Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Biblical Model of Giving

In these two articles (published in the Bulletin of Biblical Research) Andreas Kostenberger and David Croteau provide an extensive examination of whether Christians are obligated to tithe--that is, given ten percent of their income--under the new covenant. They conclude that "the view that Christians are required to give at least ten percent of their income lacks adequate support from the biblical data. This is not to say that Christians are not required to give, but that no Scripture commands a certain percentage as the minimum giving requirement."

I find their exegetical arguments persuasive. Unfortunately, some people resist such an examination for they infer that this is motivated by a desire to give less, or at least will result in less giving in the church. The authors plead "not guilty" to the first charge, and even suggest that perhaps giving would increase if the arguments were more biblical.

They go on to survey the NT perspective on giving and suggest that our giving should be...
  • Systematic: Give on a regular basis, that is, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. (1 Cor. 16:1).
  • Proportional: Give as you have been prospered; according to your ability (1 Cor 16:2;
  • 2 Cor 8:2–3)
  • Sacrificial/generous: Give generously, even sacrificially, but not to the point of personal affliction (2 Cor 8:2–3;Phil 4:17–18)
  • Intentional: Give deliberately in order to meet a genuine need, not out of guilt merely to soothe a pressing request (2 Cor 8:4; Phil 4:16)
  • Properly motivated: Our motivation for giving should be love for others (2 Cor. 8:9), a desire for reciprocity (1 Cor 9:14–15; 2 Cor 8:12–14; cf. Gal 6:6), and an eye to the reward from God (2 Cor 9:6)
  • Cheerful: God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7)
  • Voluntary: Giving ought to be done out of one’s free volition (2 Cor 8:2–3, 8; 9:7; Phil 4:18)
Finally, they offer the following quotes, which I pass along for your consideration:

Craig Blomberg: “[t]he standard Paul exhorts us to follow is actually a more stringent one than the traditional tithe. If most affluent Western Christians were to be honest about the extent of their surplus, they would give considerably higher than 10% to Christian causes.”

Walter Kaiser: “if a tenth was the minimal amount under the Law, how can Christians do any less? Perhaps we should consider not how little but how much we can give, seeing how richly blessed we are in Christ.”