Are Christians Required to Tithe?

(plus some words on giving and money management)

Are Christians required to tithe?

The short answer is no.

But before you think I'm saying that Christians aren't required to give:

Are Christians required to give?

The short answer is yes.

Now for the longer answers!

The Hebrew word for "tithe" means "tenth" (with the noun form of "to tithe" meaning "to give a tenth") I'm really not sure how the English word "tithe" came to be; it would be much easier to understand if this word were translated "tenth."

Here are the places in the Old Testament where the Hebrew noun or verb are used:

and blessed be the most high God, who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him a tithe of all. (Genesis 14:20)

and this stone which I have placed as a memorial pillar shall become the house of God; and all which You shall give to me, I will tithe the tenth to You. (Genesis 28:22)

And all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land, of the fruit of the tree, shall be Jehovah's; it is holy to Jehovah. And if a man really redeems any of his tithes, he shall add its fifth to it. And all the tithe of the herd and of the flock, all that passes under the rod, a tenth shall be holy to Jehovah; (Leviticus 27:30-32)

And, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel to the sons of Levi for an inheritance, in return for their service which they are serving, the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. And the sons of Israel shall not come near to the tabernacle of the congregation any more, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a never ending statute throughout your generations, that in the midst of the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance; but the tithes of the sons of Israel which they shall lift up to Jehovah, a heave offering, I have given to the Levites for inheritance; therefore I have said to them, They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel. And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, And you shall say to the Levites; and you shall speak to them, When you take the tithe from the sons of Israel, which I have given to you from them, for your inheritance, then you shall lift from it a heave offering of Jehovah, a tithe of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be counted to you as grain from the threshing floor, and as fullness from the winepress. So you also shall lift up the heave offering of Jehovah from all your tithes which you receive from the sons of Israel. And you shall give from it the heave offering of Jehovah to Aaron the priest. (Numbers 18:21-28)

And you shall bring your burnt offerings there, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offering, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock. And you shall eat there before Jehovah your God, and shall rejoice in all that you put your hand to, you and your households, with which Jehovah your God has blessed you. You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, each doing all that is right in his own eyes. For you have not come to the rest and to the inheritance which Jehovah your God is giving to you. And you shall cross over the Jordan, and shall live in the land which Jehovah your God is causing you to inherit. And He shall give you rest from all your enemies all around; and you shall live securely. And it shall be the place which Jehovah your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, there you shall bring all that I am commanding you, your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice freewill offerings which you vow to Jehovah. And you shall rejoice before Jehovah your God, you and your sons, and your daughters, and your male slaves, and your female slaves, and the Levite within your gates because he has no portion or inheritance with you. Take heed to yourself that you not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which Jehovah shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command. Only with all the desire of your soul you shall sacrifice and shall eat flesh within all your gates according to the blessing of Jehovah your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean one may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the hart. Only, you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it as water on the earth. You are not able to eat the tithe of your grain within your gates, and of your new wine, and your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock, and any of your vows which you vow, and your freewill offering, and the heave offering of your hand. (Deuteronomy 12:6-17)

Tithing you shall tithe all the increase of your seed that the field yields year by year. And you shall eat before Jehovah your God in the place which He shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock; that you may learn to fear Jehovah your God all your days. And if the way is too long for you, so that you cannot carry it, because the place is too far from you which Jehovah your God shall choose to set His name there, when Jehovah your God shall bless you; Then you shall give it for silver, and bind up the silver in your hand. And you shall go to the place which Jehovah your God shall choose. And you shall pay the silver for whatever your soul desires, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for fermented drink, or for whatever your soul desires. And you shall eat there before Jehovah your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no portion nor inheritance with you. At the end of three years, even the same year, you shall bring forth all the tithe of your increase, and shall lay it up within your gates. (Deuteronomy 14:22-28)

When you have made an end of tithing all the tithes of your increase the third year, the year of tithing, and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the orphan, and the widow, that they may eat inside your gates, and be filled, (Deuteronomy 26:12)

