I should also say, if you don't agree with - or more or less see where I'm coming from in - my last two posts, then this one will only frustrate you more. Consider yourself warned. And if anyone is left, read on.
My church does a podcast every week, and in one of our recent episodes ("Prayer Meeting") we talked briefly about the concept of tithes and offerings. So here is my really brief recap. I haven't done a ton of study on this, so consider the following thoughts my initial musings on the topic.
Essentially, tithes were part of the Old Testament law that required Israelites to give 10% of their resources (e.g. money, grain, spices, etc.) to (1) show their dependence on God and (2) receive a blessing from God.
The New Testament doesn't talk about tithing. The New Testament does talk about the importance of giving financially to local churches (e.g. Acts 4:32-36; 2 Corinthians 8-9). Christians aren't required to give a "tithe" anymore because Christ has fulfilled the law and his righteousness is credited to us when we repent and believe the Gospel. So if we aren't required to tithe to keep the law, why bother giving money to our local church?
The primary motivation for giving generously is gratitude for the God's grace extended to us through the Gospel. We give a portion of our resources back to God to use how He wants, and we trust the leadership that God has established in the local church to do this on the congregation's behalf. If they spend it poorly, they are accountable to God, but how it's spent isn't the reason we give, we give because He first gave.
We generously give to our local church because we believe that God's plan for bringing people into relationship with Him is the Gospel-Preaching, Christ-Exalting, God-Glorifying, Spirit-Led Church; and God doesn't have a plan "B". God brings people into His Kingdom through the Church - through your church. The Church does all kinds of good things like care for the needy and destitute locally and globally and help bring the reign of Christ to bear in all areas of our life and society, but the primary mission that Jesus has given His Church is to make disciple-making disciples. We give our money to see this mission continue for God's glory and the good of those around us.
Here are three final thoughts in no particular order:
- If you don't give financially because things are tight financially, I want to encourage you to start giving something financially instead of nothing. This isn't a hard and fast rule, some of us can afford to give 10%, 20% or 50% of our money to the local church and still pay off all our debts and make ends meet. Some of us are in a position where we are pinching pennies so tightly that we would love the idea of being able to give 5% away. The point isn't to give a certain percentage of your money, but to give as much as you're able as often as you're able.
- If you don't give because you don't think your local church knows how to spend your money, my suggestion would be to give generously and let God hold your leaders accountable for the way they steward His money and lead His church. Also, pray diligently for wisdom and discernment for your leaders so that they can, by God's grace and the Spirit's leading, steward His money and lead His church well. If you feel strongly about giving to other agencies/charities you should totally go for it, but giving to a para-church ministry is not the same as giving to the local church.
- The motivation for your giving should always be in response to the grace of God and not a guilt trip. If my post felt like a guilt trip, it wasn't meant to be. Reflect on the gloriousness of the Gospel for a few days, and then revisit the issue in your prayer life and in conversations with friends.
Hey Christian person, because of the graciousness of God extended to us through the Gospel, give money to your church.