Have you ever left a Sunday sermon feeling guilty? If not, perhaps your pastor or priest isn’t teaching the whole truth. No, I’m not looking to see people made to feel guilty about something they’ve heard preached in church. I am however, hoping that people are “touched” by what they’ve heard.
Wait! Isn’t a good portion of the Bible about making us feel guilty? In all Honesty and without all of the marketing messages; without all the Spin, Yes! Like it or not, some of the intent of the Bible message is to encourage us sinners to REPENT; to repent of our sins and sinful nature and turn to God.
But today, I’m going to talk specifically about tithing and giving.
Genesis 4:3 gives us the first mention of an offering. Yet we are not told why the offering was made. We’re not told that God asked for or demanded an offering.
We don’t hear any further about offerings again until we reach Genesis 14:18 where Abram gives the priest of God Most High, a tenth of all he had received of God. Yet again, we’re given no reference as to why.
We must concede without history, that a system of offering had indeed existed and developed since Cain first went to God. It is next in Genesis 28:20-22 we learn of Jacob’s vow; “all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
It’s not until we get to Leviticus 27:30 do we see a clear message that our Lord expects a tithe from His people; “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.”
While we certainly cannot claim that God initiated the process of tithing, we can be safe in saying that He saw it was good; and acceptable. I of course, could continue on and on reciting bible verses about tithing, but the endeavor would only go to supporting what the Bible has already supplied us.
Tithing is our way to thank our God for all He has done and all He has provided for us. It is not a fee. It is not a tax. It is not something we must provide God with; to receive something from Him.
I think the mark is missed when some view tithing as an obligation. We owe God nothing except our hearts; and the willingness to live as He has asked. This is what God wants from His people; their hearts. Anything which may accompany our love for Him is certainly an added benefit.
We understand that we don’t obey God to be saved. We desire to obey God because He saved us. We do not do good works to be saved. We do good works because we are saved.
Therefore, as we acknowledge God as Creator of all that exists, we acknowledge that everything belongs to God. (Col 1:16) We recognize that we are mere caretakers of what God has provided.
Recall the story of Ananias as Sapphira? (Acts 5:1-11) Neither suffered death for not giving all they had to the new church. They suffered for trying to deceive God. Reading the short story, its prelude or other, one will find no rule or command that one give 100% of belongings to the church.
Now, what Jesus told His disciples in Mark 12:43-44; Jesus was commending the poor widow for giving what she had to give. How do we know this refers to the heart and not the money? For He says, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others;” (Bold & Italics, I added for emphasis).
One will find nowhere in the New Testament a commandment to tithe let alone give everything one owns to the church. Ananias and Sapphira payed the ultimate worldly price for actively deceiving God in His Holy Spirit. Their demise had nothing to do with the giving or the amount of it; it had to do with their hearts.
Keep in mind that your giving is to the Lord, not to the church. When you give to a beggar on the street, you’re giving to the lord. Giving to any reputable organization that serves in the name of the Lord, is giving to the Lord, not the organization.
The apostle Paul gave instructions for a collection. But he was not collecting tithes for “The Church.” He was collecting donations that were going to help the poor; the saints, (1 Cor 16:1).
Feeding the poor? You were feeding the Lord. Giving something to drink? You’re giving drink to the Lord. Clothing the needy? You clothed the Lord. You visited the sick? You visited the Lord. (Mat 25:35-40)
“The King will answer, “Truly I say to you, in as much as you have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done unto me.” (Mat 25:40) Giving includes time and energy also, not just money. When you give, you’re giving to the Lord.
Something to consider. If you attend your church regularly and discern that you are benefiting from it, then would it not be a kind gesture to give to the church? If you benefit from a bible study group, would it be out of sorts to give to your group; or perhaps to a charity that you or someone you know has benefited from.
Remember this, wherever you give from the heart, you are giving to the Lord.
©2019 Clayton Moore