Friday, July 26, 2002
I realize that this is not a popular topic but I feel that I must address this issue before things get out of hand in the Christian community today. There are a lot of people talking about “Giving” when what we really need is a serious look at the subject of “Tithing.” I believer over-zealousness on the part of a few enthusiasts could lead to irresponsible squandering of financial resources by Christians at large.
Tithing comes from a word which means “tenth.” It is one tenth of all our worldly possessions that we give to God. This tradition harkens all the way back to the time of Abraham and represents the service that God expects of us. A tenth (tithe) is all that God requires of us as his servants. Anything more than that is a failure to faithfully discharge the bounty that God has placed in our hands. And keep in mind, when dropping that check into the offering plate make sure of several things:
Make sure you do it ostentatiously so others will see that you tithe weekly and learn to emulate your good example.
- Place the check face up so everyone can see the amount and be inspired to give just as generously.
- Mention often in conversation that you are a regular contributor to God’s service and that you expect them to do the same.
This leads to the question, “Should I tithe on my gross or my net pay?” This was answered by our Lord with the phrase, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto the Lord the things that are the Lord’s.” Clearly, the portion of our income that is withheld for taxes belongs neither to us, nor God but is rendered to our Caesar, the government. God surely does not expect us to tithe on our gross pay since it doesn’t even belong to us. And while we’re at it, other expenses like annuities, 401K contributions, insurance payments, union dues and the like don’t belong to us either so we cannot be expected to tithe on them. Our tithe needs to be calculated on our “increase” or the amount that we actually take home.
But lest you think I am being too easy on you, remember that God wants us to tithe on EVERYTHING including our time and talents. If you were to calculate the number of minutes in every day, you would find that a tithe of your time comes out to one day per week of your waking hours. We discharge this tithe by church attendance on Sundays. Anything more than this would be excessive and make us so spiritually minded we would be no earthly good.
The same is true of our talents. If we dedicate one day of talented performance a week to God, we can live the rest of the week to ourselves. If we put our skills to work one day a week for the Lord, the rest of the week belongs to us. Keep in mind that God doesn’t want our obligations to be burdensome. If he did, then he would ask for much more from our lives than merely a tenth. No, a tenth is all that God requires and that is all I am prepared to give.
Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:1 (NIV)
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