As we think about giving in the context of Thanksgiving, it reminds me of going around the table on Thanksgiving day and telling everyone what we’re thankful for. This is a practice we ought to do every time we give.
Let’s talk about giving out of gratitude!
Giving out of Gratitude
“When we see all that God has provided for us, our hearts should swell with gratitude, leading us to give back to God. Paul reminds the church of Corinth of this truth in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Likewise, he reminds Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17-18, “as for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” Notice that generosity and sharing are motivated by gratitude to God who “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.””
Principles for Consistent Grace Giving
- Automate the process. Technology allows us to automate our giving to make sure our church is funded for Gospel ministry.
- Before you give, consider how much you’ve been blessed. Think about not just financial blessings. Certainly, we ponder the financial blessings. But we give out of gratitude for the varied grace of God (the forgiveness of our sin, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the fact that we have the Word of God). These are spiritual blessings that should drive our gratitude. We can also think about other temporal blessings such as our families, our churches, the nation in which we live, our possessions, etc… Base your giving on how grateful you are for those things.
- Passage where Jesus has a prostitute come and she washes his feet with precious oil. The Pharisees were upset. But Jesus says that she gives much because she has been forgiven much. That is gratitude based, sacrificial giving.
- 2 Corinthians 8:3… They gave beyond their means for the joy sharing in the service to the Lord’s people.
- Give in every circumstance.
- Give when you are facing financial struggle. Even in the little God is still faithful (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment)
- Give when you have been blessed abundantly. Remember that everything you have is from the Lord. Don’t get so caught up in your pride that you forget that your earthly riches are also from the Lord.
- Don’t hold your giving hostage when something isn’t going your way within the local church (unless there are Gospel issues you are facing).
- Give with heart! For God, it’s not about the money. It’s about the heart behind your giving. It’s saying, “thank you Lord for blessing me. This is a way I can give back to help build your Kingdom…” If we aren’t giving from the heart, we lose, and so does the local church.
Tithing versus Grace Giving
Excerpt from Tim’s forthcoming book The Good Steward
You may have noticed that so far in this series, we’ve used the word “giving” when referring to what believers ought to do today. We do not object to using the word “tithe,” but the word may cause us to miss the amazing truths found in the New Testament about grace giving.
The word “tithe” refers to one-tenth or ten percent. In the Old Testament, the concept of giving a tithe was first introduced when Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek (a prefigure of Christ) in Genesis 14:20. Later, in Genesis 28:22, Jacob promises to give a tithe back to God from all that God provides for him. When God gave Israel the law in Leviticus 27:30-33, he required a tenth of their harvest every year.
There were actually three different tithes in the Old Testament.
- 10% for the operation of the Temple and support of the Levites (Numbers 18: 21, 24).
- 10% for the annual feasts and festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
- 10% for the poor (widows, orphans, and sojourners) every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28, 29).
So, if we do the math correctly, we’d be giving away about 23.3% of our income each year if we followed the Old Testament ways of giving.
Fortunately, in the New Testament, giving shifts from a rigid tithe system to a more open-ended, grace giving model. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to give or that we should keep more of our income. Grace giving is not based not on an obligatory 10%; rather it is our response to God’s gracious and abundant provision.
Let’s reexamine a verse that we have already considered. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion.” Paul does not prescribe that we give 10% of our income. In the New Testament, giving is no longer a matter of the Law—it’s a matter of the heart. Each Christian is to consider God’s grace in their life and decide how much they ought to give.
In Luke 6:38, we learn that our giving impacts our reward: “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.” Rather than focusing on a percentage, grace giving focuses on the privilege of giving, and the reward for the willing and eager giver.
Author Randy Alcorn teaches that tithes are the training wheels for grace giving. “Tithing isn’t the ceiling of giving; it’s the floor. It’s not the finish line of giving; it’s the starting block. Tithes can be the training wheels to launch us into the mindset, skills, and habits of grace giving” (Randy Alcorn). The idea is not that tithing no longer matters in the New Testament, but that we are now free to give even more.
Challenges of gratitude-based giving
- Creating rituals or routines that automate the process. Automation is a good thing! But if we aren’t thinking about it, and we’re not trusting Jesus with it, is it really what Christ wants? There’s not a simple one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
- We don’t get physical paychecks anymore. Everything is direct deposit.
- We don’t see Gross vs Net. All we see is the deposit.
- Because we’re not getting the actual check, it is not the trigger to actually give.
- Not being prepared to give.
- Giving your RMD/Donation annually. If infrequent giving causes you to lose focus and takes your eyes off consistent gratitude towards God, consider alternative ways of giving. Remember, giving is an act of worship.
The antithesis of Gratitude based giving is manipulative giving.
We don’t give to get something from God. He is not a cosmic vending machine! But yet, he promises to bless those who are generous. However, that is not our motivation. “Getting” is not our drive. We give to say “thank you Lord”, not “I expect you to give me more.”
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