Technically, everyone spends one hundred percent of their time
with God because God is everywhere and knows everything. But you
understand that I am talking about spending time in devotion and
service to God.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is going to church.
This is one of the best ways to spend time in devotion and service
to God. While assembled with the saints we sing, pray, study, give,
and partake of the Lord's Supper. Singing, praying, studying, and
giving (personally, apart from giving to the church treasury) are
additionally done outside of the assembly. But giving, as commanded
in the church, and partaking of the Lord's Supper are done in the
assembly. Although we do these things together, we do them individually
to the Lord. So, just because we show up at the assembly does not
mean that we have worshipped God.
Besides worship, we gather for another reason. In Hebrews 10:24-27
we read: "And let us consider one another in order to stir
up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and
so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully
after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer
remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation
of judgement, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries."
In addition to worshipping God in the assembly, we also exhort
one another to love and good works so that we do not sin. If we
come together and leave without encouraging and uplifting one another
to live in service to God, we have failed in assembling. And notice
in Hebrews 10:24 that we do not assemble for selfish reason (considering
ourselves), but we assemble considering one another. We assemble
because of everyone else, and everyone has assembled because of
me. So, if we wake up and do not feel like assembling or think we
will not get anything from assembling, just remember that God wants
us there for each other apart from self benefit.
The Bible records more about giving in Paul's commands and admonitions
to the Corinthians than anywhere else in the New Testament. The
command is given in I Corinthians 16:1-2 and Paul say: "Now
concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders
to the churches in Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day
of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up
as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."
The command is to give, the day on which to give, and that the giving
should be done in a manner so that it would be collected and ready
for Paul's visit.
About a year later, Paul writes again and exhorts the Corinthians
in Second Corinthians chapters eight through nine to finish that
which they had desired - collect funds to be given to needy Judean
saints. Notice that the principle of tithing is not taught to Christians
anywhere in the New Testament. Tithing was a command to the Israelites
and is referred to seven times in the New Testament only in relationship
to Old Testament dispensational laws.
To the Corinthians, Paul does not teach tithing, but he teaches
giving as something that is purposed and accomplished from the heart.
This is completely different from Old Testament practices. In the
Old Testament, tithing was a small part of the giving required by
God. They also were required to leave fields ungleaned so that the
poor would have food. And, during the Year of Jubilee they were
required to give back, to the original owner, some things they had
purchased since the last Year of Jubilee (Lev. 27:24). So, giving
in the Old Testament was much more involved that just tithing ten
percent. There were many more Old Testament Laws concerning giving
than the few mentioned here. If you take all of the laws combined,
the poorest gave ten percent and the richest could easily give upwards
of fifty percent. If anything, this is what we learn from the Old
Testament - the least ever required by God has been ten percent,
but from the rich he expects more. Now, which of us living in this
country are not rich? Are not the poor of this country rich compared
to absolute poverty around the world?
What did Paul say about giving in his second epistle to the Corinthians?
In II Corinthians 8:1-15 Paul refers to the example of the Macedonians
and Jesus who voluntarily put themselves into poverty so that others
may be rich. The Macedonians gave to their ability and even beyond
their ability so that needy saints may become rich. Jesus was rich
as Deity - the Son of God - but became poor so that we could become
rich in eternal life. In my next article, Lord willing, we will
discuss the proper attitude in giving from II Corinthians chapters
eight through nine. In the mean time, think about your giving to
the Lord. It is evident that we can give too little, but when have
we given too much?
How does one spend time in devotion and service to God by giving?
By giving, we turn all our financial efforts into service and devotion
toward God because we are constantly working in service to Him -
if not to give into the church treasury, then to provide for our
families (I Tim. 5:8) or to have financial ability so that we can
give to others who are in need (Eph. 4:28; I Tim. 6:17-19). What
better way to work by the sweat of our brow each day than in service
and devotion to God?