Thursday, January 10

Simple giving for simple churches

When Malachi 3:10 "storehouse tithing" ceases to be the standard for how much and where we give, many are left wondering:

--to whom then should I give?
--how much should I give?
--when is the right time to give?

In simple churches, simple giving is based upon Jesus' own words and teaching on the subject of giving:

"Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

...and further clarified by Paul's admonitions:

"I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

In trying to adhere to these principles, a rule of thumb for me is to align my giving with what I believe are the three overarching commands of Jesus Christ as given to his followers:

1) love God
2) love others
3) make disciples

So if I am in doubt about the who, what, when, where, and how much, I simply ask myself these questions: is this money a way to express my love for God?  Is this a way to love others?  Will this giving help make disciples?

If the answer is yes, give.
If the answer is no, don't.

As for how much ...I find Paul's words liberating in that whatever I purpose in my heart becomes the "how much" I should be giving.

I respect those who by conviction believe the whole tithe should be given to their local church because that is what they have purposed in their heart.  I can think of a lot of good reasons why many would choose to do so. Where I have the problem is when the tithing is done out of thinking (fear?) they must do so, or be in disobedience to Malachi 3:10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."

If we insist on Malachi 3:10 as binding upon New Testament believers, it stands we should follow through and take our "whole tithe" to the temple in Jerusalem--not to our local churches. Since the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and yet to be rebuilt, it is quite a jump in Biblical interpretation/application to say we must now take the "whole tithe" (10%) to our local church where we are members.

We are not Jews under the Law of Moses. Romans 3:19 says, "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law..." 

and Galatians 5:4, "you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."

If we are trying to be justified by the Law, then we must keep the WHOLE Law, not just the parts we like: "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law...because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes all the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)

My point in the above is not to start a theological debate, but to simply state, we are not under the Law of Moses. When Christ rose from the dead, he established a New Covenant. We are under this new dispensation. The new takes the place of the old. Paul spends considerable time in his letters to the Romans and Galatians clarifying these truths for us.

If in doubt as to who/what/when/where/how much to give, ask the Holy Spirit. It really is just that simple!


felicitydale said...

I totally agree with what you've said here. The "to tithe or not to tithe" debate is not easy. I've been really helped in this by the concept that when the elders in Jerusalem delivered their edict to the Gentile churches, there were very few instructions they gave--not to eat meat sacrificed to idols, abstain from immorality, remember the poor etc. Old Testament practices such as tithing, circumcision were not even mentioned.

In this, as in everything, we listen to Jesus and do what he says.

J. Guy Muse said...


Good reminder about the Acts 15 minimum requirements the J. church gave to their Gentile brethren did not include OT practices such as tithing, etc. I hadn't thought of that, but think it significant. If OT tithing was supposed to be part of the Gentile believers practices, it would have been mentioned in their letter. It was not.

Bruce Dickey said...

Excellent article Guy. The tithe was beautiful when created and had specific purpose in Deut. 12 and Deut. 14. After that well, the love of money corrupts, nothing strange about that. Tithing today in some churches is used to manipulate the giver. It can and is used as a minimum price of admission. It is also used as a criteria for membership. In both cases it is quite legalistic, not to mention theologically unsound as it is definitely in the wrong Covenant when laid on the back of believers under the New Covenant.

Giving can and should be motivated from the spirit and is a grace of the new covenant. Ten percent is a great starting place, but we are not limited to that. Jesus said my sheep hear my voice and the voice of a stranger, or tv preacher they will not follow. grin. Local is best, extra local is harder to judge, but probably more necessary to fulfill the great commission and greatest commandments. Blessings Bro, Bruce Dickey

J. Guy Muse said...


Thanks for stopping by and for the thoughtful comment. I agree that 10% or more is a good place to begin in giving. One of the problems we have come up is people not giving at all because we are "not obliged to tithe". If anything, and with Jesus' promise of the measure we give out being returned to us, we should be giving more than ever to see that His Name is preached amongst the nations.

Dennis Herman said...

Thanks for reminding that giving is not a legalistic obligation. We give generously from the graciousness of love we know in our faith.

J. Guy Muse said...

Amen, Dennis.

Bob Cleveland said...

You'd think the Baptist Faith & Message would address the issue of tithing, but it doesn't. It merely says (working from memory here...) believers should give of their resources to the Lord's work "Cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionally, and liberally".

I think it's a small minority of Baptists who've ever learned that. Most just go along with the OT tithe requirement, and do or don't actually do it.

J. Guy Muse said...


That's interesting. I'll have to look up the article in the BF&M and see if it actually says "Lord's work." If so, I believe it is right on, even though many pastors (and I am referring to Ecuador here) continue to preach "bring the whole tithe into the storehouse."

J. Guy Muse said...

Here is a direct quote from BF&M2000:
XIII. Stewardship
God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have
and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole
world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their
possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time,
talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted
to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the
Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly,
systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the
Redeemer’s cause on earth.

Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1-4,19-
21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35;
Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 12:15;
Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19.