Giving and Tithing a Modern Day Conundrum
Giving and Tithing a modern Day Conundrum
Not long ago I asked a question with regards to tithing.
I was quite surprised at not getting much response. So I'm taking that to mean, either, many know little of the actuality of the tithe or people just don't care.
So I want to approach this subject from another angle and that is within the structure of giving. Therefore not using a number such as a percentage or the word tithe or tithing.
In the New Testament we know that Paul spoke on the subject of giving, both admonishing the liberality of the generous givers and also rebuking those who were subject to neglect.
I was thinking of all of the different places in each of our lives that represent a place of giving.
I may not hit everything, but I will try to bring a light upon areas we may recognise as places where our giving is of necessity, but others where we give with liberality, and even without much thought.
We all understand the need for food and sustenance for our bodies, especially within a family setting. This is a place that constantly changes and thus we are forced at times to sacrifice in order to meet the demand. Having a sustainable income is prime.
With this comes the other need for shelter, utilities and the like for which again is the necessity of comfort, and of course some of us live more comfortably that others, thus we are blessed.
The giving at the gas pumps to the oil companies, and maintenance of our household vehicle(s), and our giving over of those hard earned bucks to the mechanic, auto part companies, and keeping up with the Jones' with that new car.
And what about our self indulging habits around cell phones, iPads, computers; our constant socialization on the electronic highway. Having and holding the latest gear and paying, paying, paying...
The giving again for our clothing, whether for work, pleasure or simply because we want to look good. This is a huge demand upon us, especially for the younger generation, peer pressure and looking like the celebrities we admire. Being fashionable can mean much giving to the fashion icons and industry.
With fashion comes the giving over of much again in the form of hairstyles, cosmetics, jewelry, and other adornments for our individual pleasure, tattoos becoming a new statement and our sometimes frivolous habits.
If we are prone to entertainment, such as parties, dinners, outings with the gang, weekends here and there, restaurants of pleasurable delights, pizza, burgers, Chinese, sushi etc, the giving can go way beyond our means to where the credit card comes out. Then our giving takes a new direction.
Being single and the need to socialise can bring on this need of giving more and more.
Entertainment can take on other forms, like sports either played or spectator. The golf enthusiast, tennis player, sport fisherman, boater, hiker, motorcycle rider, race car, sport or classic car junkie. There are many who could be called religious in these very matters and therefore give accordingly.
The giving to our pleasures in the form of holidays with flare, Europe, African safaris, cruises, guru enlightenment seekers, skiing, thrill rides, life adventures into the outback and other forms of stimulus like, skydiving, extreme sports just to name a few. These we would all say we deserve for all of our hard work, and I'm not disputing that, I like my holidays too.
So you see that our giving is diversified, often self centered and much to our daily, weekly, monthly need. In this form we give with liberality, with the exception of our taxes, utilities and the like. Because these are the ones we most often voice complaint about.
We received a salvation that no mere man could have attained through the action of self righteousness or self right. It is a gift from a very thoughtful, loving, caring, and benevolent Father. A Father unlike us, with unfailing, unequaled, unconditional love. One in whom we are to model in thought, action and deed. To follow in the likeness of Jesus with the express help from Holy Spirit to assist in all our needs. That we might be true sons and daughters, representatives of the Kingdom, Ambassadors of Heaven. A very high calling indeed.
Yet here we quibble over the action of giving with a heart attitude of grace, love, mercy and considering others of more importance than ourselves.
Considering the past, cultural, lifestyle, where the nation of Israel had come from and considering the law, principles and precepts laid down, we have been introduced to a number of different thoughts around the action of our giving for the needs of the church as an organization. Many churches have made certain demands, conditions, attitude, and written some of their own law, which in turn has caused many to become hard hearted in this matter.
The Apostle Paul, who came out of and was raised on the Jewish traditions and knew the whole law and all that surrounded the aspect of giving has said a number of things on the matter. Giving from a heart that is open, with joy, even translated with hilarity (merriment, cheerfulness).
We have come to a place where there are many divisions on this matter. But the actuality and reality is this. If no one gives anything to the local house, meaning the place you attend, the Pastor(s) and the needs of the building etc then no one wins and the blessing of God is thwarted through an attitude of carelessness, compromise, neglect, unwillingness for which there will be recompense, meaning a payment will have to be made for your actions. The word informs us that judgement will start with the house of the Lord.
I only mention these things so that if you are one who struggles with these matters that you would consider fasting, and praying so that you have a concise answer for your particular participation in the action of your own giving.
We can hardly expect us to return to the cultural and lifestyle differences of the early church, but there is a model for us to adapt and follow that can work in all cultures when done under the guidance of Holy Spirit and not a demanding rule of law.
I have been witness to churches that have tried to adapt in one form or another. The ideas are grand but in practicality and because of our inherent individuality it seldom works smoothly and conflict arises. Even with the most devout of Monks in a seemingly perfected atmosphere is some form of dissension.
So, coming to a completed understanding around the action of our giving into the local storehouse for the greater good of the body will always harbor disagreement and some amount of conflict.
It seems that in times past, the only way God could get people to agree and come into harmony was through a stiff and powerful action of conviction with repentance. Without this we are left to our own measures, thoughts and arguments, all of which can lead us down a path of misunderstanding, miscommunication and missed blessing. I think we can all agree that it would be an ominous thing to fall into the hands of God over a simple matter of giving. We have all made it seemingly complicated and it has become a personal threat upon our own wellbeing.
The act of giving was, and will always be an action of the heart filled with Holy Spirit love and each one of us will be responsible before God for how we calculate its response.
I suppose many will say, "But Jesus never spoke on (tithing) giving."
Many teachers have fallen into the same trap that Jesus was rebuking these "Teachers of the Law" for in Matt. 23:23, with regard to, "mint, dill and cumin". All are literally very tiny seeds, but in the matter of the attitude of those who were exuding their pride to an extreme, Jesus was rebuking them for forgetting the very important matters to be regarded, that being, "justice, mercy, trust or faith". Earlier Jesus had said to the people, "pay attention to what they say, but don't do what they do".
We forget that Jesus was first and foremost sent to the house of Israel and we come to the place of salvation through an extension of God's love for the Gentile nations. He didn't have to say anything because it was understood. The one demonstration of his anger in the temple was over money; that being the wrongful act of greed and taking advantage of the people and using the law of Moses and the actions of sacrifice for profit.
Unfortunately this same spirit of greed has found its way into the church of today and has made many leery of any type of giving.
He did speak much about our heart. Remember the widow with her few pennies gave more than the other who held themselves with an attitude of pride.
We need to look at our circumstances, our blessings and consider our reward in heaven versus what we are indulging in, in the here and now. But; "I have worked hard for what I have, can I not enjoy it now?"
If we have little or no consideration for others, the needs of the local body, missions etc, then what will the response of God be toward us? What is more important?
Remember this: "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor. 9:6-8
The apostle here never makes any demands, since we have passed from Law into Grace. Then with the same measure that has been measured to you, you are free to give accordingly.
"One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty". Prov. 11:24
"Do not be deceived:God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." Gal. 6:7
"A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Prov. 11:24
If in your heart you continue to argue the matter of giving, consider that the enemy of your soul may have his hand on your wallet.
I really hope it is only a matter of clarity and you would become a giver with hilarity.