Monday, November 8, 2010

Should We Tithe?

We all know the Old Covenant required a tithe of 10% (Leviticus 27:30). But did you know that the New Covenant requires no tithe—but something greater: generous giving! In fact, Paul admonishes the Corinthians to sow generously, explaining that each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6:7). Only God knows if we are being generous and cheerful in our giving.

But think of this. You could be giving a tithe—10% of your income—and not be giving generously. Or you could be giving a tithe under compulsion, not cheerfully, but with a “have to” approach. I think this “have to” mind-set is evidenced by the question: “Should I (do I have to) tithe on my gross or net income?” For many wealthy people, giving a tenth is probably of little consequence to their disposable income. On the other hand, giving a tenth may be sacrificial for a poorer person.

This story about John Wesley captures Paul’s philosophy of giving. When John Wesley made thirty pounds, he lived on twenty-eight pounds and gave away two. Then when he made sixty pounds, he knew he could live on twenty-eight pounds, so he gave away thirty-two. The next year, his income rose to ninety pounds, but he still lived on twenty-eight pounds and gave away the rest. He understood that the tithe is not the real issue. It’s whether you believe it all belongs to God.

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