Excel in the Grace of Giving
But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7).
To tithe or not to tithe? In other words, are believers required to give ten percent of their income?
Many people ask the question because they feel guilty for not tithing and are afraid that their failure on this front will lead to some type of punishment. It could be the loss of a job, a financial reversal, or even the death of a loved one. Somehow, God is going to do something to them because they have failed to give ten percent of their income.
Others are looking for a ten-, thirty- or even a hundred-percent return on their tithe. They are looking for a financial return, and firmly believe it is owed to them because of their obedience. Still others are just plain confused because of all the mixed messages they have heard on the subject.
The question about tithing is answered by another question: Which covenant do you live under, the Old or the New? Tithing was an Old Testament requirement put into effect to support the Levites. We don’t live under the Old Covenant, and the Levites are not our priests. We live under the New, and in this New Covenant we are called to participate – actually, to excel – in the grace of giving.
In chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us all about this grace of giving. Here are the highlights:
- Give yourself to the Lord first
- Give willingly
- Give from what you have
- Give enthusiastically
- Give generously
- Do not give grudgingly or sparingly
- Give cheerfully
This is New Covenant giving compelled by the grace of God and prompted by the power of God’s Spirit. It is giving that brings joy to the heart and a smile to the face.
New Covenant giving is done in response to what Jesus Christ has done and continues to do in our lives. The grace of giving flows from the heart. And it is in the heart that the Spirit of God does His work to transform us into people eager to share in God’s work. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your decisions about giving and you will begin to cheerfully and generously share with others.