Giving & Stewardship

Biblical Principles

 

Scripture References and Discussion Questions Generated by the Stewardship Education Committee

Contributors: Bryce Bartruff, Brian McClelland, Janice Roberts, Andrew Harpur

 

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2 Chronicles 31: 4-10

4 “And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the Lord. 5 As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. 6 And the people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of the dedicated things that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, and laid them in heaps. 7 In the third month they began to pile up the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and his people Israel. 9 And Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps. 10 Azariah the chief priest, who was of the house of Zadok, answered him, “Since they began to bring the contributions into the house of the Lord, we have eaten and had enough and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed his people, so that we have this large amount left.”

Questions for discussion:

  • How much was “the portion due the priests and the Levites?”
  • What function did the Levites and Priests perform?
  • How did the people of Israel respond?
  • If they gave “abundantly” do you think that was the tithe or another amount?
  • What was the first reaction when Hezekiah “saw the heaps?” Why do you think he had questions about the “heaps?”
  • How would you explain the largesse of the contributions to an unbeliever?
  • Do you believe that the Lord always rewards his people who faithfully tithe their “first fruits?”

 

Malachi 3: 8-12

8 “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Why does God see it as robbing when we don’t tithe?
  • What does God say he will do when we do tithe?
  • The concept of “testing” God usually does not have a positive connotation; what does scripture tell us in this case? 
  • Should we expect to prosper when we tithe?  [How might the prosperity as described in verse 10 be seen in your life?]
  • Do you selfishly want to keep 100% of what God provides for you?
  • How can you view your tithing as helping to advance God’s kingdom?
  • How would the concept of “tithing” change the world we know today if all Christians participated?
  • Will our example of tithing be a testimony to others as they see God’s blessings upon us?
  • American Christians are more generous in giving than people in most other countries. Do you think that God has rewarded our nation because of this? Are we in danger of losing that blessing as a country?

 

Psalms 24: 1

24:1 “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”

Questions for discussion:

  • Since God has dominion over all his creation, what does it mean when he emphasis that he owns those who dwell therein belong to him?
  • If we belong to God, does God own all of what we have?  What influence does your response have on how you spend your money?
  • If we tithe 10% to God, do we own the remaining 90%?
  • How can I exhibit a behavior that honors God knowing that he owns all of what I have?
  • If God owns “the world” why does he need me to contribute to His kingdom?
  • Does God need my gift with which to bless others?

 

Leviticus 27: 30-33

30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the Lord. 33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Why do you give things to God?
  • When is it easiest for you to dedicate a gift to God?  When is it difficult?
  • What is a tithe? 
  • Do you tithe? 
  • Why should you tithe?
  • If you give reluctantly what does this say about you?
  • What is the meaning of verse 31?
  • If we don’t tithe for a period of time should we try to “make it up?”
  • Do you think of your tithe as “Holy to the Lord”?  How does this influence your thinking about giving to the work of the Lord?
  • What changes can you make today to overcome the difficulty in giving to the Lord?

 

Numbers 18:21

21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting”

Questions for discussion:

  • What was the purpose of the tribe of the Levites in the Numbers account?
  • Who are the Levites today?
  • Do we owe a tithe to our “professional ministers?”
  • Do we owe any obligation to our Church ministry?
  • According to the Ryken’s Bible Handbook, page 79, “The instructional passages (in Numbers) teach the obligations of covenant living.” Do we have obligations under grace that can be derived from the dictates of the Old Testament?  If so, does it apply in this situation? 

 

Numbers 18:23

“But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the people of Israel they shall have no inheritance.”

Questions for discussion:

  • What service did the Levites perform?
  • What does “bear their iniquity” mean?
  • Does a “perpetual statute” mean that we need to consider their service today?
  • Why did the Levites have “no inheritance?”

 

Numbers 18:30-32

30 “Therefore you shall say to them, ‘When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be counted to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the winepress. 31 And you may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting. 32 And you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have contributed the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, lest you die.’”

Questions for discussion:

 

Deuteronomy 14:22

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.”

