For I am not ashamed…of Tithing

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ”… even when it comes to the topic of tithes and offerings.  With all the abuse in some ministries (especially the TV variety), churches and pastors have backed away from the part of the gospel that talks about our finances.  But here’s a great truth: If God is NOT in control of your financial life, then your financial life is OUT of control.  Look, I’m sorry some ministries you’ve come across have been out for your money and haven’t cared about you.  But I’m not them.  Enough said on that?  So let’s get to the heart of the matter.  Jesus and the Apostle Paul talked a lot about money.  Here are some examples:

Sacrificial Giving.
Luke 21:21 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

It’s not ours, it’s God’s.  We are merely stewards of it.
Luke 19:12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You takewhat you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

What you do with your money speaks of your heart.
Luke 12:16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Give from a pure heart.
Matt 6: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they havereceived their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matt 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Afraid to tithe?  Trust God.
Matt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Is the tithe appropriate for New Testament believers?
Matt 23: 23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Looking for loopholes not to tithe.
2 Cor 9:The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

So where does this all leave us?
Perhaps the biggest misconception surrounds this verse: Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Does this negate the tithe?  Of course not.  God is not contradicting Himself.  He instituted it in the Old Testament and Christ reaffirms it in the New Testament.  So what is Paul saying?  First, understand that Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee.  So obviously he would believe in and practice the Old Testament tithing principle.  And we see no indication in his writings that he’s turned his back on this principle.  What we do see here is Paul trying to help people get their motivation right when it comes to their giving for it is only out of a generous spirit we are truly able to tithe.  The “deciding” Paul is talking about in this verse isn’t about whether or not we should tithe.  For Paul, the tithe was a given…it was not even an option to neglect it.  Of course we should tithe at the very minimum.  What Paul is trying to communicate here is that we are not limited to a tithe when it comes to our giving and that generosity is more important than mere obedience to a pre-determined number.

At a minimum we ought to tithe if we want our finances to be under God’s control.  And when it comes to the question of generosity the question is never “how much of my money should I give God?”  The real question is “how much of God’s money shall I keep?”  If you want your finances to come under control, then you must first put them under God’s Lordship.  Then watch as God gets intimately involved in your finances.

So if your finances are out of whack, therefore you’re “unable” to tithe, you need to re-examine your point of view because you will never be able to afford to tithe until you put your finances under God’s Lordship by taking the necessary step of faith to start tithing.  If you have it all backwards, it’s time to get your finances on track by starting at step 1…the tithe.