Friday, December 14, 2007

Tithing on a Tightrope

For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
(Luke 11:42 – ESV)

How many times have you wondered, or heard someone else wonder if they were supposed to “tithe” based on net or gross income? Well, without even considering whether or not the tithe is a New Testament ideal, we need to discuss something. Regarding your giving, the “net or gross” question shows you are in the wrong ballpark altogether – it is not a question of a duty to be discharged but of a devotion to be discovered (2 Corinthians 9:7).

You don’t have to try and find out exactly the line where you need to start, most are doing that so as to know what they can avoid doing. Its like the parable of the Good Samaritan, the lawyer wanted to know who his neighbor was, not so he could know who to love, but so he could know who he didn’t have to. The same happens when it comes to the matter of giving to the church. It’s not that people don’t want to give too little, it’s that they don’t want to give too much! You could give whatever it is that you feel is your “obligation”, and discharge your “duty” and God still not have your heart. You are commanded to give, but even if you found some imaginary line where God was happy with, it is only a start, not a finish (Luke 17:10).

Okay, now, for those of you just looking for a fight: does the New Testament teach that we must tithe? No, it doesn't. But let me tell you that it does teach that we should give and that we should be cheerful givers. Those that want to wrangle over not having to give or about some imaginary line or limit are not the most cheerful people to be around.

It is about faithfulness, but the bigger item, and the one that you never seem to hear the preachers and teachers talk about, or when they do you go temporarily deaf, is that giving is also a matter of worship. Not obligation, like, “you better give off the gross, dude, or God’s gonna be mad.” No. Giving is worship.

If we love a sports team, we watch their games, we pay to see them at the stadium, we buy their souvenirs, and we wear their apparel, which we paid for. We even dress our little kids in their little team clothes. We wear the shoes that the big stars are wearing, and we learn all the new buzzwords and catch phrases of those whom we worship.

Now follow me here, and realize that giving is a form of and a part of worship. It doesn’t mean that every thing we give to we worship, but what is put foremost in our minds, that thing we will give our utmost to. Think about sports teams that you see people love and how they defend and promote them, and don’t you just wish we would do it for Jesus? We root for them even when their season isn’t going so well. We praise them when it is, and we aren’t ashamed of it when they lose a game, we speak of how they will eventually bounce back. We give our money, our time, our energy, and our devotion. Where we give is where we worship. Jesus said that where your treasure is, that is where your heart is (Matthew 6:21). How can you say you don’t have to give and still believe that God has your heart?

I’m not asking you to give more money. Giving more doesn’t necessarily mean you are more devoted. It isn’t the quantity but the quality. So if you are down in cash this month but have an extra amount of time, then give what you have to give. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45), what do you talk about the most, Jesus or the football team, or your favorite movie star, or hit song? Whatever it is that has the majority of your attention, that is what has your devotion. What do you think of first thing in the morning?

Let’s get practical, then. Don’t give the church the money for your light bill, but don’t neglect the church just to buy a fancy new light fixture. Own stuff; don’t let it own you. Better yet, realize that you don’t own stuff; it is on loan to you. We do not need to debate whether or not tithing is commanded or even recognized in the New Testament; all that is doing is wrangling over a disputed idea (1 Timothy 6:4).

It isn’t a matter of doctrine; the truth is that for many the simplest way to be disciplined is by giving the first 10 percent right off the top, and that is why we see this principle used in the church today. We don’t have to argue, but if you were to look at those that would teach “against” tithing, or those who try and justify why they don’t need to give you might be surprised at what you see and the lack of discipline in their lives. If you are giving more than 10 percent but not “tithing” per se, wonderful, but in any event make sure you are honoring God by giving Him your heart, and that would include your wallet.

Sowing out of a desire for gain will get you the gain all right, but it won’t be what you expect (Galatians 6:7 / 1 Timothy 6:5-10). Don’t use tithing as a means to an end, the end being your own desire for wealth (Ezekiel 33:31). Don’t turn tithing into a work and don’t use giving to the church to dismiss your obligations to the IRS or from taking care of your sick relatives or paying your bills and think that God is pleased with this, He isn’t (Isaiah 29:13 / Mark 7:6-7).

The concept of giving in the New Testament is not some rule we have to keep in order to keep God off our back or to curry favor with God, but so we will put first things first, and God will help us take care of the rest. It shouldn’t make you give less, but want to give more.

Giving is a blessing not a burden, but please don’t give out of compulsion. You can’t give because you feel forced and expect God to understand. As long as you see it as a burden it will not have the effect you desire. God knows your heart, and you can give and give and give, but if you don’t do it out of love, it will profit you nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). We can give without loving but we can’t love without giving.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

34 comments:

Even So... said...

I'm back...

Anonymous said...

I have never heard that topic explained in a manor that I could understand as well as this. Thanks JD, my love to both you and Margie.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for this lesson. This is the subject I need more knowledge about, nobody talks about it in my church.

Daniel said...

"Its like the parable of the Good Samaritan, the lawyer wanted to know who his neighbor was, not so he could know who to love, but so he could know who he didn’t have to."

