Lately, I’ve been feeling compelled to share what’s on my heart about tithing with other followers of Christ. Now, I know that most of us enjoy a good speech about the “T” word just about as much as we enjoy hearing that there is an outbreak of the flu and the vaccination that we all received was the wrong strain… again! It’s just not fun to listen to. In fact, I’ve heard so many people who don’t attend regular church services tell me that “churches just want your money”, that I have no doubt how much of a turn off this topic is. But I believe that the teaching is needed, I just don’t believe it’s being done correctly. I truly believe that people who I know and love are missing out on the best life that God has to offer because they aren’t tithing as part of their worship. Maybe it’s because they intentionally choose not to. Maybe it’s because they don’t even realize what a tithe is. Either way, I want everyone to experience what my family experiences through tithing. I want everyone to be wowed the way that we have been wowed. I want everyone to realize that it’s not about “giving”, it’s about worship. It’s about taking a personal responsibility to fund God’s mission.
As a disclaimer, I’m not a theologian or a Bible scholar. I’ve never ministered a church or even taught a Bible class. What I’m about to share are my own beliefs and convictions only. The information that I offer is based on my own experiences and understandings. So if you immediately discredit my opinion or you feel that you have more knowledge in this area, it won’t hurt my feelings. But if you’re looking to possibly mature spiritually, or just interested to see what I will ramble on about, please keep reading.
I want to express to you why I feel so strongly that many Christ followers are missing out on experiencing a more blessed life. As another disclaimer (there may be many), I am not fundraising for my church, or any other church for that matter. In fact, I was hesitant to post this because I know that it may come off as me possibly doing so. I’m also aware that many people have been hurt by churches. I know that many of those people may have given money to a church, only to be hurt by the same church at a later time. Believe me, I’ve been there. I have been devastated and heart-broken by a church. Before that point, my wife and I had given thousands upon thousands of dollars to that church (just being raw here). The thing that keeps me believing in the necessity and the power of tithing is not what that church did with the money, or what the leaders of that church did to me, but where my heart was when I handed over the money. Money that I believe was never mine to begin with.
First of all let me say this, I feel that the worldwide church in general, is preaching about tithing completely wrong! I believe that this is the number one reason why Christians do not tithe. In fact, I believe that it’s the largest reason why many Christians push-back when it comes to tithing. I’ll unpack that argument in a week or so, depending on what type of response I get to this post.
When this message of tithing was first laid on my heart a few weeks ago, Matthew 2:10-11 kept replaying in my head. I thought it was ridiculous. This is the Christmas story. This is best told in a Christmas play. You know, the part about the three wise men coming to see baby Jesus. What does this have to do with tithing? I didn’t think that it had anything to do with the subject.
That same Sunday our church had a pastor from another church visiting us and teaching us. The first verses that he read included these verses. I just sat there and smiled. I knew that God was leading me in the right direction.
Matthew 2:10-11 (NIV) tells us: When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
These three “wise men”, who we all have heard were actually kings from far away, FIRST bowed down and WORSHIPED Him. They submitted themselves to Him. They showed Him honor and reverence and due respect. They humbled themselves before Christ by bowing down to Him. Merriam-Webster defines the word “humble” as “reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission”. The problem with many of us American Christians is that we are far from humble (myself included). Even to God, our creator we feel more entitled than humbled. That’s why our churches teach tithing as a financial investment. We are entitled to having God bless us financially. We are entitled to God paying us back our money. Just like every other 13-year-old feels entitled to a smartphone. We are entitled to purchase things that we can’t afford by purchasing them on credit cards that we shouldn’t have. But in contrast, the church is NOT entitled to our money, regardless of what the scriptures say about tithing. So these three kings humbled themselves before Christ, and only after that were their treasures offered up. They did this as an act of worship, not an investment. I believe that this passage clearly shows that we must humble ourselves before God. We must realize that He is the creator and we are the created. He is the savior and we are the saved. He is the blesser-er, and we are the ones in need of blessing. He is the giver of eternal life and we are the ones who are seeking eternal life. Only when we truly come to this realization do we change our mentality about our Earthly treasures. When this happens, giving our treasures becomes an act of worship.
Well if three kings feel that it is important to worship God then I feel that my family and I should also. I think the modern church has streamlined the word “worship” to mean singing and listening to a great band on Sunday morning. We’ve turned it into an “experience”. I would submit that worshiping God does include song. This is evident in the book of Psalms. But I think that we are also to worship God with our lives. We worship God by praying to him. We worship God by the way we treat our families and our co-workers and everyone else that we come into contact with. We worship God by the way that we spend our money. We worship God by placing our faith in him. We worship God by honoring our leaders. We worship God by following his commandants. One of these is to tithe. In John 14:15, Jesus tells his disciples “If you love me, you will obey my commands”. One naturally leads to the other. Love leads to obedience. And in obedience there is worship. To me, tithing is a serious form of worship. It’s the point in my own walk with Christ when I felt it was time to “put up or shut up”. Worship is the expression of reverence and adoration of God. I feel that God is worthy to be adored. I feel that He is worthy to be praised. I want to praise Him in all ways for what He has done for me.
So, why is this issue so difficult for us to respond to? We expect the same out of our own children. One way that I know that my daughters love me is because they obey what I teach them and instruct them to do. If they didn’t honor me as their father by obeying what I teach them for their own good, I wouldn’t feel that they loved me.
Why do you think that so many Christ followers justify their disobedience? Can you have true love without obedience? Have you been blessed in some way after deciding to tithe?