January 6, 2010
Tithing… hmmmm…. Last year we really didn’t do much in the way of formal “tithing” and I have to admit that from time to time it really worried me, as it has always been a regular part of our finances/ giving in the past. Well, I did give quite a lot of “time,” and maybe some “talent” but not a whole lot of “treasure,” as least formally keeping track.
I feel like maybe I was “de-tithing” in a similar way to how folks “de-school” when they decide to take up home-schooling, or how a lot of folks lately have been “de-churching.” I seem to be having a tough time getting the “institutionalization” out of me…..
I did not “give regularly” this past year to any “church” (organization/ institution) for sure. In the past, we practiced 10%-of-gross-income tithing faithfully (and sometimes, painfully and worriedly, I’m afraid – but always, surprisingly enough, quite joyfully). In the past year we have given to individuals and various “ministries/ charities” as we have felt led (without getting income-tax receipts) and we have also finally signed up to sponsor a third-world child. For sure You led in that latter “giving,” after I considered it for years, and even signed up one time, but they didn’t respond! And we gave in other ways, too, this year, as I very regularly baked for and otherwise helped out people in need, and shared the bounty of my garden, and did free babysitting and haircutting and things. Oh yes, and we gave away a huge pile of our “stuff” – but to be honest, that was for our “simplication” rather than for You…
And yet, without formal tithing, You have totally poured out blessings upon us! Blessings of many different kinds! Which of course from time to time made me feel kind of “guilty” about my “lack of giving” (okay, actually quite guilty!) … So what was with that? Papa?
I’m feeling like I do want to give more intentionally and generously and joyfully than in the past year. I know that a lot of churches “preach the tithe” and that in a sense it is a kind of simple benchmark to aim for (at least as a starting place in giving…). But I do NOT want to be “caught” in it. And I do “fear” getting caught up in “laws/ rules and regulations/ institutionalization” … though at the same time I’m not so freaked and so rigid about it as I was previously. Which, I suppose, kind of fits the “de-___-ing” pattern!
So I’ve been wondering what Your answer is about all this “tithing” and “giving” business… And of course the answer has come from You in Your word:
2 Cor 9:6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
(I just thought… No! You just spoke to me! … that, really, “giving” is part of every aspect of life. So when I build relationships with people and am being kind and helpful and listening and all; and when I practice hospitality; and when I do things and spend time with my husband when I’d rather do my own thing (!); and when I listen to my kids and offer comfort and advice when they ask; and so on and so forth; that is all part of giving too. Thank You! And giving time, focused time, to You, too! And aiming to walk with You all the time… You know I am trying, am desiring that… Papa!!!)
9:7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
(I think that in the past I have given cheerfully, not grudgingly, because I did love You and want to please You and to support Your work generously – BUT that very set goal of the tithe was sometimes extremely difficult to achieve, and so sometimes I did feel “under compulsion” in relation to that “requirement” …. And then got stressed out, and “felt guilty” when I couldn’t attain it, and even went into debt (credit cards) in order to pay the tithe, sometimes (because sometimes, at least, I really couldn’t even feed the family otherwise… though sometimes I was “guilty” of spending on “wants” instead of needs) (and, yes, it was hard when my family had so many wants/ needs … and I often wasn’t sure which it was… and I know they sometimes resented how “cheap” I was, when I was trying so hard to “obey and tithe” ...)
(Wow, Papa, thank You for this time of allowing me to sit down and pour out all my questions, and excuses, and feelings of guilt, and so on… thank You! What a relief! All of this stuff has been rattling around in me for months… for all the past year… and even longer, even when I was “faithfully tithing” … and sometimes not so faithfully… and sometimes even just “guiltily”… sorry…) (I do love You)
9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9. as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, his righteousness endures forever.”
(See… You give “abundance for every good deed.” That, I guess, is one of the things that worried me. We would give thousands every year to the “church”… and it would be gobbled up in salaries and building overhead, and programs, and bulletins and newsletters and other paper-wasters (IMHO)… while I longed to help out missionaries, and “foster” third-world children and families, and give to the poor, and practice hospitality… longed to “give in good deeds” … and it hurt me to see the money go to things I didn’t even agree with, things that I really could not find in the New Testament examples of the early church…) (And this year, I’ve had more “good deed” opportunities … though I have to admit that even there I’ve “held back” …. partly because we’ve perhaps “overspent” like in furnishing our new home (though a lot of people seem to think we’ve underspent! … Papa?) … and I’ve kept on trying to “hold back some money for tithe,” feeling guilty for “not tithing” … and then the money I’ve held back has just tended to get swallowed up by other things… Papa????)
9:10 Now 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 everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. 12. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.
(See, the blessings of/ from giving is really about You… not about making us rich in this world! … seems to be a different type of blessings in the New Testament relative to giving, than that promised in the Old Testament in relation to tithing… in the OT they didn’t have a strong understanding of the eternal hope You would offer in Jesus… so theirs was a much more “here and now” viewpoint in terms of the blessings of giving).
1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come…
(See: collecting for the real church, the needs of the body: not the needs of buildings and programs! And “as he may prosper” – not a set percentage of income) (not to mention that tithing in the OT was generally “in kind” – first fruits of crops, livestock, etc…)
Galatians 6:6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
(Hmmm… “share all good things” … sounds like more than a “salary” … like sharing from the garden, inviting him/her/them for meals, providing a place to stay, helping with practical needs – like haircuts, lol!, and so on and so forth. I remember when I was young, there were many traveling evangelists and missionaries, and we would put them up in our home and feed them; and provide free accommodation for missionary children when they needed to return to Canada for education; and when we canned the fall fruit and vegetable harvest, we’d always give a share of the canning to our pastor’s family; and I remember helping make quilts, and helping sew dresses for the bridesmaids when our pastor’s daughter got married… Seems like now-a-days, visiting evangelists and missionaries are put up in hotels and fed in restaurants, and we just give salaries to the workers… well, it also seems like a lot of them don’t want “home-made” caring and “sharing all good things” … is something wrong here? I wonder? Papa?)
Acts 2:43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 45 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple [well, at least as long as they were allowed!] and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
(Can you imagine?!?!!!! ) (I can! )