In the Old Testament, the Israelites gave through their mandatory tithes and through their freewill offerings. But in Christ’s teaching and the New Testament, we see a much better example of giving that comes through grace, generosity, love, thankfulness, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. God no longer mandates an exact amount we should give, but He instead asks us to seek His will and follow His Spirit to decide how much we should give.
The motivations for giving in the New Testament come purely from love for God, love for others, the grace God has given us, and our contentment and thankfulness in Christ. Tithing was an obligation for the Israelites as part of the Law. But Christ has fulfilled all the requirements and obligations of the Law for us – our salvation and righteousness no longer relies on our ability to keep the Law. Instead, we place all of our hope of salvation and holiness in the death and resurrection of Christ. This grace which God has afforded us calls for a lifestyle dominated not by the Old Testament Laws but by the Law of the Spirit of Grace. Just as Jesus taught the full intent and spirit of the Law, we no longer focus on the letter of the Law but on the intent and spirit of the law. It is in giving ourselves fully to God and the guidance of His Spirit that we will be able to reflect His nature to others.
Give Yourself to God First
When Paul describes the generous giving of the church at Macedonia, he tells the Corinthians that they gave more than expected because they gave themselves to God first.
1 Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia; 2 how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. 3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. 5 This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (WEB)
The Macedonian Christians gave generously, even though they were in deep poverty themselves, to help our those in Jerusalem who were suffering from a famine. Why would they do this? They were in need themselves, but they saw the excessive needs of others as more important than their own. This is not something humans would naturally do. Many people give out of their abundance, but few non-Christians give generously and joyously while they are themselves in poverty. It doesn’t make sense by worldly standards. This is not to say that God requires poor Christians to give when they can hardly meet their own needs – it just testifies to the power of God’s Holy Spirit that poor Christians can give generously and joyously despite their own needs.
The believers at Macedonia were only able to give with such generosity and joy because they gave themselves to God first. They fully subjected their will to His will. They gave out of their love for God, love for others, and their contentment in Christ. Because their fulfillment came from Christ, they saw no affliction in their own poverty. The joy and love of Jesus compelled them to give even beyond what they were able – beyond what anyone could have expected of them. And they did it with pure joy and a strong, driven spirit.
This type of generous giving can only come from God. When we find contentment in Christ, we no longer count material things as important. We can be satisfied with much less in this life so we can fully follow Jesus’ teaching of giving generously. We understand that what we have and own in this life have absolutely no value in eternity. We look at the example of Christ’s generous gift and are compelled by the Spirit to give in response. We submit ourselves to God’s will and give to meet the needs of others. This generous giving is a clear, outward sign of our love for God and dedication to His ways. And it’s a shining example of the extravagantly merciful and overflowing giving nature of God.
Apart from God, we can only see our own needs and wants. We desire our own well-being first and foremost, and then we might give if we have some extra and feel guilty because of our relative wealth compared to those in need. We are primarily selfish creatures, and we are especially so when we find ourselves in need or want of something. Only when we come to God and give ourselves to Him can we put aside our selfishness and look to the needs of others instead. Apart from this submission to God’s love and will, we cannot duplicate the generosity of His true children who value Him above all else.
The only way we can have this continually generous giving nature is to first give ourselves fully to God. Our lives cannot be governed by grace and mercy until we accept the gift of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Once we do that, we can begin to find our contentment in Him, develop and strengthen our love for God, and begin to give generously in response to Christ’s love and gift – no matter what our situation is…rich or poor. We won’t give grudgingly or out of compulsion by some requirement imposed by man. We’ll give out of pure joy and happiness in the Lord.
If you want to learn more about New Covenant Giving – giving that is completely freewill, generous, joyful, and sacrificial – continue to check back here at Provident Planning. Or better yet, click here to get free updates in your email or favorite feed reader!