By Randy Dillon
Luke 6:38 “Be constantly giving, and it shall be given you, a generous measure that has been pressed down hard and which has been shaken thoroughly and which is running over shall they give into the pouch of your outer garment, for with the measure by which you are accustomed to measure, it shall be measured to you again .”
(Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
The New Testament presents Christian giving in many teachings, parables, and examples. Yet, unlike the Old Testament, it does not detail specifics about giving. Typically, most Christian churches follow the Old Testament demand of tithing and yet that demand is to be found nowhere in the New Testament. Jesus mentioned tithing only twice. In Matthew 23:23 among the eight woes that He announces, He rebukes the scribes and the Pharisees for tithing the mint, anise and cumin but omitting the weightier matters of the law: judgement, mercy and faith. In a similar passage in Luke 11:42 Jesus pronounces six similar woes on the Pharisees including the first one for tithing mint and rue and herbs but passing over judgment and the love of God. Note that this expectation of tithing was upon the Jews. No mention is made that it is a demand on the followers of Jesus. In a final passage in Hebrews Chapter 7 the writer notes that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. Tithing was the demand of the law, but no such demand is made of Christians in the New Testament.
Does this mean that Christians are free from sharing God’s generous bounty in order to spread the gospel and otherwise provide funds for the needs of others? Quite the contrary. The New Testament principle of giving, I would suggest, is even more demanding than that of the Old Testament. Read again the Luke passage above. “Be constantly giving . . .” In 2 Corlnthians 8:1-15 we find this principle in action as Paul relates to the Corinthian Christians how the Macedonians, although under great affliction, gave out of their poverty to aid those in Jerusalem and doing so willingly (not grudgingly or under duress) and sacrificially (beyond their means.) And they did so joyfully.
Notice that neither Luke 6:38 nor 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 mentions tithing. No amount is stated, no percentage is demanded, no other form of calculation is expounded. Does this mean that tithing is not a good form of giving. Again, quite the contrary. If Christians wish to give by tithing that is an acceptable method of giving. But it is not commanded in scripture.
Instead a much more demanding process is here commanded. “Be constantly giving.” Notice too that the Luke passage makes no mention of money as the only form of giving. In addition to money, Christians should also consider giving of their time and talent. And the reward for each form of giving is that others will give back more than has been given. Will it always be dollar for dollar, time for time, talent for talent. Probably not. But every gift that is given will show a return. Money might be returned in the form of good health. Time donated to a good cause might be returned in someone fixing a damaged possession. Talent might be returned in a financial windfall. It is not a matter of how or what returns, but rather than it WILL be returned by our gracious God as He sees fit and it will be a generous return.
Too often we limit our Christian walk by bringing the Old Testament Law into New Testament Grace without a firm understanding that Jesus negated the Old Testament demands that were ceremonial and civil. But the moral laws of the Old Testament were completely fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus and in some cases even extended as noted in the Sermon on the Mount. It is therefore incumbent upon believing Christians to “[b]e constantly giving.”