The Christian's story is the story that God has generously given salvation in Christ. You became part of God's story of generosity. The Gospel message is the good news about God's generosity: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son..." (John 3:16). God is a giver and God is generous. When we become God's children, through Christ, we take on God's nature, in Christ and also grow in generosity. We become stewards of the life of God within us and actors and voices in God's story.
The Christian is an adopted child of God, in Christ. We are now sons and daughters of God. We are learning how to live in Christ, by his Spirit in our lives. And the life we now live in Christ is a life of generosity in freedom, living in the kingdom of God.
We are by nature, now, givers. We are in Christ, because God gave. Giving and generosity is God's nature and now we've got his nature within us and now we are generous too.
"How does this work?", we might ask. We are encouraged that giving will come back to us in blessings, in every dimension. The word from Jesus is, "give and it shall be given" (Luke 6:38). Simply stated, you can not out-give God. Jesus has said that, when you give, God will always give back.
God's greatest generosity was in giving Christ for the sins of the world. We are on that same mission; co-missioners. We have become part of the generosity of God. We are all working out (Phil. 2:12) this great salvation (Heb. 2:3) that we are experiencing and inviting others to get in on.
This is the context or basis from which the Christian has become and is growing in being a giver or generous person. We are generous givers, because of the gospel. It is an inside job. Generosity comes from the heart, and it must, to be in sync with God.
The New Testament talks about and teaches a cultivation of giving and generosity. He gave us all, and he wants us to be like him, and he is in us with his Spirit to do it.
The Old testament Tithe was never adopted by the New testament Church. We are never given a percentage that we should give. We are only told to be givers, or to cultivate the generosity of the life of Christ within us. Just be who Christ is within you. Be a Christian. That is what the NT teaches.
God had Paul write down that we should each decide in our hearts how much to give and then give that much. Some have called this practically, "pray and obey". A situation to give to, presents itself, and we ask God in our hearts, "should I give to that and if so, how much", and guess what? God will help us in our conscience, in our inner man, or in our hearts, to know what a good amount is.
If the amount seems like a stretch, perhaps God is stretching our faith and wants to remind us that, "whoever gives to the poor loans to God who will pay them back" (Prov. 19:17). But when you have prayed and get an idea of how much to give, and if it is a stretch, you have exercised a measure of faith; and you are not reluctant. Make sure you are giving cheerfully!
You cannot give reluctantly, or grudgingly, or with hesitation. You have to give freely. If you do not, then there will be no blessing from your giving. You don't want to say, "I'm going to give till it hurts". Giving must come from a cheerful heart that gives freely to bless others.
Harvey Nowland wrote:
If you help others with the right motivation, you’re going to be helped. When you refresh others, you will be refreshed.
Get it? You reap what you sow.
Don’t give simply for some tax advantage. Don’t give expecting the recipients to be grateful. Most will be extremely thankful, but some may not only be ungrateful, they might even resent those who give.In the NT, we are encouraged to give in proportion with our prosperity (1 Cor. 16:1-2). In the NT, giving is completely voluntary. Some have used the example of Abraham's one tenth gift to Melchizedek to say that tithing is what we should do, but that focus is wrong. What we learn from Abraham's tithe in Gen 14, mentioned again in Hebrews 7; is that giving is voluntary.
So, don’t give until it hurts. And, don’t give in order to be admired for your generosity. Give because giving reflects the loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving.
Remember, giving to God reminds us who He is, who we are and what our relationship should be to Him and those things that He allows us to manage in His name.
While there may be those who encourage us to give until it hurts, it seems that God really has a much better plan. God wants us to give because it’s the right thing to do. I think that it looks as though we should feel good, even joyful, about giving – if that’s what God wants us to do.
Please, please, don’t give until it hurts. Instead, give until you feel so good about giving that you might fall down laughing (all right, maybe not that happy). But, you get the idea, so let’s remember that “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Christians should give voluntarily to Christ, as Abraham did; not under law, but under grace. If you have no generosity, or if you do not give, then it begs the question, "are you in Christ?" The Spirit of Christ is the most generous force in the world today.
The generosity of God in Christ is the salvation and only hope for this world. If you say you are in Christ, but are not generous, or do not give, and give regularly, as in a, "who you are and how you live", way; then maybe you need to get saved.
We have to take a look at our salvation if we are not generous or givers. But the paradox is that it is a choice. The NT is filled with a church learning generosity, learning not to live sinfully, learning Christlikeness. We are learners too, disciples who are getting saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaved. It is an event AND a process. We are learning, being discipled by Jesus, to live in his generous life.
For further study:
Tithing After the Cross, by David A. Croteau
Should Christians Tithe? by David Allan Black
I found the graphic above at - Twelve Resources For Christian Generosity, by Andrew Jones