All spiritual giving begins with God. Each believer rejoices in John 3:16 and the words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” We also share Paul’s sentiments: “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Cor 9:15). Giving is an evidence of grace (divine enablement) most fully seen in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Cor 8:9). This grace of God is seen in each child of God when he gives, whether it be his person, time, energy, or money.
Much of the New Testament teaching about giving is found in 4 chapters: 1 Corinthians 16, 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, and Philippians 4. All of these deal with assembly monetary gifts.
Funds Given To The Assembly
Paul indicates (1 Cor 16:2) that it is the responsibility of each member of an assembly to give on the first day of the week. Therefore, assembly members pass a bag or box as part of the Lord’s Supper, or deposit money in a receptacle at the end of that meeting. It is fitting that it should occur at this time because giving is a form of worship. When Paul received from the Philippians, he viewed their gift as “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Phi 4:18). Just as praise, adoration, and thanksgiving ascend to God, so does the fragrance of a financial gift given to God through the assembly.
The amount given to the assembly is not rigidly determined. The 10% tithed in the Old Testament is no longer mandated but each is to give “as God has prospered.” In this Day of Grace we should be exercised before the Lord to give bountifully, just as He has bestowed spiritual and temporal blessings on us. The poor (perhaps young couples and retirees) need not despair for it “is accepted according to that a man hath and not according to that a man hath not” (2 Cor 8:12). The widow’s two mites were noted and honored by our Lord because it was such a large proportion (100%) of her income (Luke 21:1-4).
When Paul exhorts the Corinthians to “lay by in store” (1 Cor 16:2), he is implying that deliberate planning and preparation are needed. Putting God first means that our budgeting should take His work into account before our own needs and interests are considered. In times of financial hardship, it would be tempting to bypass this principle, but God has promised, “Them that honor Me I will honor” (1 Sam 2:30). Paul exhorted those who were rich to be “ready to distribute, willing to communicate” (1 Tim 6:18). All, rich and poor, are mere stewards of what has come from God and are therefore responsible to Him for what He has given to us.
Giving should also be done secretly (Mat 6:4) before God and not before man. There should be no solicitation or begging for funds and in giving there should never be an opportunity for boasting or glory. Any assembly receipts should incorporate a method which preserves confidentiality for the giver.
Finally, giving to the assembly should be done joyfully. “God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). The Macedonians had abundant joy when they gave liberally, even in a time of great poverty (2 Cor 8:2).
Funds Distributed by an Assembly
An assembly of believers has a wonderful opportunity to help in the Lord’s work by distributing funds where needed. Those in fellowship unite and share in a common exercise with those to whom funds are sent. Beyond keeping the hall maintained, there are needs to be met in sustaining commended workers nationally and internationally. There may still be widows who need support in an assembly. Printing of literature is expensive and requires adequate funding. Humanitarian needs abound on every hand, especially in third world countries and after “disasters” strike. John states, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17).
In a time when travel to all parts of the world is possible and telecommunication makes instant contact feasible everywhere, an assembly can provide support in many areas of the world. At the same time overseers will need to have divine guidance and discernment to support those laborers and efforts that follow scriptural patterns. They will also need to be astute in recognizing when and where special needs arise. The principles of integrity, consistency, and promptness will always apply.
In exhorting the Corinthians to give toward the poor in Jerusalem, Paul included Titus and a respected brother in the effort (2 Cor 8:16-18). All assembly funds should be handled similarly. More than one brother should be involved in the accounting; books should be audited and the entire assembly made aware exactly where funds have been used. The principle of doing things honestly, “not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men,” applies (2 Cor 8:21).
Paul warmly commended the Phi-lippians for not only having monetary fellowship with him, but also for doing it “from the first day until now” and “sending once and again unto my necessity” (Phi 1:5; 4:16). Surely the same should be true today. An assembly which commends a worker to full-time service would be at fault if it were to initially support the worker well and then do so infrequently. One of the joys of assembly life is to regularly support a faithful servant decade after decade.
Prompt dispersal of funds is also a New Testament principle. Paul had to remind the Corinthians that they had been ready to give to the poor in Jerusalem for over a year and had not acted. Funds left idle in a bank account will be of no benefit to someone in active service. Such faulty stewardship is actually associated with covetousness (2 Cor 9:5).
The assembly that is generous and has an exercise to help in every way possible will experience great joy. Following the principles of Scripture in giving will produce blessing. What Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor 9:8) is true for each assembly today: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”