Scripture says a lot about money. In the Old Covenant, for example, Israel was reminded that God was the one who enabled people to create and enjoy wealth, so they must not forget him after they have attained some degree of it (Deut 8:11-16). Solomon taught that wealth could be slowly attained by hard work (Prov 12:27; 13:11), but there were some things that were better than money, including personal integrity and family peace (Prov 15:16-17). Concerning giving, Israel was required to give out of their income for the maintenance of the nation and religious worship (Prov 3:9). Financial care for the poor is often addressed in the Old Testament and served as a point of sharp rebuke from the prophets because of Israel’s failure to obey this command (Is 3:14; 10:2; 58:7; Ezek 18:5-13; cf. Deut 15:11).
Jesus spoke often on the topic of money, teaching his disciples to trust God for their provision (Matt 6:25-33), to avoid covetousness (Luke 12:15), and to give freely and without pretense to those in need (Matt 6:2). Regarding this last piece of instruction—giving—the New Testament epistles say quite a bit. Paul exhorts the new believer who had just been saved from a life of theft to no longer steal but to work to support himself and generate a surplus out of which he can give to those in need (Eph 4:28). The apostle also instructed the Corinthian church to give generously to help the saints in Jerusalem (2 Cor 9:1-9). He instructed the believers in Crete to be ready for every good work, which included meeting urgent needs (Titus 3:14), and he told Timothy to instruct the wealthy folks in Ephesus to be generous and rich in good works (1 Tim 6:17). Like the Old Testament instruction to give from one’s “firstfruits,” Paul expected Christians, every time they enjoyed the blessing of income, to set aside a portion of their wealth to give to God (1 Cor 16:2).
For the Christian, giving should be a spiritual discipline of the highest priority. But for some believers there can be confusion about how to give, how much to give, who to give to, and all the legitimate reasons for giving. For others, there may be a hesitancy to give because of a lack of trust in Christian institutions, including the local church. And yet for others, there may be an unwillingness to part with one’s money because of an underlying fear of not having enough, or because this person has outstripped their income with over-the-top spending, leaving little to nothing for charitable purposes. Sadly, some professing Christians don’t give because they are greedy. This last reason for why some Christians refuse to give is rather serious because it throws into question the reality of that person’s faith. Scripture is straightforward at this point: those who are greedy will not enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:10). A greedy Christian is a contradiction in terms.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of genuine Christians today who, though not characteristically greedy, need both instruction and encouragement on how to give for the glory of God and the good of others. In this new series, we are going to consider several biblical principles that should guide our thinking about giving. We will learn first that we must give from a heart that rests upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ—giving that is conducted in order earn our salvation will never please God. Giving will bring us the greatest joy and God the greatest glory when our hearts are settled in the truth that our right standing with God comes through Christ and not our attempts at generosity.
From this important starting point, we will then consider several truths related to our wealth and our stewardship of it. We will discuss important topics about how to give, when to give, and how to prioritize our giving. Our prayer is that this series will clear away some of the confusion about giving and, if you’ve been neglecting this aspect of your discipleship, serve to reinvigorate your heart for a life of Christ-centered generosity.