I believe that real generosity starts above and beyond the tithe. The tithe was never our money in the first place. So if you give your tithe to wherever you feel like, (not to your church), then it’s not your generosity. You’re just taking credit for being generous with money that was never yours in the first place because the tithe belongs to the Lord. In a sense, real generosity starts when you give above and beyond just the tithe. Leviticus 27:30
Number two is basic, but I think it’s important.
2. Tithe is money, or material goods. Not ministry time or volunteering.
Nowhere in scripture do I see that the the tithe could be replaced by volunteered time or ministry.
I have heard people say that they feel like the time that they sacrifice and volunteer for the church or ministry is an equivalent of their tithe, so they don’t necessarily have to give money.
I don’t see that in scripture.
3. Tithing is not an issue of salvation.
Another basic, but important point before we move on to the juicy stuff.
God loves you, and whether you tithe or not, it doesn’t change that.
4. In Scripture, the tithe is a minor issue. At least that’s how Jesus wants it to be.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
Tithing and giving should be as basic as a habit. Like you brush your teeth.
Something you don’t even think about.
Imagine waking up every morning… and the theological struggle starts.
“Oh, I’m not sure it’s even New Testament to brush my teeth. I really need to get to the bottom of this. Maybe it’s not part of the New covenant?”
We have to get past where it feels like something weighty that we have to debate about.
Let’s make it a minor issue, and get it over with, so we can move on to the weightier things like justice, mercy and faithfulness.
The only way to not let it be a weighty issue, is by placing it in the top of your budget priorities.
If you don’t plan your tithe and your giving, you will not tithe and you will not give.
At least not as likely and not as much.
You have to be intentional.
6. The tithe did not come from the law of Moses.
So it’s silly to say “We’re not under the law!”
(That is if you’re secretly trying to get out of giving. Which is the usually the case if tithing is being debated)
It came from Abraham giving a tithe to the king Melchizedek, who represents Jesus.
He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:3
And this happened 400 years before Moses came along.
The other interesting thing about this first TITHE is that it was far more extravagant than just a tithe.
Not only did Abraham give a tenth of all the spoil to Melchizedek, but he also gave the king of Sodom everything that was stolen from his kingdom, that Abraham got back.
Abraham didn’t even take a reward for his heroic work in saving Sodom’s people and goods that were stolen.
He gave it all back (except what they ate along the way). Genesis 14-16
7. The gap between the TITHE and all the other donations people make.
A Barna study revealed that in 2012 overall, only about 12% of people tithe to the church they attend.
It’s not that only 12% of Christians give overall.
Christians give a lot.
But the majority of the giving is to non-profits, missions, etc.
When it comes to giving to the local church, giving is more weak.
By the way, evangelicals are the most likely to tithe.
Protestants in general are four times more likely to tithe than Catholics.
And out of all Christians, evangelical Christians are by far the most generous of all.
24% of Evangelical Christians tithe.
Among the people who “prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the last week” only 12% tithe.
That’s specifically referring to tithing to your church.
Now contrast that with this stat.
“In 2007, 84% of all adults donated some money to churches or non-profit organizations.”
So it’s not that Christians aren’t giving.
Christians are the most generous people in the world.
Evangelical Christians donate almost ten times more money than atheists and agnostics.
“Atheists and agnostics provided an average of $467 to all non-profit organizations.”
“Evangelical Christians donated a mean of $4260 to all non-profit entities in 2007.”
Barna study of trends in tithing and donating
8. So why are Christians often more willing to give to a non-profit organization, mission, or cause than to their local church?
It’s a painful question for us pastors.
But it’s worth wading into.
I don’t have an answer, but I have some ideas, and I only have some empirical evidence from my personal life.
It’s a matter of TRUST and CONTROL.
In order to give to anyone, or anything requires trust. But it requires even more trust when you give to your local church, because you don’t have as much CONTROL over what’s done with the money. When you give to a certain organization, or cause, you have a more specific idea of what your’e money’s going to.
When you give you your local church, you’re trusting the discretion of your leadership.
Depending on the situation that can be tough.
How much do you trust your leaders?
I have determined in my heart, that I’m not going to allow that to keep me from tithing to my local church. No matter what.
Just as I don’t allow the mishandling of tax money to keep me from paying taxes.
That was a bad comparison. Moving on.
I believe that if you trust the leadership of a church enough to attend with your family, then you should trust them with your tithe.
And this is where I have intentionally decided not to allow this to become a weighty matter.
I just do it without thinking.
It can be a matter of what’s more appealing.
Also, giving to my local church is just not as sexy as giving to say, an organization in the Middle East that rescues little kids from being raped by ISIS.
I know a guy who literally does that.
My personal conviction is that the tithe should automatically go to your local church.
No questions asked.
And everything that’s above and beyond the tithe should be where you really can have fun, and aim at whatever you feel like.
We may tend to think that giving, tithing, offerings, and all of that that is not a big deal.
I mean the weightier things are what really matter.
However, notice, that it was this act of generosity of Abram that the Jewish people were born out of. It could be said that it was through this first TITHE, and extravagant, honorable act of generosity that Gods chosen people were conceived in Abraham.
It was right after this account, that God tells Abraham “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
And the rest is history.
What do you think about tithing? Do you tithe?
Do you think we should live with a conviction of faithfully giving a tithe?
Or is that part of the old covenant that stayed on that side of the cross?
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