Friday, October 21, 2005

Money, the root of...?

Lately, I've been struggling with the whole tithing thing. The argument behind tithing is that it's Biblical and must therefore be practiced. I disagree. Here's why:

The fact is; most of the passages in the Bible that address tithing are were directed at Israel specifically; not the the body of Christ. Israel had a certain obligation to live by the law; so much more so than we do now. I mean, if we were to bind ourselves to law, then we'd need to build brazen alters outside of the church so that we could offer up bulls, goats, and sheep. Likewise, anyone who works on the Sabbath (especially those who didn't tithe) needs to be executed. Yikes!

I guess that what bothers me the most is not the misuse of Scripture - but the constant head beatings by pastors about why we need to tithe and what will happen if we don't. They use Malachi 3:8-10 (about "robbing" God) and watch people come diving to the offering plates thinking that if they gave their 10%, God would give them something tangible in return (a car, a new job, a home, etc.) First of all, let me just say that God isn't required to give us anything! God is not some vending machine where you drop a few dollars, hit some faith buttons, and get what you want. By expecting to receive stuff because of our giving is actually robbing him just as much as not giving at all.

While we're on it, since when is money the only thing we should emphasize?! Shouldn't time and talents be included in that giving matrix? We've gotten to the point where we put a price tag on our love for and commitment to Christ. Money can't be the only premium. Otherwise, Jesus would have rejected the widow's offering of two coins (in Luke 21:3-4) and placed more emphasis on the rich cats who brought in their hoards of money.

You've got people who run to church, scream and shout, give all their money - and, at the end of the day have actually done nothing to advance God's kingdom. Now tell me, who's robbing God now?!

The Bible teaches us in II Corinthians 9:7 not to give out of "grudge or out of necessity..." We should give because of our love for God and how He continues to bless us not because we want to perpetuate the classism that comes with tithing or because someone put us on a guilt trip. I think that God would rather see someone give a single dollar cheerfully than a person who gives a $100 for show, with an attitude, or out of fear of what would happen (or wouldn't happen) if they didn't. Don't get me wrong: God will use the contributions from the people I just mentioned. But, I believe that He prefers the cheerful giver.

I really wish people would keep these sorts of things in mind the next time we hear a fifteen minute rant about the importance of giving. I can almost guarantee that when a person TRULY walks with God, they won't hesitate to give anything to Him; time, talents...

...and, of course, money!


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light noise said...

I never thought of it that way. You raised some interesting points