Difference Between Spirit-led, Freewill, & Grace Giving

comparison of apple and orangeI hate being picky about terminology, but i feel this issue is important enough to be picky about. Many non-tithers use the terms “freewill giving”, “Spirit led giving”, and “grace giving” to describe how they give. The only problem is that the use of some of these terms to describe their philosophy of giving send out mixed messages. In this post i am going to describe the difference between spirit led, freewill, & grace giving. I will tell you why grace & freewill giving is not a term that clearly describes our opposing view about tithing. In the end i will tell you why “Spirit led” giving is the correct terminology that does illuminate the differentiating properties between tithing and new covenant giving.

Here’s the issue, people who enforce tithing tend to say, “i believe in grace giving and I believe in freewill giving, it’s just that i believe 10% is the starting point.” I would venture to say, that they are probably right – they do believe in grace and freewill giving. Their motivation to tithe may not be as if it were a law; their motivation is because they are under God’s grace and love. The issue is that they are led by a law, not by the Spirit.

Freewill Giving

I’m not going to pull up dictionary definitions, but generally i believe that everyone has freewill. Whether you believe tithing is commanded or not, you believe that God doesn’t force you to do something. So freewill giving is a very broad definition. By nature the term, “freewill” doesn’t describe attributes that are against tithing. Tithing can be freewill also.

Grace Giving

Ok, so grace giving sounds much more definitive right? After all, the Old Testament was under the law and we are under grace, so anyone who tithes is still under the law, right? Well, many tithers claim that they are under grace as well, simply for the fact that they are free from the curse. Typically these are the ones that tell you that the tithe is not a law that you will be punished for, and yet in the same sentence convince you how the tithe is the minimum, and God expects you to give it. Hence they somehow morph an old testament concept to fit under the new covenant relationship. Regardless, yes, we are all under grace whether we believe in tithing or not. So, the term, “grace giving” doesn’t exactly describe the attributes that are against tithing either.

Spirit Led Giving

Here it is: Spirit led giving. What’s significant about this term? Simply the fact that the Holy Spirit is the sole distinguishing factor between the saints of the Old Testament and those of us under the New Testament. You see, neither Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jacob, King David, or Isaac had the gift of the Spirit. Their communication with God was between them and an earthly priest. They did not have personal communication with God. Only the priest, who entered the Holy of Holies had that privilege.

The most bizarre concept to me about tithing, is that God can’t trust his Spirit to help you make the right decision as to where you can give the first 10%, but he can trust his Spirit to guide you with offerings? Spirit led giving puts the Holy Spirit in control of what you do with every single penny. Don’t confuse, “spirit led” with “spirit filled”. Both terms are totally different concepts. Spirit led is receiving instructions from the Holy Spirit as your source as opposed to using scripture to dictate your actions. Spirit filled is more or less obtaining character attributes of God.

I guess another term that would be safe to use is “new covenant giving“. When you debate others about tithing, this terminology stuff can get nit-picky, and sometimes frustrating. Next time you talk with someone about tithing, i challenge you to use the term “spirit led giving”.

What do you think about all this terminology? Do you think it matters? Do you call your giving something different? If you do, I’d like to hear it.

Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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20 comments on “Difference Between Spirit-led, Freewill, & Grace Giving
  1. Ben Stroup says:

    Let’s be honest. The church as an institution is at it’s core a non-profit organization that exists on the donations of its membership.

    We should be shifting our focus to creating a culture of generousity rather than employing faild persuasive tactics couched in pseudo-theological vocabulary.

    Read more at: http://tinyurl.com/6blgjm.

  2. freewillgiver says:

    I have been reading Pagan Christianity and I am blown away. The authors take on Pastors, and sermons is amazing and it seems to ring true. I can’t wait untill I have finished the book and I know it well enough to explain it to my wife and others.

  3. Gwaine says:

    While there’s so much to appreciate in your blog, we would have to help ourselves avoid unbalanced (and often unreasonable) statements. Here’s one such mistaken ideas that caught my attention:

    You see, neither Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jacob, King David, or Isaac had the gift of the Spirit. Their communication with God was between them and an earthly priest. They did not have personal communication with God.

    This is a huge minus and an often repeated mistake that so many people use in their arguments against tithing. Sadly, not many such people realise the fact that this is simply contradicting the Word of God.

    Let’s note those named:
    – Abraham,
    – Moses,
    – Noah,
    – Jacob,
    – King David,
    – Isaac;
    . .and there are three things highlighted in that quote, viz:
    (a) none of those mentioned above had the gift of the Spirit;
    (b) their communication with God was between them and an earthly priest; and –
    (c) they did not have personal communication with God.

