What does new covenant giving look like? For starters, it is different from the old covenant in that it is not really tied to numbers or percentages anymore. New covenant giving, when truly done right—i.e., when one is motivated by the gospel and moved by eternity and what is to come—is characterized by generosity.
New covenant giving should reflect the all-transforming reality of the new covenant under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The truth is God has done a new, refreshing spiritual work in the lives of us believers. Shouldn’t our giving be impacted as well?
But how is the believer going to be motivated to not just give, but give generously? First of all, it starts with a right understanding of what giving is. The act of giving is, as Paul calls it, an “act of grace” (2 Cor. 8:6-7). Second, believers are encouraged to follow other believers’ example of generous, sacrificial giving. In this case, the Macedonian believers modeled this powerfully:
1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; ESV).
For the Macedonian believers, giving was not an obligation, but a joyful opportunity to participate in helping the saints in Jerusalem and supporting Paul’s ministry (8:5). The Macedonian Christians did not just give; they gave over and above what was expected of them—giving to the Lord, first, and foremost; and then, to the apostle Paul and his ministry colleagues. And what is crazy is that the Macedonian believers begged to participate (8:4). Believers today are called to imitate this great example of giving and to model it for others to see, especially in and among our local churches.
Now, there is one more reason why a believer should be motivated to give and give generously. What is it? The person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul states, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (8:9). Jesus, being rich, became a servant and gave of himself for the sake of others (this includes you and me!). He is the biggest reason why believers should give generously.
We are called to give generously as a response to the gospel and as an expression of our love and gratitude to the Lord for His atoning work on our behalf. Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead for us. The truth is Jesus is the greatest giver of all time! He gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
As believers—who have been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit—we should be moved to give generously to the Lord, the local church, the spreading of the gospel, and to other worthy and noble causes that glorify God and seek to promote the well-being of others, Christians and non-Christians alike. But our giving should be characterized by wisdom (i.e., investing in eternity), integrity (especially within churches and non-profit ministries and organizations), and gospel-centered joy. After all, the Lord “loves a cheerful giver” (9:7).