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Purposeful Giving

2 Corinthians 9:7

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (NASB)

Video:  Cheerful Givers

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 Jordan and Lindy Schwieger have written a new entitled “Everything Men Knew About Taking Care of Themselves Before Women Came Along.” All 96 pages are blank.

 The Schweigers publish under the pseudonym Dr. Ever E Mann. They say they came up with the idea when they heard about a similar blank work. The couple conducted surveys in shopping malls to come up with the title for their idea.

 Due the seriousness of the topic, the Schweigers decided to donate all of the profits from the book to an organization, which provides assistance to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

 Lindy Schweiger admits, “We’re making fun of men, but the reality is, there’s a serious problem.” She adds the couple is considering writing more books in the future, maybe some with words in them. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 If I ever wrote a book without words, it would be entitled: “Every good reason I know for not giving a tithe or more to the Lord.” Think about it, could you list a single reason?

 Oh, I’ve heard some reasons, just never any good reasons.

 Some people say, they CAN’T AFFORD TO TITHE.  You would think that instead of complaining how big their tithe is, they should be rejoicing at how large their income is.  In his book, Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Randy Alcorn writes, "If tithing is God's minimum expectation, can I afford not to tithe?  Can I afford to rob God, or are there always consequences?  Of course, there is one way to reduce my tithe, and that is to reduce my income.  If my tithe seems to be a lot of money, I should praise God!  It proves how abundantly he has provided." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

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 Unfortunately, as a whole, those who make the most give the least.  According to the IRS, in 2003, people with and average income of $12,685 had $1,469 in charitable contributions (11.6%) as compared to those with an income of $54,503 who claimed $2,094 in charitable contributions (4%).  Those with an average income of $288.335 gave $7,182 (2.5%)

 Commenting on these statistics, Scott Burns wrote, "If those figures look a little funny, it's probably because you don't expect people living near the poverty line to be able to give away over 10 percent of their income while people at the other end of the scale give only 2.5 percent. But if you go through the entire income table, as I did, that is exactly what you will find. Giving and income have an inverse relationship." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 Why would people give less when they have more?  I think it is an attitude problem.  They think they actually own the things they have. 

 Rich DeVos founder of the Amway Corporation says, "You should always set the tithe aside first, as soon as the money comes in.  And make sure you tithe on the gross, not the after-tax net.   Don't think of it as your money.  Think of it as the Lord's.  If you don't claim it as your own, you won't miss it when you give it God.  But if you put it in your pocket first, it will be hard to give it away.  Something inside you will say, No!  That's my money!  So tithe off the top--giving is easier when you set your tithe aside the moment you get it." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 Other people don’t say they can’t afford to tithe, but they do argue about the theological validity of the tithe.  They say, that’s “Old Testament law and it doesn’t apply to the New Testament believer.” 

 While I don’t quite buy the theological argument that Malachi 3:10 doesn’t apply to Christians in the Twenty-first Century, I do agree that everyone should be New Testament givers.  Our text says, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB)  This verse teaches that believers should be purposeful and cheerful when they give.  The question remains, how much does a purposeful giver give over the course of a year?  Certainly, they wouldn’t simply give from their leftovers—you know, after they’ve paid the mortgage, car payments, cable bill, vacations and made several trips to expensive restaurants.  The amount of their giving would be bathed in prayer. 

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 It would be based upon a Scriptural understanding that everything belongs to God.  Psalms 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” (NASB) and Colossians 1:16 says, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (NASB)  Purposeful giving springs out of a humble heart that knows it owns nothing.

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 Purposeful givers would also recognize that everything they have comes from God.  He gave us life, Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (NASB)  He gave us salvation and purpose, Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; [9] not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (NASB)  And He provides us with our needs, Psalms 37:25 says,”I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.” (NASB) and Matthew 6:26 says, "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (NASB)

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 Our response to our God who owns everything and gives us everything we have is to give Him everything back in return.  Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (NASB)  That’s what Barnabas did when he sold his property and gave it all to the Lord’s work (Acts 4:37) and that’s what the widow did when she gave every last penny she had to the Lord (Mark 12: 41-44). 

 In his book, Daring to Live on The Edge: The Adventure of Faith and Finances, Loren Cunningham writes, "The New Testament rule is simple:  everything you are and have belongs to God.  And like Jesus, you are to ask the Father's direction in everything.  Just say, 'Here I am, Lord.  And here is all my money.  What will You have me do?'  When you see a need, ask if you are to give and how much.  Obey the Lord.  New Testament giving is based on total surrender, listening to the Lord and obeying whatever He tells you to do, then trusting Him to do what you cannot do." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 The tithe isn’t the only Old Testament giving requirement.  I recently asked Dr. Fenton Ward, a retired missionary to the Jews what percentage of income a Jew was required to give if they added up all the offerings, he said it would be around 22%, not 10%.  The New Testament expands upon the Old and encourages more—it calls upon believers to be Purposeful givers.  As we understand that in general, 100% of what we have belongs to God and is used for His service, we purpose to set a portion aside a specific amount aside for His specific work.

 Unless God tells you otherwise, I believe a great place to start is a tithe.  Ten percent, right off the top, and then be willing to do more if He asks.
 

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