The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the initiating of a new creation, do not eradicate protocols concerning finances, but rather lift them up to a more perfect level of understanding and intent.
Old Covenant instructions under the Law first given to Moses upheld many principles, including tithes, offerings and alms. While we are indeed free from the bondage of the letter of the law, those who are free indeed—in Jesus Christ—will find themselves fulfilling these principles, even exceeding them at times, under the anointed guidance of the Holy Spirit!
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.
Our foundation is Jesus Christ. God speaks to us by His Son. His Spirit fills, anoints and guides us to fulfill the Law and the Prophets in His higher ways that are beyond human understanding and ability. Should we be less responsible in fiscal matters than those who are operating under Law?
The practice and testimony of those who are guided and helped by the Holy Spirit ought to exceed the practice and testimony of those who were guided by the Law, and depended only on their own resources.
TRANSLATING TITHING INTO NEW COVENANT MINISTRY SUPPORT
Our first responsibility is to those who serve us on a regular and ongoing basis. The OT shadow of this principle: Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
Paul defended the validity of this principle: Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
Paul then went on to explain that he was not putting any such expectations or demands upon the Corinthians lest it be misinterpreted as Law, or be misunderstood as self-serving. That quality decision by Paul did not dismiss the responsibility of the believers. It is safe to presume that, as they grew in spiritual sensitivity and mature responsibility, they likely met and exceeded the Law because of faith and the leading of the Spirit. The regular and proportionate support of ministry is intended to be a blessing to those who give of their own free will, in joyful obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
UNDERSTANDING FREE WILL OFFERINGS
The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.
It does not mean something that has been demanded out of you, embarrassed out of you, or given because guilt or condemnation has been placed upon you. It does not mean something that has been given for fear of the consequences of not giving it.
Whether righteously caring for those who regularly labor among us, those who bring the word to us at special times, or supporting a special and specific project or purpose, the command of the Lord through Moses, and the command of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, were and are qualified in a way that does not violate the hearts of believers.
Paul spoke so highly of those who, though not wealthy, gave generously of their own free will to further his ministry:
That in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
Note that Paul did not manipulate these gifts from them. He did not pressurize them blatantly or subtly. These were gifts given freely from God-honoring hearts. Such hearts for giving offerings should be a normal expectation whenever the local community of believers receives equipping ministry gifts. They are to receive their living from the gospel. They have travel expenses, expenses at home, time invested in prayer and preparation, etc. We should not take lightly our responsibility to them.
It should be our practice, encouraged by those who serve us as our leaders, to prepare offerings for such ministry gifts (people) who come to us.
DOING OUR ALMS IN SECRET
The words of Jesus found in the Sermon on the Mount constitute a solid foundational understanding for those of us who desire to manifest the life and character of God in our lives. Among these words of divine wisdom we read:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
“But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
CONSISTANT IN PECUNIARY PROTOCOLS
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
Such an apostolic imperative would undoubtedly stir strong reactions among some who believe that they are on the forefront—forerunners, if you please—of today’s move of God. We are once again reminded of Jesus’ challenging words:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
A careful look at Paul’s orders will show that he did not dictate specific amounts, but rather exhorted the Corinthians to become ordered and disciplined in this matter of stewardship. There was no violation of their free will—no coercion or manipulation, no fear of retribution should they fail to obey.
Disciplined stewardship is
a priority for Jesus’ disciples.
The principle of free will is precious. Our free will support of leaders, missions, and the needy is a true indicator of our heart’s condition. Again and again and again and again we read of the term freewill offering in the Scripture. We read of it because it is foundational to understanding God’s heart.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
This promise has been fulfilled in the new creation, those who are anointed to manifest God’s glorious government in the earth as it is in heaven.
By Don Atkin