The Law of Moses required Israelites to give tithes (tithe means 10%) to the priests and Levites so they could be devoted to serving at the tabernacle and still support their families. Hebrews chapter seven tells us that before the Law, Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, who was a priest of the Most High God.
Though the standard down through the ages has been ten percent, the New Testament doesn’t make such a requirement. Remember the principle of faith versus law. Law says you have to meet certain requirements. Faith says we want to love because He first loved us. Jesus gave it all to pay the price to save our soul, so each one of us always tries to give more, do more, be more, and love more.
Acts 2:41-47 and 4:32-37 tells about the first Christians’ lives being so dramatically impacted by salvation through Jesus that they regarded the cares of this world as irrelevant. Many took the initiative to sell their property and possessions because of a need they could fulfill with the proceeds.
They didn’t demonstrate such self-sacrificing love because they were required to do so. On the other hand, such foolishness in the eyes of the world was not discouraged, either. Also, they wouldn’t have been able to meet from house to house, as it says they did, if all of them had sold all of their property. Different gifts are given to each saint.
Let’s follow the first Christians’ example and neither require nor discourage, but rather inspire by demonstrating self-sacrificing, genuine love. Let’s not ask how much we have to give, but rather how much did Jesus give and how much can I give. Let’s be alert to needs and take the initiative to help to whatever degree we are able.
To discern legitimate needs, keep in mind the admonitions of 1 Timothy 6:8, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content;” and 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”
Collection For Needy Saints
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. (1 Cor 16:1-2)
I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. (2 Cor 8:8)
He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed… He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. (2 Cor 9:6-10)
See also Romans 15:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 9:3-13. Chapters eight and nine of 2 Corinthians are instructions to the saints at Corinth about a collection Paul was requesting to help needy saints at Jerusalem who were experiencing great hardships because of their unrepentant countrymen.
All creation belongs to the Lord, so He certainly doesn’t need your money. He providentially channels resources through generous saints, not stingy ones. As needs presented themselves, first century saints gave to the needy, especially to those who were of the household of the faith (Gal 6:6-10), and especially to those devoted to spreading the gospel.
So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. (1 Cor 9:14)
Paul was devoted to spreading the gospel and he commended the Philippian (4:10-19) saints for sending “a gift more than once for my needs.” Every Christian is a priest, so any ‘man of God’ devoted to spreading the gospel can be supported by fellow saints.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I find no New Testament obligation for Christians to systematically ‘give to the church’ as organized religion typically teaches. They usually have a lot of unscriptural overhead expenses and they often use not-so-subtle pressure techniques like passing around a collection plate to keep themselves in business. Again, there’s no New Testament precedence for this.
Cut out all of the unneeded, expensive traditions of men, and saints could finance the spread of the gospel like never before! Today, there are more people alive than ever before who have never heard the gospel. Stop investing in real estate and theology degrees and start investing in souls by supplying the needs of those devoted to spreading the gospel!
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)