‘Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.’ And that is consistently repeated throughout the chapter. It is an Old Testament Jewish practice and we are told we are no more under the Law (Gal 5:3).
So, does the ten percent still applies to us Christians?
In 1 Cor 16:2, Christians are encouraged to ‘put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.’ The guideline seems to be ‘as he may prosper.’
2 Cor 9:7, it explains that God loves a cheerful giver while in the previous verse, Paul said that ‘whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.’
We also know that the New Testament’s standard and expectation may be higher than the Old Testament.
Jesus said in Matt 5:27-28, “You have heard that it is said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’
So, what should the amount be? Here is what we know:
- The concept of tithe seems to be an Old Testament teaching (Gal 5:3),
- In the New Testament, believers are instructed to give ‘as he may prosper’ (1 Cor 16:2),
- Christians are encouraged to give generously and cheerfully (2 Cor 9:6-7),
- The New Testament’s standard may be higher than the ten percent advocated in the Old Testament if we listen to Jesus’ teachings in Matt 5:27-28 as well as his other Beatitude lessons in Matt 5.
As a practice, we should give generously and cheerfully according to how the Lord has prospered us, always remembering the principle of sowing and reaping.
B337 - Give even if we are poor
In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus sat opposite the treasury and observed many people giving. Among them was a poor widow who put in two small copper coins. Jesus then told his disciples, ‘Truly I say to you this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.’
Here are the lessons from Jesus –
- Jesus did not stop the poor widow from giving,
- Giving is a matter of relativity. She gave out of her poverty.
We give regardless of whether we are rich or poor.
In Acts 4:34-35, well-to-do believers were giving much via the apostles so that ‘it was distributed to each as any had need.’
We give because we are part of the family of God.
B338 - Give (and trust God) that it will be given back to us (be generous)
In Luke 6:38, the Lord says, ‘Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.’
The NLT explains that the amount which we give will determine what we will get back – in other words, the more we give, the more we will receive.
It is a ridiculous concept; how is it possible that the more we give (money/ time/ effort), the more we will receive. This is especially true for some of us who are hoarders and who lack trust in the Lord.
The Book of Proverbs said the same – Prov 11:24, ‘One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give (NIV: withholds unduly), and only suffers want.’
The principle of the New Testament is that of sowing and reaping; the more we sow (as in farming), the more we will reap (2 Cor 9:6). Farmers probably know this better than many city folks.
B337, Give regardless of whether we are rich or poor – wealth has nothing to do with whether we should give or not give. It represents the measure of our trust in God that he will repay us in accordance to our giving.
B339 - Give more if you have the gift of making money (be generous)
1 Peter 4:10 says, ‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.’
It is the same in the story relating to the talents – use it or lose it; not only lose it but be cursed for not using it (Matt 25:14-30).
Have you noticed that some people just have a natural ability to make wealth? Most of them are entrepreneurs when they do that. It is true that they have taken the risk (faith is also about taking risk) but those with the gift of making money just know how to make a lot more than ordinary people. It is, of course, a really nice gift to have. But, as Scripture says, ‘Much is given, much is expected’ (Luke 12:48).
Making money is also a gift, just like someone who knows how to play the piano well or someone who teaches amazingly in a school. And that gift has to be used appropriately for the kingdom, just like any other gifts.
We can either use that money to satisfy our bodily craving (another flash car or an over-the-top house) or we can give it away so that many people may be impacted for the kingdom. How can we live simply so that others can simply live?
To these people, your ability to make money means that you will have been given a chance to give more than the ordinary person as a ministry.
B340 - Work a normal job if necessary (for missionaries)
In Acts 18:3, the Bible explains how Paul worked as a tentmaker even as he was ministering in the church of Corinth; he just did not want to be a burden to his congregation. A Pharisee and a tentmaker – what a combination. Paul was a super smart character but he humbled himself to work a blue-collar job.
Missionaries could end up not having a real work structure as they minister among the people. They could get funding from their source country(ies) but may stay in another country whereby there is little to no interaction with their contributors other than an occasional newsletter.
