Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tithing......

I've been thinking about tithing lately, so I decided to blog about it and see if I can get any comments.

As far as I know, tithing is only mentioned in the Old Testament. I could be wrong on that. Jesus does say in the NT to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's.... so the argument could be made that He is referring to the tithe. I'm not out to argue whether to tithe or not. It does seem even the most conservative of churches pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to follow or reason away, especially when it comes to the Old Testament, but whether or not tithing is only Old Testament, I am going with the premise that yes, we are to tithe one tenth to God - plus offerings.

What I want to get at, is where to tithe. If I remember right, the one verse says to bring your tithes into the storehouse. So where is the storehouse? Ask pretty much any preacher and they will say where you are getting "fed". Spiritually of course - your church. Of course they would say that - think they want your money going somewhere else? ;-)

When those verses were written, there wasn't a church. There was the tabernacle. And only one tabernacle..... so of course the tithe went there. Enter the New Testament and the Church. Back then there were no denominations, and probably far less churches than we have nowadays. We can assume tithe was paid into the church, but it was used for more than to pay the pastor and the bills. It was used to take care of widows and orphans.

But what if God doesn't care where our tithes go? As long as it is used for Him? I have some blogger friends, Craig & Heather, who go to a church where it is practiced that you put your tithe where you feel God wants you to put it. In the church, to missionaries, to someone having financial difficulties. Scriptural? Maybe so. I find it hard to believe that God just wants our tithe to go toward padded pews, new hymnbooks, refreshments for the youth gathering, etc.

I know I criticize my church a lot, but hey, it is my church. Better than criticizing yours. :-) I am going to go out on a limb here, and someone from my church may saw it off. So here goes....

What if you feel your church spends money unwisely? My church furnishes a house for the pastor to live in and pays all bills that comes along with the house. We had a decent house, but we did need more room. A wise thing would have been to build on...... but no, we purchased land and built a large, expensive house. A house that costs a lot more to heat, cool, etc. And don't get me wrong.... I want the pastor to have a nice place, but we went majorly into debt to build what is almost a mansion.... was that truly a wise investment of God's money?

Exhibit B: every year we get someone in to have our vacation Bible school. We pay them around $1000.00 for the week, as I understand - and that is all well and good. Meanwhile, everyone too old for the VBS, ages 13-? meet at the pastor's and different people from church speak eacj night on different topics. Something that has worked out well. This year, they got someone to come and do the whole week. So we paid around $1000 for the kid's VBS worker, and I'd guess $1000.00 for the youth speaker..... my church runs around 220-250, and we aren't exactly running over with cash....

The main reason the above bothers me is this: Take a trip with me about 2 1/2 hours east of me to a small place called Hillsdale, PA. My little sister and her husband pastor a small country church there, running in the 40's and 50's most Sundays. They did get someone to come for their VBS, but couldn't afford to pay someone for the whole week, so they did 3 days instead of 5. That made me sad, and when I see what my church spends on VBS, especially this year, it makes me wonder...... do we have our priorities where they should be? Instead of wasteful spending, shouldn't we be sending money to smaller churches that need it? Instead of building mansions and getting more speakers than we need?

And what is wrong with sending our tithe where it is needed more? Granted, it is God's money, not ours, but I don't want it used wastefully. The argument could be made that if everyone sent their tithe elsewhere, the church would collapse in financial ruin. Maybe. Maybe not. If people sought God's will, I believe it would all even out. Sure, my church might not be able to throw out $2000 for a week of VBS, but so what. Maybe churches would be more careful how they spend money if they had a little less.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. It IS God's money, and I seriously doubt He cares if we give our tithe where it is needed more, instead of dropping it in the offering plate at our church. Here is a scenario to put it in perspective: Say my church takes in $500,000 a month in tithes alone - doubt it is that high, but I'm sure it is more than needed for normal expenses..... Would God be happier if that money was used on unnecessary ways, or put where it is needed - for a need outside of the church.

I believe Christianity in general has slipped far from what God intended. We are so shallow, selfish, self-absorbed, busy. Most of us are too caught up by the world we live in to listen to what God is saying to us, too busy to seek His will. We want a fast food, drive through religion..... but what if God wants something different with us? With our money? What if His will isn't always for our tithe to go in the offering plate at church, but go instead to hurting needing people, or even to smaller churches that are struggling financially?

