Tag Archives: Giving

Teaching the tithe; holding the church back?

I’m continually blown away with how many preachers get the tithe completely wrong, especially in regards to the New Testament church.  I’m frustrated because I believe if giving where taught correctly, we would have a totally different attitude toward money.  I believe that the teaching of the tithe actually stifles giving.  I can “hear” myriads of preachers groaning, and rushing to claim that teaching the tithe is the only way to insure a percentage of the congregation actually gives.  Meh, that’s no reason to downplay the truth.

The tithe as a tool is fine.  The tithe as an obligation or means to a blessing isn’t.  If you need to use the tithe as an “easy” way to portion out your money, or are called by God to tithe, that’s perfectly fine, I’m not directing this article at you.  There are so many preachers out there making a certain statement that makes me grind my teeth.  What is that statement?  “How much of your income is God’s?”  What do they say the answer is?  Ten percent.  Sometimes they think they go more detailed and say the first ten percent. Wrong answer.

All of it.  ALL of it is God’s, not yours.  Further, if you are a believer, your house is His, your car is His, every minute of your day is His, your business is His, etc…  If we don’t change the way we preach this, we are limiting our understanding of God, and His relationship with us.  You may be called at any moment to utilize anything you “own” for His good.  I’m not saying this figuratively.  It is all His.  What do you think presenting yourself a living sacrifice to Him is all about?

The OT tithes, that were in place for the Jewish people were for them specifically.  And, it was much much more than 10%.  As with the law in the OT, the tithe was to teach us, it was to foreshadow what was to come.  The tithe was so that God’s business could be carried out and that was centered on the temple and the priests.  Guess what, now you are the temple and you are the priests.

If your reaction to this is “Yes! Now I don’t have to give up anything!” then you’ve missed the entire point.  No longer are we legally required to give, now we are to pay attention to God’ guidance on a very personal level and give as we are called.  Free will, cheerful giving.  That is the model for the NT church.  The early church had to be reigned in from giving too much.  The were giving everything to the apostles and those in need and keeping nothing to live on.

I just heard one preacher say that if you tithe you’ll be amazed that you never lack for anything. Bull.  I know good believers who thought they had to tithe, doing so “religiously,” with good hearts and wind up broke and in debt.  Preachers need to preach financial accountability to their congregations.  If you need help, follow someone like Dave Ramsey’s plan in a secular way.  If you owe a debt to someone else, pay it.  If you owe bills, those ARE debt.  God wants you to be a good steward and pay your debt.  God also wants you to be a good steward and quit being a consumer driven by every want and fad.

You are to be responsible and take care of your family, and you are to be responsible so that when God calls on you to give to a cause, or a teacher, or preacher, or to help someone you will be able to do so.    Remember, you are handling His money, not yours.  Are you to give?  Yes.  There are a few examples of where money should go in the NT; to those that teach you in the faith (Galatians 6:6), to those in need (esp. to widows and orphans), and to those who ask.  How many of us really look at Matthew 5?

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Wow.  This only makes sense and only works if we realize all that we have is God’s.  We are to be responsible with what He gives us whether it’s money, time, a house, car, land, a phone, a camera, etc…  We need to be praying to see what God would like us to do with His things, and then yield to the urge of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it is no one’s business to know how much you make, or how much you give.  That is between you and God.  But, be warned, God knows your heart, and He obviously knows what He is communicating to you.  Pray, and pay attention and ask for His help in doing as He directs.

Give generously, give cheerfully, be responsible with your money and make it serve you, don’t serve it.  The tithe is not a requirement for the church, but excuse making doesn’t work either.  As you sow, so shall you reap, and God truly loves a “hilarious” giver, for it mirrors Him and uses what He has given you to further His will.  Could you imagine the things our church could do if everyone embraced this idea?

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“Sacrificial” giving of money; not biblical for the church…

Over and over I’ve heard preachers try to teach about “sacrificial” giving.  Unfortunately that is not a biblical principle, since the word sacrifice is very specific in scripture, and is abused in this context.  Now, before some readers get their knickers all in a twist, let me clarify; free will giving is biblical, and we’ll talk about that, but this idea of sacrificial giving is another offhanded term that does not appear in scripture.

“You’ve got to give until it hurts,” that is the refrain that you can hear from many pulpits both in person and on the radio.  No, you don’t.  The idea of a sacrifice is glossed over when the term is used in connection with monetary giving.  A sacrifice in the bible is very very specific; it is about killing and offering up an organism to God. Sacrifice was to do many things, one of which was to remind us that for sin comes death.

