Monday, September 27, 2010

Tithing, giving and passing the plate.

So I am pondering the question, "Why do our tithes have to be documented? Where does this ritual or rule come from?" while sipping my green tea and nibbling dark chocolate. It is a great combination. I do my best thinking with dark chocolate and green tea. The question first surfaced a while back when an unchurched person asked me. I didn't have an answer then and forgot to get back to them. Then it came back to my mind while giving my last dollars in church as the plate passed by me. I was happy to give and still have no regrets about giving my last money for the week. I wander too if church giving is done on a larger scale for churches who do not pass the plate. I have been in a few churches that pass the plate and a few that do not. Then it occurred to me that I never had a problem paying tithe with cash in no envelope. I would drop it in the plate with out another thought. However, when told it is best to mark an envelope or pay by check so that your church or organization has record of it, my reluctance give began to set in. Now, I feel like I am paying a bill instead of giving to God. I can't explain the emotional switch after all, I grew up 'marking the envelope'. So I pray about this and know that the best place to learn about giving and tithe is from the wonderful Father I have. I turn to the Word of God. So get out your own Bibles because I won't type them for you. If you have no Bible, than email me. I will fix that for you.
God owns everything. WE are simply stewards or managers for him. So giving of tithe is a way of returning only 10% to God. He gives us 90% to live with. We should all live with 90% of what we manage. Sometimes we do the wrong thing and use our money and resources foolishly. Work hard to get yourself out of debt and trouble. Then you will be able to give your tithe and then some.
I find that Jesus watches how we give (Mark 12: 41 - 44) The poor widow gave all she had. The rich gave a larger $ figure but no sacrifice was made. They had it to give, so they gave. The widow had nothing left but gave everything. Therefore in the eyes of our Lord, she gave a wonderful offering.
He examines our reason or motive for giving and tithing (Matthew 6:1-4). When giving, we shouldn't do so just to boast. "Well I give to the church so I am a better Christian than you." and Jesus says "Not so much!"  We also should not tithe to receive special recognition or a certain position in the church building. Giving was not meant to be easy. We should give in secret to show that we seek no reward. That is one of the lessons Jesus taught us. We should do all things, including giving, for the glory of God, not the glory of myself.
He sees how much we give and measures the proportion not the portion (1 Corinthians 16:2).  . God sees that we give whatever percent in relation to our income. He tells us to take it out ahead of time so that we don't have to scrounge for whatever settles into the bottom of our purses or wallets. It is more important to give willingly. (2 Corinthians 8:12)
So what of the rules of the church. "We need to know that you are accountable and obedient for God and Church." Fine, but even the most obedient tither could be living like Hell outside the church building (read Mathew 23:23)
Tithe is mentioned in the bible 32x in the Bible. Ten of 32 are New Testament. Most of those are quoting History. Jesus taught about giving and very little about tithing. I have yet to find why it needs documented from the Bible. The only thing that tells me to document is a Church rule. I know you can take it off your taxes but that negates the purpose of giving if I am just getting it back (my opinion only). I know some churches need to have a tithe documented to hold a position. But if someone needs to know that I pay tithe or give to my local church so that I can have a position or special honors, over someone else who may deserve that more than I do. I really don't need that position than. If it really don't matter biblically, than I will give in secret. I leave you with Mark 6: 1-4. I feel it gives me my answer. I have read this over and over, week after week. I have studied over 100 verses. It is the only one I won't make you look up yourself. Pray with me  and keep on giving.

Matthew 6:1-4 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.