Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus asked, “What will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16:26). He was saying that nothing else can compare with the value of life itself. Christians, especially know this is true, since we believe our spiritual journey will last far beyond our physical journey. We have been entrusted with the assurance that death does not end the gift of life but is the door, to life everlasting. John recorded the assurance that Jesus gave his disciples – and us – as the trial of the crucifixion neared: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also? (John 14:2-3)
The essence of God is love, and God’s gift of Christ came from the center of that love. Jesus gave his life because he loved us. If we, as Christians, are to reflect our loving and wonderful God and also our loving, crucified, and resurrected Savior, then should not love be the basis for what we give? This type of giving goes beyond percentages, pledges, tax deductions, and all the other motivations for that are found in our culture and economic systems. It is love that produces sacrificial giving.
First, the tithe is the minimum standard in standard for giving, especially in an affluent society. However, focusing on the tithing only as a strict rule ignores the more stringent demands of giving. Tithing is a starting point of faith that honors God’s faithfulness to us. Second, God’s demands are far greater than the tithe, a 10% “token” of one’s possessions. Third, the tithe, for an affluent Christian, holds no opportunity for sacrifice. The tithe in an affluent society is often reduced to no more than a charitable deduction. Fourth, yes, the tithe talks only about money. However, giving should not be tied only to money.
The essential points to keep in mind with regard to tithing are the following:
- Everything we have is from God.
- We are called to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us,
- In responding to the challenge of Christian stewardship in every area of life, we are called to shape decisions about our personal finances in light of God’s claim on our lives.
- Tithing can provide a biblical, practical, timely giving guideline for Christian disciples.
Tithing is a discipleship issue not a fund-raising device. It has to do with our relationship to Jesus Christ. The question tithing raises is not “how much of the church’s budget is my share,” but rather, “how much of my income is God’s share.” We have a need to give, and the tithe is a guide in addressing that need.
Giving makes me more like God. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son …” John 3:16
In Christian Love,