Sunday, September 28, 2008

On tithing



I've been thinking about tithing lately. Not starting tithing, my husband and I already do that. I've been wondering about whether or not our tithes are Biblically required to go toward our local church, or is it OK to delegate the money toward other things, like charities or those going on mission trips, or people we know of in need? I found an interesting article on tithing and whether or not it is an Old Testament law we no longer are obligated to follow or if it is indeed still taught in the New Testament. Personally, I think tithing is something God wants His followers to do even today, mainly as an act of worship for Him. I know from personal experience that when I don't give God my tithes, my finances are not any better off. Is God punishing me when I don't tithe? I don't think so, but I do think that when I put my trust in Him with my money He makes the rest of my checkbook balance stretch farther. He's not going to let the righteous go begging for bread Psalm 37:25. My struggle lately is what I mentioned already, where should our tithes go? The article mentioned above touches on that as well. I'm still not convinced it has to go to the local church body, though. More research/study on my part needs to be done. As Bill O'Reilly would say, "What say you?".
UPDATE: After I initially wrote this post and upon reading the first comment, I decided that I had better go ahead and research this subject more. I did a word search on the words "tithe" and "offering". Tithe is used in the Old Testament, and the word means "a tenth". Offering is used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and means "a presentation, oblation or sacrifice". There were several New Testament incidences of offerings being made. I noted the ones given and received by the apostle Paul: Acts 21:25-27 , Acts 24:16-18 , II Cor. 8:18-20 , Phillipians 4:17-19. To me, it's obvious that giving to the Lord and His work is something we as believers should continue to do. I guess the word "tithe" is what gets everybody all worked up. I don't know. But why wouldn't a believer want to give back to God to worship Him and acknowledge His mercy and grace upon our lives? Does it have to be monetarily giving? I think it should be somewhat, according to the verses I read and listed above. Of course our sacrifices are not limited to money. Romans 12:1-2 instructs us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. I hope I've opened up an area of discussion that will help us all increase in faith. I do NOT wish to stir up dissension within the body of believers. If you comment, and I hope you do, please be kind to me (and to each other). I am not a Bible scholar by any means!

10 comments:

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD said...

May I suggest an entirely different approach to tithing. I wrote my PHD thesis opposing tithing and have a very large web site. I have been featured on CBS News, Charisma Magazine, Moody Prime Time, the Wall Street Journal and St Petersburg Time.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
www.tithing-russkelly.com

Anonymous said...

Christy,

I don't know Biblically the answer, but I'll give my two cents. We normally give our 10th to the church for the church to do it's normal work and their working for His Kingdom. I think that after that, what we give is an offering, a sacrifice, a following of the Spirit for whatever that offering is for. I think of things like Lottie Moon or other charitable organizations. I also think we should give of our time. How much time? I don't know.

Right now, we aren't in a position to give to a local church here. We want to tithe, to give of the blessings we've received. So, we plan to research some charities here and give to them. Is it wrong? I don't think so, because we plan to follow where God leads to give of our tithes.

So back to the first question, should all of our tithes go to the local church... I think that if you are led otherwise after prayer, you must follow God. But, the church needs our tithes to do all the works they need to do.

I hope I'm making sense. Like I said before, I am not speaking Biblically, but my own thoughts.

Julie

Ruth said...

This is a good conversation starter Christy. I have been giving this some thought lately and there has been some talk around the blogshpere about it.

From a practical point of view, we really need to support our local church because in a way it's a club we belong to that serves us. We need to pay the pastor and for the building, etc. Our church provides us with spiritual nourishment and education for our whole family. In this respect I feel a sense of responsibility to my own church over and above giving to other needs. I don't have a set figure but I give mostly to my church.

I try to maintain an attitude in my heart that what I have is a gift from God and it is to be shared. I want to feel the pang of sacrifice because it consecrates my heart to God. I want to be ready to respond to needs at any time and give from the abundance of my heart. It keeps my heart tender and sensitive to others. However, that requires the discretion to give wisely and not just on a response to pressure or a gut reaction.