Questions for discussion:

  • How does this passage apply to people today who do not engage in farming?
  • To what does the tenth apply?  Does it include only money that is gained from work or does it include other income such as gifts and bonuses?
  • Should the tenth be based upon the money that is left after taxes have been paid or before income and other taxes have been paid?
  • Describe your inner personal feelings about giving a tenth of our income.  In general, are your feelings positive or negative in nature?  
  • Where do you believe the money described in this passage should go?  Explain you’re rational. 
  • Is a tenth all that a person should give to the work of the Lord?  What are the benefits of giving even more?

 

Deuteronomy 18:3                                                            

3 “And this shall be the priests' due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. 4 The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. 5 For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for all time.”

Questions for discussion:

  • To whom does this passage say should be the beneficiaries of offerings?
  • Describe some of the benefits pastors bring to your life?
  • What would happen to the effectiveness of the church if it did not have a paid staff?
  • Some pastors spend the bulk of their time studying the scriptures and seeking to understand its message and meaning.  How does their work impact your understanding of the scripture and your relationship with God?
  • Do you believe Christians are obligated to provide for those who minister to them spiritually?  Explain.
  • Galatians 6:6 reads, “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” How does this verse influence our care for our pastors?
  • What benefit do believers gain from the act of obediently providing for the financial needs of spiritual leaders?
  • If all Church members gave a tithe of their “first fruits” what would happen to the congregation? What would happen to the church at large?  What would happen to the ministry?
  • Are you prepared to demonstrate your faith in this way?
  • Would this kind of giving challenge us to further obey the specific teaching of the Bible?

 

Proverbs 3: 9, 10

9 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Should we give our “wealth” and our “first fruits” with the expectation of being rewarded for our faithfulness?
  • Should we give only if we have “wealth?”
  • What is “wealth?”
  • How should we counsel fellow-believers about tithing if they are experiencing “hard times?”
  • Is there ever a time that we should not “tithe?”
  • Consider Proverbs 15:16 “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.” Is this a contradiction with an expectation (suggested in verse 10) that the result of giving will be “plenty?”

 

Galatians 6: 8

8 “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Do we limit a minister in his ability to teach if we do not offer enough support to provide for him and his family?
  • What are “all good things?” Do they include abundance from our own resources, in addition to what the Church provides?
  • If a minister of the Word is forced to work outside the Church in order to provide for his family, what is our responsibility as Church members?
  • Can you think of any circumstances where a minister might or should work outside the ministry to provide for his family?
  • What are practical guidelines to determine what a minister of the Word should expect in exchange for faithful study and teaching?
  • Do you believe the minister should make more or less than you do and why?

 

Matthew 6: 19-21

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Questions for discussion:

  • What does it mean to lay up treasures?
  • What earthly treasures are you laying up?
  • What are heavenly treasures?
  • What is your motivation for laying up earthly treasures?
  • What is your motivation for laying up heavenly treasures
  • Is this passage telling us not to prepare for the future?
  • Is it wrong to have earthly treasures?
  • Is your pursuit of and desire to lay up earthly treasures distracting you from seeking heavenly treasure?
  • Do you need to focus or refocus on attaining heavenly treasures?
  • If there is blessing in laying up treasures in Heaven, why do we resist and substitute that blessing with earthly treasurers?
  • What steps can we take to help us discern between earthly treasures and heavenly treasures and insure that the Kingdom of God is our priority?

 

Matthew 23: 23

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Is the act of tithing considered more or less important than justice, mercy and faithfulness?   Why are both important?
  • Describe “the weightier matters.”  What is it about these actions that cause them to be of great importance?
  • What are some of the internal benefits a person receives from giving faithfully a tenth of all they have to the work or the Lord?
  • Based on this passage, is Christ condoning or condemning the act of tithing?  Give evidence to support your conclusion.
  • Some people say that tithing is only for those people who lived in Old Testament times.  Refute their claim.  
  • Some people show justice, mercy and faithfulness but do not give financially to the work of the Lord.  Is this spiritually healthy?  Explain.

