In all the churches, in all the years I have walked with the Lord, one common theme has crossed all denominational boundaries – the tithe.
In one way or another, every church provides an opportunity to give. Some pass a basket, some have a box at the back, some talk about it every week, some talk about it once a month, some talk about it quarterly, or even yearly.
Each Pastor that stands behind the pulpit has some encouraging word to say about tithing.
My personal favorite scripture that I believe is misused in regard to the tithe is found in Malchi
“Bring the full tithes 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.”
The common theme, is that this means… tithe = financial blessing you can not contain.
A Pastor I sat under for years, a phenomenal teacher, whom I respected, took offereing every Sunday and every Sunday he would say that those who do not give, have not discovered the secret of tithing. He would go on to request, ‘God Bless those who give’.
Many a Sunday I thought to myself, because I choose to put food on the table, rather than tithe, am I not worthy of God’s Blessing?
I hear the story over and over again, friends going hungry, loosing power and water, being evicted from their homes, and yet they are faithfullly tithing. And there is a Pastor somewhere, directly or indirectly encouraging them to continue to so.
What a sad vicious cycle. Pastors who are relying on tithers for their income, rather than relying on the Lord, and congregants trusting their leaders, and tithing to their own detriment.
Is this what the Lord intended for either of these people groups?
After much study and prayer, my husband and I have reconciled this issue in our own hearts and minds. Through the course of our studies we have waivered from questions like
“Do we give 10% of our gross income?
10% of our net income?
10% of our food (because in biblical times they were giving the first fruits, thats 10% of what they had to eat, so they were in fact eating, they were just sharing their food).
We entertained putting 10lbs of oats in the offereing basket as it went by, Can you imagine the look on the ushers face?
We have reconciled that we offer what we have to the Lord, whether it be monetary, food, clothing, and we give where He calls us to give. We do not expect monetary gain, I believe the blessing Malachi speaks of is the Joy that comes from being a blessing to someone, and has little to do with economic status.
In 35 years of church life, my understanding has never been validated from the pulpit.
Saturday night I attended a service at my church, incidentally the wealthiest church in town.
We are in a series entitled REAL HOPE, and the message was great! Straight to the heart of the issues we struggle with when times are tough. I took two pages of notes…I haven’t had that much to jot down in years!
And then came the Family Meeting…preceeding the offering…topic…the building fund…the expansion plan… the update…the offering speech
And the synic in me thought ‘here goes, the pulling of the heart strings to give to the Lord’s work’.
But what I heard instead, was the single most refreshing sentence I have heard from the pulpit in years.
“For those of you who have given so generously, thank you.
For those of you who CAN NOT give, that is okay, you are where the Lord has you”
I noted that the pastor didn’t say, those of you who don’t give, or those of you who have not discovered the secret of giving, he said those of you who CAN NOT Give.
Thank you Lord, this dear Pastor understands that there are times in our lives when we can not give, and the Lord is not requiring us to, nor is He looking down upon us because we don’t, nor is He withholding blessing from us!
I hope he doesn’t get a bad wrap for being the Anti-tithe!
He certainly isn’t against tithing, or giving, or opposed to an offering,.
He is afterall pastoring the wealthiest church in town. But it isn’t because he has abused his postion, and convinced people to give when they shouldn’t.
God Bless those who CAN NOT give,
God bring peace to their hearts,
God provide for their needs,
God reward their good deeds.