While it is true many of us work, and maybe even work very hard for our money, it is by the grace of God that we have the job(s) to go to. For it is He that provides His children with a way to suffice their needs, and sometimes even some of their wants. So what does it mean to be a good “steward”? We are called stewards, because God has entrusted us with what He gives us, both spiritually and physically, and that includes our finances. A Christian should feel a burden to handle God’s gifts effectively with a view they will be judged one day on the matter. But this burden should not be troublesome. As with all commands and teachings of Christ, our obedience to them should be done with a joyful heart. Yet, a great amount of conviction is required to achieve that obedience, because we live in a world where the almighty dollar rules. We don’t need a lot of help from Satan to distract us into being greedy. We want to live as comfortable life as we can, even if it means going into sometimes great debt with creditors, etc. (I understand there are those who’s life situation has placed them in a position of having to borrow money to survive. I’m speaking here of those who are simply choosing to live beyond their means.) So, just as in all other biblical matters, a strong sense of conviction in how we manage our finances will fare well when it comes time to be judged for our works.
“Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor [who practices loving others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements]. Romans 13:8 AMP This verse immediately comes after Jesus’ teaching to “Give to all what is their right: taxes to him whose they are, payment to him whose right it is, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor is to be given.” v 7. “Debt “ here is used two-fold. Obey the law of the land and pay taxes. Obey the Royal Law and fulfill any debt (shortcoming) of expression of duty and love to your neighbor. Barnes’ commentary notes, “The interpretation of this command is to be taken with this limitation: that we are not to be indebted to him so as to “injure” him, or to work “ill” to him.” In other words, to place the lender under duress.
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10 ESV It is a travesty how many prosperity preachers and even local pastors use this verse as proof God will greatly multiply offerings to them. The very first red flag of this reasoning is that it is simply the wrong motivation to give. It stems from greed...the same dilemma the preachers suffer from. This ultra famous verse was only intended as a message to the Israelites that were stiffing their tithes to the Levitical priests. If we read just 2 verses later, “And all nations shall call you happy and blessed, for you shall be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” AMP On the other side of the coin, I do believe God often rewards faithful and sacrificial offerings with incredible blessings, many times in a financial way. I’ve seen it in my own life. However, prayer without offerings can bring about just as awesome blessings and miracles. Offerings to the church are to be designated for accomplishing God’s work, not our own personal gain.
Tithing is actually an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Mosaic Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple. In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land. Theologians calculate that the true amount of tithing was not ten percent at all, but more of a range from 25 to 35 percent of an Israelite’s livelihood. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Jesus did say, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Luke 11:42 ESV These Jewish Pharisees tithed scrupulously, yet did not truly love God. They were challenged to do both. But that was before Christ’s crucifixion, which nullified the Law.
Rather, Paul sets forth an example of giving in 1st Corinthians 16:2, “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.” ESV As the Popular commentary notes, “No definite sum is named as either of divine appointment or even as expedient; but each one was to judge for himself what he ought to give “as he might prosper.” Had the tithe principle been recognized as obligatory, as some allege, wouldn’t the apostle have so written?”
However, we also read of offerings of sacrifice being favorably looked upon. “And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 2nd Corinthians 8:1-4 “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a cent. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 NIV Faith in God’s provision is the driving force in these kinds of instances.
I have piled up a considerable amount of debt over the years. I have asked myself if it is o.k. to stop tithing for a while until my debts are paid (or at least more manageable). I have gone to God with this, and my personal answer was to pay off my debts with half my earnings, and half going to my church. For you, after deep prayer, God may show you differently. He may show you to pay off your debts with all your offering to get them out of the way that much faster. It also depends on the financial needs of your church, and how dependent they are on your money. In any case, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about the amount of your offerings to the church. No one but God knows your life and how many ways you give to people in need or other acts of benevolence This week you may be able to spare little. Next week you may be able to sacrifice. It is between you and God. Earnestly pray to God and He will tell you what to do. Give with the proper motivation...because it is commanded of us to support the ministries of the church. Never give money to anyone who promises that God will bless you with monetary gain. Although it does happen, it is not correct to say that the Bible teaches it. And realize there are many ways to give to the church other than money – your time, your energy, your ministry, your spiritual gifts.
God is not as interested in our financial offerings as He is in our submission and obedience. The truth is that He doesn’t need our resources to accomplish His plans and purposes. After all, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and needs nothing from us. He does desire, however, a heart that gives generously, willingly and cheerfully in response to the love and grace that Christ has shown us and continues to show us.
Till next month, God bless!