And he will tithe your seed and your vineyards, and will give them to his eunuchs and to his servants. And he will take your male slaves and your slave-girls, and the best of your young men, and your asses, and will use them for his own work. He will tithe your flock, and you will be servants to him. (1 Samuel 8:15-17)

And as the word spread, the sons of Israel brought abundantly the firstfruits of grain, new wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the produce of the field, and the tithe of all; they brought very much. And the sons of Israel and Judah, those living in the cities of Judah, also they tithed of the herd and the flock, even a tithe of the holy things that were sanctified to Jehovah their God, were brought in. And they gave heaps of heaps. They began to lay the foundation of the heaps in the third month, and in the seventh month they finished. And Hezekiah and the leaders came in and saw the heaps, and blessed Jehovah and His people Israel. And Hezekiah asked the priests and the Levites about the heaps. And Azariah the chief priest, of the house of Zadok, spoke to him and said, From the beginning of the bringing of the heave offering to the house of Jehovah, it was eaten, and it satisfied, and abundance was left; for Jehovah has blessed His people, and this abundance is left. And Hezekiah ordered them to build rooms in the house of Jehovah; and they prepared, and they brought in the heave offering, and the tithes, and the holy things, faithfully. And over them was a leader, the Levite Cononiah, and his second brother, Shimei; (2 Chronicles 31:5-12)

And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all kinds of trees, of wine, and of oil, to the priests, to the rooms of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground to the Levites; and they, the Levites, might have the tithes in all the cities we worked. And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites, tithing the Levites; and the Levites shall bring up the tithes of the tithes to the house of our God to the rooms, into the treasure house. (Nehemiah 10:37-38)

And at that day some were chosen over the rooms for the treasuries, for the offerings for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather to them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the Law for the priests and the Levites. For Judah rejoiced for the priests, and for the Levites who waited. (Nehemiah 12:44)

(and he had prepared for himself a large room and there before they were giving the food offering, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the gatekeepers, and the offerings of the priests). But in all this time I was not at Jerusalem. For in the thirty second year of Artaxerxes the king of Babylon, I came to the king. And after some days I asked leave from the king. And I came to Jerusalem, and understood the evil which Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me very much. And I threw all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded, and they purified the rooms. And I returned there the vessels of the house of God, with the food offering and the frankincense. And I was aware that the portions of the Levites had not been given, for the Levites and the singers who did the work had each one fled to his field. Then I contended with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them and set them in their place. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, into the treasuries. (Nehemiah 13:5-12)

Come into Bethel and transgress; multiply transgressing at Gilgal. And bring your sacrifices for the morning, your tithes for three days; (Amos 4:4)

Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, In what have we robbed You? In the tithe and the offering! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the nation, all of it. Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. And test Me now with this, says Jehovah of Hosts, whether I will not open the windows of the heavens for you and pour out a blessing until there is no sufficiency of room to store it. (Malachi 3:8-10)

Gill is very helpful here because of his knowledge not only of the Hebrew language but also of Hebrew law. Here is his commentary on Leviticus 27:30-32, which is the first Bible passage that gives a law about tithing:

Lev 27:30 - And all the tithe of the land,.... Of which there were various sorts, the first tithe, the tithe out of the tithe, the second tithe, and the poor's tithe, which are generally reduced to three,"The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem: another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem:'' (Tobit 1:7)so Maimonides (p) says,"after they had separated the first tithe every year, they separate the second tithe, as it is said Deu_14:22; and in the third year, and in the sixth, they separate the poor's tithe, instead of the second tithe:''so that, properly speaking, there were but two tithes, though commonly reckoned three; the tithes of all eatables were given to the Levites every year, and a tenth part of that given by the Levites to the priests, and the second tithe was eaten by the owners; instead of which, according to the above writer, in the third and sixth years it was given to the poor, and called theirs; of this second tithe, Jarchi interprets this law, and so does Maimonides (q):

whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: is to be given to him as an acknowledgment of his being the proprietor of the land, and that all the increase of it is owing to his blessing, and therefore is given in way of gratitude to him: the former of these takes in all sorts of corn that is man's food, as wheat and barley; and the latter wine and oil, and all sorts of fruits that are eatable; for it is said to be a general rule, that whatever is for food, and is preserved (having an owner, and not being common), and grows up out of the earth, is bound to tithes (r):