Missionaries must learn to maintain a level of integrity and if necessary take up other jobs as they operate in the mission field.
Let missionaries be disciplined and, if need be, work a normal job (or part-time work) while doing God’s work. Beware of being lazy missionaries with no to weak accountability.
B341 - Accept provision from others (for missionaries and church workers)
In Luke 8:3, it says,
‘Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.’
They funded the ministry of Jesus; that is, the women did.
1 Tim 5:18 says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ – This was written in the context of church workers being paid.
In fact, in 1 Tim 5:17, Paul recommended that ‘elders who lead effectively are worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.’ The Greek word for ‘honor’ is time or a price.
The NLT makes it more obvious and it is the correct translation of the original Greek, ‘Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well.’
Members of the church (or churches) should recognize good elders who ‘work hard at preaching and teaching’ and should provide for them. Church workers should accept provision from other believers.
Of course, the next question is: What does it mean to be paid well?
The Bible has provided us a model in the form of the Levites.
- The Levites had no land of their own and lived in towns scattered all over Israel among the rest of the other twelve tribes who were apportioned land.
- They were directly dependent on the provision of their fellow Israelites (Num 18:24; Neh 13:10-13).
The Levites’ duties were to serve and trust God and God’s people to provide for their needs. It is difficult to imagine a wealthy Levite.
See B342. Be careful of being seduced by riches.
B342 - Be careful of being seduced by riches (including church workers)
All believers, including church workers, must be careful on the ‘deceitfulness of riches’ which can ‘choke the word’ and make us ‘unfruitful’ (Matt 13:22).
1 Tim 6:10 says,
‘And the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.’
Even Balaam, a prophet of prophets, whom God communicated directly to, was deceived by money. Hence, we have decided to remind church workers regarding the deceitfulness of riches as they are not immune to the same disease.
See S22 – Profit from leading a group of believers, to have more information on Balaam.
Guard ourselves against the seduction of riches.
B343 - Serve God and not money
‘No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’
Matthew isolated just only two items – God and money.
Jesus said that believers will have to choose one or the other. There is no end to serving money.
There is a Chinese saying that says, ‘A little bit more is better than a little bit less.’ But the question is when do we stop and say we now have enough and it is time to serve the Lord with what we have been given? The problem with ‘a little bit more’ is that there will always be a reason to stretch out and earn that much more. And then the end can come quite quickly, just like the rich fool who was toying around to extend his barn (Luke 12:13-21), not knowing that his time would be up by nightfall.
The Bible says,
‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you’ (Matt 6:33);
NB: the ‘all these things’ that include what we eat, drink, and wear (Matt 6:31). It is always a challenge to place our faith entirely on the living God in living out our lives on earth but may God have mercy on us and teach us his ways.
See also B164, Hear God’s word and act as well as the various aspects relating to Faith, B165 to B168.
Serve God and not money.
B344 - Beware that wealth can hinder our walk with Christ
Luke 18:18-23 sees a wealthy young man who hears a rhema (direct) word from Jesus –
‘One thing you lack. Sell all that you have, distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’
That one rhema statement (see B238, Reach perfection by following the clear voice from God, for more information) became too hard for the young man to action. Eventually, he went away sad.
How many of us would run into the same problem if the Lord challenges us? Sometimes, the more we have, the more difficult it is to give up our pleasant life for the Lord. Yet, for us to be ‘perfect’, it is to follow him in total obedience, and to listen and act on that which he tells us to do.
In Luke 8:14, when talking about the parable of the sower, Jesus explained that riches as well as worries and the pleasures of life, can ‘choke’ our walk with God.
Beware that wealth (or sports or anything), if it becomes our idol, can hinder our walk to be perfect in Christ – wealth in particular.
Jesus said in Mark 10:24 (NKJV),
‘How hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God.’
B345 - Accumulate heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones
Matt 6:21 says,
‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
The Greek word for ‘treasure’ is thesauros or storehouse for precious things like a safe.
