The T-Word

By Anonymous | 26 April 2013 | Comments (2)

The Art of Giving: the t-word

I used to have really strong views on tithing.  It used to really wind me up that I was obeying the law and paying my church taxes while others had signed up unfairly to the equivalent of the ‘church dole’, resulting in church ministries suffering and modern day Levites (those who lead us in our worship at church) struggling to get by on measly salaries…

Thing is, I still do have personal views on tithing, but I’ve had enough conversations with others whom I admire, to recognise that there are a number of different interpretations when it comes to this subject.

Does God have a problem with the person who gives strictly 10% as opposed to someone who gives in response to how they see the Father giving, regardless of amount?  I don’t know.  It’s certainly not for me to judge.

So here’s a question: if God loves a cheerful (hilarious) giver, does that mean we shouldn’t give until we can be cheerful about it?

My experience of giving was that I began as a legalist – thou shalt tithe the first-fruits (oh yes, I went the whole ‘giving-before-tax-and-other-deductions’ hog). But I realised that I often felt nervous that I wasn’t giving enough or fulfilling my ‘duty’ to God.  On the advice of our spiritual parents, my husband and I started asking God how much we should be tithing (based on a 10% minimum which we both agreed was our personal benchmark interpretation of scripture).  We would both ask God how much we should give, listen to God, compare our numbers, go back to God if they were different and discuss until we both felt a peace that we were doing God’s will with His money.

Based on the passage in Acts 4:32-35, we believed that we didn’t want to dictate how that money was used. The early church brought their giving to the apostles’ feet to be distributed, so we gave that money to the church with no restrictions.  Immediately, we both knew we wanted to be able to also give to other people and ministries that touched our hearts.  As things were pretty tight – we were newlyweds on one salary whilst my husband was studying – we decided to step out in faith and support a missionary from our church with a really small amount on top of our tithe.  The next year, we increased it in faith that God would provide. We reviewed our giving together with God every time we had a pay change, and we honoured Him with the first-fruits of any other one-off income we were blessed with.  Funnily, the provision kept on coming (Malachi 3:10).

Soon, we were giving way over a ‘traditional tithe’, although we always made sure that whatever God wanted us to give to, our giving to the church remained at the core. We supported three friends through education, a number of missionaries whom we knew personally, charities whose work really tugged at our heartstrings, a sponsored child, and our church building project. Before long we decided to keep a monthly amount of money aside as well so that we could respond to situations that were burning in our hearts at the time.

We didn’t just pray about our giving anymore. We prayed about all our money. 'The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it …' Over time we’d realised everything we had was entrusted to us and actually, God wanted to partner with us in spending it so that we could experience the joy of giving – not just to the things we wanted to be obedient in, but also in areas or people He’d laid on our hearts. We put off saving for a house because giving was our priority. We gave away bonuses and tax rebates. We sometimes gave away from our savings, and later discovered how much people had needed the money at that exact time. We paid people’s monthly bills (it was interesting explaining our regular Direct Debits to the mortgage company when we finally did buy a house!). We lived an exciting life of generosity with the view that we owned nothing.  God owned everything. If Jesus gave his whole life, how could we radically respond?

I’m not saying we’re there yet – with God there’s always more.  But in less than seven years, this is our story.  I’ve definitely got things wrong, and my motives and attitudes were pretty sucky at the start, but I can humbly say ‘this is what I’ve learnt’, and I’m most definitely a convert to hilarious giving now.

comments:

Joe

May 2, 2013 10:02 AM
YAY.. I love this post

Steve Cottam

February 15, 2016 7:54 AM
helpful thoughts over an area lots of folk find difficult.
we need to be clear that the NT never specifies a proportion of our income to give but that our giving be generous, cheerful and motivated from our love for God and what He has done for us through His Son.
it is perfectly true that tithing can be legalistic and foment the unhelpful and unbiblical attitude of '10 % to God, I'll do what I want with the 90 %' while the Bible makes it clear that ALL of our material goods are God's.
having said that, if the folk under the Old Dispensation gave 10 % of their income, how can we who have the benefits and rich gifts of Jesus' sacrificial death and risen life give any less?

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