That's A Good Question
Larry Ray Hafley
"Send all questions to the writer of this column."
From Kentucky: "I know that we are to put the Lord first in our giving, but does all our giving have to be put in the collection plate on Sunday morning? I ask this question because my parents are aged, and they do not have enough income to live on, and it is necessary for me to help them. Also, there are times when I would like to send money to evangelists that are in need that do not have regular support.
"Another thing I would like to know: I have a grocery. store and a job at the Post Office. Does my giving come before my operating expenses, or out of the profits of my business? It is necessary to have lights, telephone, fuel and employees in the business, and it has bothered me about my giving."
These questions are indicative of a sensitive conscience. They manifest an attitude that is set on pleasing the Lord. Our querist is apparently more interested in doing right than in pleasing self.
No, all our giving does not have to be put in the collection plate on Sunday morning (Rom. 12:13; Eph. 4:28). "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shaft do well" (3 Jn. 5, 6). Here was charity over and above that which was placed in the store or treasury of the Lord's day.
One must honor his father and mother. Part of this duty involves and includes physical sustenance (Matt. 15:3-9; Mk. 7:1-13). Thus, one must learn to show piety at home and to requite their parents, "for that is good and acceptable before God" (1 Tim. 5:4).
We are to give "as God . . .hath prospered" (1 Cor. 16:2). We are to maintain good works for necessary uses and to meet pressing needs (Titus 3:14). Funds required in the operation of the business are not prosperity. They are essential to the maintenance of the company. When Paul made tents (Acts 18:3), he was not prospered the amount used to purchase the goods with which to construct the tents. In the very nature of the case cited, one could not give that which is not actually his. The debts incurred, lights, heat, employees, and phone service, do not represent gain.
For what it is worth, we figure our contribution on our gross income, not on what is left over after all bills are met. I assume that most Christians do this. For example, if our wages are $XXX per week, gross salary, we have a set percentage of that which we have decided to contribute. We endeavor to meet this "purposed-in-our-heart percentage" regardless of the extra items that arise. Every saint must make his own decisions in matters of this kind. God has not bound precise levels. Finally, it is doubtful that our querist is in any danger in this area. With a tender regard for pleasing the Lord, he will, with mature reflection, give as God hath prospered.
Truth Magazine XXI: 49, p. 770