I was reading 1 Cor. 9 during my devotions today and something jumped out at me that made me want to write a note to encourage your giving and speak about the way we give.
I found the Lord saying today that too much giving is under obligation and therefore, it is not something that the priests can boast loudly about. And that is indeed true, for while it is true that each of us is thankful for the blessings that God gives us, how many of us boasts loudly that we got paid routinely today? What we boast most loudly about is in the gifts and windfalls that arrive unexpectedly. The miracles that we didn’t expect. Unfortunately, too much giving today is expected or required and therefore there is little or no boasting as a result. Boasting is a signal to the world that the Lord is blessing his people.
Now let me start with a disclaimer that I believe scripture teaches that all giving should be done from the heart and not out of any other obligation. In fact, if you’re giving under any obligation, you should stop for the Lord does not want your heart to become hard under the weight of burdens and obligations that he did not put there. I believe the Lord would rather have you give 2% joyfully then 10% under obligation. Giving should be based on what God tells you to give by your spirit. It should never be required unless God says so, nor should it be based on a required amount. We know the law passed away and with it, passed the requirements that 1) You must give certain amount of money and 2) That it all giving defined as “tithe” should go to the Church. There is no such requirement to give 10%, or that all giving must go to the church apart from the Law. But you are not under the law!!!
Under the New Covenant you have freedom and with that freedom all your giving should come from the heart and be based on your spiritual leading, for the Lord loves a CHEERFUL giver, amen? So when you give, ask the Lord every time, “What should I give?” For some of you, it may be 10%. For others 2%. For still others, 50%. In other words, be led!!! And don’t worry that the Lord cannot provide for his Church in this way because we know he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, therefore he WILL provide for his church.
So how does this tie into 1 Cor. 9 and what needs to be boasted? Consider this: Paul explains that he and Barnabas shouldn’t be treated any differently than other ministers of the Gospel. He says in v. 6 “Is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living [while we preach the gospel?]”
Being all of one “church” in Paul’s mind, this affords him of the same support that other church leaders were getting in Corinth. I think in Paul’s case he was out of sight and therefore out of mind and not receiving support. That is why Paul reminds them that it is a good thing and a commandment of God that those who preach the gospel should make their living from it as well, v.14.
Now I have heard it said that pastors don’t like to ask the body for money, and many pastors have been admonished by the Lord for not doing so. By not asking the body to give, they are inadvertently robbing people of a blessing that God designed for them to have through the obedience of giving. So church, do not reject this message when it comes because it should come. You should be exhorted to give…and again, not under obligation but by the heart. The obedience is to the act of giving, not the amount. But there’s another reason you should give – to give leaders a reason to boast! You see, you should have a blessing and they should have a boast.
Paul says in v. 15 that he would rather die, yes die, than to be deprived of a reason to boast of the blessing that allows him to live by the support of others. This is indeed a profound principle to learn. While pastors and all ministers in general do not want to rob the saints of their blessing, at the same time, saints should not want to rob ministers of their boasting that people would be so inspired and moved by the gospel of Christ that they would actually give money to the effort to see it go forth. Leaders, I pray that you would have the support that the Lord orders for your ministry and nothing less and nothing more, for if the Lord wants something, he will provide for it without placing his people under obligation. And let it also be that you should boast loudly about it because what comes without obligation is a true move of God and sign of divine providence.
Leaders need to model the walk of faith in finances that they often exhort to the church, because a “tithe” that obligates people to give by pledge or commitment is no walk of faith at all. Where is the faith walk in that? People should be under no compulsion to give for the Lord pays for all that he orders. And saints, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in ALL your giving. Sow where God tells you to sow, inside and out of the church. Give as much or as little as God tells you to give because the priests (church) and the Levites (ministries) shall be supported by tithes, not just offerings (Num. 18:25-26)
Pastors and leaders, your boasting is not in the obligated gift, for as I said above, what faith is in that? Your true desire to boast will come out of the little miracles that your people give from their hearts, that the Lord leads them in their giving, that their giving multiplies miraculously and still, you have what you need in your income and the church has what it needs as well.
A father’s chest fills with a burst of air when his son makes him proud. In such a moment it is easy for a father to boast of his son. So too is boasting of the Lord’s provision that comes in this way. Make God proud saints and give, not till it hurts for that is a worldly teaching, but in a way that brings you true joy. And by the same token, leaders, do not lean on your own understanding for how the Lord will provide for you, for in the unexpected miracles lies the boast that loudly proclaims and boasts of the name of Jehovah Jireh, God our provider.