Today we take a look at one of
the all time most frightening topics upon which to
preach—Giving. Why do I fear this subject? Whenever you begin to
preach about money, some people start getting tense. Their hand
begins to tighten around their wallet; their eyes begin to burn
holes right through the preacher. Often, the more of our money
which gets taken away or that we are told we should give away, the
more resentful we become. It is frightening to preach about
because my intentions can be so easily misunderstood. Regrettably
a sermon on giving can be seen as self-serving, that is, some
believe the only reason I am preaching on this is to increase my
own salary (which is not true!). It is frightening because
preaching on giving often produces the exact opposite result of
what is intended. Instead of helping others be more purposeful and
generous in their giving, Christians become more restrictive in
their giving as they resent what they perceive to be someone else
telling them what to do with their money. Giving is frightening to
preach about because I have heard so much begging for money from
charlatan preachers that I fear the mere mention of money will
turn everyone off from even wanting to hear the rest of the
sermon. Now you know my fears and yet despite all of that, giving
is still worship, to which we must all be devoted.
some use cash for giving, most of us write checks. To aid in our
understanding of the spiritual principles of giving, I want to use
the face of the checks we write in order to outline our look at
Every week the actual date we write on this line will
change. However, these dates always correspond with the first day
of the week. This line reminds us that God has provided a pattern
regarding worship. Giving is to take place on the first day of the
This line reminds us that the money we are giving is not
about the preacher or elders. It is about serving God and doing
only what He has authorized. That number will never correspond
with a Monday or a Wednesday because we are not willing to
disregard God’s established pattern, demonstrating our
submission to the Almighty Lawgiver and the Supreme Standard
On this line, we write the name of the church: Franklin
Church of Christ.
This line demonstrates our commitment to one another in
this collective. It reminds us that I am committed to you and you
are committed to me. We are jointly part of this family and are
pooling our resources to do Christ’s work together.
Consequently, it reminds us that God has not left us alone to do
His work by ourselves, but that we can work together and add
strength to one another.
It demonstrates our dependence upon one another. While I do
not believe we can scripturally claim it is a sin to travel and
give your contribution to another congregation, this line teaches
us that there is a group that depends on us and what we supply to
the collective. This congregation makes its plans based on the
amount it expects to receive from each member. Thus, common sense
and courtesy tells us to keep our unspoken commitment and give our
As we write the church’s name on this line, we are
reminded again of whose church this is. It is Christ’s church.
When we give, we are giving to Christ. When the church has
received these funds, it is only a steward of what is Christ’s.
This line reminds us that we are submitting not to man but
to God. It is a recognition that every good and perfect gift comes
from God (James
This line reminds us we are simply stewards of God’s
possessions. Too often we think what we own belongs to us and we
are trying to decide how much to give to the Lord. We need to
recognize it all belongs to Him and He wants us to use it in the
ways which most glorify Him. As such, we want to be faithful
stewards with this “unrighteous mammon” so God will entrust us
with heavenly riches (Luke
This line remind us that we owe Christ…for everything.
Not that we are trying to pay God off in weekly installments. We
can never do that, but we do offer Him our worship, praise and
thanksgiving through this sacrifice in recognition of our
This line is the most misrepresented line on the entire
check because people continue to enforce the Old Testament rules
on giving. The law of the tithe, or 10%, was instituted in Numbers
18:21-24. This tithe was a tax to support God’s priests,
but it was only a part of God’s law on giving. God also
commanded free will offerings (Leviticus
23:37-38; Deuteronomy 16:10). Why do so many focus on this
one aspect of giving under the Old Testament? Some simply
misunderstand. Others teach it, I believe, because if people gave
10%, they would be rolling in money. Allow me to demonstrate using
this congregation as an example. According to our directory, we
have about 72 households. I am going to round down to 70 to make
the math easier and provide conservative numbers.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau about 12% of American
families live at or below poverty level. The average poverty level
threshold for a family of three was $14,680 (http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/threshld/thresh03.html).
If all 70 households were at this poverty level income and gave
10%, our annual contribution would equal $102,760.
According to the Social Security Administration, the
average Social Security income for a couple in which there is a
retired worker and a spouse, not counting pensions, capital gains,
or other income, is $16,669 (http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/quickfacts/stat_snapshot/).
If all 70 households were on Social Security income alone and gave
10%, our annual contribution would equal $116,683.
According to the 2000 census, the median household income
for Franklin, Tennessee was $56,431 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin,_Tennessee).