it is holy unto the Lord; the first tithe was eaten by the priests and Levites only, and the other before the Lord in Jerusalem only, and that by clean persons. Something of this kind obtained among the Heathens, it may be in imitation of this, particularly among the Grecians; Pisistratus (s) tells Solon, that everyone of the Athenians gave a tenth part of his inheritance, not to me, says he, who was their governor, but for public sacrifices, and the common good, and when engaged in war, to defray the charge of it; and so, by the oracle of Apollo, the Corcyraenans were directed to send to Olympia and Delphos the tenth part of the produce of their fields (t); and by the same oracle, the island of the Syphnians, in which was a golden mine, were ordered to bring the tenth of it to the same place (u). So the Pelasgi (w) in a time of scarcity vowed the tithes of all their increase to the gods, and having obtained their wish, devoted the tenth of all their fruits and cattle to them.

(p) Hilchot Maaser Sheni, c. 1. sect. 1. (q) Hilchot Maaser, c. 1. sect. 2. (r) Misn. Masserot, c. 1. sect. 1. (s) In Laert. Vit. Solon. p. 36. (t) Pausan. Phocica, sive, l. 10. p. 624. (u) Ibid. p. 628. (w) Dionys. Halicarnass. apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 4. p. 159.

Lev 27:31 - And if a man, will redeem ought of his tithes,.... Of his own, and not his neighbour's, as Jarchi observes; for if he redeemed the tithes of his neighbour, but did not add a fifth part, which he was obliged to do if he redeemed his own, as follows:

he shall add thereunto the fifth part thereof; besides giving the value for what part of his tithes he redeemed, he gave a fifth part of that sum over and above; as, supposing the tithe was worth fifty shillings, then he gave that, and ten shillings more, and so in proportion. The use of this redemption, as Jarchi suggests, was, that he might have liberty of eating it in any place: for he understands it of the second tithe, as before observed, and which was to be eaten at Jerusalem.

Lev 27:32 - And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock,.... Of oxen and sheep, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; for this law only concerns such, as Maimonides (x) observes, for none but clean beasts were tithed, though the firstlings of unclean beasts were to be redeemed:

even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord: which being slain, the blood and fat were to be offered the altar, and the flesh eaten by the owners, as Jarchi observes; who adds, this is not reckoned with the rest of the gifts of the priesthood; and we do not find it was given to the priests: the "rod", under which these are said to pass, is either the shepherd's rod, as Aben Ezra under, which they passed morning and evening, when led out or brought in, as in Jer_33:13; or the rod of the tither: the manner of tithing, as described by Maimonides, was this;"he gathers all the lambs and all the calves into a field, and makes a little door to it, so that two cannot go out at once; and he places their dams without, and they bleat, so that the lambs hear their voice, and go out of the fold to meet them, as it is said, "whatsoever passeth under the rod"; for it must pass of itself, and not be brought out by his hand; and when they go out of the fold, after another, he begins and counts them with the rod, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and the tenth that goes out, whether male or female, whether perfect or blemished, he marks with a red mark, and says, this is the tithe (y):''the time of tithing the cattle was on the first of Elul or August; for so it is said (z),"the first of Elul is the beginning of the year for the tithing of beasts;''when they tithed all that were born the preceding year: but we are elsewhere told (a), there were three times for tithing beasts; fifteen days before the passover, (which was the last of Adar or February,) and fifteen days before the Pentecost, and fifteen days before the feast of tabernacles, which was the last of Elul or August; and these tithings were made for the sake of those that went up to these feasts, that it might be certain the cattle sold and eaten were tithed.

(x) Hilchot Becorot, c. 6. sect. 1. (y) lbid. c. 7. sect. 1. (z) Misn. Roshhashanah, c. 1. sect. 1. (a) Misn. Becorot, c. 9. sect. 1.

