While there are certainly “churches” and preachers who are taking advantage of the generosity of their members and giving Christianity a bad name, we should not allow that to stop us from talking about how and why Christians should give money to the church regularly. The New Testament says a lot about money and one of the things is says is that how you feel about money is an indication of your spiritual maturity and your love for God (Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:10). So, you should really stop and examine how and why you give.
1. Gratitude for Jesus’ Sacrifice
The entire Christian life could be summed up as a grateful response to the Good News about Jesus (Romans 12:1-2). We should do everything we do because we are responding to who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Therefore, our giving should be in response not just to the immediate need to which we are giving, but in response to the gospel.
In the first-century, the church in Jerusalem faced a time of desperate need. Paul collected money from several congregations to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. He told the Corinthian church that their giving was evidence of their obedience to their “confession of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 9:13). He wanted them to give out of gratitude. He wanted them to give because they were in Christ.
This is why we say that our giving is an act of worship. We give because God has already given us – and continues to give us – an “inexpressible gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) in Christ. We give to the church each week because we are incredibly grateful for what Christ has done for us.
2. Sharing with Those in Need
The church is supposed to be a place where there is “no needy person” (Acts 4:34). That doesn’t mean, of course, that there won’t be rich Christians and poor Christians, but there should be no Christian without food to eat, clothes to wear, or a roof over his head. The church has a responsibility to make sure every member is taken care of by sharing what we have with one another.
Every able-bodied Christian has a responsibility to work so that he can “provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household” (1 Timothy 5:8). And then beyond that, we have a responsibility to work so that we “have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28). We should see anything beyond our families’ necessities as belonging to our brothers and sisters who are in need.
If we have more than enough money to take care of our families, then we ought to be contributing regularly to help take care of our church family.
3. The Mission of the Church
First-century Christians seemed to understand that being converted to Christ wasn’t JUST going from being lost to being saved; it was also being recruited to the cause. King Jesus was turning the world upside down through the preaching of the Good News and every Christian who came on board needed to somehow support the mission of reaching the whole world with the Good News. In Philippi, when a woman named Lydia was converted, she understood that faithfulness to Jesus meant even her house now belonged to the cause (see Acts 16:11-15).
Paul said, “The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). Prophets, apostles, evangelists, shepherds and teachers were God’s gift to the church (Ephesians 4) and the church was taught that she had a responsibility to financially support their work of making disciples.
We should give because we have been recruited to the cause. We should want to support disciple-making in our own congregation, in our city, and in the remotest parts of the world. We should want every ear to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and to be taught everything Jesus has commanded. We should all see ourselves as a part of that mission.
4. Following Apostolic Teaching
Finally, when Paul was making plans to come to Corinth to collect the money for the Christians in Jerusalem, he told the church how to prepare for his arrival. He told them, “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper” (1 Corinthians 16:2). In other words, he seems to be saying that each member should bring some money to the assembly each Sunday and they should store it up until he arrives later to collect it.
I understand that Paul is giving specific instructions for a particular situation, but it seems to me that we should follow this teaching for the ongoing needs the church has today. After all, Paul gave the same instructions to the churches in Galatia (1 Corinthians 16:1). Don’t you suppose he would give us the same instructions today for supporting the needy and the ongoing disciple-making efforts of the church?
We should give on Sundays because we are devoted to following apostolic teaching. Jesus appointed Paul and the other apostles to give instructions about how to be Jesus’ church and we have no other instructions to go by. Wouldn’t it be presumptuous to say, “Well, that only pertained to that need at that time. I can do it another way”?
Personally, I would rather walk by faith and say, “If this is the way Jesus’ ambassadors told the first-century church to meet the needs of that time, then it is the way I will do it as well.”
I love you and God loves you,