Yep, we’re going there with this post. I say we because Rob and I have collaborated to write this blog regarding tithing in today’s modern church. I realize that this is a touchy subject, so we want to offer a few disclaimers before we begin.
1. We bring up this subject with respect, knowing that we might say some things that are not very popular, we say these things with a tonality that is truly not hostile in any way, shape, or form.
2. This isn’t to slam any specific church
3. We are bringing up these points to start dialogue among people, not to start wars.
That being said, we (Tim and Rob) know that once we start talking about money, we automatically start walking the plank. Money alone is a touchy subject. To boot, we are going one step further because we are going to be talking about the tithe, specifically the act of giving money to a church to “further God’s Kingdom”. I think it’s safe to say our plank just got a little thinner.
But what about this thing called the tithe? Where do we even get that word from? If we don’t give every week will the Lord not bless us? These are a few questions we are hoping to answer in this post.
Let’s start with where we got the act of tithing from.
The main source of “tithing law” is found in Lev 27:30. We should all be giving 10%! First off, this entire section is expressly stated (Vs 2 and 34) for Israel. So for a much better idea on the New Testament meaning of tithing why don’t we look in the NT. The word “tithe” is found twice (the same story from Matt 23:23 and Luke 11:42) as the Lord condemns the scribes and Pharisees for their legalism and hypocrisy with their enforcement of the Law of Moses and the Laws of God. Tithing was one of the Laws of Moses. The only thing Christ really ever said about it was a condemnation of the religious leaders about their abuse of it!
Let’s look at the woman who gave two mites (Luke 21:1-4). There were plenty of others that went into the temple that day and gave gifts that were probably 1000 times larger than her gift. Does that show how concerned God is about the amount we give? Christ said nothing about the man/woman who gave the most but spoke so highly of this woman (who probably gave the least). When Christ prayed to the Father for 5 loaves and 2 fishes he then fed well over 5000 people (the number 5000 doesn’t include women or children). God took the gift of a little boy and turned it into something so much greater. God doesn’t need our cash and checks to get His work done, He will make due. But I would appeal to Proverbs 23:26, “My son, give me your heart…” So why did Jesus point out this woman who gave two mites? It was because of her devotion and her motivation. She gave all she had for the right reason. We can all look at Matthew 6:3-4 to realize that giving to get some sort of recognition is the only reward you will get. Giving is not a public matter and should really be done in complete secret. When God places a burden on your heart or you see a need… give but don’t go shouting in the streets about the good things you’ve just done!
I (Tim) want to sum this up. In the New Testament there is no command to give 10% or more of your money to “further God’s Kingdom” in fact, the only times we see people giving is when there was a specific need. When people were in need the community came together and met the needs of the person. This ia very far cry from the modern idea of the tithe. In fact if you’ve been in a church service before you’ve most likely heard something like this “do you really trust God? Then prove it by giving us some of your money” or you’ve heard “If you don’t give to our church generously then how can you expect God to be generous with you?”. This to me seems more like manipulation then it does to actually be supported Biblically. Yes, I said manipulation, and I stand by it. People, the Church, should never feel guilted in to giving money to an institution. God doesn’t demand that every person gives 10% (or more) to their local churches to “further God’s Kingdom”. If we really think that God needs our cash then we have a very little idea of a great God.
I want to make something very clear here. If you believe the Lord is leading you to give to your local church. Then you better give to your local church. I am not calling for Christians everywhere to stop giving money to their local body. I am simply saying not to be fooled, manipulated, and tricked in to thinking that if you don’t give on a Sunday morning (or some other service time) that you are in sin, or “missing out” of God’s blessings.
I want to get personal for a minute, I (Tim) want to share why I tend not to tithe. I want to also note, that this is solely my opinion, there are others who have different opinions on the matter, and that is great, that is quite alright. But right now, I want to share why I don’t tithe.
It hit me one day, all of this money, the church handles tons and tons of it, and where does most of it go? To salaries? To programs? To a better light show for Sunday morning? To pay the electric on a building that’s used maybe 3 to 4 times a week? Statistically most money in most churches goes to either a salary, or a building of some sort. Very little goes to the community, the widow (or in modern terms the single mom). Very little of the money I was giving really went to any need, it was just piled in and divided in to things that really were…material driven. I see it all the time, huge church buildings, state of the art lighting, thousands and thousand of dollars worth of musical equipment. To me, that’s not the Kingdom at work. To me, that’s not where I want the money God has trusted me with to go. See, for me it’s not a matter of being stingy with my money, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s me being protective of how I spend the resources I get. In fact I have seen church bodies that steward their money very well, where most, if not all of it goes in to the community or directly to people in need. Let me give you two examples.
I was a part of a church body for about two years up until recently. One Sunday, the Pastor got up and said “Today, if you’re a single mom we want to give you 500 dollars, I haven’t asked the staff for permission, and honestly I don’t know how we can afford it, but I don’t care, we want to help you single moms and we’ll trust the Lord to take care of us”. Chills were all over my body, I never saw such a clear example of a “taking care of the widows” mentality in an institutionalized church. I gave that day, absolutely I gave, I wanted my money to go to those women.
The second example is a great example of a smaller number of people coming together and meeting a need. I’m a part of a local community of about 30 people in their 20’s. We don’t take an offering, but whenever someone in the group had a financial need, we came together, and gave to that need until it was filled. This was probably the greatest example of an Acts Church style of giving that I’ve ever seen. Every penny the community gave, went directly to the person who needed it.
As we close, we want to reiterate a few key points.
We are not calling for Christians who willingly give to their local Church body to stop. By no means! If the Lord has lead you to support them, then do it. But what we are saying is that we need to stop thinking that it is Biblical to tithe 10% percent of our finances. This is not only an Old Testament thought (as noted earlier) it is completely absent in the New Testament. Paul tells us to give cheerfully and out of the overflow of our hearts, not out of duty. The Church is not a club that we need to pay money to get in to. In a culture where everyone wants your money, we (the Church) do not need to follow the trend. Asking people for more money and doing that by invoking the “God wants to bless you ” card.
-Tim and Rob.