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Saturday, October 11, 2014

105. Should I Tithe While in Debt? - Part 2 of 2

I have been following threads for the last couple of weeks in a social media group offering financial advice to families struggling to pay off their debt. These are generally committed Christians who are following Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps program. I personally think it’s a great program in helping people reduce debt. On one thread in particular, a question about tithing while in debt came up. Of note tithing or giving to the local church is a question to Christians. So this post is directed to those who follow Christ. This is the second part of a two part post. See the first part here.

Fourth, the subject of tithing needs to be correctly understood from the whole context of Scripture. 

There are three types of tithes listed in the Old Testament as commands to Israel. These three tithes were: 1) one paid yearly for the Levites and the Temple (see Deut. 14:22-27)Lev. 18:19-21); 2) a second one paid yearly for the use of celebration of the feasts (See Deut. 16:16, Deut. 12:6-8); 3) And a third one to be paid every 3 years for the poor of the land as well as orphans, widows, and foreigners (See Deut. 14:28-29). 

These tithes would result on average in a 23.3% yearly return (what we commonly refer to as "tithe") of seed and flocks from one’s annual income from the land. In order for Believers to follow tithing as prescribed in the Scriptures above they would need to follow these passages above, "tithe" 23.3% of their income, and it would only apply to income from land owners. 

The tithe was part of the Old Covenant with Israel. 

Yet today as Christians aren't we under the New Covenant? 

Fifth, Here are some thoughts on rethinking giving. 

I don't see why giving financially should be done out of duty or a requirement. Yet some teach and believe this very thing. Shouldn't we want to support the Kingdom of God? When you give to your local church you enable outreach and missions. Many local churches support state-side and overseas missionaries. When you give to your local church, you are impacting the world where you live and across the glob. You are helping spread the Gospel and make the name of Jesus known.

Together, when we give, we have an amazing impact.  

Think of individuals who give as drops of water that lead to little tributaries that feed into streams (local churches) that join together to form a giant unstoppable river (God's Kingdom). You have more eternal impact through giving in conjunction with others than you would ever have on your own. 

Giving to the local church makes your impact "stronger" and it makes your arms "longer." You are able to reach around the world (symbolically) through your giving. You may never be called to go on the international mission field, but when you support missions through your local church, you have an eternal stake in the fruit that is born from that. 

Sixth, a pause for a challenge and word of encouragement regarding priorities to those who don't give anything. Even when they are able to. 

Billy Graham once said, "Give me five minutes with a person's checkbook, and I can tell you where their heart is."

Today perhaps we'd look at a person's bank statement or credit card statement. 

Many would say that 70-80% of Christians do not give to the local church in the U.S. Yet they have plenty of money to buy the latest iPhone and pay for huge data costs. They pay for internet service, a home phone that is rarely used, and DirectTV or cable. They have DVRs and iPads. They drive the latest new cars and have fancy houses. They have expensive hobbies such as golfing, hunting, fishing, etc. They go on vacations that cost in the range of thousands of dollars. They feed themselves three hot meals a day while expecting their church to grow on one cold snack a week. 

They have plenty of money for what's important to them. They simply don't give. 

What are the priorities in your life and family? Where does stewardship come into play into your finances? 

Seventh, how does all this apply to Christians today? Well, here is where I land on the subject. 

Tithing (or giving) does not guarantee God's blessings financially. Otherwise it could be seen as an attempt to bribe, manipulate, or negotiate with God. This can lead to the false "prosperity gospel" or "health and wealth gospel" which is not the Gospel as found in Scripture at all. 

Nowhere in the NT is a follower of Christ (particularly a Gentile) told to tithe. A tithe is returned, while a gift is freely offered.

There's no longer a Temple as we are God's temples in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. 

The command in the Bible to the Christian is always to give and give joyfully to God’s work. How do we approach this in our family? We pray and let God lead us. We trust God to do the same in the lives of others through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. 

Further, it as I already mentioned in the previous post, it makes sense to give to the local church which you attend as a Christian. The electricity, water, and other bills need to be paid. Typically churches also sponsor outreach activities to reach the lost, child care, youth activities, and discipleship activities to equip Christians. Someone has to pay for the materials and funds for such activities. But further the Bile says those who are leaders in the church should be paid fair wages (Matt. 10:10, Luke 10:7; 1 Cor. 9:14) and that our gifts should first go to these who teach the Gosepl (Gal. 6:6). 

I realize that giving is a very personal matter between the individual and God. 

Yet Acts 20:35 reminds us that Jesus said It is more blessed to give than to receive.

In Conclusion: God loves a cheerful giver. If you are in debt and don't feel you can give 10% to the local church consider starting with 1% in your giving. Yet don't give reluctantly but cheerfully as you are able. Volunteer your time as well. Remember God will not love you more or less for tithing. ;-)

2 Cor. 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

If you missed it, see the first part here

Note: I’d like to re-emphasize I understand that there are differing viewpoints on this topic. In my study of Scripture on this topic, these are my conclusions. I am open to feedback and know that I still have much to learn. I think we should be Bereans, searching the Scriptures for ourselves instead of blindly accepting what other people teach. That said, this is not a salvation issue, and while I feel very strongly about this issue I can agree to disagree if someone sees it differently. 

What do you think of tithing verses giving as pertaining to Schritpure? What do you think about tithing while in serious debt? 


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