I had a conversation about tithing the other day with my teens. We talked about whether giving 10% of our income is what God requires/expects.
When your church is having trouble making budget, you’re very likely to hear about Malachi 3:6-10 either quoted or directly referred to. “Don’t rob God.” “Bring thewhole tithe into the storehouse.”
But does this apply under the new covenant?
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus affirms tithing as a discipline that the Pharisees should continue to practice.
But I think it’s impossible to discuss the topic of our financial giving without looking at Luke 21:1-4.
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
It seems to me that the criticism that Jesus levels against the rich men making donations is not that they were giving less than 10%. It is that they had an abundance, yet they kept it mostly for themselves.
The standard of giving that Jesus provides in Luke 21:1-4 is to not give only as much as we are required. To not give only what is comfortable for us to give. It is to give even when it hurts to do so.
To give all that we can, not all that we must.
Jesus wants us to live a life that is dedicated to doing the most good, not the least acceptable amount of good.
To love lavishly, abundantly and generously. To give, even in our own need, not only once we have excess to spare.
I think supporting a local church is a good thing. If you’re committed to the community of your local church, by all means support it, including with financial provision.
I also think that we have amazing opportunities to support other organizations which we can learn about through the internet or through other contacts. Your church may not be committed to helping slaves across the world gain freedom, but you can give money, time, effort to this cause above and beyond your church membership.
You can support the ministries of your church while also helping to feed and clothe the homeless in your area.
I’m not trying to infer that you should never spend money on yourself or your family for fun purposes. I don’t believe you must live in poverty, while giving away every available dime. If you wish to do this, that’s your choice.
I don’t think Jesus was upset with the rich people because they didn’t give every last coin, I thing he was upset that they were simply living up to the minimum standards and thinking that was good enough. That God just wants people to fulfill obligations.
We serve a God that held nothing back from us. Let us be careful in believing that we can give him a 10% commission in order to satisfy him.
Money isn’t going to go with us to the afterlife. It is a tool that we can use only here and now. Let us use it wisely, treating a device of this temporal life as seeds with which to plant a crop that may be reaped in heaven.
Perhaps instead of viewing 10% as a set number that we must never go under and that we need not exceed, we should instead seek to give all that we are able at any given point in our lives.
From our abundance or our need, let us seek to be generous. To give all that we can.