Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Give Already

Many years ago, I attended a meeting at which several preachers got up to speak. I was a young child at the time and I don’t remember what the other preachers spoke about, but the guy who spoke after lunch spoke about tithing. I’m sure it wasn’t anything you haven’t heard on the subject, but I was so convicted to tithe that I went home, counted all the money in my piggy bank and calculated my tithe, which I then placed in the offering plate the next Sunday. I’ve been giving more than a tithe ever since and I’ve never regretted it.


The tithe, which is ten percent, is at best a good starting point for giving. The Bible tells us that God claims the tithe as his own, so if you want to give God an offering you’ll have to do better than that, but something I saw on the Internet this week indicates that people in their 20s and 30s aren’t giving. It’s been said that if church members would all tithe there would be enough money for everything the church needs to do. I realize some people have trouble starting to tithe because they’ve already overextended themselves. But I wonder if the problem has more to do with other issues. It seems like so many people are neglecting to take on responsibilities that their parents embraced. People won’t give if they don’t see it as their responsibility.


Sadly, people who don’t give are missing out on a great blessing. I don’t really believe that statement about the church having what it needs if everyone would tithe because the fact is that God doesn’t need our money. He can accomplish his purposes without our help, but when I look at what my money has gone to support over the years, I see buildings that have been built, I see radio broadcasts reaching into foreign lands, I see missionaries preaching the gospel, I see students who have gone to college, I see souls that have been saved. Though my part may have been small, I am excited by what has been accomplished. As the Bible says, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Why would I care that there’s radio station broadcasting in a language that I can’t understand if I hadn’t given to support it? Why would I care about the success of a junior college in east Texas if I hadn’t sent part of my treasure to support it? But since I have, I rejoice at their success. Their success is my success.


What more can I say? Give. Give because God commands it. Give because God gives you the opportunity to serve him through giving. Give because God blesses our giving.

4 comments :

eliteinchrist said...

You seem to equate tithing to giving; they are not synonymous from the bible perspective.

The tithe was the tax levied on all farmers in ancient Israel. It was basically A TENTH of crops and livestock from within the land of Israel alone. It was in no way instituted as a standard for giving. And there is simply no verse of scripture that enjoins today’s believer to tithe.

But if you want to talk about giving, then that’s a different thing altogether. The bible says in the book of 2 Cor 8 and 9 that anything we give is acceptable as far as it is given willingly and cheerfully. This portion of scripture never institutes a 10% guide.

God bless

Timothy Fish said...

Eliteinchrist,

Thanks for commenting. First, let me say that I have no intention of equating tithing with giving. If you as a believer want to give more than ten percent, go right ahead. I certainly won’t say anything against that. I know of one couple who have been so blessed that they have decided that the right thing for them to do is to give God 90% of their income and keep the ten percent.

I’ve heard your argument before and from a philosophical standpoint it might be easy for me to agree with it. We might ask why a believe under graces needs a law telling him how much he should give. But the problem I see in the real world is that we’re seeing believers under grace who should be eagerly giving over and above what they would’ve been giving under the law anyway given less than what they would’ve been giving under the law. While that doesn’t tell us we should be tithing in and of itself, it does raise some questions. Either God didn’t really want a tithe or there are some people who just aren’t that committed to God.

You’re absolutely right that 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 reveal how we should be giving. I would love to see more people give like the people at Macedonia gave. They gave beyond what they were able to give. I imagine that was much like the offering that the widow gave when she gave all she had. I have nothing to say against people who give like that. My concern is with people who aren’t giving like that, but are giving less than they should.

If I understand what you’re saying correctly, you take issue with the notion that we can use the tithe as the bar by which we can evaluate our giving to see if we’re giving at least the minimum amount. While I don’t think we should encourage the idea that a person can say, “I gave my tithe so I don’t have to give any more,” I don’t think we can make the claim that the tithe doesn’t apply to the believer under grace.

Here are a few things to think about. Look at Hebrews 7. Abraham gave his tithe to Melchizedek. This was before God gave the law to Moses, so the doctrine of tithing transcends the law. But without making too much of that, the passage goes on to say in verse 8, “And here men who die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.” Notice that the writer is talking about Jesus receiving tithes. This is very clearly after the cross and after the resurrection and yet Jesus is still receiving tithes. But we shouldn’t take this as a commandment for Christians to give a tithe since the passage is dealing with a completely different subject but using the tithe as an illustration.

Look at what Jesus says of the Pharisees in Luke 11:42. They tithe even the smallest things. Jesus tells them that is good. The problem is that they are leaving other things undone. I feel very safe in saying that God still wants our tithe—he still considers it robbery if people don’t give him the tithe (Malachi 3:8)—but what he would rather see are people who enjoy giving him not only what they should be giving but over and above that amount.

eliteinchrist said...

The doctrine of tithe transcends the law because of Abraham? No verse of scripture actually enjoins us to tithe because Abraham did and like you rightly pointed out the book of Hebrews was talking about something else entirely using the tithes as an illustration.

That being said, it is totally untrue from a scriptural point of view to say that God still requires the tithes from today's believer. No single verse of scripture supports this. We can only arrive at such a conclusion by stringing together unrelated verses of scripture.

Giving above or below 10% is not what God is concerned with, what He is concerned with is the heart with which we give. Hence Abel offering was accepted and Cain's rejected.

God bless and yo can call me Tony.

Timothy Fish said...

Tony,

I don’t think we should make this a legal issue. Since the believer is under grace instead of under the law, I don’t think we should make the law the reason we give what we give. Instead, we should be asking the question of what is pleasing to God. 2 Corinthians 9:7 makes it clear that a person shouldn’t give grudgingly or out of compulsion, but it goes on to say that God loves a cheerful giver. I’ve met quite a few cheerful givers and there’s not a one of them that gave a tithe; they all gave more than a tithe and longed to give more.

But when we’re trying to teach the concept of giving it is helpful to have a starting point. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a new believer and saying, “One of the things that pleases God is when we give. Look at Bob over there; last year he gave over $50,000 and this year he plans to give more.” I think that would be a discouragement to the new believe. But if I point to the scripture and tell him that God required 10% in the law, it’s easy enough for him to look at his income and see that that isn’t all that much. It serves as a good starting point, but if he starts giving as God leads him, he’ll probably be giving more than 10% anyway.