Nothing like talking about money to stir passions. I was a faithful tither to various institutions for over thirty years. I quit in 2005, and contrary to all the dire threats from mandatory-tithe-preachers, I have not been cursed by God. Rather, I have been blessed in every way.
If there was ever an issue that stacking up proof texts for or against is ineffective in persuading someone of the opposite persuasion, this is it. So, I am not going to do that. I would like to go beyond a proof-text shouting match. Besides, anything “theological” to be said on the subject, has already been said by others–pro and con. Resources are readily available. Tithe if you want to. There’s no sin in it. But lay off the sweeping pronouncements against others who don’t, and don’t think you are increasing your righteousness or favored status with God because you tithe. That’s an insult to the work of Christ.
And yet, like Paul, I think there is a better way . . . the way of love.
For me, any issue in the kingdom, that is not animated by love, relationship, and family, is suspect. My problem with tithing is relational. I can’t relate to a thing, an entity. I can “belong” to a thing or entity, but I can’t relate to one. I can only relate to a person or persons. The way I see it, tithing hinders relationship with Father and the brotherhood, and anything that hinders relationship must be discarded.
You see, the way tithing is normally taught, you do not need to relate to God, or engage God relationally at all about your giving. All you need to do is relate to a calculator, because allegedly, as long as I am giving 10.000000000000% I am in the goods with God, and the “windows of heaven will open for me,” but if I give 8.487645345678%, I am going to be cursed by God for disobeying Him. (Never mind that the total Levitical tithe obligation to avoid being cursed by God approached 22-27% of total annual income, not 10% . . . ah, but that is story for another day, but all those folks committed to ten percent as the magic to open the windows of heaven, need to re-read their Bibles. You’re still “disobeying” at ten percent.)
I regret the thirty years I tithed, not because the money was wasted. Nothing offered to God in faith and sincerity, even in our sincerely ignorant faith, is ever wasted. No. What was wasted and missed was the opportunity to relate to my Father in my giving, and relationship is everything.
Not once in those thirty years did I ever pray or engage Him about my giving, because, I was being a good, dutiful, little Christian making sure that the “open door to cursing” was closed and the “windows of heaven were opened” by my faithful obedience to tithe. Thirty years of no relationship. I didn’t have to pray. I was “obeying” therefore, God was going to bless me whether I relationally engaged Him or not. Relationship is everything. The windows of heaven are opened to me in Christ. I live every day under open windows and I don’t need to put my token in the heavenly lotto machine to “get my blessing.”
So sad. I doubt that I am the only one with this experience.
Since I quit tithing, I have not quit giving. Rather, I have discovered the joy of generous, Spirit-directed giving, out of my own need at times, as the overflow of my relationship with my heavenly Father. What a thrill it is to experience being the answer to someone else’s secret prayer. What a thrill to be the practical hands of God reaching out to others with my finances. What a joy to feel the relational knitting of hearts together in a community, in the bonds of love when someone’s need has been met through Spirit-led giving that I am a part of.
In Second Corinthians 9:14, the ASV states that one of the overflow benefits of Spirit-led giving is a “longing for each other.” I must say, that in all my years of tithing to a machine, an institution, an entity, never did I experience a longing for my brother or sister. No, it was all clinical, duty-based, and selfish . . . so I could avoid being cursed. Fear-based preaching about money will never realize God’s kingdom intentions for finance . . . never.
The best thing that ever happened to me in my giving was to quit tithing. Some say that 10% should be the baseline of our giving. I say . . . put the calculator away . . . PERIOD! Relate to your Father. Do what He says. He values you and your relationship more than your money. What you do with your money will just be a reflection of your love quotient. In love with Him, in love with the brotherhood, and in love with a world that needs Jesus, should be all the motive we need to be cheerful, generous, disciplined, regular givers of time, talent, and treasure. How could it be possible if we are extravagant lovers in these three arenas that we would not be givers? Closed wallets always indicate cold hearts. I don’t need a calculator to be a giver. I need a warm heart.
Let’s love extravagantly, including through our finances.
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