And here's Gill on Deuteronomy 14:22-28:

Deu 14:22 - Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed,.... This was a different tithe from that which was made and given to the Levites, and out of which a tithe was taken and given to the priests, and which they only ate of; but this, as appears by the following verse, was what the owners themselves ate of, and so the tithing was left to be made by them themselves, and which they were to be sure to make, and to make it truly and faithfully: that the field bringeth forth year by year; being ploughed and sowed yearly, the produce of it was to be tithed yearly; the Jewish writers (t) observe on this, that it must be what the earth produces, and is fit for food: and it must be thy seed, which is especially thine, and is not common, but has an owner, and this excludes mushrooms, &c. which thou sowest not, and therefore cannot be called thy seed.

(t) Ib. in Misn. Maaserot, c. 1. sect. 1.

Deu 14:23 - And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there,.... See Deu_12:5 there the tithe of all the fruits of the earth was to be eaten; this is the second tithe, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi, and which is more particularly described as follows:

the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil: see Deu_12:7,

and the firstlings of thine herds, and of thy flocks; of which see the note on the above place:

that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always; which such a constant practice would inure unto; see Deu_10:12.

Deu 14:24 - And if the way be too long for thee,.... The way from the place where any Israelite might live:

to carry it; the tithe and the firstlings, it would be too expensive or too troublesome in any way that could be devised:

or if the place shall be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there; which by the event appeared to be the city of Jerusalem, and this from some parts of the land of Canaan was very distant:

when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee; with a large increase of the fruits of the earth, and of flocks and herds.

Deu 14:25 - Thou shalt then turn it into money,.... The tithe, which would be lighter and easier carriage:

and bind up the money in thine hand; put it into a bag or purse, and tie it up and carry it in the hand; which some think was ordered, that it might not be mixed with other money; but it seems only to have respect to journeying, and making it fit for that. The Jewish writers (u), some of them, give a different sense of the word we render "bind up", and interpret it of marking the silver, or impressing a form, figure, or image on it with the hand; they mean that it must be coined money; so Maimonides (w), they may not profane the sacred tithe with money not coined, nor with money not current, nor with money which is not in a man's power; for it is said:

in thine hand; which the man is possessed of and is his own property:

and shalt go unto the place which the Lord that God shall choose; carrying the money along with him, for which he sold the tithe.

(u) Bartenora in Misn. Beracot, c. 7. sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 11. sect. 2. & in Misn. Sabbat, c. 18. sect. 1. (w) In Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 11. sect. 2.

Deu 14:26 - And thou shall bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after,.... He might buy what provision he would with it, what he best liked, and was most agreeable to his appetite: for oxen, or for sheep; he might purchase beef or mutton, or any other sort of meat that could be got, and was lawful to be eaten, as before directed: or for wine, or for strong drink; to drink with his food, whether wine or any other liquor; the Targum of Jonathan is, wine new or old, which he chose; but the latter, strong drink, Aben Ezra says, was a liquor made of honey and of dates, of wheat and of barley: or for whatsoever thy soul desireth; whether eatable or drinkable: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God; he having put his name in that place; and dwelling there, as the Lord did in the temple of Jerusalem: and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy household; eat their food with cheerfulness and gladness, making a feast of it and keeping it as such, he and his whole family, his wife and children, or as many as were with him; and all males were obliged to appear at the three grand yearly festivals, and it was at one of these this was to be done.

Deu 14:27 - And the Levite that is within thy gates, thou shalt not forsake him,.... As not from giving him the first tithe, as Jarchi remarks, so he was not to forget him in this; he was not to leave him behind, but take him with him to partake of this entertainment:

for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee in the land: see Deu_12:12.

