Monday, 15 November 2010

Do Christians need to tithe?

As soon as the word "money" or "tithe" is mentioned in the church, people either get suspicious, offended, frustrated, excited or self-righteous. Why is that?

I believe there is confusion in the Body of Christ regarding tithing. Asking whether Christians need to tithe is the wrong question as it already assumes that tithing is either a requirement or not. Subsequently people will try to prove that the believer is either still obligated to tithe because it was practiced before the giving of the law (see Matt. 23:23; Hebrew 7:1-10) or people will argue that the believer is no longer under law and is therefore not obligated to tithe, using Scriptures like: 2 Cor. 9:7; Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:14).

The question is not whether the believer is supposed to tithe or not. The question is rather

"What reveals the heart of God?"

When the Church was filled with the Holy Spirit, she was filled with God. Subsequently, all the believers, filled with the love of God (because God is love - 1 John 4:15,16), laid down their lives for one another by not holding on to anything for themselves.

"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." Acts 2:44

The evidence of the believers being filled with God was that they became selfless, considering their lives to have been bought with a price and no longer belonging to themselves but to God (see 2 Cor. 5:14,15).

This spirit of generosity was a work the Lord brought forth in the hearts of the believers. There was no longer the sense of obligation to a law but the overflow of love, demonstrated by their giving. Giving became a heart issue and it was insincerity and hypocrisy that offended God when Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be completely selfless (see Acts 5).

God looks at the heart. If the believer wants to honour God with what God provides for him, he will tithe because that is the model God has revealed to His people. When believers live in the fear of the Lord and seek to do what pleases Him, they will search the Scriptures to find out what God's heart is.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Proverbs 3:3-10

Giving the firstfruits of what we receive in the form of the tithe (10% of our income) because we acknowledge God and want to honour Him is God's way for His people that also brings many blessings (see Mal. 3:10).

As the tithe honours God so an offering reveals His love. In 2 Cor. 8 and 9, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthians to take up a collection for the other churches to demonstrate their love.

"I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it to the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2 Cor. 8:8,9

Paul is not talking about tithing here! He is talking about believers demonstrating their love for one another by meeting each others' needs. Yes, there is the spiritual principle that "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will aslo reap generously" (2 Cor. 9:6) but it is not about laws and principles but about giving out of love.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor. 9:7

Could it be that Christians don't tithe and give offerings because of a lack of love and faith? Is it not our lack of trust in God and the hardness of our hearts that causes us to resist tithing and giving?

Let us search our hearts. Let's be honest with ourselves and ask why we don't give to others as we could. Ask the Lord to fill you afresh with His love and begin to overflow with His love by laying down your life for others and demonstrating the nature of your Father - the God who is love.

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