Offerings Become Charity
After They Become Tithes
For some people tithing appears, at least on paper, to be a great sacrifice. They think they will not be able to survive financially without that money. But tithing is never said to represent a sacrifice or even a loss. This is one area in which God promises to bless us abundantly. In fact, we are told to test God to see if He won’t multiply our blessings in return.
Malachi 3:10 says,
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me (test or try me) now herewith, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
In no other way are we allowed to test or try God. Jesus referred to this as “tempting” God and said it was not to be done, generally speaking. Only in the matter of the tithe are we allowed to test God and even expected to do so.
You have no reason, however, to claim God’s material blessing on your life if you don’t commit to this offering. Put Him to the test and see what happens but remember, tithing is obedient giving not sacrificial giving and the Bible teaches that God’s special blessing will be on those who obey.
There is such a thing as sacrificial giving but you can never qualify as a sacrificial giver if you are not consistently tithing first. The tithe is not a sacrifice. It belongs to God.
Tithing Is Not Charity
Charity can be qualified in several ways:
- One, it involves giving to the desperate needs of others (those less fortunate than ourselves).
- Two, it is only given out of our abundance. That is, we give something because we can afford to give.
- Three, it usually never really meets the need. The poor we will always have with us.
- Four, it is only done occasionally. In fact, it is often done spontaneously not by budget.
- Five, it honors the giver, not God. Donors are applauded for being generous to charitable causes. God’s name never appears on the plaques.
Tithing is none of those things. It is an expression of your obedience to and dependence on God and it encourages humility. God doesn’t want or need your charity. He does, however, require your commitment, and one of the ways you demonstrate commitment is by giving regularly and consistently from the income you receive.
If you give only occasionally or when your heart has been touched by a need you are not regular. If you give anything other than a set percent you aren’t consistent. Tithing is never an act of condescension. Charity can be!
Charity is not bad or wrong but it is wrong to treat God charitably. Charity can be a wonderful thing but it is not tithing. Charity is a type of sacrificial giving in which you can engage only after you have given your tithe.
It is important to understand that tithing is being dutiful, not gracious. We are being gracious when we give over and above the tithe. We are being dutiful when we give what is not ours to keep. The tithe belongs to God. Once we commit to giving the tithe consistently and regularly then we can think about being charitable.
Tithing focuses your attention on God and is an expression of loyalty to Him. Giving beyond the tithe focuses our attention on others and is what we do to demonstrate a genuinely sacrificial attitude. Tithing followed by charitable contributions humbles us. Trying to be charitable before we tithe makes us condescending (and humbles only the person to which we give).
By the way, tithes can be contributed to charitable causes once given but for the tither, it is still neither a sacrifice nor charity.
Disclaimer: Admittedly, one-third of the tithe was earmarked for the poor so donating money to charitable causes doesn’t break with any principles in the Scriptures. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to donate a third directly to charitable causes or work through your church but I believe it is a legitimate option either way.
In Tithing, Douglas Leblanc provides much more than a narrow discussion on a traditional issue. It isn’t the same old arguments presented the same boringly technical way.
Instead, and probably because he is “no theologian or exegetical writer,” Douglas has found an intriguing way to cut to the real heart of the issue. He shares the experiences of eleven different couples and one lone Monsignor, all of whom endorse tithing for a very similar reason: selflessness.