What the heck about tithing?

29 Oct

Misunderstandings and questions usually arise when the topic turns to tithing. “Is it tithing whenever I put anything in the offering plate?” I’ve seen a commitment card filed out where a couple checked they were tithing, and said they gave $25 per week. If they genuinely were tithing that would mean their combined annual income (both of them were employed) was $13,000. One was a plant manager and the other a school administrator. They were either being extremely poorly underpaid, or they misunderstood just what tithing is. Tithing is a certain amount; 10% of whatever we receive invested in the cause of Jesus through the church with whom he has led you to serve. “Is it 10% of gross income or net?” For me, its net-which is what I actually receive. Others tithe their gross, but I see no reason to argue about it. Tithing net or gross will show your love for the Lord, your dedication to his cause and your faith in him to provide for all your needs.
“Isn’t tithing just an Old Testament thing?” Tithing did start in the Old Testament-way back in the beginning. And throughout the Old Testament it is taught as the standard for what the Lord wants from us to invest together on his cause.
“But Jesus never said anything about tithing.” Three things about Jesus and tithing: 1. He was there when the idea of tithing was first shared with the people of God-way back in the Old Testament. Jesus was on earth in flesh and blood for 30+ years, but he eternally existed in the unity of God-Father, Son & Holy Spirit. 2. He didn’t say a lot about anything that had been clearly communicated by God-things like not killing people, and not having affairs and not wanting what other people have or not worshiping idols. Tithing was one of those things clearly communicated by God. 3. Actually he did say something about tithing. He said you do well to do it (Luke 2:42).
“Should I tithe savings or just whatever I receive going forward?” If you feel led to tithe what you have saved, then by all means do so, but I believe the Lord is fine with us beginning the practice with our very next paycheck and keeping at it. Those living a Jesus centered life understand that we get a fresh start at following Jesus anytime we need it. To me, tithing is one of those fresh start things.
“Is it OK if I give some of my tithe to the church and some to other charitable organizations?” For my money no other organization spends 100% on the cause of Jesus, or is specifically empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so. I feel led to give the full 10% to the church with whom I serve and then give beyond that to other causes as led by the Lord to do so.
“Am I a bad person if I don’t tithe?” There are many reasons why people decide not to tithe, but being bad probably isn’t one of them. Tithing is not a matter of being good or bad (Jesus said only God is good). It is a matter of showing our love and trust to God.
“What if I just don’t have the faith to jump in for the full 10%?” Tithing as a component of our entire faith is a journey. Some have the faith to leap right in, others may feel led to first learn how to make room for it in their finances, for still others what seems to work best is to choose a percentage (1%,3%, 5%) and give that every time they get paid. And then when nudged by the Lord to do so, move up a percentage.
You don’t have to agree with me on this (or anything else) but I believe everyone can tithe-right now-no matter what. I believe that because I don’t believe the Lord would ask that of us if we were unable to do it. It’s not that we are unable to do it; it’s that we are unwilling to do it. If you want to try that principle on I encourage you to take Heartsong’s 3 Month Try Tithing Money Back Guarantee.
Here’s how it works: you check on the response card at one of celebrations that you want to take on the 3 Month Try Tithing thing (or you can call or email Jathaniel or me about it). We will take the difference between what you have been giving and your tithe and bank it for 3 months. We will not touch it. Jathaniel and I will pray for you everyday of the 3 months. If at the end of that time you do not feel you have been blessed for having done it, the tribe will refund your money. Just contact me or Jathaniel to let us know you want to take on that challenge. This is no joke; I mean it. I’m convinced that if you try tithing for 3 months you will grow deeper in your love for God, grow deeper as a Jesus follower, open your heart and mind to receive more from your relationship with God than you have previously known and experience deep down soul satisfaction in funding the cause of Jesus on this earth. And if I’m wrong about that I am more than willing to refund your money. OK, now that I’ve laid out some stuff about tithing I would love to hear your questions and comments. Holler back.

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2 Responses to “What the heck about tithing?”

  1. Kevin October 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Steve, good stuff and you raise a couple of interesting questions that I have wrestled with over time. Gross or net? I went with gross. Side note: how about a cool bumper sticker that says “Tithing is Gross!” Maybe not. To the temple or spread across other missions? Still wrestling with that one. Regardless, we have never missed the money we have tithed. I’m sure we could always find something else to spend it on, but we have never gone without something we needed (even during the several months I was looking for a job), and tithing has been one of the primary contributors to our spiritual growth. I love how God works through our faith to let go of something like money, and returns the blessing in so many other ways.

    • stevestonesr October 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      I love the “Tithing is Gross” bumper sticker. You have inspired me to go the gross route if the Lord ever leads me drop back down to a tithe.

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