Deu 14:28 - At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year,.... This, according to Aben Ezra, was a third tithe, and did not excuse the second tithe; so says:"I gave the third tithe to the repair of the temple,'' (Tobit 1:7)as in one copy, but, according to another, to the stranger, fatherless, and widow, which better agrees with what follows; but the Jewish writers generally understand this as the same with the second tithe, which on the two first years from the sabbatical year was carried to Jerusalem, or money in lieu of it, with which provisions were bought and eaten there, but on the third year were eaten in their own cities with the poor, and in the stead of the other; so says Maimonides (x), on the third and sixth years from the sabbatical year, after they have separated the first tithe they separate from what remains another tithe, and give it to the poor, and it is called the poor's tithe, and not on those two years is the second tithe, but the poor's tithe, as it is said, "at the end of three years", &c. and still more expressly elsewhere (y); after they have separated the first tithe every year, they separate the second tithe, Deu_14:22 and on the third and sixth years they separate the poor's tithe instead of the second; and this was done, not at the latter end of the third year, but, as Aben Ezra interprets it, at the beginning; for the word used signifies an extremity, and the beginning of the year is one extremity of it as well as the latter end of it:

and lay it up within thy gates; not to be hoarded up, or to be sold at a proper time, but to be disposed and made use of as follows.

(x) Hilchot Mattanot. Anayim, c. 6. sect. 4. (y) In Maaser Sheni, c. 1. sect. 1.

As we can see, the tithe was part of the Old Testament ceremonial law. The ceremonial law was a foreshadowing of Christ. And when the substance (Christ) comes, the shadow disappears (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1). It could also be said that the Old Testament tithe was a kind of tax in the nation-church-theocracy of Israel, which, of course, no longer exists.

Here are the New Testament verses where the Greek form of the noun or verb are used:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have left aside the weightier matters of the Law: judgment, and mercy, and faith. It was right to do these, and not to have left those aside. (Matthew 23:23)

But woe to you, Pharisees, for you pay tithes of the mint, and the rue, and every plant, and pass by the judgment and the love of God. It was right to do these things, but not to leave aside those. (Luke 11:42)

I fast twice on the sabbath; I tithe all things, as many as I get. (Luke 18:12)

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, the one meeting Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessing him; to whom also Abraham divided a tenth from all (first being interpreted, king of righteousness; and then also king of Salem, which is, king of peace, without father, without mother, without genealogy, nor beginning of days, nor having end of life, but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest in perpetuity). Now behold how great this one was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils; and indeed those of the sons of Levi receiving the priesthood have a command to tithe the people according to Law, (that is, from their brothers, though coming forth out of Abraham's loins), but he not counting his genealogy from them has tithed Abraham, and has blessed the one having the promises. But without contradiction, the lesser is blessed by the better. And here dying men indeed receive tithes, but there it having been witnessed that he lives; and as a word to say, through Abraham Levi also, the one receiving tithes, has been tithed. (Hebrews 7:1-9)

Do any of these passages indicate that the Old Testament tithe has carried over into the New Testament? No; in fact, the Hebrews passage (including further on in the passage that I didn't paste) shows that the tithing of Abraham to Melchizedek was part of the foreshadowing of Christ.

How, then do people say that the tithe has carried over into the New Testament? The reasoning is that the tithe was giving to the Lord's ministry in the Old Testament, and we are commanded to give to the Lord's ministry in the New Testament; thus, the giving in the New Testament is the tithe. Of course, there's a non sequitur there.

Here are the commands regarding giving in the New Testament:

And about the collection for the saints, as I charged the assemblies of Galatia, so also you do. On one of the sabbaths, let each of you put by himself, storing up whatever he is prospered, that there not be collections then when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

And I give judgment in this, for this is profitable for you, who began before not only to do, but also to be willing from last year. But now also finish the doing of it, so that even as there was the eagerness in the willing, so also the finishing, giving out of what you have. For if the eagerness is present, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. For it is not that there may be ease to others, but trouble to you; but by equality in the present time, your abundance for their need; but also that their abundance may be for your need, that there may be equality; even as it has been written, He gathering much, he had nothing left over, and he gathering little had no less. (2 Corinthians 8:10-15)

Therefore, I thought it necessary to exhort the brothers, that they go forward to you and arrange beforehand your promised blessing, this to be ready, thus as a blessing and not as by greediness. And this: the one sowing sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one sowing on hope of blessings will also reap on blessings. Each one as he purposes in his heart, not out of grief or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:5-7)

I'll first mention the "sabbaths" in the first passage. When the Greek phrase "mia ton sabbaton" is used, it means "first day of the week." And this passage is not saying that there is to be some sort of "collection plate" passed around on Sundays! There should be no "collection plates" (or any kind of thing used for collecting money) passed around in any true assembly of God. For one thing, this is giving that is done before men so everyone can see. For another thing, there is a kind of coercion in passing around something in which people are expected to place money (and people are looked down upon if they do not put money in). Giving should be done privately.

