This Is A No-Brainer
Faith is an important part of our lives. Pleasing God is the desire of every sincere Christian and that can only be done by exercising faith. Hebrews 11:6 says . . .
Without faith it is impossible to please him (God) . . .
But disjointed, inconsistent, poorly organized, confused efforts, however sincere, are never expressions of faith. “Faith” and “faithful” are cousins. It ain’t faith if it ain’t consistent and orderly.
In fact, the Bible further says all things must be done decently and in order, i.e., in a structured fashion (1 Corinthians 14:40). This principle applies to everything we do: worship, preaching, teaching, social events, goal setting and even giving.
We organize worship services, write messages for preaching and lessons for teaching, arrange details for events and set (and adjust) goals for monitoring progress and we do these things routinely. Everyone agrees with this approach. No one needs an explanation. When it isn’t done this way someone is held accountable.
But, when it comes to giving, we live by a different rule.
- No set amount is required. Give what you feel like giving.
- Consistency is not required. Give when it is convenient or when circumstances allow.
- Consensus is not required. Give only to purposes you agree to.
And this represents a highly disorganized approach to giving. There is nothing “orderly” here. It encourages extreme individualism which accords well with obsessive attitudes toward personal rights but it does nothing to encourage the community approach to serving God.
God is served best when we work together in every area including our finances and tithing gives everyone equal input. It is the best way to express faith with our money and is an expression of faith in two ways.
One, we are giving what we think is necessary for our living. In most cases that isn’t actually true but to give your tithes consistently is to act contrary to conventional financial wisdom and that makes us feel foolish. In this regard there are several human ideas that militate against our willingness to tithe. We think:
- There might be unforeseen financial consequences for which we will not be prepared.
- It will be unpopular. Friends and associates (possibly even family members) will think we are crazy for giving our money away.
- We will loose some of our financial freedom. Most people live to the limit of their financial resources. The tithe represents a ten percent adjustment that will have to be made.
All of these possibilities represent opportunities to trust God. He has promised to sustain us. When we tithe we are trusting God rather than our ability to control the circumstances of life.
Note: I do not believe in a “Prosperity Gospel” but there is reason to believe God will use financial management as a tool to change your life. He will always meet your “need” materially and He will use the experience to make you a better person.
There is a second way in which tithing is an expression of faith. When we tithe we are giving into a public fund and that means we loose control of the money we give.
The truth is, you can only give your tithe you cannot designate it (you can designate anything above your tithe but not the tithe). How the church spends the money is another issue altogether.
Tithing is very much like taxes in that sense. When we pay our taxes we loose control of the money. It’s placed in the control of individuals and departments who are responsible to the public for how they spend or manage those monies.
The people who manage the money are accountable but no one has the option not to pay taxes because some person or department misspent the money and I doubt any tax payer is completely happy with the way the money is spent even when indiscretions are not involved.
Everyone has an equal say in how the money is spent but no one has the right to withhold the money because it isn’t spent the way they wish.
I have known of people who withheld their tithes and even avoided public worship because things weren’t done the way they wanted. The truth is, if your giving doesn’t contribute to a collective effort the impact is diminished. If your worship doesn’t include a collective expression how much effect can it have.
If you are looking for a church where everyone agrees with you don’t bother. If you are looking for a place where people manage money exactly like you do keep looking. Your best bet is to find the best most effective church you can find and consistently make a contribution.
Giving into a public fund can make us frustrated and nervous but these are the conditions under which faith is expressed best.
And tithing does give structure to your faith. There is no question that the Bible teaches we are to give. Every knowledgeable teacher/reader of the Bible agrees that giving is an expression of your faith and is clearly taught in the Bible.
The only legitimate questions about giving are how much and how often and that is where all the misdirection occurs. People deny tithing but provide very little guidance for giving other than “let the Spirit lead you” which can mean just about anything.
Not even God instructs us to give without qualifying His instruction. Telling a person to give without telling them how much or how often is like throwing them in the dark.
- If we give to “meet the need” we must give everything and still not meet the need.
- If we give when we can “afford it” we usually give very little and only on the odd occasion.
The ministries that need financial support don’t operate that sporadically. Tithing, however, leads every Christian to give the same proportional amount and in the same frequency. That represents structured faith, structure in each person’s life and structure in the community as a whole.
Without specific instructions on when and how much to give we are left with whimsical, sporadic, occasional, disorganized funding. Nothing operates that way, not even God.
Disclaimer: There may be unusual circumstances on the odd occasion when a person gives their tithe to some particular need apart from a church but this should be the exception rather than the rule. And that really is a discussion for another post.
What do you THINK!AboutIt?
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.