This does not include the perks like paid insurance, pension
plans, 401k investment matching and the payment employers make for
you into Social Security. This is just income. For sake of
argument let’s say, as with our nation, 12% of our families are
below poverty level and didn’t give at all. But the other 62
households gave 10%, our annual contribution would be about
Can you see why preachers keep preaching 10%? I must admit,
there are times when I wish 10% was a command. Our contribution
for 2004 is on track to be about $168,584.
Having said all of that, the New Testament does not mandate
a percentage amount to govern our giving. However, this line is
just as important under the New Covenant as the others are.
According to I
Corinthians 16:2, our contribution is to be based on how
we are prospered. If God has blessed us with more, He expects more
in return (cf. Luke
12:48). Notice this is based on what we are prospered, not
on what is left over. We do not wait until we have bought our
house, car, clothes, meals, etc. and then determine how much we
will give. Rather, we give based on what we have been prospered
and then we live on the rest.
According to II
Corinthians 9:7, what goes on this line is to be purposed
in our heart. God has not imposed a tax-like requirement. Under
the New Covenant giving is entirely a free will offering. However,
it is not something we do on the spur of the moment, we are to
plan our free will offerings to the Lord.
says our giving is to be bountiful. We can pinch pennies when it
comes to buying groceries, paying for utilities or buying our
cars. But when it comes to giving, God wants bountiful. Yes, we
are left to our judgment on that. But bountiful is God’s
Also, the amount on this line is to be sacrificial. The
first acts of giving were just that…sacrifices. Jesus’
illustration of the widow’s mites in Mark
12:41-44 demonstrates sacrificial giving. If it is not
costing us something, we are not giving biblically.
Finally, notice II
Corinthians 8:7-9. Paul says the amount on this line is
not a commanded number or percentage but rather an indicator of
the sincerity of our love for Christ. Then he reminds them what
Jesus did for them. In other words, this line and what we write on
it is an indicator of our thankfulness for Christ’s sacrifice.
Keep this in mind, if those under the Old Covenant, which had
sacrifices that could not really provide grace, had a baseline of
10% with free will offerings on top of that, where should we, who
are under a better covenant with better promises, be with our
giving (cf. Hebrews
On this line, if you write on it at all, you probably put
something like “contribution” or “giving”. But we need to
understand this is more than a charitable donation.
If we broke it down into what this money is actually for,
we could write down numerous things.
Benevolence: doing good for saints. If you remember, 12% of
Americans are at the poverty level, which means we will have
members in need at some time and we can help them.
Evangelism: this includes local preacher support, foreign
preacher support, Dial-A-Devotion, materials used to teach the
gospel, advertising, etc.
Edification: this includes the building in which we
assemble for encouragement and edification, materials for Bible
classes, preachers we invite to conduct special series to help us
grow, songbooks, pew Bibles, etc.
If we wanted to be most accurate, we would write “saving
souls.” In all accounts our collection is for the purpose of
converting the lost, strengthening the saved and helping our
brethren in need, it is all about getting everyone to heaven.
Far too often, people back off on their giving because this
line is empty for them. To them giving is not for anything; it is
just something we are supposed to do. They recognize a need when
there is something special like a building project. Filling in
this line helps us see there is a need. Our need is not just to
meet our budget. We have some plans, but imagine what we could do
if we were at the 10% figure we learned about a few minutes ago.
How many preachers could we support in Russia and Africa with
another $180,000 every year? We could support another full-time
worker here. We could host a preacher training program. We could
conduct a radio or television program. We could do so much. The
work this congregation can support will always be limited by the
sum total of what each of us gives. As each of us becomes more
devoted to giving, our work ability increases. Do not leave this
This is the final part of writing the check. It may seem
like an unimportant line. But we learn from this line as well.
When we put our signature on the line, we are entering into a
contract with God. We are saying that everything else on this
check is about us and our personal devotion to God and to worship.
What is on this check is between you and God. It is not you
saying anything to anyone else. It is your personal contract with
the Lord that you are giving back to Him based on His blessings to
you. How thankful are you for what God has done for you?
While this topic is a fearful one for me, we must learn
about it. Giving is worship. It is sacrificing to God. It is
honoring God. It is thanking God. Certainly, I am partially
motivated because there is so much we could do as a congregation
if our contribution was higher. But the main motivation to preach
this lesson is our spiritual growth as individual Christians to be
more devoted to God and to worship. God does not need us to give.
We need to give to be like God and to honor God.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