I get asked frequently both in person and via email about “giving” in the New Testament. The majority of those who present the topic to me are those who have moved out of an institutional church form or those who are still operating in an institutional church form and seek to defend their current position.
There isn’t a more sensitive topic in the body of Christ than the issue of giving. When you start messing with people’s money, you really begin to find out quite a bit about them. I can tell you from experience that money is usually the last stronghold the adversary uses in order to keep God’s people from moving into the fullness Father has prepared for them.
However, the fact that we immediately correlate the idea of giving with money should reveal to believers the over-emphasis we place on “our” money. There are many facets to giving and much deeper, more meaningful expressions of it, but we have been taught that it primarily means giving money. Quite frankly, we get uncomfortable about releasing money because we actually rely on it more than we trust Father to be our source of provision. A valuable lesson to learn is that the resource (money) is not the Source (Father).
Actually, money has little, if next to nothing, to do with Father’s economy! His Kingdom, which is not of this world, was established in eternity long before the world was created and before any currency was developed. In sending out the 12 disciples and then the 70, the first thing Jesus instructed his disciples to do was, “…take no money with you.” He even went so far as to tell them not to take a bag with them to receive an offering. (talk about a foreign concept in “church” today.
Later, Jesus reminded the disciples about sending them out in such a fashion. He asked them if they had lacked anything while pursuing Kingdom advancement in the manner in which they were instructed and sent. Their response had to be “No, they had not lacked a thing.”
This is a clear revelation that the fulfillment of Father’s purposes aren’t tied to the access of a worldly currency. To think that His economy requires a temporal commodity that fluctuates in value according to secular circumstances is a bit ridiculous. The basis of Father’s economy and administration remains unaffected by any chaos or tumultuous events that occur in time and on this planet. His economy is based upon something that is spiritual in substance, consistently eternal and, therefore, never failing.
The basis of Father’s economy is His Nature!
By definition, a basis is ‘the system or principles according to which an activity or process is carried on; the justification for or reasoning behind something’. If we truly believe that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness and positioned as citizens in the Kingdom of Father’s beloved Son, the system or principles of our giving (which includes money), should then be based upon the Nature of our Father.
Father’s Nature Revealed Through a Giving People
The epitome of what I’m expressing is seen with sparkling clarity throughout the teaching of the New Testament concerning financial giving but, perhaps, its clearest focus is found in the initial birthing of CHURCH. (ekklessia – a called out people. Not a religious organization.)
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit birthed a corporate expression of Christ with over 3,000 members. Not ” card-carrying” members of a religious institution but, rather, parts of a living organism or body. They were all birthed by and received the Spirit of the Living God. Their belief in Christ and their yielding to the Holy Spirit is what connected them and made them aware of the truth that they were now, ONE Body.
The purpose of this Body, as it is with any animated, physical body, was to give expression of the life it contained. This Body contained the life of Christ. Jesus Christ, while here physically present for 30-something years in his earthly body, explicitly said he had come “to reveal the Father”. This Body would now do the same – through the life of Christ, compelled by the Holy Spirit”…….it would express the Life it contained…..it would reveal the Nature of Father.
How so? By GIVING ALL that they had to meet one another’s needs. They sold all their worldly possessions and surrendered all of the money for distribution among Father’s household.
The system or principles by which they gave was not based upon exegetical teaching of scripture or even an apostolic strategy. Peter didn’t stand up and say, “This is what we should do. This is how we should give.” The Nature of the Father which they had received by the Spirit now served as the motivation of their giving. Led by His Spirit, the question was not, “How do we give?” Rather, partaking of Father’s Nature, the question was, “How could they not give?
Father so LOVED that He GAVE……… And through His giving, He met all of our needs, didn’t He? God is Love. And, He Gives! Pretty consistent isn’t it?
The Body of Christ today must come to maturity. We must come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ……………even in our giving; whether in our money, giftings, grace, service, time, etc. The only way in which Father’s Nature will be accurately expressed in the earth is through a mature Body that is Spirit-led in all matters of life; especially in their giving. The meaning of being in the Body of Christ is that you are connected with those to whom you are to supply and to those whom you are to be supplied by. One of the main issues with church as we have known it, is that it does not equip the Body to be led by the Spirit in all areas of their lives and does not facilitate proper function within the Body. This is especially true in the area of giving because money is necessary to keep the the “church” running, meaning the organization with all of its extensive overhead.
Leadership has failed the Body of Christ by teaching them erroneously regarding giving. Due to pride, fleshly operation and personal agendas, leadership has instructed God’s People to “give money so we can do righteous things (buildings, programs, run a religious system, missions, etc.) in order for the Kingdom to be established.”
Actually, Jesus taught the converse. “Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.” I like how The Message breaks it down:
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax,
to not be so preoccupied with getting,
so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things,
but you know both God and how he works.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.
Don’t worry about missing out.
You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
(Matthew 6:31-33 MSG)
As Paul said, the basis of our giving should not be out of a sense of obligation or manipulation. Instead, we should be a cheerful giver! God loves a cheerful giver because by His very Nature, He Himself is a cheerful giver! Learning to partake of and operate according to Father’s Nature is the basis of New Testament giving and the expression of The Rule of God!
Maybe we can talk some more about this topic. Suffice it to say, there is a monumental chasm between giving according to church as we have known it and giving according to the Kingdom. Over the years, as we have migrated from a “church mentality” to a “Kingdom mentality”, we have seen incredible expressions of giving, even in the area of finances. Whenever you begin to acknowledge the true Source and are no longer enamored by a resource, you begin to tap into realms and experiences never before imagined; especially corporately. But, as long as our thoughts are NOT His thoughts, our ways will NOT be His Ways and we will continue to give according to an inaccurate basis.
Keep your peace!