Church Handbook

Appendix 5: Christian Stewardship and Giving

Appendix 5: Christian Stewardship and Giving (Tithes and Offerings).  
God is interested in every area of our lives including our finances. All the riches of the world belong to Him and He has entrusted some of them to us in order to meet our needs, and through our giving to extend the Kingdom of God. If it was really ours, we could take it with us when we die! God is the Owner, we are only stewards or managers of His money and as such we must one day give an account to the Lord for how we have used it, and He will reward us accordingly  (Luke 19:1-27).

As the Lord and Owner of our material wealth, He has given believers instructions in His Word as to how it should be used. We will be judged on our faithfulness and obedience. In fact our use of money is a major test of our commitment to the Lord. We must prove ourselves faithful in this area if we are to be entrusted with greater things. Our future eternal rewards (our permanent possessions) depend largely upon our faithfulness in material things now (Luke 16:1-12): "Therefore if you have not been faithful with unrighteous mammon (money and possessions), who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?” (v11).

To be faithful in this area we must put God first: 
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money)" (v12,13). God does not mind us having money but He minds money having us! Money is a good servant but a bad master. The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1Timothy 6:6-10). If we put the Lord first in our finances, all that we need for ourselves and to give into His work will be supplied. 

The key scripture is Matthew 6:33: 
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness 
and all these (material) things shall be added unto you.” 
Putting God first in our finances means obeying His Word in our giving (how much and where to give). If we honour the Lord in our finances it shows Him we are serious in our commitment to Him. 

The fundamental principle of giving which is essential for God’s financial blessing is the Firstfruits: “Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first fruits of all your produce. So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9,10). 

The first part of our income (not whatever is left over after we have spent the rest!) 
is to be given to the Lord. In a special way the first fruits belongs to the Lord. This is how we acknowledge it is all His and that He is the Lord of our finances. Giving Him the first-fruits releases His blessing upon all our finances. Any giving above the first-fruits is a (free-will) offering. In the Bible, the Firstfruit is the Tithe (the tenth). Thus God requires a tenth of our income (that He has given us) to be given back to Him (to His work). We could say that He allows us to keep 90% for ourselves! The Tithe is the first way we honour the Lord. It is giving the first 10% to Him to acknowledge that all we have comes from Him. 

Thus, our giving is in Tithes and Offerings.

The Tithe was introduced before the law as a voluntary thing (Genesis 14:17 -15:1, 28:22). It continued under the law as a compulsory thing (Leviticus 27:30-32, Numbers 18:24-26, Deuteronomy 12:5-12, 14:22-29, 26:1-15; 2Chronicles31:5-10; Nehemiah 12:44), and in the New Testament it continues in a voluntary way again (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42). In Hebrews 7:1-10, Jesus our High Priest continues to receive our voluntary Tithes as Melchizedek received them from Abraham. 

Although we are no longer under the law (and its curse), an idea of the importance of the tithe to God is seen in Malachi 3:8-12: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “How have we robbed Thee?” “In Tithes and Offerings. You are cursed with a curse(never having enough), for you are robbing Me (the first fruits or tithe belongs to the Lord)... Bring the whole Tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house and test me now in this, says the Lord of hosts (angels) if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you..and all will call you blessed.” 

 According to the Bible the Tithe belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30; Malachi 3:8) and if we withhold it we are robbing God of His due and allowing lack to be upon our finances. When we tithe His overflowing blessing is released. He will send His angels to bring our finances in. We see also that the storehouse into which the tithe is to be given is the local church, the house of God in this age (Matthew 16:18, Genesis 14:20, Numbers 18:21-28, Malachi 3:8-12).  

The Tithe is designed by God to be small enough to be possible for all, but large enough to require faith and to break the power of material greed (love of money) in our lives. It is the way to put God first in our finances rather than as an afterthought. It gives Him access to our finances so that He can command the blessing on them. It is how we put our finances in His hands, giving Him the freedom to really bless them. The Tithe is our acknowledgement that our stuff comes from Him and is really His, hence giving Him full permission to bless and the right to stop satan’s activity in this area. He blesses all to some degree (we are under grace, not law) but only obedient Tithers can enjoy full blessing and get fully free from financial curse (Deut 28, Malachi 3:7-12, Isaiah 1:19). The Tithe also means that we start where we are in our giving (however small) rather than waiting until we can give alot, which is putting the cart before the horse. We must first prove ourselves faithful in our management of the small things (what we have now) before we will be given more over which to be faithful (Luke 16:10-13, 19:17, 1Corinthians 4:2, Matthew 25:21, 23,28-30).    The Tithe is the way we have to start as far as God’s financial plan for our life is concerned. It is the first way to prove ourselves as a faithful and trustworthy steward of God’s money.

Giving is the spirit of God for: “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus gave Himself for us and bore our poverty to release prosperity (the blessing of Abraham) to us in Christ (Galatians 3:13,14). 
“You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2Corinthians 8:9). 
God wants to prosper you and deliver you from the curse of poverty and debt. He wants to be your JEHOVAH JIREH and SHALOM.

Offerings. Anything over the Tithe is an offering which we can give wherever the Lord leads. As the Lord blesses us, we should not settle on the Tithe but we should aim to give more, thus storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven rather than earthly wealth - which we can’t take with us anyway (Matthew 6:19-21, 1Timothy 6:17-19; Luke 16:9). God inspects our giving and is more interested in our attitude in giving than the amount (Mark12:41-44). He wants to see our love for Him and the work of the Church in spreading the Gospel. 

We will be blessed financially, when we give into His Kingdom. To the Philippians, who were supporting the apostle Paul in the ministry the promise is made: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). If we put His Kingdom first, He will add all the things to us that we need for ourselves and more, so that we can give more away (Matthew 6:33, Deuteronomy 8:18). 

It is not wrong to want financial blessing if our main purpose is to give. To want just enough for ourselves is greedy- we should want an overflow so that we can give more to God and receive eternal rewards, as well as a harvest from our giving from which we can give even more (2 Corinthians 9:6-11). Our aim, based on our love for God, should be to give more and more into His work.  When we align our finances with God’s purpose in the church (the Great Commission of preaching the Gospel to save the lost and teaching the Word to grow strong Christians), we will enjoy His financial blessing. Why? - If we show ourselves faithful in giving to His work, He can trust us with more because He knows we will use it for His Kingdom. Our giving releases blessing for us as well as for the Church. 

When we give we are never the losers, for God honours the law
 of sowing and reaping (Genesis 8:22). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). 

When we sow our finances into the gospel we will also reap finances. 
We will receive a harvest much greater than what we sow (give). 
What we may give in spoonfuls He gives back by the bucket load: 

“Give and it shall be given to you; 
good measure, 
pressed down, 
shaken together, 
running over, 
they will pour into your lap. 
For by your standard of measure, 
it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). 

God wants us to give in faith - trusting Him to multiply back to us what we have given to Him, so that we can give again to His work. As we give, we expect God to give more again. According to our generosity of heart He will bless us again (Proverbs 11:24-28). 

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 gives God’s vision for our financial prosperity through our cheerful and generous giving:“He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; 
and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity 
for God loves a cheerful giver. 

God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 

As it is written 
(in Psalm 112): "He has dispersed abroad, 
He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." 

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown 
and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 
while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, 
which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”



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