Giving – New Testament Style

Question:

I get so tired of our pastor always preaching about giving our tithes to the church. Is this even biblical? Can’t we just do what we want with our money? After all it is my money isn’t it?

Response:

The way most people understand it, the “tithe” refers to a specified basic amount that everyone should give, most commonly thought to be 10%.  An “offering” is considered by many to be a voluntary amount over and above the tithe.

The following, for your investigation, is my understanding of tithing according to New Testament teaching:

Why tithe?  God’s plan is for Christians to support the work of God and the advancement of the Gospel through tithes and offerings – 1 Corinthians 16:2.  The idea goes back to earliest biblical history where a tenth is identified as the tithe, although those who are able, should not be limited by this suggestion and should consider giving more.  This idea is also in keeping with the New Testament directive on giving. The New Testament teaches that Christians should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately to support the local church, the needy, evangelism, and missions, and do it cheerfully as you are able (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Philippians 4:19; Proverbs 3:9-10)

I understand this to mean that we should give according to our ability to give and do it with a happy heart whether that means 2% or 50%.  If you do, God will bless you for it, regardless of the amount, because He knows what you are capable of giving and He knows the attitude of your heart.   If all Christians would do this there would be more money for the Lord’s work than if everyone simply gave the tenth.

Just a caution.  We should be careful not to think that our desires should all be met before we start to give.  If we do we would probably never get around to giving.

I know the Bible says to bring the tithe to the ‘storehouse’ (Malachi 3:10), which many churches like to identify as the church treasury.  I’m not sure that that is precisely what is meant.  I think your total giving is ‘your tithe’, because all worthy causes are the Lord’s work.  So the question arises, “To whom should I give?”  After having determined the amount your tithe will be, I believe you should give:

1. A substantial portion to your own local church.
2. Another portion should be set aside for the poor and special needs, which may or may not be handled through your local church – Matthew 6:2-4.
3. Another portion to other ministries in evangelism, missions and benevolence, which are worthy of support.

I don’t believe I can give you specific Bible references to support this breakdown.  I believe you have to determine it more by general principles of stewardship, which could be to ‘put your money where the action is, where God is at work’.  In my case, about half of our giving goes to our local church and the rest goes to other ministry causes.

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