It seems that tithing has become more of a hot button issue over the last several years. It could just be me, but I don’t think so.
I think it has a lot to do with how the generations on the earth now, and those coming after, aren’t accepting things as they once did. The reasons “because I said so” or “because God says so” aren’t as affective as they once were. We want real reasons why we do the things we do.
Personally, I think this is a great thing. I understand a God who invites us to question and wrestle with Him on issues. I understand a God who views intimacy in a way that not only makes room for these things but also desires them. I understand a God who wants us to understand Him, to know Him.
So I would like to mention tithing here but not in a way that argues whether or not we should tithe at all. If you feel tithing is biblical and right and necessary and you want to do it then great. Tithe. If you don’t then don’t. I’m not interested in trying to lift one side higher than the other.
What I am interested in is challenging a mindset that typically goes along with it. It’s the mindset of giving regardless of present circumstances. It’s the mindset of putting ourselves in a poor financial position in order to meet what we feel is a requirement. It’s the “Give till it hurts” mindset.
Now I completely understand that there are times God is asking us to give and it doesn’t make sense for us financially. Maybe there are times we don’t have enough to pay bills but we know that God is asking us and so we draw courage from His love and obey. As a result we reap whatever blessings come from it. But I feel this can be the exception rather than the norm.
I think the norm tells us that we should be willing (without thought or discernment or objection) to put ourselves in financial difficulty to meet a tithe or donation or other monetary gift and I think that norm is twisted.
In 2nd Corinthians chapter 8 we find Paul exhorting the Corinthians for their generosity. He praises them for being the forerunners of taking up contributions for the church in Jerusalem. He mentions that the desire for them to do this arose from the love they have in their hearts (not obligation or duty) and tells them they are an inspiration for the surrounding churches. He encourages them to continue the project and see it through to completion.
But Paul says some very interesting things in verses 12-14.
1. In verse 12 Paul tells them that if the eagerness to give is there it is acceptable to give in proportion to what a person has, not according to what they don’t have.
2. In verse 13 Paul tells them that it is not intended that others be relieved of their burdens while they are burdened and suffer unfairly.
3. In verse 14 Paul tells them that it is their surplus (that which is left over after their present needs are provided for) from which they should give.
It seems to me that Paul is telling the Corinthians that there shouldn’t be anyone who can’t eat or pay rent or take care of basic needs because they put all of their money into the donation basket.
It seems to me that He is saying that one person may be able to give 50% of their income, one 25%, one 10%, one 1%, one 0% and everywhere in between, and it’s perfectly acceptable.
I understand the pressure of the 10% standard when the offering baskets come around. Or how about sitting in the audience while speakers ask for people to sponsor children. Or giving to this ministry or that.
While I do think that there are many people who have adequate surplus to donate or tithe or sponsor who don’t, I recognize that there are those who simply can’t. They just cannot afford it. And if that’s you I want you to understand that it’s okay not to sponsor or donate or tithe. I don’t think you’re turning your back on blessings or God or anything else. I don’t think you are disqualified from God’s provision because you buy groceries for your family instead of putting that money into a basket.
I remember a time a few years ago. God was teaching my wife and I a couple of things about tithing and all that. Our car broke down and we didn’t have money to fix it. But we did have our tithe set aside in an envelope. One day I was spending some time with the Lord and I heard His soft voice tell me to use the money we’d set aside for the tithe to fix the car. I was sure that was the devil. But then my wife told me God told her the same thing. So we took the money and got the car fixed. I could feel chains break off as we did what God told us to do.
When we obey God it usually hurts our flesh in one way or another. Like I said before, there are times God asks us to give beyond our perceived means and that can hurt. But if we are giving till it hurts us financially, without specific direction from God to do so, we are suffering needlessly.
Jesse and Kara Birkey
Jesse and Kara Birkey are committed lovers of Jesus who seek to show others the extraordinary life of Jesus is available for everyone. They have authored two books, been featured in films and seek to serve the Lord in whatever ways they can. Follow their blog here.
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Life Resurrected, Extraordinary Miracles through Ordinary People has been endorsed by Sid Roth and Mark Virkler and is a collection of inspiring stories making it clear that the extraordinary life of Jesus is available to all who love Him. It’s also the testimony of Jesse’s life, the road he travelled bringing him into the arms of Jesus. Get the paperback here. Get the Kindle Version Here. View the trailer here.
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