Friday, September 29, 2017

Tithing - The Lies Stop Here!

You may think that the title of this particular teaching is too much, but what's really gone overboard are the Pastors out there who teach such nonsense about tithing (giving to God)!

Today's question comes from a woman who has found herself  GROWING in the Lord! (and quite by surprise)

Question: Pastor Keith, my whole life I've heard about tithing and why it's so important, but recently some things have occurred to me that never did before.  I know that I'm supposed to give 10%, but 10% of WHAT?  Is it 10% of my net income?  Is it 10% of my gross income?  Is it just 10% of my main income or am I supposed to include 10% of my bank account and 10% of my secondary income and 10% of my gifts too???  I find myself feeling guilty all the time, because lately when I listen to the Pastor of my church, it feels like I'm expected to be giving away everything!  Can you help?

Answer: Sister.... YES I CAN!  :)

In the Old Testament, we learn about tithing (giving to God) in the very first book of Genesis.  As you reach chapter 4, you discover the very first offerings made to God.  Cain and Abel (Adam and Eve's first 2 sons), we're told that Abel gave of his flock of sheep and Cain gave of his crops.  And as most of us learned in Sunday School, God accepted Abel's offering, rejected Cain's offering and the next thing you know, Cain kills Abel and tries to cover it up.  While it's a little off subject, I'm often asked WHY Cain killed Abel.  As Jesus says, John 5:39 - You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  Since Genesis, we learn (in many ways) that Jesus has been here since the very foundation of the universe.  As such, it's important to note that God never contradicts Himself, never corrects Himself & doesn't need to switch things up, just so they continue to make sense.  What that story in Genesis 4 teaches us, is that since the beginning, A SACRIFICE OF BLOOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN REQUIRED BY GOD, in order for God to forgive us of our sin.  Simply offering fruits or vegetables won't cut it.

As for the biblical principles of giving to God, as you read through scripture, you'll come across the book of Leviticus.  That entire book is devoted to explaining Levitical Law, which is basically a code of legal and moral practices - FOR THE JEWS.  In it, we can read about the expectations that were put on the Jewish people, as far as tithing is concerned.  (pay VERY close attention to the last sentence!)

Leviticus 27:32-34 - And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD. He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.' " These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.

As I always like to remind everyone, the 3 C's of reading the Bible are ESSENTIAL if you ever want to fully understand what you're reading.  What are the 3 C's?  Context, context, context!  You take the verse you're reading and put it into context with the chapter you're reading.  Then you take the chapter you're reading and put it into context with the book that you're reading.  And finally, you take the book you're reading and put it into context with the entirety of the Bible - Then and ONLY THEN can you have confidence that you've read and understood things correctly.

As you read the above passage, verse 34 makes it crystal clear that this was what the Lord commanded for Moses and the children of Israel to do - NOT THE CHRISTIANS.  But of course, that hasn't stopped wayward Pastors, Ministers, Priests & Reverends from using that scripture out of context for CENTURIES!  Simply reading those 3 verses without interpreting or twisting them around gives us 100% certainty that we've understood it AS GOD INTENDED US TO.

So where's the answer to the original question???

Paul has a way with words, so much so, that I couldn't explain this any better:

2 Corinthians 9:7 - So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Do you see what is going on here?  Paul is telling us to give whatever amount that you can CHEERFULLY give.  How much is that?  I can't say.  Paul tells us to "give as you purpose in your heart", meaning, if you're unhappy, feel obligated, forced or expected to give something, then you shouldn't give it.  In all that you give, you should remember that WHATEVER you give, should be SEEN AS and indeed TREATED AS giving to God Himself.  Remember, if God is our provider and if all that we have is received FROM HIM to begin with, then we are really just giving God back something that he shared with us to begin with!

For those of you who need a more specific answer to help you decide how much you should give, allow me to offer you this advice.  Instead of figuring out percentages and hard figures, sit down and look at how much you actually get to keep every month (from all sources) and how much you spend every month (including rent, phone, electric, water, etc) and see how much you have left over.  Take some of that and put it aside for a rainy day and give the rest as you see fit.  Which by the way, fits nicely into the passage above from Leviticus.  God never, ever implied that you should give all that you have, all the time, without ceasing.  God never intended for you to go hungry, just so that your Pastor could go out and buy a mansion and a new Mercedes and new suits, watches and other nonsense.  All the way back in Leviticus, God told the Jews that they should give the LAST TENTH, not the first 10th.  God has always wanted to make sure that HIS are taken care of!

Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Of course that naturally leads us to one last facet of this issue.  People want to know WHO they should give this money to.  Should it go to their church ONLY?  Should it go MANY different places?  The only advice I can give you here, is you should only give WHAT GOD PUTS ON YOUR HEART TO GIVE.  You should divide it as you feel LEAD TO GIVE IT.  There are countless homeless shelters, battered women's shelters, prison ministries & a multitude of other Christian charities that would be truly grateful to receive what you would give to God.  But please, whatever you do, never let ANYONE manipulate you or otherwise convince you to give that offering ANYWHERE that you don't feel lead (by the Holy Spirit) to give it.

So that's it, that's my basic teaching on tithing / giving to God.  If you spend the time and read your bible like you should, you will uncover much, Much, MUCH more about this subject.

If you have any questions or comments about this, please feel free to leave your comments below!

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