Very often, people ask or wonder "what are the basic biblical principles for Christian giving?" As we seek God's answer to that question and as we contemplate our own giving to the Lord's church in response to the clear teaching of His Word, perhaps it would be wise and helpful to review those principles here.
First, let us go to the Word of God itself, without comment:
Matthew 6:1-4 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 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.
2 Corinthians 8:9-15 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality - at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, "HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK."
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Now this I say, 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.
In our review of these four New Testament passages, we find at least ten principles for Christian giving.
1. The Lord Jesus expects and requires us to give. Jesus said to His disciples, "when you give" not "if you give" (Matthew 6:2)! Hence, Christian giving is not optional, but rather essential. We often hear folks say: "in the Old Testament they had to give, but not in the New - now we only give if we want to." This is clearly not Jesus' teaching. He expected all His followers to be givers. Christians will give. Are you giving?
2. The Lord Jesus wants us to give for the right reasons. Jesus warned His disciples not to give for the sake of being admired by men. "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them," He said (Matthew 6:1). When we give, we must be careful to examine our motives. We ought to give for the glory of God and the good of His people. We must desire His approval of our giving, rather than the praise and admiration of people. Are you giving for God's praise or man's?
3. The Lord Jesus wants us to practice benevolent or charitable giving. Jesus said "When you give to the poor . . . ." (Matthew 6:2-3). Jesus is specifically teaching about "alms" in this passage: aid, charity, or benevolent offerings for the needy. Do you give amply enough to the Church that she can be generous in benevolent giving?