2006-06-07 - Summer Questions
2006 #2 - Tithing Concern
Matthew 6:3, 4 "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you."
"MY OLDEST SON NEEDED SOME HELP TO PUT FOOD ON HIS TABLE AND I DIDN'T HAVE ANY EXTRA TO HELP HIM OUT SO I USED MY TITHE FOR THIS MONTH TO HELP HIM WAS THIS A SIN? I PRAYED ABOUT IT AND THAT WAS THE ONLY THING I HEARD WAS TO HELP HIM AND IN SO DOING THIS WOULD BRING HIM CLOSER TO BECOMING A BELIEVER."
I would like to begin by touching on your question and then move onto some more general principles regarding tithing. As to your question, whether it was a sin to use your tithe to help out your son, I don't think that it was. I am not a judge, but just giving you my personal opinion. I will be the first to say that we have a duty and responsibility to support the local church, and I am grieved when I hear of so many sending money into some of the clowns that pop up on TV, but we also have a responsibility to our family and relations that are close to us. I think you probably did what was needed, and I commend you for your desire that seeking to meet his needs, in the name of Christ, will bring him closer to a relationship with the Lord.
The principle of a tithe of ten percent goes back before Moses. We see in Genesis 14:20 that Abram, before the name change to Abraham, gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek. This is taken up again in Hebrews 7:1, 2. We also see the principle of a tithe of 10% in Numbers 18:21, where Moses instructs that the Levites should be given 10%. Throughout history, this principle of the 10% has been the common practice in the church for those who follow Christ. However, there currently is a strong opposition among many to giving the 10%. There really is actually not that much spoken about giving 10% in the New Testament. Paul does, however, speak clearly about giving, to the church at Corinth, and it almost seems that the practice of giving was more assumed than a set requirement of a set amount.
I would like to take this in a slightly different direction and delve into our attitude regarding giving to the work of the Lord. It is interesting that in Exodus we find that giving to the work of the Lord, in building the temple, was for "every man whose heart moved him" (Exodus 25:2). Throughout this long section of Scripture, we see phrases concerning giving such as "Whoever is of a willing heart" (35:5), "everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him" (35:21), "everyone whose heart stirred him" (36:2), and so on. Some gave more than others, but the giving to the Lord's work was such that the leaders had to tell the people to stop giving. They had enough. Wouldn't that be amazing to see today? Don't hold your breath.
Whether you take the 10% principle, which I think is a good one, whether you tithe before or after taxes are factored in, and tithe on your net or gross pay, that really is a matter between you and the Lord. We do need to support our local churches. Some are really struggling, and it might mean a little sacrifice on our part, but who of us does not need a little tightening of the belt? We are a self-indulgent society, and Christians are guilty of trying to "keep up" with the worldliness rampant around us, when in truth we are not supposed to be living for this world. Rather, our reward is in Heaven. If you happen to die with nicer stuff, and more toys than your neighbor, you have not won, but surely the church has lost.
I would encourage you to give liberally to the work of the Lord. Give of your finances, yes, but also give of your time, gifts, and the various capabilities that the Lord has endowed you with. The phrase, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7), applies to all of life. God knows our hearts, and thus let our giving be as it was in 1 Chronicles 29:9, with our "whole heart." It should not be a burden to give to the Lord, a tax for being a Christian, but rather we should joyfully support the Lord's work in our lives through our local church.
Soli Deo Gloria,