How Much Should I Give? (No. 2)
We are all aware of God's commandment to the Jews to tithe, or give one tenth of all. What we sometimes fail to notice is that this tithe was only for the support of the priesthood! Giving for burnt offerings, sin offerings, etc., as well as special contributions for the temple and other things, was in addition to this tenth. Usually when we reach this point in a study of giving we begin to hear comments like these: "The law of Moses was too hard f or people to keep, so God removed it. God gave us an easier law than the one given to the Jews. Some people just can't afford to give that much if they are poor and have large families."
Before we comment, let us say again, we cannot bind tithing upon people because it was a part of the law of Moses. However, there is not even a hint that the law was taken away because of any financial burden on the people! The Jews probably kept this portion of the law better than almost any other. Note Matthew 23:23: "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not leave the other undone." (Emphasis mine, REF). The Jews were very scrupulous in keeping the very letter of the law in the matter of tithing, and Jesus says they should have been.
Did God give us an easier law? Not so! He gave us a better law and a provision to make allowance for our weaknesses if we will take advantage of it. But, a command of God is still a command that must be obeyed. We now have better promises, a sacrifice for our sins, greater hope, etc., but "every transgression and disobedience" will still receive "a just recompence of reward." Heb. 2:2-4. One could abide by the law of Moses so long as he controlled his outward, overt acts, but the law of Christ holds a man responsible even for his attitude of mind and his thoughts. Notice the emphasis on this thought in the sermon on the mount, Matt. 5:12-48. It, 11 Cor. 10:5 Paul speaks of "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ . . ."
There were no people among the Jews who were made exceptions to the law of tithing because of their poverty and large families. Certain exceptions were made in the sacrificial offerings because of poverty, but not in the tithe. If righteous Jews could have followed this system for a period of 1500 years, then men could, and many do, still do so now. Surely God will bless Christians when they have the attitude of mind that makes such possible. Read again Psalm 37:25 and Matt. 6:33-34. "1 have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the (lay is the evil thereof." One is the testimony of David that this policy of being rich toward God worked in his day; the other is the solemn promise of Jesus that it always will! Do you trust Him?
Let it be noted again: we cannot bind a specified percentage on anyone, but in most instances one-tenth is not enough! In Psalm 119:172 we read: "All thy commandments are righteousness." The tithing of the law was a commandment of God, and therefore was righteousness. Is there anything to indicate that less will make us righteous in the matter of giving? This was one act of righteousness that was characteristic of the scribes and Pharisees. Do you want to do more. or less, than they? Now hear Jesus: "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:20.
The early church was made up of Jews who were accustomed to giving more than 6ne-tenth, whether they were rich or poor! Would they be likely to decrease their financial generosity when they received the outpouring of God's Spirit, a better law, a vastly greater hope of the most glorious blessing of all -- eternal life with God? Reason demands a negative answer, and the evidence in the scriptures is overwhelmingly against such a thought.
Too often we approach the study of giving from the wrong standpoint. We ought not to say "How much can I give?" but rather "How much do I have to keep for the necessities of life?" If we do as the churches in Macedonia did, "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (II Cor. 8:5) we will have this attitude. In II Cor. 5:15 Paul says Christ (lied for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." He asked the brethren in Corinth, "know ye not . . . ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price . . ." I Cor. 6:19-20. We must give ourselves to the Lord. We must live for Him, and all that we have must be used for His glory, but we must give liberally and specifically to support the work God has given to the church. May we understand that a sincere love for God and His work will prompt us to want to give more and more in making it possible to do His work in His way. Surely as He blesses us more richly and abundantly day by day we will be more generous in that which we return unto His cause.
How much then should I give? The scriptures do not tell us in dollars and cents how much we are to give. Neither can we specify a certain percentage from them for all, though one-tenth might be used as a minimum standard. However, just as surely as it is true that the inspired word is able to provide "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works," it must provide our answer to this question. 11 Tim. 3:16-17. Let us all search the Bible prayerfully and carefully that we may know the Lord's will on this matter, and may He help us through such study to abound in this grace also! As we study on this problem, let us ever remember the principle expressed by Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35.
Truth Magazine I:4, 6-7