Money: Giving in the Kingdom of God
October 6, 1999, Lilongwe, Africa
In the church where I live there is no one who is salaried, no one who collects money for themselves, no one who gives sermons in order to get money. But everyone is still very much involved in giving. In a setting like this we do not ever pass a basket around, but still every single person in the church gives financially to the work of God. There are various people in the church who have been entrusted with the responsibility to provide in their home a private way in which brothers and sisters can give. To be able to give in private like that allows the right hand not to know what the left hand is doing. They are not going up front to give so that people can see, but they are able to give from the heart.
There are many different things people may give towards. Many of the brothers will put their money in an envelope and write on the outside what they want that money to be used for. They might say, “The Poor”, which might firstly be the poor among us, or it could be in our community. They might write, “For Printing Materials”, like some of the books you have received. Different saints gave part of their income because it was their prayer and heart to share those truths that have been so precious to them. Someone might give money to a brother who lately has been laboring very hard in the Lord. Perhaps he is on a trip away from home. He is not in his job like he normally is, but because they want him to be able to be with those believers in another place, they give part of their income for that purpose.
Writing on the outside of the envelope enables people to connect their heart with what is happening. It is not just throwing money blindly in a basket, but the money represents the work of God. So in this way they can connect to the specific work that has been important to their heart. There may be times when nothing specific is in mind. They may not know this week what to give to. So they might put “For Leaders to Decide”. There are many possibilities.
In the first century, sometimes people sold lands and houses and laid the money at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed as each had need. So sometimes it’s like that. Most often, however, they are giving to something specific. Because no one is watching, it can be easy to become lazy. Because the left hand is not watching the right hand, you can become lazy in your giving. We each must be very careful not to let that happen. Does this answer some of your question? Is there more? Have I missed something that might help?
What About Tithing?
The teaching of tithing is not in the New Testament. If you want to tithe, you should also offer animal sacrifices. It is a teaching of the Old Testament, the Old Covenant. It was a discipline of ten percent that God commanded His people in the Old Testament. “Tithing” is no more a part of the New Agreement, the New Covenant, than animal sacrifice, or a “holy man” cleric or priest, or temple worship are part of the Covenant of Jesus’ Blood. They are not, and “tithing” is not. There is NO TITHING in the New Contract. Men, trying to extract money from God’s Lambs for BARF mortgages (Buildings Appropriated for Religious Functions) and Hireling salaries, will try to pull Old Covenant Scriptures out to persuade God’s People to pony up. However, these same men do not generally also insist upon Saturday (“Sabbath”) worship at a Temple in Jerusalem, or in Animal Sacrifice, which are also part of that Agreement. It is totally dishonest and fraudulent to grab a line out of one Contract and another line out of a different Contract in order to construct one’s paradigm. Paul taught clearly that we are dead in our sins, and the Blood of Jesus is worthless to us if we live in the Covenant of circumcision and Sabbaths and tithes. There is no “10% tithe to the pastor” in the BIBLE. That is not God’s Way.
In this Agreement, God wants it all, and wants it FROM THE HEART, and wants it BY THE SPIRIT. Jesus said, “Unless you surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom.” In THIS Agreement, it is to be RELATIONAL in a living, current love affair with the Messiah. Our “giving” in this Covenant is to be sacrificial, as directed by, and in obedience to the Spirit of God, day by day.
When Jesus was standing at the temple courts, he saw a woman that put two pennies in the collection. Those pennies weren’t very much in terms of quantity. Jesus said she didn’t give ten percent, she did not tithe, but she gave all of her money. She gave her food money. God was more important to her than food. She loved the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. She wasn’t trying to find a way to only give ten percent. She wanted to give the best gift she could. And Jesus said, “Look at this woman. The angels are applauding and clapping for her because she didn’t think about tithing, she gave all her heart, soul, mind and strength.” This is the message of the New Testament. The Old Testament is weak by comparison.
