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Question 127

Q: Although I support my church, I find myself giving more to other organizations and individuals.

So my question is: does giving, whether monetary or in terms of service time, have to be to the church? Can giving to neighbors, our community, or even to our families satisfy our giving responsibility?

Asked by: Victor

A: Well Victor, your question has a number of different hidden ideas and meanings that I find very, very intriguing.

A couple of things: First of all, we are exhorted in Scripture to give to the church. In the Old Testament it was giving to the temple, and in the New Testament it’s giving to the church. You find this, for example, in 2 Corinthians 8-9 and in other passages such as in 1 Corinthians where the apostle Paul talks about a “putting in store week by week, each person as God has prospered them, funds for the good of the body of Christ.” That is very important.

You’ve also asked if giving to relatives, neighbors, family, etc. satisfy our giving responsibility? Simply put, no, it doesn’t. The church is actually the first place where we should give. Now if you are edified by your church and you don’t give to your church, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, let us suppose that you eat at one restaurant and then go across the street to pay the bill. That wouldn’t make any sense at all. In other words, if you eat at a restaurant, that’s where you pay, and if you are edified by the church, it is to the church that you should contribute.

Can this satisfy my giving responsibility?” That part of your question makes me wonder whether you are really a joyous giver or whether you consider giving as more of a duty or chore. Do you feel you have to give somewhere and you’re not a joyful, generous, hilarious giver as the New Testament says that we should be?

So the bottom line, Victor, is this: you should give first to the church, then you can also give, as God prospers you, to neighbors, community, and to family. But don’t let one substitute for the other. And make sure that your own heart is right and that you give joyfully. It’s not an obligation, it’s not that God holds a club over you to do it. Do it because you love Him. So bless your church first, Victor, and then others.

Scripture references

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