Reflecting the generous heart of God
Now we’re getting to the heart of this entire conversation on money and personal finance.
We give – because we have received so much from God.
We are generous – because God has been so generous to us in Christ.
We lovingly share what we have – because that’s how we reflect the loving heart of God to the world.
We let go of our money – because we have security and confidence in who we are and what we have in Jesus.
We empty our pockets – because God wants to use us to provide for other people.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”2 Corinthians 9:6-8
So, what about tithing?
What is it?
The word “tithe” comes from an Old English word for tenth. To “tithe” then means to give one tenth of your income (10%) to support the ministry of the Church. In the books of Leviticus and Numbers God commanded the Israelites to give a tithe to support the temple, its leaders, and the sacrifices that needed to be made.
So, the question is, do we have to tithe today? Are New Testament Christians required to give 10% to their local churches.
Do I have to tithe?
The short answer is “no”, but the real question is why are you asking? Do you want to know if you have to tithe, because you really don’t want to and you’re hoping that it’s still not a requirement? That is, are you hoping that you can just keep all your money and buy new TV or car? I don’t think that’s the right attitude.
Or, are you asking because you want an easy box to check. We like check-boxes. They easily let us know where we stand with God And so if we just know all the requirements, then we can start to do them and feel good about ourselves. But, that’s not a life of faith. I don’t think that’s the right attitude either.
Now, the reason why we are not required to give a tithe is because the tithe applied to the way things worked before Jesus came. In the Old Testament there are many Laws we don’t follow. We no longer have to circumcise our boys, avoid shellfish, or observe a Saturday Sabbath. Colossians 2:16-17 makes that clear, “Therefore, lent one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are but a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” Jesus fulfilled – and therefore ended – the Old Testament Laws.
So, I believe a better question to ask than, “Do I have to tithe?” is “How much can I give?” That’s a question each one of us needs to consider for ourselves. Again, listen to what Paul wrote to the Corinthians “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Our financial giving flows from a position of freedom and it ought to reflect the generosity of our Father who sent His Son.
Where do I start with tithing?
But, maybe you are lost. You have no idea where to start. That’s where, I believe, the tithe can come in handy. When God ordered and arranged the system way back in the Old Testament, He thought 10% was good. And if it was good enough for God, maybe it is good enough for us too. Maybe that seems overwhelming to you or it sounds like too much. Most likely you won’t be there tomorrow, but it is something to prayerfully consider and plan towards – not because it’s a requirement, but because it is one small way we can generously reflect God’s love.
Keep in mind as well that God commands that Pastors and Church leaders be taken care of. “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14). It is the responsibility of every brother and sister in Christ to care for the needs of the leaders for the purpose of Kingdom expansion and so that the ministry of forgiveness can continue to be shared with believers and non-believers alike.
So, pray about it. Pray that God would open your heart and instill thankfulness and generosity. Ask for the gift of contentment, that you would be happy with what you have. Pray for increased faith, that you would trust that in what God has given. After you’ve prayed, it’s time to open up your checkbook, pull out your credit card, or hand over the cash. Just know, you’ll probably get it wrong. Because of sin, we are never as trusting, content, or generous as we should be. So, after you’ve given repent. Tell God you’re sorry for not getting it right. Then trust that you are accepted NOT on the basis of your giving, but on the basis of what Christ has given to you.