Cheerful giving is born of love, and therefore it is a lover loving a lover and rejoicing in the communion. Giving is the language of loving; indeed, it has no other speech. “God so loved that He gave !” Love finds its very life in giving itself away. Its only pride in possession is the joy of surrender. If love has all things, it yet possesses nothing. – JH Jowett.
In the Old Testament, a tenth of all produce was mandated to be given to the Levites. An additional tithe collected every three years was to be given to the aliens, orphans and widows. On top of that, the Israelites were reminded to be generous to the needy. Deut 15:7-8.
In the New Testament, there is no such requirement mentioned but cheerful and generous giving is very much encouraged. 2 Cor 9:6-7. Generous giving also reveals our hearts of our gratitude towards God fully acknowledging whatever we have come from Him. We are actually encouraged to give everything of ourselves including our gifts and talents in the Kingdom of God. Matt 25:14-30. Jesus our Lord also required of us as faithful servants to care for His people. Matt 24:45-51; Matt 25:31-46.
Today, in our local church, the full time pastoral staff are like the Levites who deserve the giving of the church to support their needs. If the church has programs of helping the orphans, widows and aliens including missions, these programs have to be supported as well.
A call for tithes is a good guideline. But to impose a tithe and cause giving out of obligation and compulsion will not be cheerful giving and that is not encouraged at all in 2 Cor 9:6-7. On the other hand, generous giving to get good public opinion is also not encouraged. Matt 6:1-4. All giving should be an expression of love. Giving is a worship sacrifice pleasing to God. Heb 13:16. Giving to the poor is a memorial offering to God. Acts 10.
Giving and anticipating 100 fold returns as preached in the prosperity gospel is not giving out of love but stoking greed in the hearts of the givers. The current scandals of so many prosperity gospel churches should tell us that there is really no blessing from God but mere manipulation of greedy hearts.
Instead of trusting the false teaching of these false prosperity gospel preachers, why not trust God’s promises for giving to the needy ?
God did promise blessings for those who give to the poor and needy cheerfully :
Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
2 the LORD protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
3 The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.
Isaiah 58: 7-11
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
Prudence is a cardinal virtue. We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Again, I want to remind that we should not give blindly. We should give to the indigent poor and NOT the indolent poor. 2 Thess 3:6-15. We should not give to programs that glorify man instead of God. As there are many abuses of church funds today, pray for discernment in giving. And pray for your church leaders to have genuine servant-hood leadership quality with right motive to serve the Lord and His people, and not gratify themselves.
Pause for a moment right away and think about this seriously : When we face Jesus our Lord one day and He asks about our motive for giving, will we be commended as faithful servant or rebuked as wicked servant ? Hopefully He separates us as sheep and not goats. Repent while we have time if we are going the wrong way.