“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the
fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord."
“Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from
the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your
inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the Lord,
a tithe of the tithe."
"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly
or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7
"On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something
aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting
when I come."
1 Corinthians 16:2
The subject of Tithing
can be on that is both divisive and contentious. For some they firmly
believe Christians are clearly instructed to give 10% to the Church
and thus to God. While others may state that Christians should give
more than this. To give until it hurts both physically and financially.
Yet another group may say that giving is not really all that important
if the heart is not in the right place when the tithe has been handed
over. But what does the Bible really tell us about the Tithe?
The foundation of the Tithe is found in the Old Testament. The very
act was well developed and stated. To give a donation to the leaders
of the Church was seen to be both beneficial to the ongoing running
of the Church as well as a legalistic form of obedience and justification.
For the spiritual leaders the Tithe was a form of financial support
that they lived on. Much the same today with many who lead congregations.
Keeping in mind the new and growing nature of the early Jewish religious
system. Founded on the law and needing to establish itself. There was
an inevitable need for a source of income and resources.
The New testaments is a different situation though. After the death,
resurrection and ascension of Jesus we are not told specifically to
pay a tithe to the church. Nor are there any specific comments on how
much a contribution should be. There are comments that any donation
should take into account the welfare and well-being of the individual
and their family. The concept of being a cheerful giver who gives as
directed by their heart is not the same as an insistence to hand over
a set percentage of ones income. I have experienced Churches where members
where informed they must only Tithe with a check. So as the management
committee could make sure they were paying the expected level. While
another Church told the congregation that the 10% was to be calculated
before taxes and not after. So it would be based on the gross and not
the net income. In both cases the Tithe became an obligation and no
longer a cheerful gift of resources.
Paul seems to suggest in 1 Corinthians that the collection should be
made on a regular bases. But again this does not actually state the
level of donation. It does say that he seemed to want to avoid the usual
last minute rush around for a collection when he showed up. Perhaps
Paul was feeling uncomfortable with the concept of collecting on a last
minute urge. The idea of regular contributions would have meant the
donated funds would be there and ready for the visit. And not a last
minute demand. Taking into consideration the time it took to travel
in the early days of the Church would make sense. The funds or resources
would always be there. Even if Paul should not show up for several years
the funds would be there for unforeseen problems the local Church may
experience from time to time.
The current post modern Church seems to be fixated with Tithing. Many
powerful preachers who have crystal cathedrals and massive congregations
have been built on the Tithe. With productions for services that could
well make Hollywood envious at times. They have worked out a formula
for collecting large sums of money. The question that comes to my mind
as I type this is at what expense to the congregation? Such prosperity
messages seem to only benefit those preaching. It is one thing for Christians
to reflect on the story of the Widows Mite and yet another for them
to believe that someone should physically suffer to make the leader
of the Church wealthy. There are many today in this group of rich evangelists
who really need to hand back the money they have taken.
This is just a short list of the top 5 wealthiest Preachers
- Kenneth Copeland, Net Worth $760 Million
- Pat Robertson, Net Worth $100 Million
- Benny Hinn, Net Worth $42 Million
- Joel Osteen, Net Worth $40 Million
- Creflo Dollar, Net Worth $27 Million
Really what is wrong with this picture? The trendy question
"What would Jesus do" quickly comes to my mind. We know that
the Lord had no bed or place to call his own. He travelled and lived
at the generosity of those who followed him. He didn't store up massive
amounts of money as he journeyed. Nor did any of the original evangelists
such as Peter and Paul. They only took what they needed at the time.
How than does someone who is making $760 Million a year relate to the
average person struggling on a set income and yet still feeling obliged
to financially support them.
"But store up for yourselves treasures
in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where
thieves do not break in and steal."
It would seem these individuals have stored up here on Earth their
treasures. What little if any will they find waiting for them in Heaven.
If for that matter they actually make into Heaven. As the story of Lazarus
tells us, those who find comfort in Earthly riches may well be surprised
and shocked at what awaits them.
In closing it may be well to explain that the choice of Tithing needs
to be made with an understanding of your own personal needs and those
of family that rely on you for sustenance and support. That any gift
or tithe needs to be made with a cheerful attitude. So that giving under
duress or begrudgingly defeats to whole concept of giving at all. The
Widow gave all she had which made the gift valuable. Not because she
was giving it all but because of the intent and generous spirit behind
what she gave.
I pray that when I give I give of my heart,
That the gift that I give is;
In the spirit of love,
With respect for those who rely on me,
Is freely given as my love gift.
I trust in your patient understanding,
And loving benevolence to me.