August 23, 2017

How Much Should I Give? (No. 1)

By Ray Ferris

In years gone by, in far too many places and in too many instances, it has been possible to hear only this
one thought expressed with regard to this subject: "The Bible does not teach the Christian how much to give."
This thought, sanctioned by too many preachers, elders, and Bible class teachers, has been the false flag under
which many covetous souls have sailed along with clear consciences toward God, and yet all the while were
guilty of robbing Him!


Is The Foregoing Statement True?


If one means that the New Testament has not set a specified amount in dollars and cents, then it is true.
The New Testament has not even fixed a percentage to be bound as a hard and fast rule. However, if one means
by that statement that there is nothing in the Bible to serve as principles to guide a child of God in determining
how much he ought to give, then I deny the truth of such a thought. It is sad, but true, that many have used it
in this way in order to justify their freedom to keep what belongs to God.


Giving Proves Love And Measures Sincerity


In speaking on the subject of giving Paul says it is "the proof of your love . . ." 2 Cor. 8:24; and will "prove
the sincerity of your love." 2 Cor. 8:8. In other words, it is a way to prove that we do have love, and it shows
how sincere our love is toward others and toward God and His work. "My little children, let us not love in
word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth." I John 3:18.


In Rom. 12:8 Paul commands that our giving be done with liberality. (ASV and in the marginal note of the
KJV.) In Galatians 6:6 the one who is taught is commanded to "communicate unto" or share with the one who
does the teaching, and this sharing is to be "in all good things." In I Cor. 16:2 each individual was taught to
give "as God hath prospered him . . ." Again, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the
gospel shall live of the gospel." I Cor. 9:14. In I Cor. 5:10-11 covetousness is classed with fornication, idolatry,
railing, drunkenness and extortion. In Col. 3:5 it is said to be idolatry. Covetousness is that inordinate desire
which one has for a thing that will cause him to do wrong in order to obtain it, or to keep it after it has been
obtained!


Summary Of Need To Give


Summarizing these words we find these thoughts thus far that will guide us in our giving: (1) We must
support the preaching of the gospel of Christ; (2) We must be willing to share all good things; (3) We must give
according to, or as God has prospered us; (4) We are to give to prove we do love; and (5) We may show the
sincerity of our love by the way we give.


This is ample evidence to show the necessity for giving, but now we are faced with another question.


How Much Should I Give?


The nearest we can come to amount is to study some divinely approved examples. In Act 2:44-45 and Acts
4:31-37 we find examples of individuals who were willing to give everything they had - even to the selling of
their lands and possessions - in order to support the preaching of the gospel and to care for needy saints. Acts
5:4 shows us this was not a God-given requirement, but rather it was a willingness inspired by love. Notice also
the example of the widow in Mk. 12:41-44. "And Jesus sat over against the treasury; and many that were rich
cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And
he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast
more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of
her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Her love inspired her to give all she had and Jesus
commended her for it. We must have an attitude of mind that would make us willing to give all! This attitude
will not be difficult when we have once learned the necessity of giving ourselves to the Lord and His work.


Value Of Examples


In I Cor. 10:11 Paul tells us the recording of Old Testament events was for our admonition or in order that
we might learn from them. Surely it would be true that the examples of giving contained in the Old Testament
may be used as admonition and guidance in our determination of how much to give; not that we point to a law
to be bound upon us, but rather having the advantage of knowing what the Lord desired in this matter in the
past. In 2 Samuel, chapter 24, we read of David's sin of numbering the people against God's will; of his
selfishness in choosing a punishment against Israel instead of one against himself; and finally God's demand
with regard to the sacrifice to be offered. You will remember that Araunah tried to give David everything
necessary for the sacrifice, but we are given the King's answer by the pen of inspiration. "Nay; but I will surely
buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me
nothing." 2 Sam. 24:24.


There is a relationship between this example and the one of the poor widow noted above. In one it is
pointed out that our giving must come from more than our abundance, or what is left over after we have
everything we desire. In the other, stress is placed upon the necessity of our gifts to the Lord coming from that
which is of personal value to us; that which I have given a personal evaluation and which costs me something.
Even as it was true that the animals sacrificed unto God during the days of animal sacrifices could not be the
scrawny left-overs, so men today need to give of that which is the very best unto the work of the Lord.


(To be continued)


Truth Magazine I:3, pp. 10-11
December, 1956

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