This article about tithing and giving to the Lord is from Dogwood ministries, and I highly recommend checking them out.
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If you’ve been a Christian any time at all, it’s very likely that you’ve heard it said that tithing is a requirement for Christians. But is this true? Brace yourself… the answer is… no, it’s not true. Tithing was a part of the Old Testament law… the law that no longer controls our lives as Christians… the law that was nailed to the cross with Jesus. (Colossians 2:14-17) I know that probably goes against everything you’ve heard about tithing, but if we’re going to live according to God’s word, we have to live according to all of it. While the tithe is commanded in the Old Testament, it’s only mentioned two times in the entire New Testament, and neither of those mentions is a commandment to tithe.
Does this mean that Christians aren’t supposed to give at all? Again, the answer is no! In fact, Christians should give just as much as the Old Testament 10% tithe, possibly even more! The big difference is the motivation we have for our giving. As a matter of fact, the concept of the tithe is still very evident in that our giving should be proportional to our income. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul tells us, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
The Hebrews were commanded to give a tenth (10%) of their income. This money served to keep the temple running and to provide an income for the priests. Today, the decision on how much to give is left to each person. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Now, if you’ve been tithing all your life, this may be a difficult concept to handle. If so, and if you are comfortable with using 10% as a guideline for your giving, then keep using it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. The difference will be why you’re giving. The most important reason should be a desire to bring glory to God… and next, to be obedient. God wants us to acknowledge that everything we have actually belongs to Him and is only “on loan” to us.
But does this mean we should give everything we have? No, of course not! God doesn’t intend for us to put ourselves into poverty. It would be rather silly to give everything you have so others might have their needs met and leave yourself without a way to provide for your own needs and those of your family!
But what about the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30? Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v.21) Doesn’t this mean that we all have to go sell everything we have and give the money to the poor? Isn’t that what the early Christians did? Didn’t they sell everything, pool their resources and live in communes? The answer to both of these questions is no, again!
In the case of the rich young man, Jesus gave him that commandment because the Lord knew that the young man’s “god” was his money and possessions. For him, the only way to get his focus off of money and onto the Lord would be to get rid of his “god”.
As far as the early church is concerned, read this description in Acts 4:32-35, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” So, those who had property and wealth didn’t claim their possessions as their own, but they did hold onto them until there was a need. Then, “from time to time”, they would sell property as needed to make sure that everyone had his needs met. That’s a far cry from communal living.
Although this should not be our motivation for giving, the blessing associated with the tithe is still in effect. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
We’ve established that tithing isn’t in effect for Christians, but giving definitely is, and the blessing associated with the tithe is also. So, to what or to whom should we give? Obviously, our first thought is our churches. Churches cost money to run. There are buildings to buy or build and then maintain. There are supplies that are needed. There are salaries to be paid. But our churches aren’t the only place we can choose for our giving…
For instance, in Galatians 6:6, Paul tells us, “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” So, if we are being taught from God’s word by someone or through some ministry outside of our church, we “must” give to that person or ministry. In fact, Paul gave quite a “dressing down” to the church at Corinth when they complained about being told to give him and Barnabas money! (See 1 Corinthians 9:4-12) Paul also explained this concept to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:18, saying, “For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’”.
Other places we can give include the poor, those in prison, various ministries, and any time we see a need that we can fill, like when a family loses everything in a house fire or storm. So, as you can see, if we limit God to the 10% tithe, giving only to our local church, there are many, many needs that would not be met. And this brings us back to the scripture we where we started, ““Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Each of us knows how much money we have available… and we know what our monthly or weekly budget is. We should allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our giving, letting Him show us how much to give and to whom or to what we should give. There are only two other very important things to remember…
First, we should never become legalistic about giving. That means, if you feel like you have to give, you’re being legalistic. If you feel like you’re earning “points” with God by giving, you’re being legalistic. If you’re giving in order to receive blessings from God, you’re being legalistic. Your only motivation for giving should be your desire to bring glory to God… if you’re doing that, you’re not being legalistic!
Last, we should give cheerfully, as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says… That means that you get more excited about giving than the person or entity that you’re giving to will be upon receiving! That means that you can hardly wait to give to that person or entity, and anticipate it like a kid waiting for Christmas!
Examine your giving in light of what God says. Are you giving in accordance with God’s word? If not, you should prayerfully consider beginning to give today… and be sure to get excited about it!
©2012 Dogwood Ministries, Inc.