 

Matthew 25: 14-30                     

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

Questions for discussion:

  • If you are the servant who has doubled his master’s investment, what praise will you receive at His coming?
  • In what ways do we act like the servant who buried his talent?
  • What are the gifts with which you have been entrusted to be used for your master?
  • What should be our course of action when we realize we are squandering the gifts God has given us?
  • Is there a way to measure faithfulness?
  • Is there a correlation to this parable in the business world or the professions?
  • Is there a correlation to the life and duties we engage in every day?
  • Does this verse apply to the passage we are studying?

Galatians 6:3-5, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in him alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”

 

Mark 12: 41-44 

41 “And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Why did the widow give all she had to the Lord?
  • Do you trust God to provide for you the way the widow did?
  • Why is it difficult to rely on God the way the widow did?
  • We want to be in control or in charge but wouldn’t it be best if we let God take control.
  • The passage refers to the widow giving up a penny, all she had.  Should we focus on money only or look beyond money to other things such as our time, skills, talents, etc.
  • Is there something you could give up, some “indulgence” that could better be used to further Christ’s kingdom?  Do you spend too much time online, watching TV, daydreaming instead of being engaged in “good works”?
  • Why is it difficult to give up anything that we want?
  • Why is it difficult to give up anything we desire for the sake of Christ? Is this a heart issue?
  • Are we all called to give our “everything we have” and how does this apply to our total life experience?

 

Luke 12: 48

48 “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Does this verse apply only to the final judgment? Explain your rationale.
  • What does this verse tell us about our responsibility before God today when it comes to our possessions and talents?
  • Considering all the Biblical teaching we have received, is there any excuse for us if we do not carry out our part in service to our Lord?
  • Consider Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” How does this help us understand this parable?
  • “Basil the Great rightly observed: ‘“When I consult the New Testament, I find that our Lord Jesus Christ does not absolve from punishment even sins committed in ignorance, although He attaches a harsher threat to deliberate sins.”’ (Quoted in Luke Volume 1 page 691, author, Philip Graham Ryken) Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

 

Luke 16: 13

13 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Questions for discussion:

  • How can you tell if you are a slave to money? Give examples
  • Is it possible to serve both (God and money)?
  • What resultant behavior happens when we serve money (aka worry, greed, hording, debt, etc)?
  • Is it possible to work hard and obtain wealth and at the same time be serving God and not money?  Explain.
  • What does God provide that money does not?
  • How can we serve God but be responsible with money?
  • How does Proverbs 28:19-20a relate to the verse we are studying? Does it seem contradictory?

Proverbs 28:19-20a “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread. But he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings…”

 

Acts 20: 35

35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Questions for discussion:

  • Christ said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Have you experienced this in your life?  Explain providing examples.
  • Is it natural for us to want to give to others? If not, why not?
  • Is it ever easy to give? If so, when and in what circumstances? If not, why not?
  • Why do we typically want to keep things for ourselves instead of sharing with others?
  • How do you balance giving and keeping?
  • On the practical side, just how comfortable do you need to be?
  • On the heart side, is Christ at the center of all you do?
  • If we live “by faith” is it possible that God will supply our every need?

 

1 Corinthians 10:26                                   

26 For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.”

Questions for discussion:

  • What does “The earth and fullness thereof” mean? 
  • The words “fullness thereof” is used in this verse.   What does this mean to you? Does it include financial resources, time, and friendships? 
  • Do you truly believe this statement?  How is this seen through your actions and the actions of others?
  • If you believe these words why is it so difficult for some people to designate some of what they are stewards of  (time, money, etc.) to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom?
  • In consideration of this verse, is there anything we should withhold from God?
  • Is it wise to trust God to supply our every need considering that all resources belong to Him?  Explain.

 

1 Corinthians 16: 1-2                

16:1 “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

Questions for discussion:

  • Paul approached giving in this verse in a very organized way.  He designated a specific day.  What is the benefit of systematic and consistent giving?
  • Does it matter today in what order we prioritize our giving?
  • If we don’t give to God first, is there a temptation to give less or not at all after all the other bills are paid?
  • How do you understand the phrase, “as he may prosper?”
  • Are there times when we should not give in proportion to our income?
  • Why do you think that Paul wanted the money ready so that “there would be no collecting when (he) came?”

