I've written on why I don't tithe before. The original comments from that post were lost in the site migration this past summer, but that post stirred up some pretty heated discussion and passionate thoughts on semantics, giving, and theology. My position remains, though, and I don't see it changing. In fact, I ask the Holy Spirit regularly that He would not change my heart on it because to live open-handedly takes more faith for me than tithing regularly does. I want to put myself in positions that require more faith over less. I'd recommend you read this post as a preface before reading the post below.
Today I'd like to write a bit about how we should give and why I think it's important not only for me, but for the Body of Christ.
We give humbly (Eph. 4.2) because we can never repay what He has done for us. That we are breathing and walking is grace enough, but that we spend eternity with Him? There is no cost too high. We are not repaying him by giving to others, but we are making a tangible expression to others of His love for us. Giving is tangible evidence that God has come down and changed our lives. We give of the overflow of that—even if the overflow feels only a trickle.
We give circumspectly (Mark 12:42-44) because it is possible to wrongly attribute worth to something that has no worth in God's eyes or is priceless in God's eyes. For example, the widow's two pennies were worth more than the pharisees loud millions, not because the pennies could accomplish more, but because God determines worth, not man. We may be presented with a need in the amount of $2000, but can only give $200, so we ought to give the $200. God accomplishes His purpose, we just get to partake in the process.
We give joyfully (2 Cor. 9.7) because there is a need to be met and we are equipped to meet that need. What other reason should we need to give joyfully?
We give prayerfully (Rom. 12.15) because investing even two pennies into a need invests us in the brokenness of a situation. We acknowledge by giving that we are broken people in a broken world desperately in need of the Father's care. So we do so prayerfully, not flippantly, because we need to feel a measure of the brokenness into which we're entering. This is good for us.
We give quickly (Matt. 6.33) because the Kingdom of God is at hand. There is work to be done and we can help get it done.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Now I'm going to say something that might be mildly unpopular to talk about, but I think if we make it personal, it becomes very, very important to the health of the local church:
First let it be said that I work for a non-profit that brings the gospel to third world countries, rescues women/children from sex-trafficking, puts water wells in poverty stricken villages. I am not unaware of the needs of the nations, nor am I advocating that we ignore those needs (though I think the way the US gives needs a radical overhaul). Second let it be said that my salary is paid by men and women who are invested in the local church, giving regularly to their churches which in turn support us. So I am not in any way advocating that we stop giving to our local churches. I am on the giving and receiving end of this, and I will continue to invest in the nations and receive the blessing of those giving to their local church.
The Church ought to be the first place we invest our finances—not because we want to build bigger buildings or buy better communion crackers, but because the Church is not a building or a staff or a pastor or a program. The Church is you and me, and we might be pastors or teachers or writers or designers or engineers or laid-off or working three jobs or under some financial strain—but we are doing the work of the ministry. When I say the Church is the first place we invest, I'm not referring to an offering plate or joy-box—I'm referring to the people who make up the Church.
I want my brothers and sisters to do the work of the ministry. I want to lift up the hands that hang down, strengthen the feeble knees (Hebrews 12:12). Friends, I know how hard it is when you really don't know how you're going to make ends meet this month. But God knows how He'll meet them. And He's saved and equipped us for that purpose: to build up and unify the Church (Eph 4:11-14). The Church in turn then meets the needs of the world.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So look to your left and your right today. Which of your brothers and sisters are straining under the weight of financial pressure? You don't have to meet all of their need, you probably can't. But you probably can purchase today's bread and maybe tomorrow's too.
And are you perhaps in need of some bread yourself? Ask. Please ask. Ask the people who have committed to walk alongside you in life, not because you're asking for a handout or because you feel they owe it to you. Ask because we all need bread we cannot buy and He has bought it for us with his broken body and poured out blood.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Isaiah 55
I know some of you will have thoughts on this, and I'd love to hear them. As usual, comments on Sayable are closed, but head over to the facebook page if you'd like to share your thoughts.