Friday, May 30, 2008

Where Your Treasure Is

From Titus 1:9 comes an important question. It seems that tithing is in decline and only about 5% of the country practice it.

We are a society who loves the illusion of control. We want to be in control and we want to control others. We like "authority" when it is ours to wield and don't like it when we have to yield to authority. The whole sexuality mess that the Episcopal Church (and other denominations as well) is in is about authority.

As I said in "What are we," we don't need to be in control. We need to surrender. That includes surrendering our finances. How you spend your money will tell you what you think of God and how much you trust Him. One of the biggest problems with "controlling" our finances is that they start to control us. The tighter we grip our money, the more our money controls us, not the other way around.

We need to surrender our finances to God as part of our own surrender. Are you tithing? If so, great! I would urge you to find new ways to surrender to God. If you are not tithing, I urge you to take the necessary steps to tithing (10% - off the top). Set a goal of tithing and set out a plan to get there. Make it a priority in your life. It will cause you to give up some things, but it will also increase your faith like nothing else in the world.

If you are part of the "one Lord, one Faith, one Buck" crowd, I urge you to set a goal of giving a percentage of your income now - start as large as you can - say 3 to 5 percent of your income. Then, gradually increase the percentage you give until you are at or over 10%.

I believe how we treat our money is one of the largest indicators of what we really believe about God. It is a very good measure of our faith.

Phil Snyder


David said...

One thing to remember about the Old Testament tithe is that the tithe was in essence an income tax supporting the temple/monarchy/government. The old question of tithing before or after taxes is valid and figuring in the taxes paid toward the 10% figure needs to be factored into the equations.

plsdeacon said...

Hi David - thanks for your comment.

God wants the "first fruits" of our labors. The problem with "after tax" is "which tax?" federal income tax, state income tax, FICA, Medicare, city taxes, sales taxes, property taxes?

The goal of the tithe is not to give 10%. The goal of the tithe is to begin to surrender control of your finances to God. When you start barganing with God about 10% of what, you probably haven't surrendered control of your finances to Him yet. But remember, that none of us have completely done that yet either.

Phil Snyder

russkellyphd said...

Phil Snyder
You discuss tithing as if it were a universal law which cannot be refuted. After having done my PHD thesis on the subject I concluded that the doctrine is indefensible for Christians who were never under any tithing commandment.
You asked, “Are you tithing?” There are 16 biblical texts which describe the contents of tithes. Although money was essential the tithes were always only food from farmers and herdsmen from inside Israel. Therefore the answer to your question is “Nobody tithes today.”
While many Christians can and should give more than 10%, there is no percentage for Christians. We are to give sacrificially, generously, joyfully and from love motivated by the Holy Spirit.
You said that the tithe was “10% - off the top.” However the firstfruits and tithes were never the same in God’s Word. The tithe was the tenth and could only be calculated after the full harvest. Compare Numbers 18; Deuteronomy 26:1-4 and Nehemiah 10:35-37. The firstfruits were very small token gifts.
You said “Set a goal of tithing and set out a plan to get there. Make it a priority in your life.” Sounds good but it is not biblical. Second Corinthians 8:12-14 gives us the equality principles: many give more and some give less while still giving sacrificially.
There are at least 25 tithing principles found in the Bible and NONE are followed by any church today! For example, the Bible required that those who received the first Levitical tithe were not allowed to own or inherit property. How many preachers follow this rule?
You wrote “The goal of the tithe is to begin to surrender control of your finances to God.” Again it sounds good but is not biblical. The OT tithe was cold law with no emotions required. It is wrong to turn it into something foreign to God’s Word. The OT tithe was no even used for mission work.

Robert said...

Aside from the biblical arguments pro and con, one problem is a problem of trust. People don't trust religious leadership that much anymore, and while I have never heard of Episcopal priests buying horse ranches and million dollar castles, in the larger society these stories of corrupt pastors are legion.

However... things cost money. The air conditioning and lights cost money. The various ministries and outreaches cost money. Yes, salaries cost money. I would say that it is incumbent on the leadership to address these issues of trust, to make their use of money as transparent as humanly possible. To be proactive in telling people where their money goes. It is also incumbent on the people to give, if they want their church to still be there when they go on Sunday Morning.