Friday, January 11, 2008

What's the Deal with Tithing?

If I were to ask, "What percentage comes to mind when you think of the word tithe?" Your response would be, "10%."
Though 10% is a good idea, it falls far short of the teachings of Jesus. My critique of tithing 10% is that we have legalized it. Allow me to flesh this out:
Nowhere in the NT does Jesus say to give 10%.
However, here is how we often think--"Every paycheck I give 10% to God and the other 90% goes to me (mortgage, rent, loans, bills, entertainment, etc.)
This idea of "10% to God/church and 90% to everything else" doesn't parallel with the good news of Jesus.
I'm not the only one that has thought like the following--if something else comes up worth giving to, we are more prone to restructure our 10% tithe than we are to restructure our 90%. The mortgage/rent has to be paid every month, right? Bills and loans must be paid, right? If these things aren't paid, we suffer penalties and late fees. If our tithe is late, nobody knows. We aren't severely punished.
So, if something pops up worth giving to, we think, "Well, this month, I will give 6% to the church and 4% to this other effort." Instead of thinking, "I'll give up Starbuck's for a month" or "We'll cut back on our DISH Network plan."
I like a lot of things about Dave Ramsey, but here is what I don't like about Dave and other Christian speakers who talk about money management and debt--they spend 98% of their time talking how to work with the 90% that we have in order to make life better. Then, they sum it up by saying, "And...most importantly, give 10%."
Jesus never says, "Give 10%." Here's what Jesus demands from us--"COMPLETE SURRENDER!" Here is the question worth wrestling with--"How can we bring everything we are and everything we have under the Lordship of Jesus?"
This question will force us to rethink our home as a place of hospitality...our television as a place where people can come to watch shows or big games...our front porches...our vehicles...

Someone might say, "Ramsey is right. Focus on getting out of debt and then you will be able to give more money." My response is this, "People don't understand how difficult it is to transport the time and energy given to managing money "over to" surrendering everything to Jesus."

What is the most difficult thing or place in your life to bring under the Lordship of the Risen Lord?
I invite your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Surrending my time is the hardest thing to bring under the Lordship of Jesus. It is so easy to be busy with things that are worthwhile but not necessary. Money is not as much an issue for me after I paid off all of my credit cards and pay the balance each month.

Anonymous said...

Josh, your next-to-last paragraph is very perceptive. (not that I'm surprised ;-)

I once overheard two people discussing the price of this or that vegetable or canned good from the grocery store ads in the paper. I somewhat admired the frugality of the two parties as I listened. Finally a fourth party interrupted, "Please, this isn't even a conversation!" Reply was, "You'd think differently if you had to go without... the Great Depression... etc." Quick answer was, "It's just another form of greed."

Everything needs to be surrendered, even our frugality. Fallen frugality is Scroogality.

Unfortunately I'm not too frugal so I'll have to surrender something else...


Jeff said...

I was talking to an Elder at another church once and he said he had been asked to speak on giving before the church announced his new budget. He told me he didn't think they were going to get what they had hoped for because his understanding of giving in the NT was that we are to give all, not just a percentage. Maybe if we all approached giving to God with that mentality, percentages wouldn't matter, just how our heart was square with our Maker.

Brandon Scott said...

enjoying Midland. Wish YOU were here.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts! I agree the battle is not really money but the struggle to surrender ourselves "to the Lordship of Christ." The way we view/manage "our" money is a symptom of our failure. I'm guilty!