Sunday, 25 October 2015
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
The law is fulfilled in Christ and it is annulled. There is no longer a requirement to tithe in the New Testament Church. Not only that, this verse is the most explicit one in all of Paul’s writings concerning what to give and when. Only Galatians 6:6 adds anything substantially more for us to follow –
“Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Understanding this, we should take this verse to heart and carry it with us always. New Testament Christians are to “each one give as he purposes in his heart.” That is it. We are not to allow ourselves to be forced to tithe by a pastor who reinserts the law which is now done away with. (Run, don’t walk from there!) We are also not to be coerced into giving apart from how our heart directs us, willingly and freely.
The word for “purposes” is proaireó. This is its only use in the New Testament and it “is used in its full ethical significance as indicating, not a passing impulse nor a vague wish, but a deliberate resolve, deciding both on the end and on the means for its attainment” (Charles Ellicott).
When we give, it is not to be as a passing fancy, under feelings of compulsion, nor in a manner which will later be stewed over. Instead, we are to give willingly, freely, and with a heart that is content that giving the gift was the right thing to do.
Paul continues in his thought by saying, “…not grudgingly or of necessity.” The Greek word for “grudgingly” literally means “from grief” or “out of sorrow.” Rather than being coerced into parting with our money and later feeling remorse over having given, we are to be joyous that we have helped out in a way which blessed us while also blessing the recipient of the gift. It should be voluntary rather than out of necessity as well. If we give out of necessity, then it is less a gift and more of a need.
Paul finishes this marvelous verse with the words, “…for God loves a cheerful giver.” Again, he introduces a word here that is only used this one time in the New Testament, hilaros, or “cheerful.” Our giving should be such that we are actually happy when we part with the money. We should be able to say, “I worked XX hours to make that and I am so pleased that those hours were spent in order to give this gift.”
The verse we are looking at closely follows the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) from Proverbs 22. The Hebrew version reads –
“He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow,
And the rod of his anger will fail.
9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed,
For he gives of his bread to the poor.” Proverbs 22:8, 9
The Hebrew version cited here is close enough to get a resemblance of Paul’s words, but it is clear from him citing Proverbs elsewhere in this letter that he had recently been reading that book and it was fresh on his mind. Further, it is apparent that he had been reading not the Hebrew version, but the Greek version. Finally, as a point that this type of giving was even considered appropriate in the Old Testament, we read this from Exodus 25 –
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” Exodus 25:2
Understanding that this offering was taken voluntarily from the people of Israel, and that it was intended for the building of the tabernacle, it follows that our gifts for the building of the church should likewise be voluntary, not forced. Again, this precept is found in the building of Solomon’s temple as well –
“Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly. 7 They gave for the work of the house of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. 8 And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord, into the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord; and King David also rejoiced greatly.” 1 Chronicles 29:6-9
This is the type of giving that is looked for in the New Testament believer. Let us take this to heart and not let the law be reinserted by mandating tithing, nor allow ourselves to be compelled to give against our will.
Life application: Take time today to memorize this verse and Galatians 6:6. After that, follow through with your giving in accord with those verses.
Heavenly Father, it sure is good to know that You trust the people of your church enough to allow them to give freely and without compulsion. Thank You that we have no set limits on what we are to give or when we are to give it. Instead, You allow our gifts to come from our willing heart. Help us then because of this to be cheerful givers that are willing to meet the needs that arise and to feel satisfied in our hearts when we have done so! Thank You for hearing our prayer today. Amen.