Thursday, March 5, 2009

True Christian Giving (tithing, part 3)

Does it seem right that many Christians are on some kind of public or private assistance while giving hundreds each month to the church? It doesn’t look right to the world either.

"There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." (Acts 4:34,35)

When we get back on a Scriptural foundation and give generously, hilariously and without compulsion (force) to lots of ministries and people in need instead of the lion’s share to the “local church," fewer Christians will struggle and the poor will be better cared for, making a better witness to the world. (Luke 6:38, Acts 4:34)

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

Also, there’s no scriptural foundation for the separate “para-church” designation in which the local church is to get the main part of giving and ministries are supposed to get only the "extra". They are not outside the church;there is one church of Jesus Christ and all who worship him in Spirit and in truth are a part. However, we are to provide all good things for those from whose teaching we benefit.
(1 Corinthians 9:12) but from what we have, not what we don’t have.

"The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea." (Acts 11:29)

"Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have." (2 Cor 8:12)

Incidentally, “Christian tithing” didn’t become widespread until the eighth century! That’s right, the early church didn’t teach it or do it.

This is liberating! Everything we have and are belongs to God! We are free from the Law and we are free to give from our hearts so that no Christian goes without! Give wherever God instructs you with a free and cheerful heart not just squeezing out the tenth that the pastor tells you that you must if you want to avoid a curse! (One pastor paralleled tithing with salvation! A church administrator said that it should be a requirement for church membership! We once told a pastor that we were in a financial situation in which we couldn’t tithe; he was very “understanding” and said that we could, in effect, owe it to the church!) Take care of the poor! Notice that Jesus didn’t describe Himself as telling the people in the end that they were cast out because they didn’t “tithe” but because they didn’t take care of the poor!

"Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' (Matthew 25:37-43)

*All emphases are mine

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