When Paul wrote to some of the churches, he said, “We do not peddle the Word of God for profit.” Paul did not look at his gifts as something that he could sell. Jesus had given him these gifts to build others up, not to get money from them. Instead of trying to get money from people, he tried to give. As mentioned, others have sacrificed to print the books that we brought. We are not selling those books. We are giving those books to you and to others. The teachings in those books belong to Jesus, not to us. Jesus shared those things with us freely. So of course we want to freely share them with you.
I hope no one would ever think of selling one of those books to someone else. In any gift that Jesus gives you, if it is teaching, if it is wisdom, if it is knowledge, if it is the ability to sing or play music, if it is the ability to communicate well in public, this is something that does not belong to you. It is something that the Master has entrusted to your care. That gift still belongs to Him. But He has entrusted it to you so that you can enrich other people. One time Jesus told the Pharisees, “If you pray so that others can admire you, that is your only reward.” The same is true in the matter of money. If you teach or write or sing so that others can pay you, that money will be the only reward you ever have. But if you are willing to give freely what God has given you, the reward is great. The blessings multiply in lives around you, and it is to the honor of God.
On a practical basis again, each person makes a decision before God about how they should be a giver, how they should give of their material possessions. Between them and God they make that choice, because they love Him with all their heart. And so they make choices and then they will decide where to give that money. There are neighborhoods where many saints live close together. We put a box at one of these homes in each one of those neighborhoods. And the saints that live in that neighborhood will quietly go to that house every week and they will ask God to receive their gift. They will write a note with that gift about what area of work they want to give that gift to and they will quietly put it in that box and walk away.
We also have two or three brothers that will go around to each of those neighborhoods (small villages) and they will collect all that money in one place. And these trusted, honest brothers working together will take the money that is labeled for the poor and they distribute it amongst the poor in the community. The money that is labeled for printing of books, they will collect all that money in one place and give it to those that do the printing. And if certain brothers or sisters that are faithful servants of God have had their lives changed, their families changed by certain people’s gifts, they might label it with a person’s name on it and these trusted brothers, working together, will make sure that the brothers or sisters that have their name written on the envelope receive it properly.
Like Paul, these other brothers or sisters may make tents or do other kinds of work. Because Paul affected people’s lives for Jesus in Philippi and Thessalonica, perhaps they would send him a gift for the work there. He would also give to the poor around him with that gift. He would also help other brothers and sisters like Timothy and Titus so they wouldn’t have to make tents all the time. In the letter to the Philippians, Paul said sometimes he received things from others, sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes he made tents, sometimes he didn’t. If God provided for his needs another way, then that was wonderful. If not, he would make tents and provide for other people’s needs. No problem. So these brothers that collect all the money will distribute it to whomever’s name is written on the envelope or to whatever kind of work is written on the envelope and they will take nothing for themselves. Does this make sense?
While someone might give money to a person who is changing lives, no one decides they should get money because they themselves think they are changing lives. The people whose lives are being changed are making that decision. No one is deciding to get money. Everyone is deciding to serve Jesus with whatever gift they have. Everyone, not a clergy and an audience. Everyone. Some gifts are very helpful. As those gifts have helped you, we want to help free up that gift to help others. So sometimes that happens. But never because someone is peddling the word of God for profit. Their only goal is to be helpful and useful. They are not trying to make money. It doesn’t matter to them if they make tents for the next five years or if they are freed up for a period of time. They serve God with a whole heart both times. That is very different than how most of the religious world functions. People view the Word of God as a career. It is not a career like a carpenter. That is not in the Bible.
