Do you tithe?
Not many people do. Some believe that tithing isn’t taught in the New Testament, so it no longer applies to us. They explain that we’re living under grace, and tithing is legalistic. Others insist that all Christians are supposed to tithe, because of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23. I’ve heard many sermons on Malachi 3:10, where the pastor explained that the local church is the “storehouse” and we must bring our entire tithe to them, with any other giving counting as an “offering” above and beyond our mandatory 10%.
Clearly, there’s lots of room for interpretation regarding tithing. Matt, at TheChurchOfNoPeople.com (one of my favorite blogs) recently wrote about tithing. I think he gives us a lot to consider, and urge you to read what he has to say. Matt inspired me, thus today’s post.
Although I wasn’t raised in the church, one of the very first lessons I heard as a new Christian was about tithing. It was a given: God expects us to give 10% of our income directly back to Him. This rule was so pervasive in the culture of the church I attended that no one saw any need to support it with Scripture.
Since that time I’ve fellowshipped with a wide assortment of congregations. I’ve learned that there is more than one approach to this issue of giving. While most believers agree that we are to give 10%, how we give and where we give are subject to interpretation.
Did you know that God loves a good party?
If the average Christian is asked to describe God, we usually come up with terms like holy, perfect, provider, healer, good, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, and so forth. Of course, these are all accurate, and we do well to keep them in mind.
Non-believers are often less upbeat. God has quite the reputation as a glowering wet blanket, someone who thinks that if it’s fun, it’s sinful. Unfortunately, churches with rules such as no dancing, no playing cards, (and certainly no alcoholic beverages), build into that stereotype. It appears that God really needs a new PR firm. (Oh, wait, that’s the Church’s job!)
This may come as quite a surprise, but I’d like to point out that God really is a fun sort of guy.
Pete and I enjoy giving financially. This doesn’t make us super spiritual, and I’m not trying to brag or impress anyone—it’s just that we both find giving to be lots of fun. I am quite sure our attitude is a direct result of God working in us, rather than anything we achieved for ourselves. It’s a gift from the Holy Spirit.
However, as I wrote a few months ago, we’re currently “treading water” financially. We haven’t received a paycheck since October. Since there’s no income, we have nothing to tithe on, and we’ve cut our discretionary spending to zero. It’s frustrating.
Well, frustration can be the impetus to start thinking more creatively. Sunday afternoon, Pete and I sat down together and said, OK, we can’t afford to write checks. How else can we give? Sometimes our culture is so focused on money, we miss other things we can spend. A bit of soul-searching was all it took to come up with a few ideas:
Giving away money should be fun.
In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Cheerful could be translated hilarious. Yet, how often do we end up with a big smile when we drop our tithes and offerings into the plate? Most of the time, we give because it’s what we do as believers. We don’t put all that much thought into it. In fact, I know a couple who arranged for their tithe to be automatically deducted from their bank account. While that certainly simplifies things, it somehow lacks the personal involvement and excitement I believe God desires.
At the beginning of every year, my husband, Pete, and I sit down to figure out our giving for the next twelve months. We list all the ministries we want to support, starting with our local church. Then, we look at our projected income and budget. Of course, things can change, but you have to start somewhere.