Exactly.

Time, money, and effort - how we spend these reveals a whole lot about where our treasure really lays.

Craver VII said...

Wow! Brilliant!!

Even So... said...

If tithing or giving makes you nervous or heated up or defensive or whatever like that, this post is for you...

Ray said...

Excellent -- it is actually very much my sermon next week -- key element -- it is a part of our WORSHIP.

Of course, worship in general is a topic fairly misunderstood in today's context... We have fallen to the concept of 'if it feels good, it must be worship'...

Thanks my friend -- very timely...

Even So... said...

Hey, old man Ray, good to hear from you again...we were in Dallas Friday night to have dinner with my brother, who was in town for a ballgame...what a huge city (cities including Ft.Worth)...God bless...

Taliesin said...

I was going to quote the same line Daniel did.

Seeing giving as an act of worship was part of what changed the way I gave. When I gave out of compulsion, I gave as little as I could and be comfortable with myself. Probably I still don't give like I should (of time as well as money) but I think I'm growing.

Even So... said...

I just found out what the word Taliesin meant after all this time...cool...google it...

Taliesin said...

If you google it, skip the Frank Lloyd Wright stuff (though he may have taken that name from the same figure I did).

But if you mean the early British (Welsh, more properly) poet (the "radiant brow"), then you have it.

Even So... said...

Yeah, I dug a little deeper into the tenth century explanation...

Steve said...

You know that verse in Deut. 14 where you can exchange the tithe for money? Well mate that up with what Jesus says about bringing the wheat into the barns. Those who eat the wheat (tithe) are gathered into the barn (storehouse), those who bind the money in hand are themselves bound as the tares and thrown in the fire.

Best to just leave the tithe as it is. No money should enter the picture.

Even So... said...

?

Steve said...

!!

Even So... said...

By using the "?", I was asking for clarification about what your intent was, it was unclear to me, and what you did is not constructive regarding that, at least I am not sure of what you are implying. Does "!!" mean you realize I don't know what you are talking about? Please help us out here...

Steve said...

Exchange of tithe for money. Tithes were taken to the storehouse. Jesus said as much in his parable of the tares. Wheat in the barn. He does say that there are tares that are mixed in with the wheat that are to eventually be bound and burned. In the exchange of tithe for money law, it is the money that is to be bound to the hand of those who find it too far to take their tithe. Are these two portions of scripture, one from the old and one from the gospels, related?
I believe so. I have several reasons for believing this. Would you like to hear?

Even So... said...

Well, I really wasn't adressing the tithe, per se, only giving in general, and the problem of people getting all hung up about tithing as legalism....so if it is about why we don't have to tithe, don't bother...but if not, I'm all ears...

Steve said...

It is about coming to an understanding of the will of God. Only then can you worship in spirit and truth. I can tell you do not care to have your mistaken notions of truth challenged. That is not a healthy attitude. Put all things to the test. Can what you believe survive the test? I have encounterd so much anger by those who have their tithe belief bubble burst. Why the anger? Will you be angry also? If so I will move on.

Steve said...

Would you like to read my top ten bible reasons not to tithe? Or would you like to know the one verse that says that tithe collecting is extortion. (You need to know a little Hebrew for that one.)

Even So... said...

I don't believe the NT teaches tithing, which should be enough said, however...

Steve, please read the article again, I know that the NT does not prescribe the tithe, that was kind of the point.

Another point of the post was about how people get all up in arms (read: angry) when you bring this subject up...thanks for being an object lesson...

I can tell you do not care to have your mistaken notions of truth challenged.

uh huh, I can tell the same by your blog posts on your site, oh wait a minute, you aren't doing that are you?

Put all things to the test. Can what you believe survive the test?

1 Thessalonians 5:21, of course, but what makes you an authority...

Steve said...

"Tithing is a blessing and not a burden."

You did say that didn't you? The scriptures say that tithe collecting is extortion. In the old testament the tithe burden was on the land. Now you have so called ministers transfering that burden to the people.

You don't like me sharing on your blog? What is a blog for anyway. Isn't it for sharing ideas? The name of your blog article is "Tithing on a tightrope." I am discussing tithing and not sewing.

Even So... said...

The conceptual aspect of giving 10 percent, commonly called tithing, but not a command in NT church times or today...the use of the word is because of familiarity, but the article is about giving, without having the burden of feeling like we "must" give 10 percent to be right with God...those that would think that are in the wrong ballpark, which is my point...again, there is no set giving standard given in the NT, except that it be all of you to God...this is the extent of teaching on "tithing" in our church, we do not ask, cajole, command, or concern ourselves with people's percentage of giving, we only try and give them perspective as to why this can be such as mess...I think you are going in that same direction, why not just understand the spirit of what I am saying without getting hung up on semantics, that is what I am trying to help with in the first place...I don't like to use the word tithing either, it gets everyone confused, and that was the point, and one you are proving to anyone who reads this...please get the clue, Steve...you can be dead right about "tithing" and still be dead wrong in your approach...why beat me over the head with something I don't advocate in the first place?...so I use(d) the word, big deal, what is my context, that is the larger point...