It is Better to GIVE
One more point: Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It is okay to receive, but it is better to give. But it is never okay to demand to receive. If my children were to tell me, “Father, Father, give something to me” and they would demand and cry, all I would give them is discipline. But if I see my children sharing with others and loving other people, I feel very free to surprise them with a gift. The same is true in the family of Jesus. There must never be anyone who is demanding to receive money. No one should say, “It says, ‘We have all things in common. You need to give me money.’” No one should ever say, “It says, ‘If you have two coats, give one to your brother. You have two coats; give one to me.’” That’s a sin. That is selfishness. So if anyone is demanding money or demanding anything else, the church should not give it to him or they will actually be hurting him. But if someone is truly in need and the brothers find out about that need and out of love and a desire to serve Jesus they give, that’s a beautiful thing; that is acceptable to God.
Everyone Serves God Full-Time
When Paul traveled from city to city and country to teach others, Paul didn’t say, “I am an apostle of the Most High God! I must not lower myself to make tents. I’m a servant of God!” Paul made tents when Paul needed money. If God supplied his needs from other ways, that was okay too. But he didn’t care. If he made tents, then he would meet people in the trade, people that he would buy fabric from for making tents, people that would come to buy the tents that he made, and that was the field that he was working in too. He didn’t care if he met people in the marketplace or if he met them in the synagogue. His whole life was to love God and to love people, to be all things to all men, to be in every circumstance he could be in. If he is in jail, he converts the jailer. If he is before kings on trial, he tried to convert the king. If he is making tents, he tried to convert the buyers of tents. How he made his living did not make any difference.
If God provided for his needs from other brothers and sisters that loved him and were grateful to him, and he was then free to not have to make tents for a period of time, then perhaps he was free to travel with Silas and the other brothers to go to other cities. If he ran out of money, which in the Philippian letter it says he did at times, then he would make tents for a while again. No problem.
The traditions of men have taught us a bad concept of what it means to be a servant of God. Paul was a much more powerful servant of God than most of the little men today that call themselves servants of God. Paul would take money or not take money. Paul would work hard with his hands night and day and even pay for his own meals. To the Thessalonians he said, “I even paid for my own meals when I was among you. I could have expected you to give me meals, but I paid for your meals. I worked hard with my own hands so that I could provide for my own needs and the needs of others.”
If that is true for a great gift like Paul, why do all the less international gifts think that they would never need to work hard with their own hands to support their own needs and others’ needs, too? If God supplies our needs in other ways, that’s okay. But no one should expect it or demand it. If God’s people have a heart to free us up to do that so we don’t have to make tents, that’s wonderful and that’s okay. If God’s people don’t see that we need to be free right now to serve in a way that is unhindered by making tents, then we will make tents and try to supply for other people’s needs.
So, these are very practical things, which have benefited us for fifteen years now, with many brothers in our number who used to be pastors or leaders. They have given away their salaries and their positions and their titles, and God has been very faithful. None of them are hungry, and all of them are serving God full-time. All of the saints, even the children, serve God full-time. They don’t serve God for pay; they serve God out of love, and God provides for needs in various ways. It’s a very precious truth, but it is a little frightening sometimes to put away the traditions of men, especially when it costs us money out of our pockets. No one has ever trusted God this way and God ever failed him. God is faithful. He cares for the lilies. He cares for the birds of the air. He cares for everyone that loves Him. There are no special classes of Christians.
There is no caste system in Christianity where some people sell their gifts, and other people just have “normal people” gifts. No one sells his gifts in the true church. God meets everyone’s needs as God sees fit. God decides how our needs are met. We are all full-time servants of God, whether in the marketplace, or the jails, or our homes. These are very important truths. We must shake the tree of the traditions of men and break it down. God is faithful; he will protect us if we do that.
A practical example: Other brothers and sisters decided that we three should come here. We didn’t decide “we are superheroes, so we are going to travel somewhere.” We are not. We are just simple slaves, as you are. It was their decision, not ours. They also offered to help pay our bills while we were gone. We didn’t decide that or ask them for that. God’s People, listening to God, decided together that we should go. It’s a very simple matter.
The temptations that Jesus received at the pinnacle of the temple, they were very similar to the temptations that we receive sometimes, aren’t they?
Do We Really Believe?
