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Giving and the Church in Scripture

Posted by on Oct 24, 2011 in community, hospitality, love, missional, scripture, service | 7 comments

Giving and the Church in Scripture

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?

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Giving and the Church in Scripture Series:

1) Introduction
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


7 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-24-2011

    I’m looking forward to this series of posts. It fits right in with what I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about lately. For the last few weeks or so I have been sitting at the feet of the Anabaptists via a book I found online. One of the recent chapters I read through was about community among the members. I’ve learned that much of what we would call giving today was considered as sharing by these believers. The distinction between the two lies in the difference between how we look at the things God has given to us. If we consider them as things that belong to us, as if we have ownership, then we can consider them to be gifts to others. But if we consider them not as our individual property but as communal property then we are simply making private use of shared goods. It has been quite an interesting way of reflecting on how I view community life and why the 1st century church responded to the gospel the way that they did. I’m looking forward to how this series will help shape all of that.

  2. 10-24-2011

    I’ll be interested to see what you find as far as examples of Christians giving to Christians vs non-Christians (or for saving whales and providing for cat and dog rescues).

    Opening it up to giving in other ways besides money will also be helpful.

  3. 10-24-2011

    Bobby,

    I haven’t looked at the difference between “give” and “share.” That might make an interesting study.

    Art,

    Two of the four categories are specifically related to other Christians. The other two categories relate to Christians or non-Christians. While I’m not opposed to helping animals (we’re a foster family for the Franklin County Humane Society) or even conserving the environment, I think our focus should be on helping people.

    -Alan

  4. 10-24-2011

    I usually have somewhat of a cringing, vitriolic, albeit loving, response toward the topic of giving.

    Usually because all the experiences I have had with it and ‘local churches’ is a matter of qualifying and disqualifying people for benevolence.

    That really gets up my nose for some reason.

    Looking forward to your series…

  5. 10-25-2011

    James,

    I hope you don’t find much vitriol to cringe at here.

    -Alan

  6. 10-25-2011

    This should be interesting considering churchgoers tithe 2.8% of income and over 2% goes to operating expenses. (Washington Post article)- http://wapo.st/uAl4Oq

  7. 10-26-2011

    Michael,

    I’ve seen alot of different statistics… but none of them are positive. Thanks for the comment!

    -Alan

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  1. Tithing, Giving, and Offering: Are They Synonymous? | New Covenant Bible Fellowship of Las Vegas - [...] Knox who blogs at The Assembling of the Church has recently done a series on Giving and the Church …