If you don’t receive the George Barna update, then I strongly encourage it for those who like to follow the cultural trends that are effecting the church.
In this months article Barna makes an interesting point on whether tithing is a Christian or Jewish practice:
“Origins of Tithing
Strangely, tithing is a Jewish practice, not a Christian principle espoused in the New Testament. The idea of a tithe – which literally means one-tenth or the tenth part – originated as the tax that Israelites paid from the produce of the land to support the priestly tribe (the Levites), to fund Jewish religious festivals, and to help the poor. The ministry of Jesus Christ, however, brought an end to adherence to many of the ceremonial codes that were fundamental to the Jewish faith. Tithing was such a casualty. Since the first-century, Christians have believed in generous giving, but have not been under any obligation to contribute a specific percentage of their income. – George Barna”
After I thought about it, I began to see the comment in a new light. Not once in the new testament is there a percentage on what a person should give.
But there are several scriptures that talk about giving. In talking with a wealthy man who owned a lot, Jesus is asked what good thing he must do to receive eternal life (Matthew 19:16ff). Jesus tells him that he needs to follow the commandments. He then tells him that the perfect thing is to sell everything he has and give to the poor.
On another occasion Jesus is watching some religious people brag about what they are giving and Jesus uses this to teach a lesson on giving.
“1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
After looking at different scriptures in the New Testament, it is clear that there is no percentage given that describes how much we should give, but it evident that what is recommended is everything.
So when people talk about giving a tithe (10%) it is really less than what the New Testament says. It is a token of what God deserves.
Giving is not a task, its a lifestyle and a mentality that says everything we have belongs to God, and it is a sensitivity to Holy Spirits direction as to when and who we should give to.
Just because it is a New Testament thing, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect what the Old Testament says.
Malachi says that this is something we can test Him in.
“10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. “
The bottom line is giving is a law, like gravity, but not to be done for what is brought in return, but in love for what God has done and given to us. What has he given? Grace, life, an eternal love, everything. What do we give in return? Everything.