A few weeks ago, I felt compelled to post a blog on the importance of tithing. With this week’s trend of money posts, I’d like to continue to build upon those thoughts and readdress what some might consider a controversial subject, the tithe. Yesterday’s post, Gain, Save, Give highlighted the importance of being a steward of God’s financial blessings, because as we learned in Luke 16:10-12, if we’re unable to manage worldly wealth, who will trust us with the true riches of heaven? While few of us would debate the importance of gain, more might debate the importance of saving, and increasingly more might debate the importance of giving. That’s the point I want to hammer home.
To be a truly unselfish giver, we must first realize that our money, our income, our possessions are not ours at all. They’re all God’s; blessings that he’s entrusted us with. The second truth that we need to understand is to realize that it’s not about giving out of abundance. Again, I’m not focusing on the amount or quantity of any of that, but instead how you manage what you’ve been given. This very point is illustrated in Mark 12:41-44, “41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.'” The third principle that must be realized is that tithing is not giving. Let me say that again. Tithing is not giving. I’ll explain what I mean in just a minute.
A tithe, or tenth, is 10% of our income and in my opinion, our pre-taxed income (if anyone would like to debate the importance of giving to God before giving unto Caesar, let me know). Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” First fruits, pre-tax, not leftovers. The reason why I stated earlier that tithing is not giving, is because it’s already God’s, this is the amount that He asks for. Since it is already His, we’re not giving, but rather returning to God what He asks. Anything above the tithe, or 10%, is giving. I know it sounds like semantics, giving vs. bringing, but I think if we look at it in this light, we’ll be more likely to faithfully tithe. I used the following illustration in the last post on tithing, but I think it helps relate the point in modern terms. Think of going out to eat at a restaurant. Most of us would realize that the “expected” tip amount is 15%, it’s societal courtesy. Anything above that would be exceptional and anything below would be seen as insulting. If we’re under the mindset that 15% is the expected amount to give a waitress, how can we possibly justify giving less than what God expects in a tithe? Malachi 3:8 addresses this point, “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.”
In writing this, I did a quick internet search on tithing and was quite surprised at the results. I’m amazed that some “Christians” can honestly justify that tithing is not biblical, or even required. Justifications included that it’s a Mosaic law and not part of the new covenant or that salvation is through grace, not through giving. While yes salvation is through grace, to me, these are just excuses of a selfish heart. One article that I came across was a CBS news story from 2008. LINK The article states that on average Christians give 2.5%, not 10% (actually I’m surprised the amount was that high). Just to put this in perspective, a person that makes $30,000 would bring $14 a week. That’s barely a lunch or two and won’t even get 2 people into a movie. Frankly, it’s a convicting statistic. Another item the article mentions is those churches that value the dollar more than the Gospel and place their focus more on getting, rather than giving. We’re all aware of those that teach prosperity doctrine and I want to clarify, I’m not advocating the methods of these questionable pastors or networks. Tithing is much bigger than those people and they will get their end reward.
I know some people might read this and think, how can I possibly give 10%, when I’m struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck. Well later this week, I hope to post a blog that will show you how to re-structure your finances in a way that will free up money, not only for tithing, but for improved stewardship. Ultimately, tithing should be something we pray about. God knows each of our financial circumstances. Ask the Lord to show you the importance of it, how much you should bring, and pray before placing your tithe in the offering plate, that God uses those funds for His glory. I want to close with one final verse, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” II Corinthians 9:7
“There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbor.” – John Calvin