Giving to God—Part 1
From the Roadmap series
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An important aspect to consider in building a life of value and fulfillment is how we handle our finances. If we’re willing to implement some fundamental principles in the way we operate in the realm of finances, it can make a pretty big difference in how we are able to achieve our goals and reach our full potential.
The opposite is true as well; the lack of principles regarding finances can greatly hamper our progress, success, and happiness.
Some of these principles include faith and expectancy for God to supply our needs, generosity in giving to God’s work, obedience to His will, integrity with financial dealings, budgeting and not spending beyond our means, stewardship, austerity, and respect for personal property.
Giving to God and His work is another one of these basic and time-tested principles, with one simple, yet powerful formula: “Give, and it will be given to you. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”1 An important application of giving is giving of your income to God and His work, often referred to in the Bible as tithes and offerings.
Many churches encourage their members to tithe. Many people choose to tithe, others choose to give offerings, and some give offerings in addition to their tithe. The most commonly quoted Bible verses on the subject of tithing are from the book of Malachi in the Old Testament:
“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”—Malachi 3:8, 102
But how does the Old Testament tithing message apply to a Christian today? What are God’s expectations of us regarding giving to Him and His work?
Paul said, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we’re no longer under a schoolmaster.”3 Jesus’ life and death fulfilled the Mosaic law. Galatians 4:4–5 says: “When the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children.”4 So maybe you’re thinking right now, “If Jesus fulfilled the law and set us free from the law, are we still required to tithe by New Testament standards?”
Good question. Here’s another question: “Did the spiritual principle of tithing and giving to God’s work become outdated when Jesus died on the cross? Or is it still relevant today?” Jesus Himself set an example of giving that went far beyond the dutiful fulfilment of giving according to Old Testament laws: “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.”5
Simply put, when we are no longer required by the law of the Old Testament to tithe, then what we give to support God’s work and workers becomes a freewill offering, given out of love for the Lord and others.
Though tithing is not specifically required in the New Testament, we are instructed to give cheerfully,6 generously,7 and from the heart.8 What changed from the Old Testament to the New is our motivation for giving. In the Old Testament, giving was compulsory—10%. In the New Testament we are instructed to give cheerfully, as we are led to give, not by requirement.9
Many Christians believe that tithing is an essential principle for success and happy living. Not only that, but many feel that we are expected to give even more than 10%, that the tithe is only the starting point of giving. That is a matter of personal conviction and hearing from the Lord on what He wants you to do in this regard. One thing to consider about the New Testament standards, and why Jesus didn’t talk much about tithing, is that under the New Testament plan, believers were encouraged to give all. And, as far as giving goes, Jesus commended the poor widow who gave “all her living” to the temple, the church of that day.10
We each can ask ourselves, “How much are we willing to give to God and His work?” Are we willing to give above and beyond? Jesus gave above and beyond; Jesus gave all. So it’s up to each of us to prayerfully search our hearts and our motives, and determine if we believe that giving to God and His work is necessary, important, and in fact, vital to the continuation and furtherance of the mission of preaching the gospel, the support of missionaries, the publication and distribution of God’s Word, and last but not least, the blessings that we personally receive by giving to God.
Jesus promised, “Give, and it shall be given to you.”11 God may not always reward you in mere dollars and cents; it may be in protection, His saving you from accidents, misfortunes, or serious illnesses that would have cost you a hundred times more than whatever you have given! But in whatever way it comes, He will reward you.
God has a perfect system of rewards, dividends, interest, repayments, 100-fold! God is no piker! He’s no skinflint! He’s not chintzy! When you give to God, He will give you back much more than you gave! … That’s God’s law of giving…. God will more than reward you and repay you many times over!—David Brandt Berg
Tithing and giving offerings is a personal commitment. The Bible promises that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”12
Let’s consider the story of Charles Page, the industrial developer and philanthropist. He was a young man, broke, penniless, and jobless. One day he stopped on the street to listen to a Salvation Army service. When the tambourine was passed around for the collection, he told the girl who held it out before him that he would like to give something but had nothing himself, even for his food. She gave him a dollar, saying, “Take this: put ten cents in the offering, and hereafter give a tenth of all you get to God. Keep this up all your life, and you’ll never be penniless again.”
Page promised to tithe, and eventually struck oil. “I couldn’t miss,” he reportedly said, “I was in partnership with the Big Fellow—and He made geology.” By and by he became a millionaire, and gave much more than his tithe, building hospitals and helping in many ways to carry on the work of the Lord.