To underscore this, notice what Paul said, “present yourselves a living sacrifice to God.”  He had to include and underscore the word “living” there; no longer do we offer sacrifice to God in the old way of death, but rather we are living organisms and we offer ourselves.  This is only possible because Jesus became a sacrifice for us, and now, that older system is done away with.

Giving money is not technically sacrificial.  You aren’t ritually killing anything.  We muddy the waters of the gospel by referring to a free will gift offering as sacrificial giving.  We are indeed to give money as directed by the Holy Spirit, and we are to do so cheerfully.  The term “sacrificial giving” is apparently another dysphemism adopted by teachers and preachers to try to lay a charge upon believers that just is not there.

The once and for all sacrifice is done, I don’t have to sacrifice “things” or “animals” anymore, but rather I’m to realize that all I have and all I am is God’s to do with as He please.  Then, it is a matter of being smart with my money, compassionate with my money, and generous with my money (and time, possessions, land, etc…) because they are His, not mine.  He promises to guide us, and we are expected to yield because we trust Him.  That’s faith.

 

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Spiritual Food and Physical Food

There is a new video making the rounds that has everyone talking, and rightfully so.  Here it is, in case anyone is interested:

I’ve seen this video being discussed in several Christian circles, and the comments are as expected and as warranted.  “This is how we should be,” “Christians need to wake up, and start doing more,” etc…  Again, this is all well and good, but there are several points I never see addressed, and will attempt to do so here.

First, it has to be pointed out that the situation portrayed here, and in some other Hindu sections of the world, are caused, in part, by the religion itself.  It was brought up peripherally in the video; Brahmins aren’t even supposed to associate with Untouchables.  That is the Hindu caste system; it is a built in part of their religion.  Why? Karma.  Don’t forget a main tenet of Hinduism; reincarnation.  You see, all those destitute people are destitute because of their past lives; they are reborn Untouchable because of something they did in a past life, so says Hinduism, so they deserve their lot in life.

I come from the Midwest USA.  We don’t have people this destitute, literally starving skeletons, living out on the street.  Even in places like Chicago and St. Louis, our poor are not living in the same conditions, and our dominant religion here, Christianity, stresses that these ARE the people that need compassion and love and help.  Christianity does not have a caste system with one group of humans deemed “untouchable.”  Quite the contrary.

Secondly, everyone that responds to this video does recognize that helping others that can’t help themselves is an admirable thing, something we should all keep in mind and strive to do.  However, one key aspect that is missed in the video and in conversation stemming from the video even amongst Christians is: Physical food is one thing, but is meaningless apart from Spiritual food.  Jesus Himself was quick to make this point, and it is a main tenet of the Christian faith.

Narayanan Krishnan, the man in the video, made the point that he feeds the body and the mind (or emotion).  He’s right, he does.  But humans are triune in nature, being made in the image of God.  Our body, mind, AND spirit needs fed.  You can physically make someone feel good, and mentally make them feel good, but in the end, at some point in time and for a myriad possible different reasons, that person is going to die.  If we only feed the physical and/or mental, it amounts to nothing.  Feeding the Spiritual and making sure someone is in right relationship with God culminates in eternal life.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes shows that Jesus clearly understood and acknowledged physical hunger, and cared for his disciples and those following Him around.  However, the events in John 6 also show what the stress should be placed on; Spiritual food.  The only spiritual food that is true and fulfilling are the words and teachings of Jesus Christ.  He is the bread of life.  If we do not tell others of Him while we are feeding them physical food, all our human effort is wasted. Time for a nice healthy chunk of food:

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

We see in John chapter 4,  the same is said of water:

John 4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Those fed physically will hunger again. Those given physical water will thirst again.  Those given the Truth of Christ, and those who accept it, will never hunger nor thirst again, spiritually.  When this life is left behind, those that have partaken of Christ spiritually, will have eternal life where hunger and thirst have no more meaning.  Now, will someone who is physically starving to death be able to hear, comprehend, and accept the gospel.  Probably not.  So, the physical and mental needs do need met, but to neglect the spiritual while feeding the other is not an act of mercy  with any lasting value.  Anyone who reads this and construes it as, “Well, then, I don’t need to help see to someone’s physical needs,” is fooling themselves.  As God guides us,we should be “hilarious givers,” we should be helping those who need it, through God’s provision to us…but more than anything people need Christ, if we feed the body without feeding the soul The Bread of Life, then it is cruelty masquerading as kindness.  It is feeding the body while letting the soul starve.

Believers need to realize that we have been given Living Water, and The Bread of Life, and be willing to help our fellow human beings body, mind, and soul, through God’s grace and His blessings.

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