Although yesterday was a voting day for the primaries for many locations I’m actually going to hit on another topic today. With only 34% of the registered voters showing up to vote at the location where I was at, I am guessing that no one will complain too much if I focus on something other than politics.
We just completed a teaching series called Deal or No Deal that looked at answering three basic questions for Christians and non-Christians so each could walk away with the same understanding of:
- What is Tithing?
- Where Does the Money Go?
- Why Should I Do it?
Considering the current economy and difficulty in obtaining jobs a lot of people expected to hear pitches asking people to give more money to the church, to charities, and/or to local organizations. But this was not a pitch. The goal was to simply answer the three questions above.
To the first question the answer is simple. Tithing is giving to God 10% of what He blesses you with. The expectation is that we would give freely out of the joy of having something to give. The joy comes not from the amount, but from acknowledging that God has blessed us, period. Tithing is also private and intimate. I believe that tithing is one of the most spiritually intimate things we can do. When we give our bodies, which we value above all else, to another it is as an act of physical intimacy. When we give our money, on which we place an extremely high value, especially in a bad economy, it is as an act of spiritual intimacy. For that reason, I strongly believe that non-Christians should not tithe. Who would give their hard earned and cherished money away to strangers? Likewise, if one does not know or have a relationship with God, why would or should they even try to tithe? Also no one should tithe out of fear. Giving money to anyone out of fear is basically being robbed. God is not in the business of robbing people.
The answer to the second question may vary from local congregation to local congregation but is generally the same regardless of denomination. Tithes that are received are generally used for the following purposes (although these are not the only purposes):
1) To support the people who are doing the ministry; this pays the salaries of the pastors, team leaders, and other ministry workers which may vary in each and every church. In most cases a board, or group of other personnel within the church or denomination will determine which positions constitute a salary. At CrossRoads we follow a principle I picked up from a previous pastor: If we ask someone to volunteer or do so much work on behalf of our local congregation that it interferes with their ability to earn a living then we have to consider paying a stipend, part time, or full time salary. The key is that we are asking them to make this contribution. There are many people have the time and resources to volunteer on a greater level than others. 2) To support the place of ministry; every building where a local celebration is held, school, coffee house, or whatever venue in which your congregation meets may require a mortgage, lease, rent, or even utilities be paid. If not, praise God, if it does, that is where the money will do. 3) The third place use of the tithe is to help those being ministered to by your congregation. Most churches have a fund set up to help the needy or they use the funds to run various ministries that reach out to those in need. At CrossRoads we do both. In addition, we just sent a team to Tennessee to help with flood relief and the tithes of the congregation paid for almost everything. We were so inspired to help that we came back and are taking up an additional collection, above and beyond the tithes of the congregation to use to help those impacted and displaced by the floods in Tennessee.
The answer to the third question of why should you tithe is multifaceted as well, and although biblically supported, many may still disagree…but nonetheless:
1) The first reason why a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ who has a relationship with God, should tithe is BECAUSE GOD SAYS SO. I know many people claim that tithing is an old testament concept and that is true. God revealed the concept of tithing to His followers throughout the Old Testament. However, nowhere in the New Testament does God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit repeal it. Being the one who instituted it God is the only one who can repeal it; not those who don’t want to do it. It is still a commandment from God to His followers. In fact, Jesus took the entire concept of giving to an entirely new level. He criticized the those who tithed religiously but without the relationship and gave His blessing to those who gave all they had regardless of the amount.
2) The second reason to tithe is because tithing creates a culture of giving. Giving is not about money. It is about using financial, material, and human resources to meet the needs of others. People who start tithing have less difficulty in giving other resources to meet needs.
3) The third reason to tithe is because tithing reflects the character of God. God is a giver. God created the universe and all that is in it for us according to Genesis and the Psalms; God gave the Israelites the land to possess it; and Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many. When we tithe we open the doorway to being givers and when we give we reflect the character of God.
So regardless of your denominational, political, or financial status…if you are a follower of Jesus Christ spend some time with God asking Him to reveal what He would have you do regarding tithing.