Our heart is guided by where we store our treasure. If we see storing our treasures on earth, then we will accumulate worldly treasures. But if we see storing our treasures in heaven, then we will generate ‘heavenly treasures.’
What are ‘heavenly treasures’? Are they not the souls of men and women?
In Luke 16:9, Jesus advised those who are rich,
‘I tell you, use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.’
Some of us are given the gift to make money. We ought to use this money to win souls because they are the heavenly treasures where ‘moths and rust cannot destroy them’ (Matt 6:20).
B346 - Be contented
In Luke 3:14, John the Baptist’s advice to the soldiers were simply, ‘Be content with your wages.’
With the Apostle Paul, he was content with ‘food and clothing’ (1 Tim 6:8) – NB: In those days, people did not have the amount of clothes and food that most of us would have taken for granted now.
In Phil 4:11, Paul shared that he had learned to be content because, in v 19, he said, ‘And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.’
What will we be content with? The Greek word for ‘content’ is arkeo or ‘I am satisfied’ or suffice.
As in B343 – Serve God and not money – when is enough ever enough?
To be content, we have to live within our means. Otherwise, mounting debt will cause us to live an ‘uncontented’ lifestyle.
Paul explained in 1 Tim 6:6 that
‘godliness with contentment is great gain for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world.’
Here lies the rationale of contentment. Accumulation will have no meaning because at the end of life, we will have to surrender and leave everything that we have gathered behind to another person.
Hence, B345- Accumulate heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones advises us to accumulate treasures that cannot be destroyed for eternity, which are the souls of men and women
Contentment is a powerful ally to help us do what God wants us to do. Paul, for example, was contented despite the sufferings that he went through (2 Cor 11:24-28).
Contentment is when we know what we have is in the Lord. Believers are not to strive and get ahead for a materialistic one-upmanship. We must learn like the Apostle Peter to cast our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, lived in the same house he bought in 1958. When asked what makes him happy, he said,
‘If I could spend $100 million on a house that would make me a lot happier, I would do it. But for me, that is the happiest house in the world. And it is because it’s got memories and people come back and all that sort of thing.’
NB: Warren B is not a Christian.
We could forget the third king of Israel, Solomon. King Solomon had everything possible – women, wisdom, and power but he concluded in Ecclesiastes 1:2,
‘Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’
The Apostle Paul showed that there was even contentment in suffering when he said,
‘I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and i know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, i have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Phil 4:11-13.
His secret? By focusing on Christ.
One way of being content is to learn how to count our blessings and literally name them one by one. When we appreciate the little things, the other things will come.
The truth be told, we need very few things to make us happy.
B347 - Build check and balance to avoid being tempted by money
John 12:6 says about Judas Ischariot as being ‘a thief’ and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.’
Our integrity with money shows us who we are. Generally, we would encourage believers not to trust ourselves but to build in checks and balances to avoid the temptation of money.
It is always tempting if money is in front of us. Hence, build in an accountability system where others can help you to alleviate the temptation. See also B326,Get rid of that which causes us to sin.
B348 - Guard against corrupt
Luke 3:13 says,
‘Collect no more than you are authorized to do.’
Do what we are told to do with collection of money. Anything beyond that is corruption.
How easy it is for someone in authority to collect more than is expected and pocketing the rest. Even churches can fall prey to the temptation of money when their property value rises; most church buildings, for example, are constructed out of town but which over time can end up being inside town. Some might even be zoned as urban or their plot ratio might change thus enhancing the original invested value of their portfolio. Hence, money can then be very tempting.
It is therefore wise to place checks and balances to protect our integrity, especially if it involves church monies. See B347 – Build check and balance to avoid being tempted by money.
B349 - Pay our taxes
B350 - Clear our debts
Rom 13:8 says,
‘Owe no one anything except to love each other.’
Here is the principle:
It is never good to be in debt. Reduce your debt as much as possible. When we are in debt, we are beholden to our debtors.
