One of the things that my professor would constantly repeat in my Bibliology and Hermeneutics courses is the fact that when reading the bible, many times we are reading somebody else’s mail. The implication there is we can’t always take things we read in the bible literally, or apply them to our situation. Many of the promises that Christians are quick to claim have conditions attached to them that we just as quickly forget.
What’s left is for us to find the eternal principle or truth. The topic of tithe is no different. There are eternal principles, a couple of which seem evident:
- Remember the covenant we have with God. Don’t hold back, go all out to celebrate the covenant and pass this knowledge on to your children and your children’s children. If they were having an all-out party over the old covenant, what should we be doing to celebrate the new?
- Remember to do your part to take care of those who have truly committed themselves solely to the work of the ministry. We need to do much better supporting missionaries, for example. Also, remember the poor, the widows, and the fatherless. We are called to love like the Good Samaritan, not ever walking away from an opportunity to give the best we can with no strings attached.
- Remember, that you can’t manipulate God. Learn from the Pharisees. Meticulous record-keeping and tithing off of every penny you get is a good thing, but in the end don’t forget the basics. We are called to love God with everything we are, and to stay ready to give God anything or all that we have at his request. We are also to love our neighbors as ourselves and address social injustice and poverty. While there are only two verses in the New Testament about tithe, there are hundreds about taking care of those who are disadvantaged.
- Remember that you have a personal relationship with God. We ought to strive to give out of compassion for others and our love for God. God loves it when we give happily. He warns that we should never be made to give under duress, compulsion, shame, or threats. The Good Samaritan had to get his hands dirty. He didn’t get to put a check in an envelope and say, “There, God. I gave.” Maybe we should give in a way that causes us to get involved. Meet people. Love people just because they are. It’s amazing what happens when people experience true generosity and love first-hand.
- You can’t beat God at giving, no matter how hard you try.
What do you think would happen if you tithed relationally? Do you think you appreciate giving more when you give directly to the needy? Are you having creative thoughts about making giving fun again? Please share them here.