Question: As we choose to share the message of the King and Kingdom with our friends within denominations, what should we tell them in regards to the funding that they and others within the denomination receive? Some people are currently dependent on the denomination for their livelihood.
If a person decides to stay a part of a denomination because of money, God will judge them very severely. If a person will reject Truths of God for the sake of money, then they are satan worshippers. This is not about money! This is about GOD, who is much bigger than money! We must trust God and obey Him no matter what the cost. If it costs us our family, if it costs us our house, if it costs us our jobs, if it costs us all of our money—these things are for Jesus and it’s worth it no matter what.
Peter and John said, “Silver and gold have I NONE. But I do have Jesus and what I do have, I give to you.” If a denomination is throwing money into people’s lives and that is their livelihood, and those people within that denomination begin to obey Jesus no matter what the consequences, then one of two things will happen. One thing that can happen is the truths of God will flow into the denomination and change the whole denomination. People will give even more money because their lives are changed. The other thing that can happen is the denomination will cut off the money. And if they cut off the money... I say “SO WHAT!” God will provide for everyone who is obedient and faithful.
Do we really believe that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills? Do we really believe that whatever we ask of Him in His Name, He will provide? Do we really believe that He loves us more than He loves the sparrows and the flowers of the fields? Or is this just some religious game that we’re playing to get something out of for ourselves? If you follow the ways of God for money, or if you are willing to compromise and put aside the Truths of God for money, then I say to you the same thing that Paul said to Simon the sorcerer: “May you and your money perish in hell!” We must not be affected by money. We must believe God and obey God no matter what the cost. He is a wonderful Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.
When Ethiopia was a Christian nation and many people obeyed God, Ethiopia was called the breadbasket of Africa. Well, it is God who calls the rains to fall, the crops to grow, the cattle to flourish and a nation to prosper. When Ethiopia became an Islamic nation and Christianity was compromised, God judged the land and the rain stopped falling. Ethiopia is a desert now, not a breadbasket.
Stop and think about it because what I want to say to you is that the reverse is true also. If we will build God’s House and not our own houses, and if we will spend ourselves for God rather than trying to protect our own wealth, then God will cause our crops to grow. He’ll cause the rains to fall, He’ll cause our businesses to prosper, and He will find ways to care for our needs.
If, on the other hand, we try to protect ourselves, and we compromise and disobey truths because we’re afraid of what might happen, then God will judge us severely. Our pockets will have holes in them. The money we thought we had won’t be as much as we thought it was. The seed we sowed in the field will not grow as much as it should. But, if we trust God, He will care for us. And likewise, if we disobey and compromise, He will judge us (Haggai, Chapter 1).
When will God have a people who will finally trust Him and obey Him no matter what the consequences? Will you be that people? If not, you will ROT. If so, you will prosper to the GLORY OF GOD!
Lord God Almighty, please pay attention to our prayer right now. We’re asking You to open the heavens. Please continue to pour out revelation to sincere brothers and sisters. Continue to pour out the oil of joy to those who are obedient. Continue to build Your Church with great wisdom, love and self-sacrifice for those who will obey You at any price. We also ask You, God, as You promised in the Book of Deuteronomy, that You’ll bring curses and judgment on those that will not obey You. We invite You to be our Father if we love You and obey You. We invite You to be our Judge if we disobey You. We know You take no joy in bringing calamity, but sometimes we need a spanking to break our spirits. We invite You to spank our stubborn spirits if we have them. We ask that You hug us and help us in our weakness. Please break our rebellion, and help our weakness. We invite You to stretch out Your hand and do supernatural things in these ways. We know You are Real, Alive, and Glorious. This is not a game and we’re not trying to elect You to be God. YOU ARE GOD, and we must bend our knees to You. We’re foolish and weak at times, but we invite You to make us men and women of God, crushing our rebellion. We give Glory to YOU as our Author and our Maker, the Lover of our souls, and the Builder of Your Church. Great is Your name! AMEN!