In Christ we are fully God's. The blood of Jesus has brought us near to Him (Eph 2:13), and we are in Him (1 Cor 1:30), He is in us (Col 1:27) and He is our life (Col 3:4)! The Apostle Paul said, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else... 'For in Him we live and move and have our being.'" (Acts 17:24-25, 28). We don't give because God needs us to give or compels us to give. We give because God has freely given us all things and because we are wholly His.
When it comes to giving, I like to consider the life of the Apostle Paul, who is easily nominated as one of the hardest gospel workers of all time. He didn't preach that the people should provide for him! At various times people willingly took up collections for him and even gave sacrificially, but it was never because he preached "the principle of giving." It was simply because they wanted to. In 2 Cor 12:14 he was talking about coming to visit them in Corinth and he said, "I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions, but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children."
Paul's words to the Philippians were of the same spirit. In Philippians 4 he was commending them for how they had provided for him unlike any other church had done. And here's what he said, "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account." He was happy about the things they had sent him (it's not bad that they gave to him!), but what he was really happy about was that their gift to him was "a sweet-smelling aroma, and acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God." It was selfless, and not given under compulsion but out of love, from their hearts. Paul adds, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Why will God do that? In return for their giving to Paul? NO! It's simply because that's who God is! He makes all grace abound toward people, that they, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
It seems that almost all of the teachings I've heard in my life in the church have been based on a "duty" or "obligation" to be a generous giver. But true, generous Christian giving is done from a heart of love. You can't force or oblige love to do something. True love does everything freely. The bottom line for me is that we give by grace, just as we live the whole of our lives in Christ by grace! "Tithing" and "grace-giving" are very different things. In Christ, we are grace-givers. He doesn't want our "tithes." Giving by grace, as with the entirety of our lives being lived by grace, involves trusting in a Father who is full of grace and provision, who is never lacking in anything and who cares tremendously for us and loves us with a never-ending love!
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