Giving: Tithing

Giving:
Tithing
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
January 22nd, 2017
Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Listen to full sermon here.

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Today we are talking about Tithing
Before we get started, let’s take a moment to clearly define just what tithing is.  Tithing Literally means 10%...So, technically speaking you can’t tithe more or less.  You CAN give more or less but you cannot tithe more or less.  However, in today’s society this is a bit of a semantics I suppose…Let’s face it, we all know what you mean if you say, I’m tithing 5%.

But for some it is important to know that tithing literally means 10%.  And for others it is important to separate even further the definition of tithing from offerings.  In the days of the children of Isreal,  it was a part of the Levitical law that the children of Israel give 10% (it was almost like a tax). And anything they gave outside of that would be considered an offering and was given freely, not by law or by command.

In today’s world,  we can think of it this way…a tithe is what we normally give and an offering is above and beyond what we feel compelled to give each week. One more difference I want to mention here is that tithes come from our increase…which typically means money or possessions as opposed to offerings which can be so many other things.  We offer our body as a living sacrifice…we offer our time in volunteering…we offer our talents…etc…

Next let’s take a look at the origins of tithing.  

Tithing really got started in the Old Testament…

Leviticus 27:30 
“Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 14:22
“Each year you are to set aside a tenth of all the produce grown in your fields."

2 Chronicles 31:5
When the word spread, the Israelites gave liberally of the best of the grain, new wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field, and they brought in an abundance, a tenth of everything.

So that is where we get 10% from as well as the word and concept of tithing.  And in this next verse it gives us a clue to part of the original purpose of the tithe.

Numbers 18:26
“Speak to the Levites and tell them: When you receive from the Israelites the tenth that I have given you as your inheritance, you must present part of it as an offering to the Lord—a tenth of the tenth."

So here we see that even the priests were also to give a 10%.  And if we look a little bit closer, what we will see is that their inheritance, or their living…it came from the tithes that the people gave.

God had separated out the Levites from the rest of the children of Israel.  He had given them the special task of being the priests for the Children of Israel and because they were supposed to be focused on leading the people spiritually…and so that there were no distractions or “other business” to get in the way, God gave the command in Levitical law, to the children of Israel, that the Levites were not to own anything.

This means they had no way to earn an income or even feed their families for that matter, so, their inheritance, or their income and their food would come from the tithe of the first fruits from the people.  This way they wouldn’t be distracted by owning land and other normal business and they could focus on their Levitical duties.

And that’s really kind of how it works today…sort of…the pastor’s salary comes out of the tithes and offerings of the church folk, so that, he doesn’t have to work another fulltime job but instead can focus on leading the church and taking care of their spiritual needs.

So the origins of tithings and support of the church go back to the Children of Israel.   And the origins of offerings goes all the way back to Genesis…To Cain and Able…

Genesis 4:3-4
In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also presented an offering—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions.

Notice in both cases it says they gave “some,” not 10% nor did it say they were commanded to give.  So, what they gave, they gave as an offering.

So why is there so much controversy over it today?

Jesus’ coming to Earth, His death and resurrection ultimately released us from much of the Levitical law, such as dietary restrictions.  That is why it is okay for us to eat a bacon cheeseburger and why it’s not for Jewish folks, they still live under that law because they do not accept Jesus.

That of course does not release us from the moral law…i.e the 10 commandments and so on, but rather from the ritual law.  So now, instead of having to go to priests and give sacrifices we can simply pray because we have the Holy Spirit.

So some people say, that tithing (or giving 10%) was part of that Levitical law that were released from and that nowhere in the New Testament does it require us to give 10% to the church (or to the Levites) and I think that’s a good and fair argument.  We, as Christians, I don’t believe, are not held or bound to giving 10%.

But I also don’t believe that releases us from giving altogether.
Or even allows us to pick and choose if, when and how we give.  Paul (in the New Testament) says we should set something aside and give to the saints (or in our case the church).

In I Corinthians 16:1-2
Now about the collection for the saints: You should do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches. 2 On the first day of the week,[a] each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he prospers, so that no collections will need to be made when I come.

Again, there is no set amount it just says in keeping with how he prospers, so many Christians go back to the 10% and use that as a guideline for their giving.  And I think that is a good practice.

Also, notice here…That Paul says to take money out at the beginning of the week.  In other words, don’t wait until the end of the week and see what you have left over to give but instead set money aside at the beginning of the week.

So, the controversy or disagreement that we see in the church is that some people say we should give and that we are commanded to give, and that it should be at least 10%.  Others say, we are not commanded to give nor are we even asked to give a certain amount.

So this leaves us with a few questions…

Should we tithe (or give regularly to the church)?
When we give does it matter if we give to the church or to other places?
Do I have to tithe when I’m broke?
How much do I have to give?
Is the pre-tax or post tax?

And as you have these questions, I want to encourage you to do what the Bible says and that is to seek His will for your life.  Whether that means giving just a little or stepping out on faith and giving a lot.  Whether that means a regular tithe or a special offering.  Whether you are giving to the church or giving to other places.

And as you seek His will here is the guidance I will give you and a few things to keep in mind as you make your decisions.

First of all, we go back to the scripture we have used for the past several weeks…

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.

More than anything we need to give what our heart (not our heads) tell us to give…and along with that…we MUST give out of a cheerful heart.  Not grudgingly, not because we are told to…but because we want to…

Next, we should keep in line with what Paul said and we should give tithes and offerings to God through church  as part of our spiritual discipline.

Think of it this way.  We, as Christians are all part of the Body of Christ and as a part of that Body of Christ, we should have the desire and the discipline to support the Body of Christ…not only spiritually, but physically, as well as financially.

The early church in Acts understood this concept well and they gave waaaay more than 10% to support what they were a part of.

Acts 2:44-47
Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them[q] those who were being saved.

And in chapter 4
Acts 4:34-35
For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed for each person’s basic needs.

The early church really understood this concept that they were a part of something bigger and that they had a duty and responsibility to the Body of Christ.  We also have a duty and responsibility to the body of Christ: To serve it, to hold it accountable, and to support it.

What Can you Give with a Cheerful Heart?


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