The next aspect of giving concerns the recipients. Having defined how the New Testament Church is to give we need to determine who is to receive this gift. There are five recipients outlined in the New Testament.
First is the believers family. First and foremost in God’s plan for Church giving is for the family. It is every believers responsibility to provide for the needs of his own family. Paul gives a warning to those who do not provide for their families when he outlines to Timothy how widows are to be taken care of in the church.
1 Timothy 5:8(NIV) 8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
When a believer fails to provide for the family that God has given them, he fails to Glorify God and brings dishonor on the name of God. The unsaved world will look upon those who fail to provide and wonder how their God can allow such a thing, thus dishonoring His name. They then become worse than an unbeliever. The believer and his family are to be a testimony to the unsaved world concerning God’s nature and being. When you do not provide for their needs then the unsaved have a negative, false impression of God.
The second recipient of giving should be the ministry and the work that the ministry performs. This includes a broad range of people and activities, and is not just the local church. The New Testament considers the Church as all believers and not just the local body of believers. Today we have many denominations and local assemblies that are part of the universal Church. It is my belief that there are believers in most of the various denominations. It is the total of all those who are believers which make up the universal church, and it is the ministry of the universal church that is to receive the gift.
It is the responsibility of the believer to determine where and to whom he is to give. Within this universal church is the local church and certainly the local church would receive a goodly portion of that gift. Within the local church are those who need to be taken care of, among whom are the evangelist (missionaries) and pastor.
1 Timothy 5:17-18(NIV) 17The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
The third recipient should be the Jew. This is perhaps the most overlooked recipient of our wealth. The New Testament is specific that the gospel needs to go to the Jew first and that would include Missionaries to the Jews. God has not rejected His people Israel and would have us witness to them concerning their Messiah.
The forth recipient is the Bible teacher as stated in Galatians.
Galatians 6:6(NIV) 6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
This could include a pastor or Sunday School teacher in the local church. It could also mean someone who teaches via the media such as TV, internet or radio. It could mean anyone who has the gift of teaching and utilizes the gift as God commands. There is no lack of those who are giving much of their time and talent and should be compensated by those who enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The fifth recipient should be the brother in need.
James 2:15-17(NIV) 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
There are times when believers through no fault of their own, find themselves in a position where they must rely on others to survive. This does not mean those who have the capacity to provide for themselves but fail to do so. We all have times when we need to turn to other for support, not only financial, but also spiritual. We are obligated to sustain our brother or sister during these times. All believers are part of the body of Christ and when one suffers the whole body suffers.
There is more persecution of believers today than there has ever been. These people need more than just our prayers, but they need our financial assistance also. Paul took up a collection for the Jerusalem Church because of persecution and poverty which resulted. It is and example that we should follow.