In closing, I only used my church as an example because it is the one I am familiar with. I am sure there are churches guilty of even more wasteful and selfish spending.

Meanwhile, I am strongly considering sending my tithe to a small country church in Hillsdale, PA. It could be what God wants.

4 comments:

Annette said...

In the OT a 10th of everything- crops, etc. was taken to the temple and given to the priests, they would then distribute to the Levite's which was a 10th of Israel.
In the NT the only Scripture I know of that could be related to tithing is in 2 Corinthians 2:6-7
"Now this 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."
And then of course there is the story of the widow. She gave everything that she had Luke 21:1-4

Connie said...

First of all, I'm glad you are thinking about tithing. It is a good thing to do. God blesses those who give back to him. (Ok, so I had to start off taking your comment out of context!)

It is between you and God where you give your tithe/offerings.

As for the parsonage, yes, it is big and it is nice, but it serves the purpose of entertaining much better than the old place. Could we have gotten along with the old one? Yes, I suppose so.

Total for the VBS workers was under $1600. If we had used local (our own church people) we would have paid them too. It is good to give the local workers a break and there are those who dedicate their time to preparing for VBS. I didn't get any feedback from the Youth so don't know how that went, but the kids loved theirs. Figuring roughly 120 kids each night, I figure maybe we "spent" $1-2/kid/day, including snacks. That doesn't seem extravagant to me when we are trying to impact souls for eternity. We aren't spending money on crafts that we used to make. I don't know how much we spent on that but I'm sure it was quite a bit.

Have you checked out how much the church gives to needy/pioneer/missions? It is significant. Also there is the school. I guarantee there would not be an SWA (from which your neices benefit) if it wasn't for the church and the generous contributors and tithers. The tuition and charges don't nearly cover payroll. It is the church that takes up the slack. And I don't feel the school is being extravagant in student/teacher ratio or that they are paying the teachers too high. I'm just saying, our church has invested in itself but it is also a very giving church. Yes smaller churches may need help but we all see needs where WE see them. If you feel God wants you to give to a certain area, then what is that to anyone else?

I'm not trying to convince you not to send part/all of your tithe to Hillsdale, cause it is a good church, but maybe you need to be aware of more things the church does.

There are more aspects than money too. What about the time the SS teachers, youth, and Bible study teachers give to preparing and giving their lessons. What about those who call on the kids, visit the sick, help someone move, giving items for a missions trip, etc. There are a lot of helpers behind the scenes helping the pastor and the church.

Gary said...

God gave His definition as a tenth of crops and animals which came from God's hand, not man's income. God NEVER commanded anyone to tithe on anything that man made or earned. Leviticus 27:30-33.

The ordinances (instructions, or laws) for The Lord's Tithe are in Numbers 18. God gave strict orders to take His tithe to the Levites. God NEVER changed that command. Anyone who takes God's tithe to anyone other than the Levites is being disobedient to God's Word.

There are others tithes in the Bible such as the Festival Tithe and the Tithe for the Poor. It is The Lord's Tithe that churches pattern their teaching after.

Church leaders ignore God's definition of His tithe, and ignore God's ordinances for His tithe. They change the words to fit their pocketbook. This is nothing but manipulation of God's Word. They are false teachers.

The Bible CLEARLY SHOWS that the tithe ENDED at the cross in the Book of Hebrews. In the first nine verses of Hebrews 7 the words tenth or tithes appears SEVEN TIMES. The ONLY place in the Bible, after Calvary, that tithing appears is in Hebrews 7.

In Hebrews 7:5 we are told that Levi (the Levites) took the tithes under the law. In Hebrews 7:12 we are told that when the priesthood changes, the law will change. Hebrews 7:18 is telling us that Numbers 18 was disannulled. Numbers 18 established the Levitical priesthood, and part of that establishing included tithing. When the Levitical priesthood ended (at Calvary, or at least in the year 70AD when the temple was destroyed), all laws that established that priesthood were canceled. If Numbers 18 wasn't canceled, we would still be under the Levitical priesthood.

The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent.

Give where there is a need. Let the Spirit guide you.

Merry said...

It is unusual to me to hear of having someone paid to do VBS. Churches I'm familiar with do a terrific job with volunteers for workers, food, craft supplies, ect. Each Church is different and has a unique way of doing things.

NT giving is not a duty(OT) but a blessing from a grateful heart.