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Monday, July 13, 2009

XXXV. The Tithe

Last months poll asked: What effects your attitude the most about giving to the church financially? Most churches like all of the other institutions dependent upon finances are hurting economically. But the church should be different. First of all it is not an organization like so many leaders try and make it. It is an organism! It lives and breathes. Secondly, the church is not dependent on the product. It doesn't have to sell anything to survive. Third the church is also not dependent upon any advertising. All of these of course financially speaking. The church is commanded to give as an Old Testament law. One tenth of all we own is supposed to go right back to God. Abraham set up this action in Genesis 14:20 before it became a law.
  • 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Abraham did it out of faith. Then when the Israelites left Egypt, many had no clue what faith really was so God put into law for them to understand. And from here on is was etched in stone.

  • 30 A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

Remember a tithe is a tenth of what you have. But there are other references needed to understand what the tithe really means. It's not only a tenth of what we own, but it's the first tenth of what we own. We are given examples of what this means when we see Cain and Abel. Cain gave his portions to the Lord, but Abel gave his first portions and the Lord blessed him.

We are also given a promise of what happens when we tithe. Malachi 3:8-12

  • 8 Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings.
  • 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.
  • 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
  • 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.
  • 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.

If we do what we are supposed to do then the body of God (Christ) will flourish. So why is the church in economic problems like the rest of the world? Here is the result of the poll:

  • 35% say that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Nothing hinders them. They give their tithe.
  • 30% say that something is getting in the way but it was not a choice given.
  • 20% say they do not like the programs that are going on with their local congregation.
  • 5% say the church is only worried about money.
  • 5% say giving isn't just about finances.
  • 5% say they can't afford it.

All of the above are either misinformed about what they do or are excuses not to give. Even if 35% do what they are supposed to do and the rest only do half then the church wouldn't be in the economic situation it is in. God has promised this! So, there must be more to it. The New Testament also talks about giving. But it goes into more detail in a way. The Old law also in Deuteronomy tells us we need to give according to the portions the Lord has blessed us. So if we make a lot then we should give a lot. But the New "law" says we need to give so much that our left hand doesn't know what our right hand has done. And since we have freely received stuff then we should freely give. Jesus also says that even though money is not the most important part of giving in Matthew 23, He says that we should not forget the law about it. Paul later tells that we should give according to our hearts. But our hearts are supposed to be filled with compassion for others. So why is the church still in economic despair? How about those excuses? The 20% who say that they do not like the way the church is running programs is not a valid reason. If they do not the way that local congregation is running then they need to give it somewhere else. The 5% that say the church is only worried about money is only showing selfishness and the fact that they do not know what the church actually does. This type of person is the one on the fence who wants to believe but can not find it within themselves to do so. So, they look for an excuse of not to give. This is also why some will fall from the curch because they get focused on the the money over the substance of what church is really about. The 5% that say giving is not only about finances is true but do not miss the law of giving! Give with a cheerful heart, money is part of the "game of life".

But even if these would be valid excuses the leadership needs to take these things into account. If 20% are not giving due to the fact that the church is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. Then why not look at that and see if changes are needed? Sometimes leadership gets bogged down with treating the church as an organization. But as it has been said before, the church is NOT an organization, it is an organism! If 65% are not giving or doing what they are supposed to be doing then maybe the leadership needs to look into that and be more open about the finances and how we are supposed to treat it. The 5% that say they can't afford it do not know what they actually can or can not afford. Maybe they have never tried it. These are also the ones who are young in their faith.

Ahh...faith. It comes back to this again as it started with Abraham. Giving is about faith. When you give have faith in what is done. Have faith that God will keep His promise.

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