John D. Rockefeller Sr. recounted his personal story as follows:
Yes, I tithe, and I would like to tell you how it all came about. I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work, I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord. I did, and from that week until this day I have tithed every dollar God has entrusted to me. And I want to say, if I had not tithed the first dollar I made I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made.—John D. Rockefeller Sr.
Here’s another story of a man who is one of the most famous givers in Christian history. This is a sample of New Testament giving.
God’s shovel is bigger than mine!
R. G. LeTourneau is perhaps one of the most inspiring Christian inventors, businessmen and entrepreneurs the world has ever seen. A sixth grade dropout, he went on to become the leading earth-moving machinery manufacturer of his day with plants on four continents, more than 300 patents to his name, and major contributions to road construction and heavy equipment that forever changed the world. He was among the first road construction contractors to introduce machinery to moving earth. His company designed and built some of the world’s most massive machinery—earth movers, transporters, missile launchers, bridge builders, and portable offshore drilling rigs.
LeTourneau’s success came at the price of many early failures and setbacks. It was his early humbling years that formed the backdrop to his salvation and “partnership with God” in business. His struggle to make his faith in Christ relevant to his life and work led him to attend a revival at his church. It was there he prayed: “Lord, if You’ll forgive and help me, I’ll do anything You want me to do from this day on.”
The year was 1919, and as a Christian, he felt the tug to be doing more for God. He went to his pastor, Reverend Devol, for advice. LeTourneau thought that anyone who was wholly committed to Christ had to become a pastor or a missionary to truly fulfill the great commission. After deep prayer with his pastor, LeTourneau was shocked to hear Rev. Devol say the words that guided him for the rest of his life, “God needs businessmen too.” This was a revelation to LeTourneau. He immediately began to consider his business to be in partnership with God.
Still, LeTourneau was puzzled as to why God would choose him to be His businessman. Especially when, at the age of 40, at the start of the Great Depression, a big construction job went bad and put him $100,000 in debt. But he remarked later, after seeing what God could do to restore a business and a life, “He uses the weak to confound the mighty.”
Meanwhile, LeTourneau had skipped his yearly missions pledge the year before, so he was committed to making good with the Lord. He told Mr. Frost, his accountant, that he had pledged $5,000 to his church for missions. Mr. Frost couldn’t believe it. LeTourneau was so far behind financially, even thinking of donating to the Lord was out of the question. Mr. Frost didn’t realize who LeTourneau was in business with. Unbelievably, the business managed to stay afloat and the missions commitment was paid in full that year.
Then, his business hit a breakthrough. LeTourneau then turned his complete focus to the manufacturing of his machinery inventions. After that, his financial woes were a thing of the past.
In 1935, with the gigantic profits pouring out of the manufacturing business, at the gentle suggestion of his wife Evelyn, they transitioned to a 90/10 split with the Lord. 90% went to the Lord and 10% went to RG and Evelyn. LeTourneau was fond of remarking, “It’s not how much of my money I give to God, but how much of God’s money I keep for myself.”
They established the LeTourneau Foundation to manage the administration of donations. By 1959, after giving $10 million in donations to religious and educational works, the LeTourneau Foundation was still worth some $40 million.
LeTourneau said, “God’s shovel is bigger than mine.” He figuratively illustrated his generosity as a man with a shovel. LeTourneau shoveled money to charities, churches, and organizations that needed help. He always had plenty to give because God was shoveling money to him with an even bigger shovel. He always attributed his success to the Lord. He typically began his talks to students and businessmen by saying, “I’m just a mechanic that God has blessed, and it seems He wants me to go around telling how He will bless you, too.”
LeTourneau was often referred to by his contemporaries as “God’s businessman.”—From Wikipedia and the website Giants for God, adapted13
Roadmap was a video series created by TFI for young adults. Originally published in 2010. Adapted and republished on Anchor February 2018. Read by Simon Peterson.
1 Luke 6:38.
3 Galatians 3:24–25 KJV.
5 2 Corinthians 8:9.
6 2 Corinthians 9:7.
7 1 Timothy 6:18.
8 2 Corinthians 9:6.
9 See 2 Corinthians 9:6–8.
10 Mark 12:44 KJV.
11 Luke 6:38.
12 2 Corinthians 9:6 ESV.