And if we are in debt (and in our modern society, many of us are), always pay back our lenders.
Ps 37:21 says, ‘The wicked borrows and does not pay back but the righteous is gracious and gives.’
Prov 22:7 says, ‘The rich rules over the poor. And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.’
Clear our debts.
B351 - Earn our own money and support our family
2 Cor 11:9 says,
‘When I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone’ and
2 Cor 12:14 says,
‘I will not be a burden for I seek not what is yours but you.’
Christians should avoid handouts (For example, government social security schemes).
Eph 4:28b says, ‘Labor, doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.’ Paul was very strict with people who seek handouts and not work.
In 2 Thes 3:10, he says,
‘If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.’
In fact, he called people who did not provide for their relatives as someone ‘worse than an unbeliever.’ (1 Tim 5:8).
See also S146, Do not work (Slothful and lazy).
As far as possible, earn our money and support our family.
B352 - Do not be partial to those who are wealthy
B353 - Spend at the right time
In Matt 26:8-13, Jesus was in Bethany when a woman came and anointed him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment.
Did Jesus reprimand her for her wastefulness? No. Instead, Jesus lauded her and said, ‘For you always have the poor with you (Yes, Jesus said it), but you will not always have me (How selfish could Jesus be?). In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial (Wow!)’
There is a time to spend and a time to save; a time to celebrate and a time not to waste. As Christians, we must be prepared to spend and celebrate as well. Christianity is about balance.
The wisdom is knowing how to strike that balance.
B354 - Practice mercy/ justice/ faithfulness and as well as giving to the Lord
In Matt 23:23, the Lord said,
‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.’
Giving tithes to the church is good, but there are things that are more important than that.
The purpose of the cross is for us to practice the following:
- Justice (fighting for right over wrong),
- Mercy (always demonstrating compassion above judgment), and
- Faithfulness (reserving our exclusive love for Jesus Christ)
Of course, we are also not to neglect giving away money to the Lord.
B355 - Do not covet wealth for preaching the Gospel (for church leaders)
In John 2:16, Jesus reprimanded people who were making money just outside the temple. He said,
‘Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’
In Matthew 21, he used the term, ‘den of robbers.’
Paul made it clear that in his ministries, ‘he coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel’ in Acts 20:33.
There is a lot of money to be coveted in religions.
The McDonald’s hamburger chain showed that they are not in the burger business but rather in the real-estate business. So are some churches that own substantial properties and end up being real-estate owners.
We also have the case of speakers going overseas to preach and earning a sizable honorarium from their stint.
Hence, without being critical of those in the ministries, it is very important to have checks and balances to make sure that the hearts of ministers are pure because money can entice even the best of us.
The best, or should we say the worst, biblical example is Balaam. Although he was a non-Israelite, he was a special prophet of God whom God spoke directly too. For more information, please go to S22, Profit from leading a group of believers.
Also, refer to S21 and S23 which talk about other sins relating to preaching the gospel.
See also B348, Guard against corruption.
Be careful of coveting wealth in preaching the Gospel.
B356 - Pay church staff on time and fairly
‘the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.’
The Bible is clear – He who works in the Word should be paid accordingly. God never short-changed his laborers.
In fact, 1 Tim 5:17 says,
‘Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.’
Now, substitute ‘elders’ with a church worker because that is who he is. And ‘double honor’ is the Greek word times and it means price or value. It can imply ‘pay’ and that is, pay someone who preaches and teaches well, a salary that recognizes his skill and work.
We must not forget that when the disciples were sent out to towns and villages by Jesus, they were told ‘to take nothing for the journey except a staff, no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts …’ (Mark 6:9).
Money is not to be a distraction in our service to the Lord. Like the Levites, the calling of full-time workers is to serve God and to trust him for their provisions.
Without doubt, it is important to pay staff (church workers and workers in God’s work) fairly, on time and to recognize those who deserve double honor.
Nonetheless, it is for church workers to remember that their focus is on God and not accumulate wealth even while in the ministry.