Tithing: The Dreaded Topic

“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 NASB

Oh no, not another person telling me to tithe! Why can’t I get away from it?

Ummm… maybe God is telling you something. Just saying.

This past Sunday, my Pastor preached on the importance of tithing. This message is not one that is often well received. In fact, there have been multiple occasions when a congregation member has taken it upon themselves to ask the Pastor to never preach that sermon again (not necessarily at my church- just in general). Who wants to hear that the grace we so often preach on comes from a God that wants to take away at least 10% of the money we worked so hard to get?

It’s hard to come to terms with this at first. Isn’t grace free and unconditional?

Well, yes.

But God is asking that we give Him credit where credit is due. After all, this is the same God that sacrificed His Only Son for generation after generation of selfish, rebellious, and ungrateful humans who consistently abuse His grace and essentially spit in His face. He let His Son die- at our hands- and all He is asking is that we give something back to Him for His work on Earth. That 10% isn’t going to break the bank. I know that for sure.

Stay with me- it gets better.

There are a couple of aspects of tithing that I would like to address. So let’s break this up into some cool heading things.

The Misconceptions: The Prosperity Gospel

The verse I put at the beginning of the post is so often misused to present an argument for the “Prosperity Gospel.” The main theme of this incorrect theology is that if we give our 10% and do what God wants us to do, then He will bless us with prosperity- money, big houses, expensive cars, and even affluence. God is going to ensure we are well liked by everyone, right?

Wrong. So very very wrong.

In fact, there are many verses in the Bible that contradict every one of those claims. First of all, Jesus Himself, the very Model of Christianity we are called to follow, had “no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). So if Jesus didn’t have a fancy mansion with the best vineyard in all of Jerusalem, then why should we expect to?

According to Scripture, we are not going to be living the high life. We are not going to be loved by everyone. In fact, Scripture makes it clear that the result of our complete obedience to God’s leading and calling on our lives will result in us being hated by the world (Matthew 10:22). His plan is counter cultural and radical to everything we are being conditioned to think.

But what about that verse? If I sow generously by following God’s calling and giving over and above 10%, won’t I reap generously?

Yes. But not in the way that has become so popular.

Sidebar: It’s so much better.

The Much Better Harvest

What do you consider a blessing in your life?

Your house?

Your car?

Your mobility?

Your freedom?

All of these are blessings. All of these are gifts from God that we so often claim as our own. We don’t often realize it, but the very breath in our lungs is a gift from God. We are alive because He allows us to be. Because He has work for us. So what blessings are we sowing?

I’m going to be honest. I have never really been a good tither (is that a word?). I have a job with at least some sort of income every month. It’s not much, but so far I’ve been able to survive. Going into this summer break, I had big plans to work all the time and make lots of money that would carry me through the school year and pay for my mission trip to Burkina Faso next summer. With these plans in mind, I made the decision that I would consistently tithe at least 10%. I knew that as a Local Minister at my church, I was further obligated to do so.

Unfortunately (or was it?), I was not able to secure a steady job for the summer. It has been a really rough summer financially. My bills haven’t gone down at all (do they ever?) but my income has gone down to about a third of what it once was (life of a tutor during the summer). I have certainly struggled to make ends meet this summer- even with the blessing of my parents giving me a place to sleep and some good food. So I strongly considered not tithing.

But I knew that God would take care of me. The Bible says so, and I know that the Bible never lies.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t expect God to drop some money in my lap with no effort on my part. In fact, I worked really hard to get the money that I did. However, I gave God that 10% and He provided. Every time I prayed for God’s help, I was given the opportunity to work. I was given a job.

Have you ever considered your job to be a blessing? Because it definitely is.

I worked with a guy that has a tree removal business, I cleaned my church, I mowed lawns,I sold crochet orders, etc. Most importantly? I learned the nature of God’s blessings. I know it’s cliché, but God is not going to do something for us that we can do ourselves. We need to pray for His leading and His provision, but as my Mamaw says, we have to put feet to our prayers. We can’t just ask for money to fall into our laps. We have to be willing to work for it.

And the opportunities that God is giving us to work for it are the blessings that we are promised.

I’m not trying to sound self-righteous or promote my spirituality. Let me tell you: I am so far from where I should be. But God is working on me.

There are obviously more blessings than just the opportunity to work. If I were to list every blessing we have ever received, I would probably break the internet. Not to mention, this post would never be done and nobody would ever see it.

So it would be pointless.

But I know that if we think really hard, we can name some blessings in our lives. For me?

God has blessed me with parents who are a wonderful model for marriage- 25 years and still going strong.
God had blessed me with the opportunity to attend the greatest university ever. Go ONU Tigers!
God has blessed me with a roof over my head and food on my plate.
God has blessed me with the most amazing friends both at home and at school.
God has blessed me with a calling to full time ministry.
God has blessed me with purpose.

So the abundant harvest that we will reap as a result of our abundant sowing isn’t necessarily earthly riches.

But we will certainly be rich in another way.

One More Thing: Be a Good Steward

I for one struggle the most with this. The Bible is clear on the need for us to be wise with that which God has given us. If God is trusting us with our finances, isn’t it important for us to use them wisely? If we are struggling to make our bills, it would not be wise to eat at a fancy restaurant every night. If we have an abundance of funds, it would not be wise to waste it on worldly pleasures.

There are those that are blessed with monetary wealth. Did you know this is a spiritual gift? If God has given you the means to offer up resources for those that are suffering, then He expects you to use those means to do so. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should live under a bridge so you can donate your entire paycheck to a homeless shelter, but God definitely deserves enough dedication for us to live beneath our means. Instead of buying a third car, why not give the money to the homeless so they can afford a third meal? It’s interesting when we realize that the people with the least are often the most generous (Mark 12:41-44).

Leave a large tip for your waiter or waitress so they can afford to feed their children.

Give that beggar you see all the time some money so he can afford food or maybe even a room for the night.

Be generous. Be Christ.

In Conclusion…

The Bible is very clear about the need to tithe. It’s not a fun topic and it’s certainly not a popular one. But it is so very important for us to do. It allows God to work through our churches, our para-church ministries, our food pantries, our missionaries, and so much more. Our tithe doesn’t just bless us. It blesses our community. Our world. My shrimpy paycheck does not result in a big, beefy tithe check. But I know that God will use that money in ways that I never thought imaginable. If we give 10%, we know that God will multiply it to the Kingdom. If we give more, we are just praising God all that much more.

 

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