I have a friend who asked me before about why we had put our name on the envelope of our giving when we attended a local fellowship and the thought hadn't even occurred to me. She showed me these verses and asked if it was Biblical for me to put my name on the envelope.
Matthew 6:3-4: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."I began thinking about this and indeed God showed me that I should not put my name down. I wondered, "why does the 'church' ask for the name?" Why do they keep track of our giving? It really is only God's business who gives and how much they give. Some argue that they like to write it off on their taxes, but what does the IRS have to do with our relationship with God? Aren't they supposed to be separated from religion? Aren't we, as Christians, not supposed to mix in with the government in matters such as this? After questioning all this I decided I was no longer going to tell anyone how much I gave, or that I gave at all.
Matthew 6:1 "1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven."
As we studied further, we found that God does have something to say about how much we give. Although it isn't ten percent, like some 'preachers tell you it is. (More on the ten percent later in this series.)
Luke 6:38: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."The amount of giving is completely up to us. I believe the Holy Spirit will tell us who to give to and lead us accordingly. I believe He will bless us in proportion to our giving. I'm not sure I believe that God is going to necessarily give to us exactly to the penny, back what we gave. I also don't know if I believe He will always give back to us monetarily. But one thing is certain He gives us His promise right there in Luke.
I also found in His Word that He is pleased when we give up something we have, in order to provide for someone else. I don't think this means give up our home and be homeless so someone else can have a home, I think we need to use discernment. In this passage, Jesus was speaking to a rich man and I believe this was a test of where his heart truly was. We know that 'where your treasure is, there will your heart be also'. Are we willing, at least, to sell something sentimental to us, in order to provide for someone less fortunate? Just something to think about.
Luke 18:22: "Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."We should also give with simplicity. I do not think it's wise to be lavish in giving to one person. I have received lavish gifts from people that made me feel uncomfortable. I feel that when we give lavishly it seems to be boastful and we are taught from 1 Corinthians that love is not boastful.
Romans 12:8: "Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."So just how often did the believers take up a collection to help the widows, fatherless, and the poor? Did they have shiny gold plates and pass them to each individual? What if some of those in attendance at the gathering were the poor who had nothing to give? How would that make them feel that they couldn't put anything in the plate? I can't find anywhere in scripture where the Apostles passed plates to each individual. In one passage we find them laying their giving at the Apostles feet, but we'll look at that in a future study. For now let's look at when they gave?
1 Corinthians 16:2: "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."Some people use this verse to spread the doctrine of Sunday worship, the first day. Yet I can't find where they said we must worship on the first day. (I'm not saying that we shouldn't meet for worship on the first day of the week. As a matter of fact, I believe we should meet as often as possible and worship together. But I do not feel that we should limit ourselves to one day, or indicate to others that one day is mandatory for a day of worship. I think God wants to be worshipped every day.)
What I did find was their gathering was to do business on that day. The business of collecting for the widows, fatherless, and poor. The early believers met on the first day of the week, which on our calendar is Sunday. They met to bring their collection in and to distribute to the poor. Think about the distribution. I have never seen a fellowship distribute to the poor the day they took their offering. (As a matter of fact, I have not seen a fellowship provide for the finances of these people in my life. Not that some fellowships don't. I just haven't seen it myself.)
I believe this is similar to what we see today as welfare. Yet it wasn't the state who provided for them, it was the believers! You will see in the next study that the early believers took care of their own, firs,t and NO ONE had lack! No one lived above the others.