Is my money mine?
Randy Alcorn give us some NT principles to consider in relation to our use of money. I think, first and foremost, is the principle that none of it is our money. It’s all God’s. Everything we have is received and a grace gift. Thus we are to steward what He gives us for His purposes and priorities. We should be asking the Lord Himself for direction as to how we should invest His money today, and continually getting to know His heart and desires in the matter by looking to the Scriptures which reveal this to us.
Here are some points that Randy brings to our attention:
The New Testament offers guidelines for giving that can help us fight the pull of materialism:
- Give. Giving affirms Christ’s lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me and transfers my center of gravity to Heaven.
- Give generously. How much is generous? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. If you’ve never tithed, start there—then begin to stretch your generosity.
- Give regularly. Stewardship is not a once-a-year consideration, but a week-to-week, month-to-month commitment requiring discipline and consistency.
- Give deliberately. Giving is at its best when it’s a conscious effort that’s repeatedly made.
- Give voluntarily. When we catch a vision of God’s grace, we will give beyond our duty.
- Give sacrificially. We don’t like risky faith. We like to have our safety net below us. But we miss the adventure of seeing God provide when we’ve really stretched ourselves in giving.
- Give excellently. Paul says, “See that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7).
- Give cheerfully. If we’re not cheerful, the problem is our heart, and the solution is redirecting our heart, not withholding our giving.
- Give worshipfully. Our giving is a reflexive response to God’s grace. It doesn’t come out of our altruism—it comes out of the transforming work of Christ in us.
- Give more as you make more. Remember: God prospers us not to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of giving.
- Give quietly. Showiness in giving is always inappropriate. (But sometimes our acts of righteousness will be seen by men and even should be.)
In response to a question on tithing, he responded:
I detest legalism. I certainly don’t want to try to pour new wine into old wineskins, imposing superseded First Covenant restrictions on Christians. But at the same time, every New Testament example of giving goes far beyond the tithe. However, none falls short of it.
There’s a timeless truth behind the concept of giving God our firstfruits. Whether or not the tithe is still the minimal measure of those firstfruits, I ask myself, “Does God expect His New Covenant children to give less or more?” Jesus raised the spiritual bar; He never lowered it (Matthew 5:27–28).
The tithe is God’s historical method to get us on the path of giving. In that sense, it can serve as a gateway to the joy of grace giving. It’s unhealthy to view tithing as a place to stop, but it can still be a good place to start. Even under the First Covenant, it wasn’t a stopping place. The Old Testament is full of freewill offerings; Malachi 3 talks about robbing God not only by withholding tithes, but offerings. So even if the tithe isn’t required for Christians, we can rob God by withholding offerings.
Tithing isn’t the ceiling of giving; it’s the floor. It’s not the finish line of giving; it’s just the starting blocks. Tithes can be the training wheels to launch us into the mind-set, skills, and habits of grace giving.