Giving in the New Testament.
Money was definitely donated for the purpose of supporting very poor members in Jerusalem, but never to pay to a leader so that became his income.
“Now concerning the collection for the saints [members], as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.”(1 Corinthians 16:1-3)
Paul is saying monetary gifts are voluntary but should be done regularly and their amount to be in keeping with one’s income i.e. those who were poor were not expected to donate to give to other poor people.
The apostle Paul supported himself:
“And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.” (2 Corinthians 11:9 )
Voluntarily helping someone, as the Macedonian brethren did for Paul, is quite different from tithing. We should be aware of others needs, and when we see the opportunity to help privately, then we should do so. The message of the New Testament is that our offerings in God’s service should be voluntary and that no amount is set, and that the accumulation of wealth by a church, is not right. Rather we should give to the poor.
Jesus himself said:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? ‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40 )
Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
Should a church ask for money?
God wants a humble and willing and generous heart from us instead of tithing. The Bible would indicate that a church has no right to ask for a tithe. One of the very great dangers of churches demanding tithes is the perceived threat or fear that acceptance by God depends on the amount of money given. I have heard the following stated on TV in an endeavour to gain donations:
“When you release the seed in your hand, God will release the harvest in His hand”
“Sow your $1000 seed and receive a Boaz anointing”
“There is a telephone number on the screen, don’t go against the Holy Spirit”.
Often pastors of churches who tithe are very wealthy people – at the expense of their congregations, yet they often claim that it is because they have been blessed by God! And they claim that you will be blessed by God if you give generously to the church! Money donated as tithes are used to support church buildings, some of them being huge auditoriums. Yet in New Testament times, there is no record of any church buildings.
I am aware of of a church which announces the names of who gave the most and who gave the least, the previous week! That is quite wrong.
Jesus said: “”But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms [deeds of compassion to the poor] may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.’ (Matthew 6:3,4).
Our acceptance by God is something money cannot buy.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk, Without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1 )
“Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?” (James 2:5,6)
We can and should use collected money for helping poor members and for paying for church expenses, but it was never intended that a church or pastor should become rich from it, as unfortunately many today are. Paul could say, “I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well……I have not been a burden to you.” (2 Corinthians 12:16).