King David exclaimed to the Lord, upon the overwhelming giving for the building of the temple, "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand... All of it belongs to you." - I Chronicles 29:14ff
Our LAC giving philosophy is based on this reality, that EVERYTHING belongs to God. We are merely stewards of that which He entrusts to us. He gives us all we have; we use it wisely and give a part back in thanksgiving and trust that He will continue to meet our needs.
How much should we give?
In the Old Testament, the tithe is defined as the giving of 10% of one's income, or the giving of one's "first fruits." Interestingly, Malachi 3:8-10 is the only Scripture that specifically challenges us to "test" or "prove" the Lord. God reprimands those not tithing as "stealing" from Him, and then challenges them to "test me and see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be enough room for you to receive it."
The New Testament makes no mention of tithe as a requirement, but emphasizes that the heart is the key issue. The driving question becomes not "How much do I give?" but "How much dare I keep?" New Testament principles teach us to*:
- Give First. Jesus says in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it will be given to you...For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The major purpose of giving was to remind the people that God comes first in our lives; that He alone deserves preeminence.
- Give Cheerfully. Paul teaches in II Corinthians 9:6-7, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
- Give Faithfully. When the master says to the good stewards, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21-23), he is speaking of reliability. Paul speaks to this when he exhorts the believers in Corinth: "On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income..." (I Corinthians 16:2).
- Give Wisely. Good stewards invest money wisely. In I Corinthians 9:11, Paul says, "If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?" The spiritual principle is: give where we are being fed spiritually, where we see Kingdom investments multiplying, and where we can loudly and joyfully proclaim what God is doing through the church.
- Give Without Seeking Recognition. Jesus saw the hypocrisy of the Pharisees' public giving and said, "...do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:3, 4). Secret giving guards against religious pride and is one of the primary ways God builds faith into our lives.
*Summarized from The Christian and Missionary Alliance document, "Stewardship and the Kingdom of God"