Archives for April 2014

The Truth About Tithing

Hand_carved_offering_plate_Wikimedia Commons 300

For obvious reasons, it’s important that Christians know the truth about tithing. That is, does the Bible actually require that we “tithe” ten percent of our income to a local church?

Although it is a privilege for Christians to give to the Lord’s work with a willing and cheerful heart, joyful giving has largely been replaced by the burdensome, so-called obligation of tithing. For poor churchgoers, this typically means giving money that they desperately need out of an ill-fated presumption (or perhaps an ignorant, yet genuine faith) that the Lord will supply their needs.

The more I learn about the Bible’s teachings on this popular teaching, the more I disagree with the notion that God expects every Christian to tithe ten percent of their income to a local church. Here are my recent tweets on this topic, sent from my Twitter account @Genesis_Guy:

I do not expect to ever again give generously to a minister who says that giving to him and his ministry is giving to God.

Putting God in the middle may sound pious, but it’s presumptuous to tell donors their money is going to God.

It’s also a subtle evasion of responsibility. More layers between the donor and recipient means less accountability.

Ministers should receive offerings as from the Lord, but not tell us we are giving them to the Lord.

If I choose to give to a minister as unto God, that’s between me and the Lord, not for the minister to tell me.

Next time a minister says people are giving to the Lord, I will ask, “Where’s the fire?” | “What fire?”…

“You know. You put the offerings on the fire, and the smoke goes up to the Lord. So, shall I bring a round of beef to go with it?”

A preacher may not only say that giving to them is giving to the Lord, but also that we owe him a tithe on our gross income.

While it’s true that no church can enforce a tithe, terms like “recommended minimum” of 10% impose a legalistic burden.

Ask exactly how tithing worked in the Old Testament, and most pastors won’t have a clue.

Yes, they tell us to obey a Bible command that they themselves may know little about.

Tithes allowed families to celebrate feast days; went to the poor; paid for government functions; and went up in smoke.

We don’t have to burn offerings to the Lord; we pay taxes for government services; and many of us are poor and in need of a vacation.

A certain amount, hard to determine, did go to Levites. They also received towns & lands, giving them the ability to earn income.

The Apostle Paul gave no commandment concerning a tithe, but only accepted voluntary offerings (2 Cor. 9:7).

Paul would surely have condemned mandatory tithing as an attempt to be justified by the Law.

Here’s the truth about giving in two simple tweets…

True discipleship means recognizing that everything we own belongs to God.

We should give generously & joyfully as the Holy Spirit directs, not as men command. Click To TweetGod will bless us as we do so.

For further information on tithing, see these articles: The Lie of Tithing and How Much Do You Really Know About Tithing?.

Ministers across the globe have taught that we should be willing to give even our last coin, just as the poor widow in the temple gave her last mite (Lk. 21:1-4). However, that wasn’t Jesus’ point at all, as pastor John MacArthur explained in his sermon, The Myth of the Widow’s Mite.

Thoughts on Justice, Grace, and Wisdom

As citizens of a heavenly kingdom, Christians should think seriously about divine justice and our relationship with the secular court system. In all things, our lives should be a reflection of God’s grace and wisdom.

Before I begin, I would like to explain the kind of post you are seeing here. As some of you know, I occasionally preach a little “sermon” on Twitter. Unfortunately, it can take a great deal of time and work to convey the same ideas in a blog post, due to all the transitions and further thoughts. This can easily extend a few tweets into one of my typical, lengthy posts.

In this post, however, I’m only posting the tweets I sent, along with responses. If I have to add something to a tweet, I will use brackets as I did in one of the lines below. Another thing I plan to do in “tweet posts” is to not always include a picture. This will make it easier for me to focus on getting the tweets published. The tweets will make it very convenient for anyone who may want to share this post on a social media channel such as Twitter.

I know you are here to read about justice, so here it is…

My Thoughts on Justice

I will send some posts. Let me know if you think I may not be getting it from the Bible…

Christians should seek to judge matters among ourselves instead of taking one another to court (1 Cor. 6:1-7).

Jesus commanded us to make peace with and befriend our adversary instead of letting ourselves be taken to court (Mt. 5:25).

We should not take other people to court when we should instead be forgiving them.

(This is not to say we must either forgive or take someone to court. We may need to go to court to prevent someone from harming others).

Thus, based on the teachings of Paul and our Lord, Christians should have as little to do with secular courts as possible.

Based on the teachings of Scripture, Christians should have as little to do with secular courts as possible.Click To Tweet

We can quibble over details of this, but frankly I wasn’t taught this in any church, except in the Mennonite tradition.

When we have a legal dispute with another Christian, do we look to secular law only, or also to the Bible?

Responses:

@Tonianni: @Genesis_Guy how about Justice?

@Tonianni: @Genesis_Guy Paul has recommendations, however this can’t be used for all cases

@Genesis_Guy: @Tonianni It takes a lot of wisdom to know how to handle different situations. Secular courts are always an option in certain cases.

@Genesis_Guy: @Tonianni  If it’s a matter of criminal justice, the state will go after them anyway.

@Genesis_Guy: @Tonianni If it’s a matter of being a witness in a criminal justice case, we might do well to recall what the bishop did in Les Miserables.

@Tonianni: @Genesis_Guy that always tears me up

@Genesis_Guy: @Tonianni Yeah, me too. Grace goes beyond our sense of right and wrong.

@DrJonFDewey: @Genesis_Guy This is one of the gravest weaknesses in the church of America. Church members should never be suing a church or fellow members.

@Genesis_Guy: @DrJonFDewey Yes. Ideally, it should be handled within the church, including monetary restitution when appropriate.

@DrJonFDewey: @Genesis_Guy Suing someone for “wrongs” is often passive-aggressive punishing. We are to be more mature and work problems out.

@Genesis_Guy: @DrJonFDewey Amen! Children argue and fight. Adults should try to understand one another.

My Thoughts on the Wisdom of Solomon

I’m not surprised that Solomon’s one request was that God would give him a heart of wisdom to know how to render judgment.

Too often, we deliberately avoid thinking about difficult questions like the ones that Solomon struggled with.

Solomon began his kingship by praying for wisdom to do justice, but ended it with oppression and forced labor. This was a complete turnaround for him.

I collected some articles related to nonviolence at http://www.scoop.it/t/christian-nonviolence Made a few comments also.

My thoughts above were partly inspired by the article, Disputes Between Christians in Direction Journal, Fall 2010. I highly recommend it.

Thank you, Antonia and Jon, for having shared your thoughts. All of you are free to continue this conversation in the comments below.