We see in these passages that Christians are to give to the ministry of the Lord. But there is no law regarding how much. There is no law saying that a Christian should give a tenth. There is freedom to give whatever one wants to give. If someone wants to use ten percent as a guideline for his own personal giving, he's free to do that. Those who have plenty left over after necessary expenses may give more than a tenth. Those who have little left over after necessary expenses may give less than a tenth. As 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each one as he purposes in his heart." Every Christian should give something, though, no matter how small. There is an elderly woman who has been on our mailing list for years who periodically sends a $5 bill and a note of encouragement. That means way more to me than if a millionaire gave us $5000. I think of the poor widow of Mark 12:

And sitting down opposite the treasury, Jesus watched how the crowd threw copper coins into the treasury. And many rich ones threw in much. And coming, one poor widow threw in two lepta (which is a kodrantes). And having called His disciples near, He said to them, Truly I say to you that this poor widow has thrown in more than all of those casting into the treasury. For all threw in out of that abounding to them, but she out of her poverty threw in all, as much as she had, her whole livelihood. (Mark 12:41-44)

It's not the amount that counts; it's the heart behind the giving that counts. Giving is an indication of what is in the heart. If a person has never given to a ministry that he believes is a true ministry of the Lord, you must wonder how much he really supports the ministry. On the other hand, just because someone gives does not mean that person is a true believer. (You guys already knew that, but I needed to put it in there so I'm not misunderstood.) So the principle is: All true believers will give, but not all who give are true believers.

Also, as that passage says, giving should not be out of "grief or necessity." It should not be given out of sadness or sorrow to see the money going away; it should not be given out of fear that someone is going to make your life miserable or look down upon you if you don't give; it should not be given because one is forced to give. It should be given cheerfully, knowing that this money is going toward the work of the Lord -- the spread of the truth and the help of the needy.

And a word here about money management: Believers should be prudent managers of their finances. They should not spend foolishly or beyond their means. A frugal believer is a good witness to the world about temperance, restraint, moderation, and sobriety. The world should never see a Christian in financial crisis because of foolish spending. Another reason why believers should be prudent managers of their finances is that when they save money, they have more money to give. Someone who spends his money foolishly is also shorting the ministry he claims to support. Even though this passage has to do with the former thief, it has relevance to the topic:

The one stealing, let him steal no more, but rather let him labor, working what is good with the hands, that he may have something to give to the one that has need. (Ephesians 4:28)

See the reason why the person is laboring with his hands? It is so he may have something to give to the one in need. The person who uses his money foolishly does not have something to give to the one in need.

I must also say this: part of being prudent in finances is to not give too much. (You won't hear that from the TV preachers, will you?) If your giving is cutting into your necessary expenses, then you're giving too much. You must first fulfill your obligations (e.g., to your landlord, to pay the utilities, etc.) and have enough to live on before you give to others. Fulfilling one's financial obligations is also a good witness to the world. The world should never see a Christian miss or be late on a payment. When someone agrees to make a payment and then doesn't make it at the time agreed upon (whether it be for rent or utilities or a vehicle payment or whatever), then that person is sinning the sin of lying.

And while I'm speaking of money management, I'll say a word about credit cards: Unless you are able to pay off your credit card bill every time you are billed (so you don't pay any interest or late fees), DO NOT use a credit card. You should not be paying for something you do not have the money to buy, unless it is something of necessity (like housing or a means of transportation - although these things are financed at a MUCH lower rate than a credit card). And even if it is a necessity, that doesn't give you license to go out and buy something that is beyond your means, such as a brand new car (vs. a used car).

Money management is a very important and often neglected subject for Christians.

May all of us be wise with our money and be cheerful and liberal givers.


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