WEReveal

On Giving

A Study of Matthew 6:1–4 [show]ERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key ‘TEST
This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.

Originally pub­lished 5÷2÷2003

Be care­ful not to do your ‘acts of right­eous­ness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heav­en. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trum­pets, as the hyp­ocrites do in the syn­a­gogues and on the streets, to be hon­ored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giv­ing may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (from the NIV)

I find this pas­sage to be rather inter­est­ing. It is one that, in our church ser­vices, is almost dis­cour­aged at times. Many church­es “pass the hat” dur­ing their ser­vices and many pas­tors feel the pres­sure to even make a pub­lic dis­play of giv­ing their tithes and offer­ings as a way to encour­age oth­ers to give. What real­ly gets me is when there are spe­cial times of giv­ing where we announce, Joe gave $1000, Frank is going to match em… etc.

Now, let me first state, this is a mat­ter of per­son­al con­vic­tions. I just have a ten­den­cy to take Jesus at his word. He empha­sized the issue by say­ing “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” This is of course fig­u­ra­tive but the truth of it is strong, giv­ing should be done in such a way that oth­ers do not even know you have giv­en.

So how does this affect us?

If giv­ing is to be in secret, maybe church­es should not pass the hat but pro­vide oth­er more pri­vate means for peo­ple to give. Yeah, I can see pas­tors pan­ic now. “People wouldn’t give if we don’t pass the hat!”

I pas­tored a church for four years with­out an offer­ing time. We pro­vid­ed a place for peo­ple to slip their tithes and offer­ings in when they want­ed, before or after the ser­vice. 100% of our mem­bers tithed and gave addi­tion­al offer­ings and many vis­i­tors gave as well. Of course, we were a small church and larg­er church­es would have to work out the logis­tics but I tru­ly believe that Christians want to tithe and give offer­ings. I also believe the Lord bless­es not only the givers but also the church that encour­ages giv­ing in secret. [ed: I now attend a large church which has offer­ing box­es around the four cor­ners of the audi­to­ri­um where peo­ple can give as acts of wor­ship, I don’t know if it is finan­cial­ly work­ing but I cer­tain­ly believe it is spir­i­tu­al­ly work­ing]

If giv­ing is to be in secret, maybe we shouldn’t even use our giv­ing as a tax deduc­tion. Ok, this one will rile a lot of peo­ple. However, to me, the “need” to have it as a tax deduc­tion is an indi­ca­tion of a lack of trust in the Lord. Oof, yeah, low blow. Again, this is per­son­al con­vic­tion and there is no law or doc­trine that needs to be set out. It is sim­ply a ques­tion of “Do You Trust God?”

A sto­ry in Acts has always struck me as an inter­est­ing sto­ry. I think quite pos­si­bly God was try­ing to show us the impor­tance of why Jesus would say to give in secret. Acts 4:32–5 [show]ERROR: The IP key is no longer sup­port­ed. Please use your access key, the test­ing key ‘TEST
This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
:11 is the sto­ry of con­trasts, a man, Barnabas, who gives every­thing glad­ly and a cou­ple, Annanias and Sapphira, who con­spire to look like Barnabas, prob­a­bly to get the hon­or he did. They lie to God — yes, the con­gre­ga­tion too, but that isn’t real­ly the point of the sto­ry — about what they are giv­ing. As such, that cou­ple end­ed up struck down dead before the church.

The sto­ry is a visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the sim­ple truth, when we give to the church, we give to God and it is only God that mat­ters. When we give in a pub­lic man­ner so that the giv­er receives hon­or from oth­ers in the church, it can lead to dis­as­ter. Jesus also says, we get exact­ly what we want­ed, tem­po­rary hon­or from peo­ple and squat from God.

Congregations need to con­sid­er the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the meth­ods of giv­ing, how they encour­age peo­ple to give so that they do not lead peo­ple down a wrong path. Most impor­tant­ly, Christians need to always con­sid­er the fact that giv­ing is an act of faith in God. He will sup­ply our needs. When con­gre­ga­tions lean on oth­er means and meth­ods of encour­ag­ing peo­ple to give they are dis­cour­ag­ing faith and lead­ing peo­ple down the path seen in Acts 5 [show]ERROR: The IP key is no longer sup­port­ed. Please use your access key, the test­ing key ‘TEST
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. When a group of believ­ers gath­er togeth­er and encour­age faith, that faith is then expressed in giv­ing just like we see in Acts 4 [show]ERROR: The IP key is no longer sup­port­ed. Please use your access key, the test­ing key ‘TEST
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.

Jesus said, “Be care­ful not to do your ‘acts of right­eous­ness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heav­en.” Give in secret, “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Written by William Reveal 5÷2÷2003

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