Now, my husband is not a Christian so I don't have his full support in my giving. He thinks it's wierd to give a lot to charity and that we work hard for our money. Why should we give it away? One the other hand he is willing to be generous to charities and such but I have had to work him. In most people's minds, giving $20 to the food bank at Christmas is considered responsible giving. So when we were first married and I told him I thought we should give his Christmas bonus to the foodbank he just about had a coronary. He did come around and we made it a yearly tradition.

Anonymous said...

Christy,

I had to write again. It's amazing how God does things, ya know! Tonight I was reading in my devotional about...tithing! As far as where to give monetary tithes, I do agree with Ruth.

But, tonight I was struck with an issue that I hadn't thought about in giving to God. He doesn't just call for our money, but the firstfruits of "all your crops". That got me thinking about prayer. I don't think I bring to prayer what I need on a consistent basis. I'm not giving or sacrificing of it the way I feel called to do. I ask others to give of their prayer "crops" but do I give them my all?

Just a thought on what areas God asks of us to give... mostly a conversation for myself. :)

Julie

Terry said...

I'm aware of very specific laws and requirements in the Law of Moses. I'm not aware of much specificity in the New Testament about how much to give to the local church or to people in need or to traveling evangelists (or missionaries). However, I know that I am to be generous, because God has been generous to me.

Brenda said...

These are great comments. I started writing my comment 4 times and erased them! Why is this so difficult for me? Well, here's my shortened version:

My thoughts are very close to ruth's comment and anonymous at 2:57. Right now we don't have as much to tithe as I'd like, so the Lord showed me that my serving is a way of tithing my time, and also being involved with prayer at the church.

I do believe in supporting my pastor financially and I'm comfortable with that because I've witnessed his humble, servants heart over the years. He takes money in with one hand and gives it back out with the other to those in need either in our city or around the world. Maybe you have witnessed very greedy pastors and that is what is bothering you. Or churches that don't use the money wisely. That is a problem.

Also, I know it is pleasing to the Lord that YOU have a heart to give to help others. If you choose right now at this time in your life to give somewhere else and not tithe to your church, I know the Lord will honor your convictions about that. Your heart is where it all begins. He only wants you to give if it's with a cheerful heart.

Hope I've made sense and hope that helps. I'm going to hit the publish button now and not erase!

Ruth said...

Yes these are great comments! It's so good to hear people sharing from their heart rather than theological banter!

Brenda I do agree with you that giving our time is a tithe too. It is a valuable resource! As Julie pointed out, it's about our "first fruits".

Mork said...

Need to give this way more thought myself!!! My wife tithes her income I don't mine. I struggle with it being a New Testament principle - I give and I give freely, I give with a clear conscience, these are New Terstament requirements ... the Old Testament deal was in fact wway more than 10% if you are to include the other offerings mentioned ... from memory I think it comes to about 33% - but that was in the days the Priests, the temple, etc were maintainned by the offerings of God's people.

Great post though and food for thought ... may God continue to bless you greatly!!

Anonymous said...

Christy,

I just read Mork's reply. What he said at the end of it made me think back to your original question about tithing to charities vs all going to the local church. He said "...but that was in the days the Priests, the temple, etc. were maintained by the offerings of God's people." If you think about it, how does our church function today? It functions and does its jobs because we tithe. The Pastor earns money to live based on what we give. The church building operates because we give... lightbulbs, electricity, musical equipment, etc. The programs we have are because we tithe. So, New Testament... 10%?? I don't know, but to give to the church, I think so. To give to other charities, I think it is based on what He places on your heart after giving a portion to the church. Just my two cents, again. :)

Julie

Christy said...

Thanks for the great comments, guys. I have to admit that I was nervous about posting this one. When we start talking about money, sometimes it can get ugly, but not this time! Thanks so much!