What is the acceptable manner of Christian giving?
“When thou doest thine alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” (Matthew 6:1-4). Children of God are not to give to receive recognition or praise of man, but are to give, as much as possible, anonymously and in secret with much humility and love.
Is it proper for a congregation to take up a collection, and if so, how?
It is not only proper but expedient for congregations to make provision for people to give their offerings to the Lord. Paul advised the congregation at Corinth: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week” (I Corinthians 16:1-2). The congregation was instructed to have a financial gathering on the first day of the week, which was their day of worship. Giving is a part of our worship and service of love to the Lord and should not be neglected.
The scripture does not instruct specifically how the offering should be collected. It is to be a freewill offering and not a bondage placed on the people. It is important that we not be dogmatic in the administration of the giving—whether with a private collection box or some form of public offering. Freedom and privacy is important. An atmosphere of humility should be advocated rather than the auction-style that some congregations use to raise funds.
How often and how much should a Christian give?
The Bible teaches that a Christian should give as he “purposeth in his heart” (II Corinthians 9:7).
I Corinthians 16:2 says, “let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” A Christian should give whenever the Spirit moves on the heart to give and in whatever amount. While we are not under the law of the tithe, the old covenant was a schoolmaster. It is still important to give to the Lord first before all else, purposefully and regularly. It is vital to make a purpose in the Lord and be faithful to it, while never limiting God when He inspires greater giving. For some people who do not earn much, giving sacrificially may mean a small amount of money. For the richer, a sacrificial percent of income could be far greater than twenty percent. “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren” (Acts 11:29).
To whom should offerings be given?
Giving is not necessarily all done exclusively through the local congregation, but it should be done for the purposes directed in the Word of God. Offerings are given to fulfill the Biblical responsibility to help the poor, widows (I Timothy 5:16), fatherless (James 1:27), and to support the ministry and work of God in general.
Collections were taken up in Macedonia and Achaia to help the poor saints which were at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-26). Relief was sent unto the brethren of Judaea (Acts 11:27-29). The apostle James spoke about the importance of our faith being lived out through helping the naked and destitute (James 2:14-18). The responsibility of helping the poor starts with the household of faith and expands from there (Galatians 6:9-10). The scripture is clear that people work with their hands that they may give to them that needeth (Ephesians 4:28). There are also responsibilities of giving to pay the bills of the congregation and to take care of the local place of worship.
In the Old Testament, it was required that the Israelites tithe to support the work of the priests and Levites. In the New Testament, the saints are taught in multiple places to support the ministry financially. “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn….If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (I Corinthians 9:7-11). If you are taught in the Word of God, support him that teaches you good things (Galatians 6:6). The workman is worthy of his hire whether he be a pastor, evangelist, missionary, etc. It is a responsibility of the saints to voluntarily support those who labor in the kingdom of God.