 

2 Corinthians 8:7

7 “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you —see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Define the word excel.  What role should this word play in the life of the believer?
  • What evidence do you find that believers should give to the work of the Lord much more than 10% of their income? 
  • What does excelling in giving do in the life of the person who gives above and beyond what is required to the work of the Lord?
  • Giving to the work of the Lord is described as an act of grace or graciousness.  What does this mean? 
  • Read carefully 2 Corinthians 8:1-8.  What is it about the people in Macedonia that made this act of giving especially meaningful?
  • How does excelling in giving demonstrate genuine love?

 

2 Corinthians 9: 6-11

6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; 
his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Questions for discussion:

  • Verse 7 states that “God loves a cheerful giver.”  If a believer is not cheerful about giving to the work of the Lord, what does this say about their spiritual condition?
  • Why does God love a cheerful giver? Why should this be so important?
  • What might a believer do to become cheerful about their giving?   
  • Do you think we receive back from God in proportion to what we give?
  • Do you believe that Christians are always provided for by God’s mercy?
  • Does God use us to insure that the poor do not suffer?
  • Is there a difference in God’s view about whether or not the poor are Christians?
  • What does “abound in every good work mean?
  • Should we expect God’s blessing when we give cheerfully and “not reluctantly or under compulsion?”
  • Does “harvest of righteousness” mean our “fruits” or does this have another meaning?
  • Does this mean that a practice of giving as in II Corinthians 9:6-11 will produce more generosity?
  • Is there any way to rate our giving to insure that we are giving as God has directed?
  • How does our faithful giving “produce thanksgiving to God?”

 

Philippians 4:19

19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you believe that God can and will meet all your needs?  Under what circumstances might a believe struggle with this verse?  What advice could you give them to help them in their spiritual walk?
  • Can we differentiate “needs” from “wants?”
  • Describe needs; do they include physical, emotion, spiritual, etc.?
  • Since God is going to meet all our needs, does this mean we don’t need to plan for the future?
  • Are we being good stewards of what God has given us if we don’t plan for the future?
  • Why is it difficult to fully trust Christ to do what he says he will?
  • What does “his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” mean for us?
  • Can you think of someone who lives this verse?
  • How does making a sensible plan help us to give regularly and systematically?

 

1 Timothy 6: 8-10, 17

8 “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

17 “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

Questions for discussion:

  • What are the differences between Needs and Wants?
  • How can we be content with what we have?
  • What example in your life illustrates how the love of money has created obstacles for you to tackle?
  • How did you overcome them?  What encouragement from scripture (God) helped you resist this craving?
  • Are you in a position of financial security?  If you have been blessed with wealth how can you carry out the responsibility that comes with it?  (In God’s eyes)?
  • Who controls the wealth we have?
  • What is meant by contentment?  How does a person know if they are content?
  • What do you believe makes money “a root of all kinds of evil?”
  • Some people have wandered away from their faith because of their love for money.  What is it about money that makes it so powerful that it can make a person choose it over building a deeper relationship with Jesus? 
  • Under what circumstances is it appropriate to want nice things?
  • When might it be wrong to want a lifestyle full of many nice things?
  • Identify some steps a believer can take to make sure they keep the focus of their life on Jesus and not on possessions.

 

2 Thessalonians 3: 6-12

6 “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”

Questions for discussion:

  • Some people “choose” not to work and take care of themselves but choose instead to take the things others have worked for and use them for themselves.  What are some things you could do to change your behavior if you found this described you? 
  • What action is Paul asking us to imitate in this passage of scripture?
  • Is it appropriate for you to behave in a way that others will want to imitate you?  Explain.
  • If someone makes the choice not to work, what should be the consequences of their decision? 
  • How should people who choose not to work be treated differently from people who are not able to work and take care of themselves?
  • What are some acts of support you could give to someone who chose not to work but to take from others?
  • How would you introduce this topic to someone who has chosen not to work but rather to accept benevolence from others?