23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
Talking about money in American Church is a sure-fire way to get people uncomfortable. Talking about tithing usually brings up all sorts of mixed up beliefs about the tithe and how we should treat giving to the church. The doctrine we usually hear falls somewhere in one of the following statements:
“We don't need to tithe anymore, it's part of the old covenant. Jesus never taught the disciples about tithing.”
Answer: There's lots of things in the old covenant that are applicable in the new covenant. For instance, not murdering. Not murdering is a good thing for your life (and those around you). Not worshipping any other god except The Lord Almighty, again is a good commandment for both covenants. As seen in verse 23 of the scripture above, Jesus clearly says tithing is a good thing.
2. “I will tithe when I can afford it.”
Answer: The truth is you cannot afford not to tithe. Money is an inanimate object but clearly God uses money as ruler to measure trust in our hearts. And, because all of us fall short of being free from money and materialism, in his Grace, he gives us tithing to free us. Will tithing make you rich? Probably not, but it will slowly chisel at your heart until you're able to really be generous with your finances and teach you that your money was never yours to begin with. Most people who don’t tithe, only know generosity when it is convenient. Jesus teaches generosity as a lifestyle.
3. “The Church just wants money.”
Answer: Neither God or the Church needs your money. God will accomplish his purposes in the church with or without your permission and your resources. He does give us the honor of participating in his mission with a simple discipline called the tithe. The fact that all of us are called to at least 10% protects us from falling into both self-righteousness and feeling not invested.
4. “You're not saved if you're not tithing.”
Answer: This is what Jesus was addressing with the pharisee in Matthew 23. If you're using your tithe as a way to affirm your righteousness you're in a dangerous place. If tithing doesn't reveal the grace and mercy of Jesus dwelling in your life, you're missing the point. Imagine hypothetically, if you decided to give someone an income and ask them to give you 10 percent back so that they would not fall in love with the money you're giving to them. Now, imagine that person using the 10 percent they gave back to you, as a way to show others how generous they are. Seems silly doesn’t it? That’s what you look like to the Father when self-righteousness creeps in.
Tithing does not validate your faith. The tithe is a tool to prevent you from worshipping provision over the provider. Tithing empowers you to steward well what has been freely given to you.
Tithing really is a blessing for those who have learned to walk in the discipline. Though like most disciplines it takes time, grace and commitment to learn. If you’re not tithing, please don’t feel condemned by this post, but do consider walking in a greater measure of freedom through the tithe.