I haven’t written much about giving from the perspective of Christians, the church, or Scripture. This is one of those topics that provokes passionate responses on all sides of the issues. So, I’m going to take a “slow and easy” approach to the topic.
To begin, we should admit that giving (or tithing or offering or whatever you want to call it) is a pervasive issue among many in the church. Most of the mail or email that I get from Christians that I do not know personally is requesting monetary support of some kind. And, we’ve all heard the someone say they will “never attend another church service” because they only want money (or they’re always asking for money).
It appears to many (and often to me) that the church runs on money, and that the main mission of the church is to raise money. (There is even a church in our town that has a “yard sale” at least once per month.) Last week, when we went to the NC State Fair, I lost count of the number of food stands that were run by churches attempting to raise money. (I heard an interview in which one of those church members said the state fair was their primary way to raise money.)
When you read through the Gospels, you find that Jesus said quite a bit about money. However, it seems that Jesus primarily spoke about personal use of money or relying on money instead of God. Similarly, we find Paul writing about money a few times, as well. Paul writes about money for many different reasons.
But, what does Scripture (the New Testament in particular) say specifically in relation to the church and money? I’m going to broaden the question a little: What does the New Testament teach in relation to Christians and giving to others?
I use “giving” instead of money because often in Scripture we find other things (besides money) being given to others. If we limit the question to only money, we would have very few passages to consider. However, when we expand the question to include other ways that Christians gave to others in Scripture, we find several additional episodes.
In the study, I’ve divided the various instances of giving into four different groupings: 1) Christians giving directly to others because of need, 2) Christians giving indirectly to others because of need, 3) Christians giving to other Christians traveling from place to place, and 4) Christians giving to other Christians in response to some service.
I plan to cover each of these “groupings” in a separate blog post. I think it interesting to find many of the “proof texts” used today are actually applied to different types of giving in the New Testament – types of giving that might not be “acceptable” to those using the “proof texts” today.
I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and insights as I study this topic. Do you have any comments on this introduction, or on the four categories that I’m using in this study?
Giving and the Church in Scripture Series:
2) Christians giving directly to others because of need
3) Christians giving indirectly to others because of need
4) Christians giving to other Christians who are traveling from place to place
5) Christians giving to other Christians in response to some service