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!