Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

A Promise of Giving

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Lord, isnt it true, dear Lord, that anything we give You has ultimately come from You; and all of it basically belongs to You. For it is obvious "...we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7). "O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own" (1 Chronicles 29:16). All the tithes, first-fruits, and vows are from Your abundance. Even wisdom, You have promised to give us saying, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). We are nothing but stewards over Your belongings.

Gods Attitude Towards Giving

The most amazing thing about Gods character is that when He asks and commands us to tithe and give offerings, He addresses us as owners. More amazing and boggling to the mind is that He considers our offerings as loans to Him, the owner of everything; "He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given" (Proverbs 19:17), who keeps record of and rewards the smallest thing we give Him, "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42). His promise for reward is so loud and clear in the Holy Book of Malachi, "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,' says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 3:10-11).

God detests the non-giver and warns him against His wrath, saying, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house..." (Malachi 3:8-10).

The Churchs Attitude Towards Giving

The Church prays for whoever offers anything, saying, "Remember, O Lord, those who have brought unto You these gifts; those on whose behalf they have been brought, and those by whom they have been brought; give them all the heavenly reward." In the Litany of the Offerings, the church prays, "Give them the incorruptible instead of the corruptible, the heavenly instead of the earthly, and the eternal instead of the temporal. Their houses and their stores, fill them with every good thing."

While the church prays for us, she reminds us of Gods commandments regarding giving the first-fruits, the tithes, and the vows, knowing already that growth in giving will come only when we give ourselves first: wholly and totally to the Lord. It is then and only then that giving will become easy and automatic. "And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everythingin faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for ussee that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:5-9). It is very true what St. Paul had said that "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). It is to our advantage to give and it will be credited to our account in eternity. St. Paul made this clear to the Christians of the church in Philippi after they had sent their offerings twice to help him. "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:17-19).

Offerings in the Old Testaments

  • The First-fruits

    Besides referring literally to the first-fruit, "For all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them to Myself" (Numbers 8:17) and "Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine" (Exodus13:2) the emphasis here is on the first in everything including the first salary, business product, increment etc..

  • Vows

    "Make vows to the LORD your God, and pay them; let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared." (Psalm 76:11)

    "Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High." (Psalm 50:14)

    "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed--Better not to vow than to vow and not pay." (Ecclesiastes 5:4,5)

  • Tithes

    "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year." (Deuteronomy 14:22)

    "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORDs. It is holy to the LORD." (Leviticus 27:30)

    "Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak." (Hebrews 7:9)

    "Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the LORD from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the LORDs heave offering from it to Aaron the priest.'" (Numbers 18:25-28)

    "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10).

    "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third yearthe year of tithingand have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled." (Deuteronomy 26:12)

    "But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks." (Deuteronomy 12:5,6)

    Also as a sign of repentance and return to worshipping God, people in the Old Testament, would tithe. Example:
    During the reign of King Hezekiah "As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the LORD their God they laid in heaps" (2 Chronicles 31:5,6).

    Also during the reformation that was done by Nehemiah "to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse" (Nehemiah 10:37,38) and indeed "all Judah brought the tithes of the grain and the new wine and the oil into the storehouse" (Nehemiah 13:12).
Offerings in the New Testament

After the coming of the GRAND OFFERING, our Lord Jesus Christ, He Who has laid Himself unsparingly in love for the world, and has established an everlasting blood covenant with those who believe in Him; offerings have changed their course. Giving in the New Testament no more flows through the narrow channels of the first-fruits, the one tenth of income, or some vows. It has extended its pipelines to include:

  • The extra mile and the second cloak, "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back" (Luke 6:30); "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two" (Matthew 5:41).

  • The 2 coins of the widow, "Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood'" (Mark 12:41-44).

  • The laying of the self for the sake of others, "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day" (Matthew 16:21) for "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friend" (John 15:13).

  • Giving the self wholly and totally with no reservation: "Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys" (Luke 12:33).

Lord, we pray that You may move our hearts to fulfill your commandments in the matter of giving; in order that we may obtain the blessings of obedience, and thus escape the punishment for negligence and the consequent spiritual and eternal losses. Amen.

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