Annette said...

Thank you so much JD on your article on GIVING. I get the point that it is an issue of the heart, not a legalistic, obligation. I have heard so many different teachings on tithe, but your example about the lawyer wanting to know who is neighbor is, so he could know who he didn't have to love put it all in perspective for me.
I do have one small question though, let's suppose in a marriage, the wife feels led to give more than the husband, should she limit her gift and submit to her husband, because submission is the key to a healthy Christian marriage, or should she give what she feels lead in her heart to give? I hope that I just didn't miss the whole point in your article, but I am in need of some clarifications.
I thank God for you. God bless you and Margie.
Yours in Christ,
Annette

Even So... said...

Submit to your husband...

and pray...submit to him, but also explain to him your feelings and understandings and convictions, all the while making sure he understands that you will abide by what he says, and you will like it (I mean that, don't just obey, submit, and like it) because your relationship is greater than this one issue...

...the truth is that God might indeed be leading you to give a greater amount, but He is also testing you to see if you will obey and submit to His established authority in your husband...God isn't about to switch channels on you, so it is good, right, safe, and Holy to submit to him in this area...and guess what, it will probably lead to more dollars and more giving later, but if not, or in any event, it will be all good...

Thank you for coming here to this blog...God bless you and your family...anything I can do to help, I will do...

Steve said...

Isaiah 33:15
He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions (ma'ashaqqah)....

Does this word point to the tithe (ma'aser)? The word ten (asar) has the "ma" attached to make it a tithe, the word for oppress has the "ma" added to make the word what? Just oppression or 'tithe oppression'. The NIV translates it as 'extortion'. Is the 'ma' attachment pointing to the much collected 'tithe'. The law commands only the land to provide the ten percent. God sees its use for getting money from people as oppression and extortion.

So what other gain could the prophet be referring to? Bank robbery? The modified tithe law is the culprit. There are many Hebrew words for oppression but this one with the 'ma' is only used in two places in the bible.

Steve said...

To build on the thought of those in leadership despising the gain of tithe collecting, I would like to add some more reasons to do so.

The first reason would be what we have already discussed, the mating of Deut. 14:25 to the parable of Jesus on the tares and wheat. Those who eat the wheat that is brought into the storehouse are then brought into the barn at the end harvest. Those who bind the money in hand are themselves bound as the tares.

In that portion of scripture in Deut. 14 you have God's counsel of what to buy with the money; oxen, sheep, wine, and strong drink. This is the first place in the bible that the strong drink is mentioned. All of the prophets have nothing but bad to say about this 'strong drink'.
"His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, thay are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, brom his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant." Isaiah 56:10-12

Those who exchange the tithe for money are to go to a separate place to feast on their money purchases, getting drunk in the meantime. Isa.29 says that "they are drunk, but not with wine and strong drink."

There is an intoxication involved when you trade off the corn (wheat). Jesus warns those who are 'eating and drinking with the drunken' at his coming the second time.

Patricia said...

Why is it that preachers teach that we're set free from the Old Law but they hang onto the tithe? They say tithing predated the Law, but so did circumcision and animal sacrifices. The first recorded tithe in the Bible originated not from Abraham's personal income but from wicked Sodom.

Preachers say Christians must tithe. But who is qualified to collect tithes in the first place? Only sons of Aaron. Are preachers claiming to be in a separate caste from all other Christians? I Pet.2:5,9 teaches that all believers are priests under the New Covenant. Is your local tithe collector descended from Aaron the High Priest? Did Paul the Apostle even once command tithing under the New Covenant? Not that I can find! Only cheerful GIVING is taught under the New Covenant. It is a SIN to reinstate Old Covenant Law Jesus died to set us free from. Coming back under the Law causes a curse (Gal.3:10).

http://banpreachergreed.tripod.com

Even So... said...

Preachers say Christians must tithe.

Not this preacher...

Funny how some posts can draw fire like, well, whatever example you want to use, you know what I eman, I hope...

BTW, isn't this exactly what I am talking about, I mean, I am the author of the post, aren't I?

People get all worked up about a subject and want to grind their axe when we are actually agreeing with them for the most part, and they don't even realize they are making my point...

Don't let your cat out of the bag just because someone said your pet name...

Even So... said...

I updated some of the language to help some people see the point more clearly...to God be the glory...

Jim said...

JD: you start talking about money and people really get fired up.

Seriously though, are we not merely stewards of what Christ entrusts to us? We own nothing.

It is true though that Abraham gave a tithe and this before the law. Jacob actually made a contractual agreement with God concerning the giving of tithes.

To give to God as you have pointed out is truly a matter of worship, for worship is declaring God worthy to receive the first of all that we have as a symbol that He truly is our provider.

So to the degree we measure our giving, to that degree we will receive joy.

Margie said...

Excellent! Amen and Amen.

Even So... said...

11-2006

Even So... said...

12-14-07