    Quite the opposite is revealed in Scripture, and let’s see a few:

    (a) “none of those mentioned had the gift of the Spirit”?
    Well, what about MOSES and DAVID? Two pointers may help correct this misrepresentation – Moses (Numbers 11:17-25); and David (1 Samuel 16:13). When we go through the OT, there are so many instances where we find many of the OT saints experienced and were led by the Spirit of God (Exo. 35:30-31; Isa. 63:11; Hag. 2:5, etc).

    (b) “their communication with God was between them and an earthly priest”?
    Not true. In some instances, some priests were involved; but that does not negate the fact that they had communication with God without the involvement of any priest, as the following reveals:
    – Abraham (Gen. 13:4; 15:1; 17:3-5)
    – Moses (Exo. 33:11)
    – Noah (Gen. 9:8-9)
    – Jacob (Gen. 32:9-12)
    – King David (2 Sam. 22:1ff)
    – Isaac (Gen. 25:21).
    These and several more other verses reveal simply that they had direct communication with God without involving any earthly priests.

    (c) “they did not have personal communication with God”?
    This is already answered in (b) above.

    Beloved, when we enter into discussions of this nature, I often wonder if this whole argument against tithes is simply a mindset rather than a careful appraisal of what Scripture teaches. It is unhealthy for anyone to make contradictory assertions and thereby assume that others are wrong while they “must” be right!

    By all means, avoid extreme statements – often, they are obviously convoluted and unjustified when closely examined in the Word of God. One cannot use untrue statements to justify one’s arguments against a Biblical subject – and it does not matter whether they are made by tithers or non-tithers.

    Blessings.

    • steward not a steward says:

      This is the difference between me and Gwaine.  We are saying the same things. She just has the patience and heart to put all the references showing the ridiculousness of this blog.  I don’t have the time to fight dumbness on this scale, I am too busy praying for them (gotta go pray again). Thanks Gwaine for spelling out the basics, because obviously this blog and those sucked into it skipped bible kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school and tried to go to straight to the PhD level. But they forgot a basic Christian principle, foundation.  There is no foundation here.  A bunch of wordy principles teetering on a weak foundation that just came down with a great crash, sand my friends, nothing but sand here.  *bible-slapped*

  4. Darlington Nwokoma says:

    The issue of tithe have generated a lot of ripples in the Church leading to backsliding of many. In some congregation, emphasizes on tithe have overtaken the message of salvation, grace and love. The truth remains that a spirit-led giving is what the early Christian practised and should be preached. I believe no Christian is under a curse for not giving tithe as preached in some congregations. Christ, the scripture stated, has redeemed us from the curse of the law.

  5. Freewillgiver says:

    Thank you Darlington please tell others brother and set other Christians free from giving bondage.

    • steward not a steward says:

      I think you meant to say “money money money…money money money…i have no idea about the true nature of tithing or giving…money money money”

  6. RobS says:

    I was confused on the topic of the OT men of faith not having communication with God, but I think Gwaine already raised those issues with some of those scriptures — many more with Moses I can think of as well where Moses got direct words from God, but …

    I like the phrase of “Spirit led giving” and think that is something worth championing. I think what I find in my small sphere of the world is that most Christians already practice that method.

    I say this because after the boat is paid for, the BMW, the school fees, and the credit card debt, they find maybe $20 a month that represents their “after the fact” budget difference that allows them to give to God. They don’t pray about it… they don’t put it first… they don’t wrestle with the idea of “What has Christ given me, so what do I give to him?” and open their hearts generously. And, maybe God gets $20 that week…

    I think many have the Spirit-led (on their own individual level) giving down to this–and it dove-tails well with greed and loving the world.

    To remedy this, I would think discipleship & conviction of the mission of God’s church might help change their hearts. It’s certainly more of a spiritual issue than a financial one in a lot of ways.

    Good to hear everyone’s ideas. Peace.

  7. Steve H says:

    The tithe is of the law, which is of the OLD testament.  Tithe is a binding obligation (saying “give me 10 percent of your income).

    The NEW testament teaches to alms (to the poor) to build up treasure in heaven.  Also to give cheerfully and in secret (not boasting).  Jesus was the poorest man on earth and did not give in to lust, luxury items, or fleshy desires.  How about your pastors?  The money given to the church in ACTS was distributed back to the church as they needed.  How about your church?  Jesus fed 5000 with a couple of fish and bread, right.  I dont remember him saying take up the tithe so we can eat and so I can get that new camel so I wont have to walk.

    Those who ask of the tithe are tought incorrectly – and there is a lot of that.  How much more blood does Jesus have to spill to fulfill the OLD testament and bring in the NEW testament?  Each pastor and staff should take a vow of poverty and work through PEOPLE NOT MONEY like Jesus did.

