Grace based giving is the only Biblical way to give our time, talent and treasure. This means very simply that the grace of God is the primary motivation behind every gift we give. From early in my 46-year career I have preached very few sermons on money and giving even perhaps to my detriment. I emphatically believed and still do that my task in preaching is to teach people how to love Jesus. The more we fall in love with Jesus the greater our comprehension of the meaning of grace. And the more we understand the grace of the cross the more we want to give back to God.
This is essentially what Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 8:
Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.  But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.  I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.  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 by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:6-9 ESV)
That Corinthian Church had started a giving campaign to support the suffering saints in Judea and especially Jerusalem. Many Jewish converts to Christ in Jerusalem, where the heat was still smoldering in the aftermath of the crucifixion and resurrection, had extreme difficulty making a living. They were marked as people of “TheWay” and viewed as enemies of the temple. Thus, service contracts controlled by many trade unions in Jerusalem were often given only to those who were not part of the Christian community. This meant that the men who converted to Jesus could not find work and were often thrust into great poverty.
Three times in these few verses Paul used the word “grace.” In verse 6 and in verse 7 Paul urged Titus, Paul’s personal ambassador to the Corinthian church to finish the campaign he twice referred to as an “act of grace.”
Isn’t grace what should drive our giving? We are the recipients of great grace and via our giving we are privileged to mediate that grace to others. In verse 9 Paul drives home the point that the greatest of all acts of grace and mercy was when Jesus, the perfect Son of God and Creator of the universe, the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills and the Master Designer in Whom all things have their beginning and will one day have their end - gave all of that up and became less than a slave for our sake. Jesus bore our sin and shame and was punished in our stead for an equivalent of an eternity in hell so that we would not have to. That is grace, pure grace, undefiled grace, grace that we could never extend to another except through Him.
And that is precisely what our giving is to be – the channel of God’s amazing grace flowing out of a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving for what He did to secure our salvation. Every time we give anything in His name out of gratitude for what He has done for us we become the conduits of God’s amazing grace. Ought not the amount of our giving be marked by sacrifice and not and not by a begrudging heart?
And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it.  So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.  For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.  For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness  your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.  As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”(2 Corinthians 8:10-15)
God calls His church not to equal giving but to equal sacrifice. He never requires us to give what we do not have but to manage in a kingdom-building way what we do have. Some might say that God is merely calling His church to be fair in their giving. That is what many say the tithe represents – a fair system. If you make x you then give 10% of x to kingdom building work. Now there is a new thought – we should be giving fairly.
Gleaning from scriptural principles we can say categorically that the following is true about the giving patterns of the New Testament church:
- Every believer must first offer his or her own life to God as an ongoing act of worship. Offerings and sacrificial giving above the offering are to be prepared and thought through before they are given as an act of worship. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
- We are to support our local churches and those who serve as minsters of the Gospel (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
- We are to give to those outside of the local church who preach and teach us the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:12-18)
- Our giving is to be done in secret, that is, our giving is between you and the Lord. (Matthew 6:1-4)
- We must not expect that we can somehow buy material blessings because we give sacrificially. (Acts 8:18-23)
- However, there are true blessings that come commensurate with our giving done in the right spirit. (2 Corinthians 9:6-9).
- God promises to supply all of our needs according to His divine sovereign plan. (Philippians 4:16-19)
- Grace based giving done with a cheerful and grateful heart is a spiritual issue. We are to give out of love not mere obligation. (1 Corinthians 13:3; 2 Corinthians 9:7)
- We are to give to the needs of the poor but with discretion. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
- We are to prioritize giving to the poor by giving to the needs of the body first. (Galatians 6:10)
- We are to give in order to build the Kingdom of God, that is, His church. We must be sure we are giving only to organizations that handle the money with integrity. (1Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:19-24)
In His grip,
Dr. Chuck F. Betters
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