It happened again just the other day. A precious lady posted on Facebook her joy at being able to experience the blessing of being a tither. Predictably, the first comment that she received was from an equally precious gentleman who informed her that tithing was under the Law and that she should just give as she was led. Could you just be happy that she’s happy? I resisted the temptation to join the discussion, “Sir, I feel led to tithe!” But I really don’t want to start a fight, and online arguments rarely produce good fruit.
For some reason, the idea of the tithe is a common point of contention. So, to begin, let’s agree on two things: First, you don’t have to tithe if you don’t want to. It’s not a salvation issue, and it doesn’t make you a bad person if you don’t do it. In fact, if you don’t see it in Scripture and you can’t do it in faith, then please don’t tithe. On the other side of the issue, we who are committed tithers should remember that we are not appointed by God to convince everybody else. It’s not our job to be enforcers of the tithe. Most importantly, it’s unseemly to be mad about it. I feel sad, not mad, for those who are not tithers. They’re missing a blessing.
In 1979, when I first got serious about serving the Lord, I immediately started tithing. It was never a question for me. When I was a kid, the Baptist church preached it, and when I got among the Word of Faith folks, I just jumped right in. My first “teacher” was Kenneth Copeland preaching on the television, and I just did what he said. When I went to Bible school, the tithe was part of the orthodoxy of that group. I never really questioned it, and my finances improved markedly almost immediately. Thank You, Jesus!
When I got out into the ministry, I ran face-first into the debate. We had one guy in our church who adamantly believed the tithe should go directly to the Pastor, and offerings should support the church. I had deacons who wanted to tithe to me because they were mad at the church governing board. Then I started getting nasty notes that said I was a Pharisee because tithing is under the Law and not for us today. One lady told me that I was greedy and trying to control the giving of God’s people for my own enrichment. Really? Thank God, those were pre-internet days, so folks at least had to spend a stamp to send me their anonymous complaints.
Throughout my ministry “career,” I have attempted to find answers to controversies regarding faith and practice by looking to the Scripture. I’ve made every effort to do so on the subject of the tithe. I know that honest people have real questions:
- Was tithing just under the Mosaic law, and therefore no longer available to us?
- If the tithe is applicable to the New Covenant, how does God view it? Is it “law” or is it something else. What are the repercussions of not tithing?
- If the tithe is not for the Church, then how is the work of the local church supported? Is our paradigm completely off?
- What about practical issues such as how to figure the tithe and where to put it? We’re not farmers, so10% of what?
- And so on…
Hopefully, we can find answers to most of these questions. But, for those who remain unconvinced, here is Stokes’s theory of disagreement: I will give you the benefit of the doubt. If you disagree with me, I will credit you with having thoroughly and honestly researched the subject. I will believe that you have searched your own heart for selfish motives. I will trust that your only interest is the glory of God and the expansion of His Kingdom. Please, give me the same consideration.
No matter your opinion, tithing is not a salvation issue. The Lordship of Jesus Christ unites us. Disagreements about the tithe can’t change that. However, if tithing is for us, then I want to know it. If it’s not, then I want to know that, too. My responsibility is two-fold: I want to obey God myself, and I want to be able to boldly build the faith of those to whom I preach. To do that, I must be convinced.
As a committed tither for all my Christian life, I look at the giving statistics in the United States and my jaw drops almost as far as my heart sinks. Over the last several decades, the percentage of tithers among those who claim to be committed Christians runs somewhere around 5% in most studies. In fact, about one third of professing evangelicals say they don’t support their church financially at all. I guess they just “don’t feel led.” Can you say, “Oh, me!”?
Somebody Said: Over the years I have found that many of the richest people in the world began their lives with the habit of tithing. Robert Kiyosaki
Scripture Reading: Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Malachi 3:10 ESV)
Here’s the point: From a purely personal standpoint, I want tithing to be for me. I want it to be true because it promises me benefits beyond my comprehension. I want it to be true because it holds the promise of blessing to the believer, and through the believer to the Church, and through the Church to the world. Please God, let me tithe!!! Let it be unto me according to my faith: I believe tithing is for us today and that the benefits are myriad, therefore I say it, I receive it, and thank God it works! Truth is, I know a number of Christian folks who would have to cut way back on their giving to get it down to 10%. None of them has ever complained to me about it.
Malachi reported that God challenged Israel to put Him to the test by bringing the tithe to the storehouse. So, try it. You might like it! Bring 10% of what comes into your house this week to your local church. Tell the Lord, “OK. I’m trying it. Here’s my tithe. Now, show me.” You might be in for a shock.
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