Last week we began a discussion on the concept of tithing. We started by asking the discussion groups to tell us their definition of what a tithe is, how it makes them feel and to discuss what they think/feel when they see a beggar at the end of a highway entrance ramp.
Most agreed that a tithe meant “a tenth.” Most everyone also stated that they had negative emotions or stress associated with the word tithe. The answers about the beggar were varied, but honest. Some felt compassion and gave a dollar or two, while others thought things like, “look for a job instead of begging!”
I love the honesty of our Bible study group. It is always refreshing for me to hear heart felt honest responses vs the typical “sunday school answers” that adults often give.
We continued to dive deep into two words: tithe and giving. The discussion groups looked up all the verses in the New Testament that were associated with both and examined the context in which they were mentioned. They discovered the following:
– The word “tithe” is mentioned very rarely in the New Testament. When it is mentioned it is in reference to the Jews and their religious responsibility. It was never mentioned as a command the early church to tithe or “give a tenth” of their possessions and a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
– The word “give” is mentioned a lot. When it is mentioned it brings with it a responsibility for us to take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans and others that can’t take care of themselves.
In the modern day church we have begun to believe a lie, and that lie is that we are commanded to give 10% of all we have to the church. Please understand, I am not saying it is a sin to give 10% of your earnings to the church. All I am saying is that it is a lie to say that it was commanded of the New Testament Church.
GIVING was the command to the new believers!
Why is this so important to differentiate? Because of what the results of these beliefs create:
– Tithing creates a legalistic responsibility that seems to absolve us of the responsibility of taking care of the poor. When we give our “required tithe” to the church, we often think that now it is the church’s responsibility to take care of the needy. It’s almost a “I gave at the office” mentality.
– Tithing creates difficulty for to poor, not the rich. A rich person can give 10% of their income and live in relative comfort; they sacrifice comforts. A poor person giving 10% is giving away food money.
– Tithing creates a weekly or monthly check to be written and handed off. Our obligation is met. It’s now someone else’s responsibility to manage the money and the needs of the community.
– Tithing creates legalism that robs the person of their daily responsibility to discern needs, and their ability to channel the Holy Spirit to understand what their responsibility is to do.
– Giving is about responsibility. Responsibility to manage our resources well. (Matthew 25:14-29) Responsibility to take care of those in need. If I am responsible to manage my money well and use it to take care of needs, then I am paying more attention to the needs of those around me.
– Giving helps the poor. It’s about people giving according to their means. (2 Corinthians 8:1-15)
– Giving is about building treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:1-4)
We are too often fooled into believing that money is given to us as a “blessing;” that it is to be spent on ourselves. If we do that, we have our rewards here on earth. The truth is that more money is given because we have been responsible with the little we had before. (Matthew 25:14-29) It will either become a temptation to horde and trust ourselves to bless ourselves via our “investments,” or we will continue to invest into the Kingdom of God and store up our treasures in heaven.
We will continue our studies on this throughout the month of October, and I promise that it will be a large part of our conversations moving forward. NOT because we are trying to get you to give to a building fund, but because Jesus talked about money being a very dangerous tool that the demonic use to tempt us.
What is your view of money? Is it yours to spend, or has it been entrusted to you to invest? Are you investing in worldly blessings or are you truly investing in treasures in heaven?