    Lastly, the OLD testament is of physical laws and rules and regulations which bind a person.  The NEW testament frees you from the law and bindings and now rules by the spirit – Love your neighbor as yourself for example.  We are bound by the NEW testament now.  The OLD testament is just that, OLD – we are NOT bound by this at all, but is very useful in many teachings and learning of God.  Keep reminding yourselves of the difference and remeber this when your pastor gives you a sermon.

    • steward not a steward says:

      The old “Pastor’s should be poor idea.”  Or “do as Jesus did.”  You should know better you Christian you, shouldn’t you?  Pastoral life is sacrificial enough, let alone being bombarded by empty attacks from “blog-smart” people like you who think pastor’s do it only for the money.  What a minute, Jesus didn’t get paid, why should they.  Boo hoo hoo.  What a ridiculous argument founded only on the weak relationship of a bitter Christian.  *bible-slapped*

  8. Robert says:

    Then I will Come down and talk with you there. I will take of the SPIRIT that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. (Numbers 11:17) 

    This verse is God speaking directly to Moses “one on one”. I underlined spirit because the spirit which was upon Moses was the Spirit of God, which is the Holy spirit. So Moses had direct communication with God and he had the Holy spirit upon him.   

  9. Not a Steward,

    I’m having a hard time finding any biblical arguments or scriptural support in between all your babble. After all the bible slapping you’ve been doing, i would think you would have slapped us with a few verses from it at least. It would seem you are more interested in spewing your vitriol instead of discussing God’s word.

    I admit, it’s entertaining for us adults to sit here and watch you coo, babble, and throw tantrums. But i’m interested in talking like adults and using big words. If you want to move forward with a mature conversation about God’s word, then It’s up to you.

    • steward not a steward says:

      Typical, the “lets be adult” card.  I am so sorry if I offended you.  I’ll make sure to play by some “adult” rules the next time I am “spewing vitriol” at those that twist and misquote God’s word.
      Reference Gwaine’s comments above and my reply.  I’m not babbling or playing games with you, just tired of so-called Christians twisting God’s word to meet their desires and facilitate arguments that any Bible-studied Christian would never have raised in the first place.
      You can make yourself feel better all you want by denouncing my remarks as not meeting some benchmark of constructive communication.  But I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that just maybe you’ll do some further research, modify some obvious false statements throughout this blog (most already countered by other bloggers), then rethink some of your positions.
      Fancy words and a neatly colored website do not add validity, truth does, and this blog at its core is flawed.
      If you sleep better tonight with any verse, here is one: Psalm 46:10 (I’m going to force you to actually open a bible and look it up instead of giving it to you).
      I think that brain of yours is getting in the way of the path between God and your heart.  The shortest distance between you and a problem is the distance from your knees to the floor.
      Quoting the bible or demanding biblical arguments in return doesn’t strengthen your argument, it further underlines your hardened heart.  You don’t need scripture therapy, you have the bible already I presume, you need prayer support and that I will give.
      *bible-slapped* – picture someone smacking you upside your head with the Bible every time you misuse or twist his word.  That is being bible-slapped.

  10. Iamdamar says:

    We need to change the way people think about giving away from building non profit organizations to secretly helping the real poor and needy in the world like John the baptist said. To him who has two coats give to him who only has one.

    • Freewillgiver says:

      Wow Iamdamar friend, secret giving is something I rarely practice!
      I do way too much stuff in the name of Jesus to please people in public where I can
      Get credit. Such pride I have in my traditions of service to Jesus! What
      If in one town a large body of say 500 or so believers gave to others
      Not institutions secretly! So many of my traditions
      Are not really biblical but real change is hard. Jesus came to transform
      My life and every Christian must question traditions of men. Mone tithing limits so much
      Creative biblical giving and upholds
      Many bad traditions. Christians, for the life of Chist, wake up

    • Freewillgiver says:

      Wow Iamdamar friend, secret giving is something I rarely practice!
      I do way too much stuff in the name of Jesus to please people in public where I can
      Get credit. Such pride I have in my traditions of service to Jesus! What
      If in one town a large body of say 500 or so believers gave to others
      Not institutions secretly! So many of my traditions
      Are not really biblical but real change is hard. Jesus came to transform
      My life and every Christian must question traditions of men. Mone tithing limits so much
      Creative biblical giving and upholds
      Many bad traditions. Christians, for the life of Chist, wake up

  11. Mac sanders says:

    Abraham gave a tithe to melchezedek before Moses gave the law. What will you honor god with? Free will for some won’ t keep the lights on nor the doors opened!

    • Mac,
      Is that your excuse for not having freewill offerings? Do you truly believe that the Holy Spirit has the power to call a missionary to risk his life and go to the darkest and scariest parts of the world, and you don’t believe He has enough power to influence you and me to give frequently?

      By the way, do you know that animal sacrifices, clean animals, slavery, & circumcision were all practiced prior to the Mosaic law?
      http://www.tithing.com/blog/picking-up-the-pieces-of-the-veil/

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