During our worship service, in connection with the people giving to support the synagogue (by the way, we don’t “pass the plate.” Instead, we have a donation box in the back so that people put their contributions in it), we may teach on one of these various aspects of giving before praying that the Lord would direct us what He might have us give to support the work of Congregation Shema Yisrael.
The New Covenant Community is not the nation of Israel living under the Covenant made at Sinai, nor are our rabbis the Levitical Priests, nor do we offer bulls, goats, lambs and other offerings as the sons of Aaron did at the Jerusalem Temple, nor are we living under the same economy as the nation of Israel from Sinai to the Destruction of the Second Temple. Rather, we are a religious community living within another nation – the United States, with it’s own government and financial and social system. For these reasons, we don’t teach tithing as was commanded to the Jewish people under the Torah. Nor do we support our congregation like non-Messianic synagogues do, charging their members annual dues. We depend on the members to systematically contribute as God prospers them. We teach generous, cheerful giving, not giving grudgingly or because you feel forced to give, because the Lord loves a cheerful giver. We recommend – we don’t demand, we only suggest – that ten percent is a reasonable amount to try and give if you are able to do so.
Giving is part of worship which delights the Lord: Do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased (Hebrews 13:16). Giving is like the sacrifices that were offered in the Holy Temple, which rose up and made a delightful aroma in the nostrils of God. Paul, writing to the Philippians, tells them that their giving to support his service to the Lord was an acceptable sacrifice: I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18).
Giving honors God. Kabed – honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce (Proverbs 3:9). When we give to the Lord, it brings Him kavod – honor and glory. He provides everything for us, and He deserves something in return. He deserves the first and the best, not the leftovers. During the revival under Hezekiah, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all (2 Chronicles 31:5).
We are to give generously, willingly and cheerfully: Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. That’s generous giving! Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. That’s voluntary, cheerful giving!
We are to give generously, willingly and cheerfully: Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying, ‘Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s contribution … Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel departed from Moses’ presence. Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments (Exodus 35).
Giving shows our appreciation to the Lord. When we are invited to the home of a friend we reciprocate by bringing a gift to show our appreciation for his hospitality and graciousness. The Lord has been so good to us! The Lord said to Israel: Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. You shall observe the Feast of Matzah; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Aviv, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty handed. In addition, Moses commanded us: Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty handed.
Giving shows gratitude for God’s grace; for the forgiveness of our sins and for victory. During the very successful war with Midian, not one Jewish soldier went missing (Numbers 31)! But, Moses became angry with the officers of the army for sparing the Midianite women, since they had already seduced us away from faithfulness to God, and he knew they would cause us to be unfaithful to the Lord once again. The officers of the army brought an offering to the Lord from the spoils of the war to make atonement for themselves. When the Lord forgives you and grants you success, it is proper to show Him gratitude by giving Him part of your wealth.
Giving to the Lord should be a priority. Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’” Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!” The Lord’s House and His Kingdom and the work He wants to accomplish should be as important to us, if not more important, than our own houses and plans for ourselves.
The Word of the Lord encourages us to give generously to support His work: While we were in the wilderness building the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the skillful workers received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it (Exodus 36:3 7).
The Word of the Lord encourages us to give generously to support His work and other good causes. One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:24 25). The Lord said to Israel: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Malachi 3:10). Generous giving may result in the Lord blessing the giver – perhaps in this life, but for sure in the Life-To-Come!
Generous giving pleases the Lord and may result in Him blessing us – if not in this life, then definitely in the Life-To-Come! Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:4-5). Messiah taught us: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38).
When we give to the work of God (with the right motivation), the Lord increases the rewards in our heavenly account. There were times when Paul had very little money. Writing to the Philippians, he commended them for the generous way they helped him. They had done well by giving gifts to help him meet his needs. Their generosity made him happy because he knew that the Lord would reward them. The Rabbi made it clear that he did not seek the gift itself, but the profit which would increase to their heavenly account (Philippians 4:15 19).
We are to give systematically and regularly – not haphazardly. Rabbi Paul was very concerned about the well-being of the poor Jewish believers in Jerusalem, who were being persecuted and impoverished, and so he raised funds from the communities that were prospering financially, to help the poor Messianic Jews. Writing to the congregation in Corinth, he instructed them: Now concerning the collection for the saints (poor Messianic Jews in Jerusalem), as I directed the congregations of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). That’s systematic, regular giving.
We should want to give generously to support the work of the Lord. There are times when we may even want to give sacrificially. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: Now, brothers, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the congregations of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God (2 Corinthians 8:1-5 ).That’s sacrificial giving!
We are to give as privately as possible: Messiah instructed us: Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:1-4).
We can only give according to our ability. The Lord knows that we can’t give what we don’t have. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you (Deuteronomy 16:17). The wealthy Jewish people were required to offer bulls; ordinary Israelis lambs and goats, and the poorer Jewish people could offer doves (Leviticus 14:30). According to their ability they gave to the treasury for the work (Ezra 2:69). In the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brothers living in Judea (Acts 11:29). For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12).
We teach generous, cheerful giving, not giving grudgingly or because you feel forced to give, because the Lord loves a cheerful giver. We recommend – we don’t demand, we only suggest – that ten percent is a reasonable amount to try and give if you are able to do so, as so many have done before us. After Abraham’s return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of Heaven and Earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And Abraham gave him a tenth of all (Genesis 14:17-20).
We teach generous, cheerful giving, not giving grudgingly or because you feel forced to give, because the Lord loves a cheerful giver. We recommend – we don’t demand, we only suggest – that ten percent is a reasonable amount to try and give if you are able to do so, as so many have done before us. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You” (Genesis 28:20-22).
We teach generous, cheerful giving, not giving grudgingly or because you feel forced to give, because the Lord loves a cheerful giver. We recommend – we don’t demand, we only suggest – that ten percent is a reasonable amount to try and give if you are able to do so, as so many have done before us. All the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30). Messiah rebuked some Pharisees with these words: You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others (Luke 11:39-42).
Out of appreciation for the goodness of God, and as part of our expression of worship, we may want to give generously to the work of the Lord, as others have done before us. At the dedication of the First Temple, king Solomon and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the Lord. Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the Lord: twenty two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats (1 Kings 8:62-63)! As they were bringing the ark of the covenant to the new Temple, King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted (2 Chronicles 5:6).
The Lord is not impressed with the amount that we give, but the generous and sacrificial heart that loves God that results in generous giving. Messiah commended the poor widow above the rest. While He sat at the Temple, He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4).
The Word of God makes it clear that we are to give to our congregation so that the leaders who are serving the Lord can be supported. The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:17-18). The elders rule congregation. Those who lead well are entitled to receive double honor – referring to financial compensation.
We should give because giving is part of God’s nature. Love and goodness are two of the attributes that describe the nature of God. Love and goodness both imply giving. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:6). It is God’s nature to look outside of Himself and seek to give. On the other hand, fallen human nature is consumed with selfishness. It wants to take. When we give out of love, we become more like God. We become givers, not takers. Truly it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Giving is an evidence of God’s activity in our life. Now, brothers, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the congregations of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). It was the grace of God working in the Macedonian congregations that produced this generosity, this tangible expression of love.
Giving reveals where our heart is really at and produces eternal dividends. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).