Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38 KJV
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35 KJV
Most Christians have been taught that it is our duty to give one-tenth of our gross income to the church. Under this teaching, not doing so is thought to be robbing God of what is His. However, according to Bible scholars like Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum, what we have been told is a good example of what happens when people pull certain verses out of context and then misapply what they have pulled out of context. Dr. Fruchtenbaum goes on to explain,
"First of all, the actual Mosaic tithe was not 10 percent, but 22-23 percent. That is because there were two annual tithes of 10 percent each and a third tithe every third year. The total averages out to 22-23 percent.
Second, the tithing itself was aimed strictly at the farming community, which most Jews were a member of at that time. They had to tithe from what was grown and what was raised such as flocks.
Anyone else outside the field of farming would simply pay the annual half skekel at Passover.
Third, tithing was part of the Mosaic Law and therefore was only in force as long as the Mosaic Law was in force. The Mosaic Law came to an end when Messiah died on the cross.
Fourth, the biblical principle for today's giving is not based upon tithing, but based upon giving as the Lord has prospered. From week to week the percentile might be different depending on the obligations we have.
Fifth, the Bible nowhere says we are to give our entire offering (not tithe) to the local church. On the contrary, we are told that we should lay it in private deposit and strictly distribute our giving as necessary.
The certain things we are required to support would include the local church, but that does not mean they get the entire amount of our offering.
There are other ministries we are obligated to support such as whom we learn the Word from (Galatians 6). Jewish ministries (Romans 15:25-27), and others we give to as we are led.
There is no need to feel guilty if somebody tries to get on your case for not tithing specifically to the church. The verses they use are verses that deal with the Mosaic Law. The storehouse was in the Temple Compound where the food was stored and not the church treasury."
Christmas is the Greatest Gift
So, where and how do we give besides the support of our local church? As Christians, the practice of giving gifts at Christmas is traced back to the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that were given to the Christ child by the three Magi. The Magi were kings from the East, wise men who traveled a great distance following a star, to find the Christ child and to bring him gifts. The visit of the Magi to the Christ child was originally celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Over time, the tradition of giving gifts came to be more associated with Christmas than with Epiphany.
To be certain, the ancient Church did not "celebrate" Christmas as much as it "observed" Christmas as a holy day. It wasn't really until the modern era. The tradition of giving gifts to loved ones at Christmas became more and more popular as the middle ages ended and the modern era began. Various countries and peoples began to make gift-giving a regular part of the holy day (or "holiday") over a period of time. By the time the Americas were settled, giving gifts at Christmas was practiced by many of the settlers.
The greatest gift, of course, is the gift of Jesus Christ, who came to earth as man, suffered, and died on the cross for our sins. This is the greatest gift of love. In my heart, we give Christmas gifts as a celebration of Jesus' birthday.
I have experienced great joy in giving. Now I'm on the receiving end with great generosity from friends everywhere, and most importantly, prayers for my health and recovery. It started with our Hoosier friends opening their home to us for nine days during Thanksgiving week. On November 26th, I had a full minimally invasive knee replacement in South Bend, Indiana. On the 2nd of December, we had just come out of the surgeon's office, and were on our way back to our friends' house, when we had a terrible accident. My left collarbone had a compound fracture, bruised from head to toe, right thumb damaged, and whip lash from side to side. Our van was totaled. We rented another van and the next day, drove the nine hours home. My husband had surgery on Friday, December 6th, and on December 16th, I had surgery repairing the collarbone with a plate and screws. It has been an extremely stressful and painful time for both of us.
Then there's joy. I let my email friends know of our predicament and that I would not be on the computer. In the mail from a cyber friend comes the most lovely soft cuddly throw that I sleep with all the time because of its light weight. Along with that beautiful soft throw is an heirloom afghan made by my dear friend's mother and cherished by me which covers me every night. Then came the neighbors and friends with food! Dinners to delight came from some of the best southern cooks. Then more friends called and more food arrived, and offers to help get me to therapy and do anything they could do. Then came a check in the mail from my best friend to hire help to get me through the day while my husband is at work. I was so overwhelmed with the prayers and outpouring of kindness that tears easily flowed. Many of my friends said to me, "Don't you remember all the kindnesses you did for us?" and then they'd name them. These were things long, long, forgotten by me, but remembered by my friends.
This is true Christian giving. There is no tax rebate through a 501(c)3 church, there is no one else who knows except those doing the giving. They all brought tears to my eyes, including the many phone calls, cards, and well wishes, and the many prayers. The Lord is blessing these dear people and has blessed us with their generosity.
The Lord God has given us the greatest gift in his Son, Jesus, the King of Glory. And He has given His Holy Spirit to those of us who believe on Him. The kindness and caring comes from these dear fellow believers and friends.
II Corinthians 9:6-8, KJV is clear, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."
This is truly the Christmas spirit, and truly giving from the heart. I have been greatly blessed by every one of these dear people and all who have prayed for