People get so weird when the topic of money and religion are brought together. And I get it. We have seen people in churches (pastors, ministers, and other religious figures) take advantage of the generosity that the church offers. Some people don’t see the sense in integrating their faith and their finances. Some people don’t feel “led” to tithe. Whatever the reason, I also had my own reason not to tithe to my church.
First I want to address a couple of things. There are corrupt leaders in the church body. In the Bible, we are warned against these people who will claim God and forge using his word, but really have wrong intentions (Matthew 24). In fact Jesus said there would be many of these people and said many would be deceived by them. That doesn’t mean the whole church is corrupt though. There are wonderful pastors that are doing God’s work by loving on people and the church in the purest way they know how. These other “false prophets” are not operating under love and what they do in darkness eventually comes to light. What they do I please encourage you to not let that affect your love and loyalty to God. Which leads me to the differentiation of religion and relationship. Religion has the ability to be distorted and control people. Much like the Constitution, the Bible can be used to run an institution and therefore be interpreted to favor that institution. We’ve seen it in the past, we see it now. However having a relationship with God is allowing yourself to be exposed to his love-and he does that gently, not forcefully and not through trickery. Having a relationship with someone-including God reveals their character. God, nor does his character uphold these kind of fake people
The next thing I want to address is the amount God asks for. Tithing is giving the first 10% of your income to the church. You know that church you go to every weekend-the one you go get a positive, life giving word from. I don’t think this is a mechanism used by the early church to get money from people that has just lasted through time. And this is why.
Let me say I am not sharing this to bash anyone who may not believe in tithing. In fact if you don’t believe in tithing, I’ll go ahead and assume you don’t believe in studying, meditating, and then partaking in the lifestyle described in the Bible. You aren’t held accountable because you simply don’t believe. I’m talking to my Christian kin who are struggling to deploy their faith in this area of their lives. Those who do use the Bible as a life directive, I wonder why we have this attitude to pick and choose what to follow, and I also challenge you to change it. God asks for 10%-which isn’t a lot. Maybe it is in the moments you are processing the payment or writing that check. I get it. But in reality it is more of a faith problem than a financial issue. What I have experienced from tithing is God wants to see us practice faith in all areas of our lives. He always wants the best for us, right? And sometimes that means we have to accumulate experiences that press our faith to really see God’s grace work in our favor.
Consider this. Perhaps God knew if we as believers, if we could learn to practice our faith and let go of money-this one thing that the world and many in it seem to fight over, get greedy over, WORRY over, excited over and rejoice in-perhaps if we learned to have faith and utilize his wisdom in this one part of our lives, we could flourish in it. And since we can flourish in this area-one being so faith pressing-we can also apply that same measure of faith in other areas. Perhaps this is what he wants to teach us through the concept of tithing. Not to provide him 10% (headline news: one of God’s problems is not whether or not we give 10%) but to show us how he can provide. Some of us think no one will notice if our $100 from that week doesn’t make it into the offering. Some of us are saying to ourselves “I need this 100, and is this church really going to go without because I don’t give?” And honestly I’d like to say no. But to provide for the church is the not the true issue that God is bringing you to resolve. The issue is we aren’t trusting God to just give it up. We are questioning the importance of something that God almighty, the omnipresent, omnipotent-Maker who sees the big picture-we are questioning his reliability in this area of trust and finances.
I have withdrew myself from the idea of tithing many times. The main reason I did this was because I simply wanted to hold unto what I had. Whether it was for bills or savings or leisure-my interests were always more important than giving that 10% God requested of me. But in reality, I was not trying to satisfy my financial burden by doing this. What I was doing was denying the fact that I had a faith issue in this area. That I believed God was faithful in all other things-just not money and providing. I believed that God was good. That he loved me. That he wanted to bless me…and I wanted to follow his ways, but not in this one area of my life. I was acting not in faith-but acting as though I knew better.
Sounds off doesn’t it? Sounds like I really didn’t trust God as much as I claimed I did. It sounds like I didn’t believe how good he was. But now I believe through this biblical principle of tithing-God has taught me to genuinely believe in his good work. To genuinely believe that he doesn’t want me to lack in anything-but be fruitful in all things (Luke 6).
Jesus says that we are branches on his vine. He says by the fruit we produce, others will be able to tell if we are truly his disciples. God isn’t going to have lacking disciples-lack is not biblical. Abundance, overflow-in all areas-this is biblical. However when I say he doesn’t want lacking disciples, that’s not only in finances, but think about it-he’s not wanting them to lack in faith either. In any area, tangible or not.
After the last time I went on my little tithing boycott I experienced lots of lack In my finances. When I was reminded to consider following God’s wisdom about my finances and also felt that tug to tithe again-I told myself I would make sure I gave my 10% right away so that I didn’t have a chance to stash it or spend it or think twice-but to stick true to my faith and give it a true go. I can honestly say since then I might have thought I lacked, but I really didn’t. I had food, I had shelter, I still enjoyed life and activities. I also was able to reach a new level of faith and trust with my God. I was able to put money in its place and view it from a healthy perspective. And that’s hard. We live in a world where more is better and you just stash and stash or spend and spend. We live in a world that you are “in charge of your money”. And indeed you are, God doesn’t pry anything out of our hands, and money is no exception. But I think there is more to this money thing. I think God is trying to show us how easily it goes and just how easily it can come if we can trust him in that area. I think he wants us to see it as a resource to help us accomplish his purpose for us-not a resource of life and drive.
I encourage you to try and test God (Malachi 3). I truly believe you will be blessed not just in your finances, but also in your faith. Jesus taught lots of things. He taught us how to walk in love. He taught us to not judge. He taught us to live in community with each other. He taught how to live, that includes how to live out your faith through your finances. I hope as God’s masterpieces we all get to experience the fullness in this and every other area of our lives.
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” –Luke 6:38