Notes on Tithing
Now concerning the collection for the saints,
as I have given order to the churches of Galatia,
even so do ye. (1Co 16:1)
Last Sunday at church service, the Pastor announced he was suspending the regular preaching and teaching so he could appeal to the congregation on the subject of tithing.
He talked about the lagging behind of various church programs, and the cost of them. Also, about how the music director and himself were barely able, if at all to get a salary every month. Well, these are important things. The buses do pick up children, who otherwise would not attend church. And, after all, what is more important than children establishing a relationship with Jesus? Nothing that I can think of.
However, I noticed his tone and demeanor changed. He spoke that if we would just sacrifice a cappuccino coffee, and fast food, these needs might just be met. you could almost hear from the congregation a collective sigh, "Yes, that is me". I can agree, to once in a while starve the "pig" in my flesh!.
He also noted, that when we give, it is the responsibility of the clergy and leadership to pray over the offering, and decide what and where it should go.
He then had then us turn to Malachi, Chapter three. (Have you heard this one before?)
Do Not Rob God
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Mal 3:8-10)
He ended the service with an appeal to open our wallets and give as we have never given before.
Now, I know there is Kingdom principals in giving. I do not care to enter into prosperity theology. I want to raise some other questions.
1) Why must the church turn to Old Testament scriptures to highlight the need of giving in the New Testament church. Yes, the entire Bible is the inspired and God breathed WORD. If you are going to continually use Malachi 3, when we do not give a tithe, why do we ignore the TWO other Old Testament commanded tithes?
- Tithe 1/3 of every three years. (Deu 14:22)
- Tithe 23% annually. (Deu 14:28-29)
I am no trained Bible theologian, but I cannot find tithing mentioned in the New Testament. Except where Jesus Himself condemned those who ill-treated the practice. I am assuming that their hearts were not right in the matter of giving.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Mat 23:23)
But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luk 11:42)
The Apostle Paul talked about and appealed to his churches he oversaw about "...the collection for the saints..." (I Co 16:1). Romans 15:26 spoke of a "...to make a certain contribution for the poor saints". Acts 11:29 also, of a need for "...every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren". This to my understanding, is an appeal based on the love he had toward the poor and needy in the church body.
I would conclude that Paul, when he appealed for help with himself, or his fellow co-workers, he hoped they would give based upon the abundance of their hearts first, and then on the abundance of their wealth. "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." (Php 4:12)
I may sound calloused, but I do not think the modern church should be beating over the head of the sheep Scriptures that guilt trip them into giving more. Church buildings, programs and salary requirements are small potatoes compared to the examples given to us by the primitive church.
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. (Rom 5:3-5)
Yes, this produces the habit of joyful and confident giving.