I had been tithing for a while. Trying to stay in the 1O% range. In fact, I made a deal with God. I tithe faithfully on all of it and He blesses my business. Right?
Malachi 3:9. Test me an see that I won’t bring all that into the storehouse.
Tithing regularly to our home church made me feel pretty O.K. about myself. I was not “robbing God”; the business was progressing. God and I were associates. Each doing their part with me leading the way.
Is Tithing a Business Deal?
I tried to give cheerfully, but mostly I gave expectantly. Expecting that the money would somehow get back in the bank before rent came do the following month.
If I did my part, give 10%, God surely is not a welsher.
Feeling super smug I even stressed to my husband the importance of tithing and not “robbing” God. Besides, if my husband wanted financial blessings, then he needed to do his tithing duty.
Then God Asked Me
In my prayer time, God asked me to stop tithing. Really? This is one area of my life I felt I was getting right. Stop! really?
Really God? After taking all the budgeting classes? After spending all that time reading The Prosperous Soul, The Shrewd Christian, Crown Financial and Dave Ramsey trying to figure out my deep-rooted issues with money.
I called my preacher and told him. He said, if God says stop, then stop. “But I am so proud of my giving,” I whined, “It makes me feel good about myself.”
There it was falling out of my mouth onto the altar. I felt great pride in my contributions to the church. I boasted about me. I even boasted about me to my husband. When the offering plate came around, I felt smug that my check auto drafted into the church every 5th of the month.
How God Expects Us to Give: A Frame Work
David Croteau in his work Tithing After the Cross outlines scriptures clear picture on giving. First and foremost are the intentions of our heart.
Paul encourages new Christians to meditate on the grace extended to us by God. We did not deserve or earn our relationship or salvation from or with God. God offers us unsurpassable grace according to Paul. Unsurpassable on a scale means a degree that exceeds any line on the scale. So full and overflowing that it can not be measured.
Overwhelmed with thankfulness our acts of giving are acts of worship with Grace as the driving factor.
God’s freely giving of Himself to us sets the standard for our relationships. Choosing to spend time in a relationship with God in worship, seeking his will, thanking him for our very lives and gifts we have and will yet receive, this changes our selfish desires towards others and God.
Generous giving is a response that grounds us in our relationship to our community and God. 2 Corinthians 8:8
Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Christ gave up His life out of love for us. Focusing on Grace while drawing closer to God fills us. We then become so full we want to share the love with others.
Generous giving is a way to show this love. To act as Jesus did to give beyond what is expected.
Motivations for Christian Giving
Jesus speaks clearly about being motivated to give by specific desires. Giving to be seen by others is its own reward. God does not reward giving for self-aggrandizement or fulfillment. Matthew 6:14.
Giving freely to God causes us to organize our hearts in the following four ways:
A thankful heart is not stingy. Recognizing all that God gives us with gratitude compels us to respond generously. The apostle Paul expresses this type of thankfulness in his letter to the Philippians.
A Desire to Grow Spiritually
Giving prepares us for the life of good works Jesus prepared for us. Sacrificial and generous giving lets us dig deep into the soul. This creates both a material and spiritual harvest. Giving displays our desires to act faithfully with all that God places in our hands. God does not need us to further his work, but offers us the opportunity and benefit that comes from giving to others. Just as He gives to us out of love; we are also directed to do the same.
Praise of God
Jesus praises the sacrifice of giving. When Jesus tells the parable of the poor widow, He expresses God’s desire for us to be trusted with our very lives. Mark 12:42-44
Paul praises the Macedonian church for “giving beyond their ability”; which is not so much about the size of the gift by the sacrificial heart of the gift.
Proper stewardship is also praised in Matthew 25:21. Who does not want to hear the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
As Christians, the comforts and desires of the here and now need not be our only concern. Jesus directs us to not store up treasures on this earth to be eaten by “moths and rust.”
Generous giving in all areas of our lives is part of the Gospel. The early church in the book of Acts reflects Christians giving to each other out of love and realization that an eternal life lifted much of the importance of temporal possessions.
Tithing is not a Business Deal Between You And God
Tithing, giving a 10th of what you earn, is only the start. It is the “training wheels” for giving. Giving is voluntary not mandated in the New Testament. It is an opportunity to grow closer to God, to live the Jesus narrative by doing exactly what God does–create, love, and give.
God does not give to get. Nor does he love to be loved. The rays of sunshine fall on all people and the rain falls on the crops of the righteous and the unrighteous.
If tithing is not a business deal, not a give to get, or even a command to be followed, then what is it?
It is first and foremost an act of love. As Paul says, each man must discern for himself how much to offer according to his prosperity.
So are we asking the wrong question?
As I pondered this and read several books searching scripture for the answer, I compiled the following article.
I am interested in your thoughts on the subject. What were you taught about tithing and its meaning? What do you actually do now? Do you know why?