.....My views on Christianity, the world and other general musings and meditations.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Christian Tithing

Unbelievers often view tithing as just the church gathering money for itself from silly followers, but Christians view it from a perspective of being a follower of Jesus and some thing we must do. All money really belongs to God and so does the church. The church needs money to function in this world, pastor's salaries, bills, missions and helping the poor, the list could be endless. God doesn't just drop the money out of the sky, but allows believers to share in His church's work and growth, this giving includes bringing Him glory and worship, plus us growing in love, discipline and becoming more like Jesus.

I do have two issues with modern church tithing, one being the 10% strict tithing, the other is modern automatic electronic tithing.

I have recently watched a number of DVD lessons on tithing by a well-known US pastor, run by our church on Sunday mornings. I must say that much of what was said does not sit comfortably with me. There was talk of strict 10% tithing and if you don't, you are stealing from God and basically under a curse! It didn't sit right with me because all of the 10% tithing rules seemed to be only supported by old testament scriptures, nearly nothing from the new testament. Nothing that could be applied to new testament Christians. Surely new converts just after Jesus would have had issues with handing over money and Paul would have enforced 10% tithing if it was so important (especially with a curse involved)! Paul seems to always say the opposite, that we are no longer under a curse of any type, but free in Christ, this also involves our giving. Paul states that 'God loves a cheerful giver' (not a forced one) and we are free to give as much as we want, this of course is through love, which working properly will want us to give more than 10%! The 10% is just a good guideline for giving, but not a 'law'!

This link below gives a good introduction into what I mean.

My second concern is the modern view of automatic electronic tithing (which was also talked about in the DVD) which is often mentioned in our church and others. I'm not having a shot at any Christians who do this (there may be important reasons), but I do think that personal hands-on giving is better! As Paul said in 1 Corithians 6:12,

"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial".

also written as,

 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful".

Electronic giving is easy and you don't really have to think about it, it does get to where it's suppose to, but I would say, where is the worship and discipline?

When I go to get my 'tithing' money (the money and amount I give in love), I do it as worship before God and angels, bringing God glory. I carry it as an act of worship, I physically put it in the church basket as an act of worship before God, angels and people. Where is the worship (besides the quick actual electronic transaction) every week in automatic tithing?

Hands-on tithing also involves discipline every week, getting money, setting it aside and putting it in and not forgetting it! God wants us to have discipline and growth, and also to worship Him in many various ways. Where is the discipline in electronic giving? Once organised you can just forget about it. Not much personal discipline or growth will happen there!

Another problem that can also occur is that pastors become use to a certain amount coming automatically each week. This many help run the church, but the temptation may come to forget about God who supplies it and rely on the banks instead. Pastors will be happy with fixed amounts, but how quickly will it force a pastor to his knees in prayer, when the amount doesn't ever drop or change? No, I think it's most beneficial for a pastor to totally rely on God, especially like the great men of God did in the past!

There is also the temptation for pastors to check how often and how much certain people are giving (as was done by the pastor for personal reasons, in the DVD), almost certainly breaking federal laws on privacy! I would rather only God and I knew about my tithing.

These are some of my reasons for tithing to be done in certain ways, in ways that give other believers and me freedom, growing  love, increasing worship and discipline and growth.

1 Corinthians 10:23 can also be applied,

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up".

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