A little boy in church for the first time watched as the ushers passed around the offering plates. When they came near his pew, the boy said loudly, “Don’t pay for me, Daddy, I’m under five.” Pin This Post for Later!
Why Do Christians Take an Offering
In the old testament, the Jews were under Mosaic Law, a covenant God forged with Mosses as he led them out of Egypt into Israel. Many laws for the Jews were established in this time including the tithe.
30 “Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man decides to redeem any part of this tenth, he must add a fifth to its value. 32 Every tenth animal from the herd or flock, which passes under the shepherd’s rod, will be holy to the Lord. 33 He is not to inspect whether it is good or bad, and he is not to make a substitution for it. But if he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute will be holy; they cannot be redeemed.” Leviticus: 27:30-34
How Offerings Have Changed in 21 Century
In talking with friends, I found that many do believe we need to tithe because God requires it. Most in the Christian circle have a grasp on the meaning of the scripture above. Yet when you dig a little deeper there are other reasons. The following are the two main reasons I believe the average middle-aged American tithes.
- The Price of Admission to the Place of Worship
- To Shore Up in Heaven More For Ourselves
Offering As the Price of Admission to Church
I began to think this a while back. “We pay to go to the movies, mall, out to eat, the church is providing a service why are we not contributing to what we use,” I pondered.
It occurred to me again, at the coffee bar before church, when my sons dumped half the carton of creamer into their 16 oz travel mugs, “Ugh,” I thought, “that was expensive we need to add some to the basket for that!”
Paul admonishes the church in Corinth for not taking care of their own community. The Lord’s suppers at that time were truly meals and those who did not have to work got to the supper early. While those who did have to work came later to find only crumbs left.
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 1 Corinthians 11: 20
Jesus, as a poor itinerant preacher with no place to lay his head at night, made the church open to all. No matter if they could pay dues or not.
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3: 17-18
Jesus offered a way to look at tithing through the eyes of God. Radical giving and sacrificial giving are not just a per use fee.
An Insurance Policy to Make Sure We Have Treasure in Heaven
A man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who led him down the golden streets. They passed stately homes and beautiful mansions until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a rundown cabin. The man asked St. Peter why he got a hut when there were so many mansions he could live in. St. Peter replied, “I did the best with the money you sent us.”
Is placing money in the offering plate a way to make sure God will allow us into Heaven? As a recovering controlling person, this is something I struggle with a lot.
I want to do the right things so God will love me. If I tithe the right amount, faithfully or to the right cause, all will be well with my heavenly relationship; God will love me more.
This is a performance-based love strategy that we as humans employ with each other. If I do it right, then I will get the reward. As early as Genesis, we can see humans trying to make packs with God to control the outcomes.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth. Genesis 28:20
It is not God who asks for a tenth of Jacob’s wealth. God actually tells Jacob in the verse prior to his deal-making that he will give him everything without condition.
There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.d 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
Nothing required and full provision was given. What was Jacob’s need to control the situation rather than step into the blessing?
The giving of 10% was Jacob’s idea not God’s. Scripture does not say, if God accepted or rejected Jacobs proposal.
Offering To God
Come let us reason together. If God owns it all to start with, does He really need our money, time and talents to fulfill His plans? On the way to the cross, Jesus told the Pharisees that if He told the crowds to be quiet the rocks would cry out.
As a church, we are expected to give to the poor and support our church communities with radical generosity. Jesus also instructs us not to save up treasure here on earth where “months and rust” will destroy them. Yet there is still a deeper reason a loving God asks us to give. The authors of God and Money lay this out beautifully:
“Jesus’ message goes much deeper than simply transferring assets to a safer bank however, Jesus words offer a sharp insight into sinful human nature, we are naturally wired to focus on hoarding wealth and are prone to narcissistic consumption. To the extent we focus on our earthly treasure we run the risk of becoming corrupted by materialism, selfishness and greed. Conversely focusing on our heavenly treasure enables us to experience God’s holy blessings of selflessness, service and peace.”
Generous and aware, God is again offering us the opportunity to save ourselves from ourselves. Learning the lesson of giving is not about what God needs; but what we need.
Timmy didn’t want to put his money in the offering plate Sunday morning, so his mother decided to use some hurried creative reasoning with him.
“You don’t want that money, honey,” she whispered in his ear. “Quick! Drop it in the plate. It’s tainted!”
Horrified, the little boy obeyed.
After a few seconds he whispered, “But, mommy, why was the money tainted? Was it dirty?
“Oh, no dear,” she replied. “It’s not really dirty. It just ‘taint yours, and it ‘taint mine,” she replied. “It’s God’s.”
More On God And Money–Pin This Post to Share
5 Biblical Reasons to Manage Your Money that Will Change Your Life
Why Study the Financial Wisdom of a Woman of Valor
pinned to money management board. I appreciated the logic, the reality, and the humor of this post! Thanks!
Tanya Gioia says
Thanks Tammy – money really is only a tool.
This is a very thoughtful and fun post. I look forward to ready more of your posts!
Tanya Gioia says
Thank Brenda. Please, this is part of a series so your thoughts are wonderful.