Friday, December 17, 2010

God Takes Checks

The other day I took some heat from a reader of this blog when I said that Christians ought to tithe. Obviously, I wouldn’t try to tell Christians they ought to tithe if Christians were giving more than 10% of their income. If a person gives 11%, what do we care if that person gave a tithe and added an offering on top of that or if he thinks of the whole thing as an offering. But I heard a statistic the other day. What I heard is that the average Christian gives 1.67% of his income. That’s not a question of whether a Christian should be tithing or not, that’s just wrong!


Think about this, if the average person makes $50,000 a year, 1.67% is a whopping $835 per person. Now consider that if you and your spouse dine out once a week and spend $25, you are spending $465 more on dining out each year than what the average Christian gives to God. I’m not saying that you have to quit dining out so you can give to God, but the fact is that that $835 isn’t very much.


But what if a Christian is tithing. That Christian making $50,000 would now be giving $5,000 a year to God. That’s still not all that much. It is less than $100 a week. I won’t say it’ll be easy for you to start giving at that level if you haven’t already been doing it, but Christians who have been tithing for a while don’t even miss it. In fact, they feel that they are more richly blessed.


God can accomplish his work without our money, but consider a church with 50 families, each averaging $50,000 a year. If they are giving at the 1.67% level, the church budget will be somewhere around $41,750. It would be hard to do much with that low of a budget. You could give to support a few things. The pastor would have to have job outside the church to support his family. But suppose each family tithes. Now the budget is around $250,000. With that kind of budget, you can pay multiple staff workers and still be able to maintain the building and support missions.


Now let’s get real. I mean come on. If you’re one of these people who thinks we should only give what God leads us to give, do you really think he will lead you to give less than 10%? I highly doubt that. He calls us to something greater. Why, if you start giving, he might bless you with enough that you can give 15%, 25%, 50%, who knows.


One more thought here. Have thought where that $835 comes from? Divide it out and what you’ll find is that it’s about $16 per week. That’s close to $20. Isn’t it odd that the average Christian feels God leading him to drop the amount of money in the offering plate each week that is the same size as one bill that comes out of the ATM? Knowing human nature the way we do, it wouldn’t surprise me if the average Christian isn’t listening what God has to say but is instead opening his wallet, pulling out a single bill and dropping it in the plate. It has nothing to do with the leadership of God at all, but it has to do with him not wanting someone to see him passing the plate without putting something in it. If that’s you, let me give you tip. God accepts checks.

8 comments :

steward said...

In the Old Testament, the truth is that God only required Israel to tithe off their agriculture and livestock. This means that carpenters, lawyers, doctors, bankers, politicians did not give a single penny towards tithing.

To answer your question on whether God would lead you to give less than 10? Well. . . just read the bible. It's right there.

If you want other examples. Abraham only gave from the spoils of war and not from his own wealth (Heb. 7:4). Also, Look at the Israelites in this passage (Num. 31:9, 27-29). They were required to give less than 1% (one percent) from the spoils of war.

Before you assume that i'm trying to get out of giving 10%. Just remember that you don't know what i give, and you definitely don't know what's in my heart. Please do a deep study on the scriptures, and compare the tithe with other laws such as circumcision, the sabbath, clean animals, and sacrifices (all of which came before the law).

- jared

Timothy Fish said...

Jared,

Thanks for commenting.

As I said, if people were giving more than 10%, we wouldn’t say much at all about tithing. I don’t think you can rightly make the claim that carpenters, lawyers, doctors, bankers, politicians, etc. didn’t tithe. They had animals like everyone else in those days. I suppose, if we use that argument, we shouldn’t calculate our tithe until we go to the store and buy food. But the principle remains the same, a tenth belongs to the Lord.

steward said...

After i posted my comment i had a feeling you would correct me by saying that carpenters would tithe on their own animals, but i couldn't go back and clarify that after i posted it. So let me clarify now - Carpenters in the old testament did not tithe a single cent of their occupational income.

-jared

eliteinchrist said...

Hi Timothy,

I still cannot find any scriptural reference that says God demands a 10% minimum. It is so man-made and very, very unbiblical. That a person earns £500,000 is not enough reason for the person to tithe. And all the statistics you have provided is not reason enough to proclaim that God requires a 10% minimum.

Timothy Fish said...

"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me! But ye say, `Wherein have we robbed Thee?' In tithes and offerings." Malachi 3:8

EliteInChrist,

A tithe is by definition 10% and Malachi makes it very clear that God considers it robbery for us to withhold our tithes and offerings. If there is any room for debate on this, it is on whether Christ's death on the cross did away with our need to tithe. I would argue that while Christ's death paid the penalty of sin if we don't tithe, it did not change our responsibility to fund the work of the ministry. If anything, when Jesus commissioned us to reach the whole world for him, it increased our need to provide the funds for that work.

eliteinchrist said...

And it seems like we are going around in circles all over again. No verse of scripture ever calls the tithe 10%, not one. The biblical tithe was always A TENTH of crops and livestock from the land o Israel alone! Malachi 3 has is not proof that God requires today's church to tithe, if 10% was the minimum God required, Paul would never have encouraged the church in Corinth to give anything they could afford. He simply would have told them to give at least 10%, but he didn't. The early church would have practised this but they didn't, the apostles would have taught it but they didn't.

If you feel 10% should be the minimum you give there is nothing wrong with that but it becomes wrong when you say that is what God requires from all beleivers; that is simply not true.

God bless.

Tony

Timothy Fish said...

EliteInChrist,

You are venturing off into dangerous territory. The word tithe and the word that it translates, means "the tenth part." At no point have I even suggested that I don't think Christians should give more than a tithe, if the Lord is leading them to do so. What I am suggesting is that those people who show up on Sunday, pull a twenty out of their billfold and drop it in the plate need to rethink their giving strategy. I'm saying they aren't giving enough and they need to go home and put God in their budget.

Where you are getting into dangerous territory is that by saying the tithe isn't required of Christians you are opening the door to say that much of what the Old Testament says doesn't apply to Christians.

For argument's sake, let's say you are correct. Well, if the tithe doesn't apply, then neither does the promise of Malachi 3:10, 11. Yes, I'm sure we could argue that that was really just to the Jews and the land of Israel, but the principle remains the same. If we bring God the tithes and offerings that are his, he will bless us beyond what we can take in.

eliteinchrist said...

Most certainly! Much of what the Old Testament preaches does not apply to Christians. Are Christians required to get circumcised? Are Christians required to keep the Sabbath? Do we avoid garments sewn with different types of cloths? Do we stone adulterers and Sabbath breakers? Do we avoid certain types of food? Do we still offer up burnt offerings? Do not try to be rhetorical in your argument, pull out a scripture that says 10% is the absolute minimum today’s Christian should give.

Sorry bro but listen to yourself “ What I am suggesting is that those people who show up on Sunday, pull a twenty out of their billfold and drop it in the plate need to rethink their giving strategy. I'm saying they aren't giving enough and they need to go home and put God in their budget.” How can you tell that these folks do not put God in their budget? Do you live with them? Do you know how much they earn? Are they giving because of you? Has God told you that He is unhappy with them? Did God ask you to take action against them? Sigh!

So if you were Jesus, you would have berated the poor widow who put a few copper coins into the treasury because you believe that she hasn’t given enough. My word! It is not your place to tell people how to spend their money, if they decide not to give towards God’s work that should be their prerogative. And what is most important is not the amount of money one gives to God but the state of one’s relationship with God.

God bless.

Tony