First, the money that is given weekly is for the need of the saints inside the local assembly and for the maintenance of the building. Second, any amount of money is given from the heart, not compulsory like the 10% Tithes. Third, only those inside the fellowship are allowed to give, outsiders (saved or unsaved) can not give, in contrast to denominations and organizations that accept money from everybody.
Most of the assemblies take this monetary gift on Sundays after the Bread and the Cup, which is the most convenient time for everyone. This practice was taken from the Scriptures that the first day of the week--Sunday-- was used to set aside money for the poor saints in Jerusalem during their time of needs, etc. 1 Corinthians 16: 1b-2a says, "You should follow the same procedure I gave to the assemblies in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned."
But more particularly in this post, I would like to focus more on the motive of giving. Why do we give?
One time I remember my accountant being confused about my tax declaration. He wanted to know about my giving. He asked me if I have given any donations or helped churches or associations to be declared to the government. He told me he never saw any donations declared on the form. I kind of laughed when I heard that from him knowing that he is a Baptist. I told him I don't really want anybody to know what I am doing. It is just between me and the Lord. I remember one particular verse not letting your left hand know what the right hand did and your father in secret will recompense you. He told me that I was losing a lot of money because the government is giving back some percentage of the money donated to encourage people to support churches and organizations. It is like having a double gain: giving to the Lord and getting some in return for me and my family to use. But I thought also that it could be tricky. Giving to the Lord's table should not be dictated by any outside source (in this case, the government). The money should be purely given and with a good heart, motivated by the Holy Spirit. Also, if I declare the money I give in my tax declaration, I will not be a giver in secret anymore. One brother, that is my accountant, plus the government would know how much I give. Believers could end up giving for the wrong motive.
Also, a brother I know ended up giving more to receive more from the government. He told me that he has the tendency to give more to the Lord's table during the giving because the more he gives, the bigger is the amount of money he receives from the government. To him it sounds all good and justifiable. In a human's point of view, he is right because he is not losing everything from giving. So it was for him all good and fair to continue. This brought me back to the First Covenant when the Lord said to the Jewish to put aside their best animal for sacrifice--the best, the most expensive and not the one they don't want, not the one that cost them not much. But the best.
Is it playing smart to do it: to give to get something back? Is it just ok because others do it and it is all good at the end? I do understand such mentality and understand very well the reasoning behind it; but are we stepping out of the boundary of the Scriptures? I, myself, am all for gain and interest when it comes to my money BUT at the Lord's table? The Lord, once, came inside the temple and overthrew the tables because of the unfair business and chasing the people away and rebuking them hardly. I just wonder if our new look of giving is up to the task of the Scriptures or is it a modern way of giving that is based on self-gain? The old way that the Scriptures taught us from a long time was giving and forgetting; now, it is giving and recording to receive something back from the government.
In addition, for some people, giving is a way of gaining prestige in the assembly in front of other believers. Today, in some local assemblies, a number is designated to each one in fellowship so each envelope has a number that is linked to a name. Then, at the end of the year, the local assembly give a statement to each one of the believers in fellowship. The believers can use this statement for their tax declaration, and with that, get a return from the government. So now, giving is kind of done in half secrecy. One or two people in the assembly know because they have to count the money and put the amount under each name linked with the numbers. They have to write the amount under each name, accumulating until the end of the year to declare to the government. I have to admit that this is something new. It started since the government decide to encourage giving to churches/organizations/charitable works. But local assemblies from many other countries do not use this system because their governments do not participate in their giving. Thus, keep in mind that not all assemblies do this type of giving.
Moreover, if a poor Christian does not give much, it could be a shame to be linked with a number on the envelope. Likewise, a brother like me who does not use that system of envelope with number code would be recognized immediately because the money would be the only one loose in the bag from me. So it would be very hard to keep secrecy on that one. Therefore, this kind of system does go with a flaw.
May The Lord s give us wisdom on these last days before His coming for the assembly (church). What we do today will reflect tomorrow. What we were and all our motives will be revealed in the judgment seat of Christ where all the believers will stand before entering heaven. So let our motives in giving be clean and not based on self-interest-- not of getting something back in return nor getting prestige.
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” -- 2 Corinthians 9:7