Yep, you read that title correctly. I don’t believe in tithing. Many (if not all) church pastors probably cringe upon reading that sentence. That’s too bad. To me, tithing is legalistic. Now, hear me out. I did not say that I am against tithing. What I am against is a teaching that suggests the tithe is akin to some sort of club due. You know what I mean. Now that you’re part of God’s family, you owe Him 10% of your income – no more, but certainly no less. Well, I think that that is nonsense. Let me explain.
Teaching that a tithe, and only a tithe, is good enough for God, perpetuates two errors. The first error is that unless or until we do give a tithe, God will not honor our gift. The second error is that if we give more than a tithe, we are somehow entitled to extra blessing from God. Let me say this about these errors.
First, I do believe God will honor gifts that are less than a tithe, as long as there is good reason for it. Let’s be honest, it takes a huge step of faith to give 10% of your income to the church. If you will begin honoring God with at least a portion of your income, with the desired goal of building your faith so that giving at least a tithe becomes second nature, I truly believe that God will honor our gift.
Think about it, when people first come to Christ, we are not surprised when, in many aspects of their lives, they don’t behave like mature Christians. After all, sanctification is a process. Many new (and even “old”) Christians continue to struggle with unhealthy habits or addictions. Many continue to struggle with foul language, anger, lust, and all other types of sin. What is (or should be) our response? Understanding – understanding that God is at work in and on these individuals, continuously transforming their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit living in them. But, when it comes to money, there’s no room for such a process? It’s either 10% or nothing? C’mon, that’s just crap! (Sorry, perhaps I should have used “fecal matter” instead).
Again, hear me. I believe it should be the goal of every Christian to give at least a tithe to the church. If you are not, then make that a goal. But to attain a goal, you have to start somewhere. So start with 5, 4, 3, or 2 percent. Shoot, even 1 percent is a good start. Then, when God begins to honor your gifts, increase that to 6, 7, 8%, and so on until you finally reach 10%. Then, when you’re there, prove wrong the second error.
You remember that second error, right? That if we give more than a tithe, we are somehow entitled to extra blessing from God. I think this belief is fallacious because it presupposes we are entitled to something from God. It presupposes that God somehow owes us a blessing because we kept less than 90% of what is not ours anyway. Let me tell you something, we are entitled to nothing from God. He owes us squat.
Will God bless and honor gifts beyond a tithe? Of course He will. I can attest to that. But, I can also attest to the fact that He does not always do it . . . at least not in ways that we may expect or when we may expect. He also does not do it out of some duty to us. He will do it because He loves to honor obedience, faith, and sacrifice. That is, obedience, faith, and sacrifice exercised cheerfully.
Giving, and doing so cheerfully and sacrificially, was not an easy lesson for me. Quite honestly, it still isn’t. I fully believe God had a plan to bless me financially. And trust me, He has – beyond my wildest imagination. But before He could do that, He needed to teach me some lessons about finances and possessions. The biggest lesson was that nothing I possess belongs to me. Instead, it all belongs to God.
IT’S ALL GOD’S ANYWAY
When you come to truly understand that nothing you have belongs to you, but that everything belongs to Him, it will change your whole financial outlook. No longer will you spend money haphazardly – after all, it’s not yours. No longer will you rack up credit card or other types of unwise debt – after all, the money you’re using to pay off the exorbitant interest is not yours. You will gladly give, sacrificially and joyfully, because you’re not giving anything that belongs to you anyway, it all belongs to God.
Too many people I know allow the worry of our present economic status, or the worry of our future economic status, to overwhelm them and prevent the joy and peace that accompanies being a generous giver from enveloping their lives. Such worry runs counter to Christ’s instruction. In Matthew 6:19-21, He said:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When you give, and give generously, you store up treasures in heaven. That’s where a Christian’s future lies. That should give Christians peace. That should encourage Christians to give.
Some readers that know me may be thinking, “Sure, it’s easy for someone that makes a good living to talk about tithing, and giving above and beyond a tithe.” Well, let me just say this about that: Bull crap! Quite honestly, the more money I make, the greater the temptation to attain even more material things. A bigger house, nicer cars, real estate, more stocks, more bonds, a bigger 401(k), you name it. I have to fight this temptation all the time.
Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” You see, when God blesses you with more, He demands more from you. I fully believe God knows that some are not ready for these added demands, and so has not yet entrusted you with more. Begin obeying God today with what He has entrusted you, and then show God that you can be entrusted with more.
TRUE FINANCIAL SUCCESS
Too many people I know equate financial success with accumulating money or other forms of wealth. That is not the case in God’s kingdom. No, God equates financial success with giving money away. That’s because giving money away is a sign of freedom – freedom from the material trappings of this world, freedom from the bondage and worry that accompany debt, freedom from the insatiable desire for more. It’s also a sign that our priorities are straight; that we have put Him first. So when the Holy Spirit prompts us to give, we do so, unhesitatingly, and joyfully.
Christians should give because God asks us to give. Christians should give because all we possess belongs to God. Christians should give because we want to give, not out of some legalistic duty.
A tithe is a good place to start, or a first good goal to work up to. But it’s certainly not an all or nothing proposition. Nor is it the end-all, be-all when it comes to giving.