Feb. 9, 2018

Money, money, money!

I realize denominations have different terms for the way their members financially support their church. “Giving,” “Pledging,” and “Tithing,” are a few terms used. So, do churches simply want our money?

Someone once told me they get angry every time the offering plate is passed. They stopped going to church recently because they felt they were being charged to participate. How sad.

To begin with, I encourage each of us to ask ourselves – would we have what we have if God had not willed it for us? I was born into a wonderful family because God willed it for me. I married a wonderful man because God willed it for me. I’ve been blessed beyond measure with children and grandchildren, because God willed it for me. What does that mean for those born less fortunate and in less-blessed circumstances? It means God expects me to share what He has given me with those in need. It’s a biblical concept called, “mercy.”

That’s why tithing, pledging, giving, etc. is necessary.

We cannot deny that the entire bible (Old and New Testament) teaches God’s children to have a spirit of giving and to view sacrifice as a way to praise God. In Malachi 3:10, the prophet said, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse.” Biblical tithing is giving 10% of your “first fruits,” meaning that money should come out first. As a young married woman, I confided in a more mature Christian sharing, “I think the hardest thing for me to do is to write the church a check. I give my time. I give my talents. Isn’t that enough?” The person replied, “Will your time and talents pay the light bill? Do they help pay nursery workers or provide for families in need?”

The church, unfortunately, must function in the world until Christ returns and calls us home. As we strive to be in this world and not of it, it takes money. God knew that, so He asked for our tithe.

Back to the story of my sharing my hesitation to tithe with someone in the early years of my marriage, the person also said, “A check is actually the easiest thing you can do to worship and honor God.”

I’m constantly asked, “Do I have to give the full 10%?” Some will disagree with me, but I think it is important that you start somewhere, be consistent in your gifts, and watch God grow your capability. Many of us have not lived a lifestyle or built a financial backing to immediately start giving the full tithe. God wants the effort. Truthfully, He really doesn’t need the money. Your church does. Your church is the “storehouse” referred to in Malachi. One location for all gifts so that those gifts can be distributed in the manner needed to continue God’s work on earth.

If you don’t think you can tithe or give, I encourage you to take out your check register. Look at where your money goes. If you are like most American adults, you could subtract eating out four or five times a month as a way to start learning the spiritual discipline of giving. I won’t mention the golf course, movie theater, massages, or nail salon. For many women, Hobby Lobby gets your tithe. Am I stepping on toes? Sorry. <smile>

Two words to keep in mind when giving financially to our church: obediently and cheerfully. We tithe because the bible teaches us to – that’s obedience. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). If He must pull the money out of our hand, we will not receive the blessing behind giving. Cheerful must be balanced with obedience. Depending on our personality, one might just drive the other.

So, what happens if we don’t have a church home, but we are a Christian wanting to honor God’s call to tithe? My first suggestion is to find a church that you feel is doing great things in your area and write them a check on a monthly basis. If you have some issues regarding giving to a church, until you’ve worked that out with God, I would suggest you consider finding a faith-based non-profit that is in business to serve Christ and expand His kingdom. The Salvation Army comes to mind, but that’s probably because I serve on their Board. <wink>

You cannot out give God. You can rob God. Remember, all those blessings He willed for us could be taken away at any moment. Be blessed and bless others through your gifts.

One last thought: Inevitably, someone asks, “What if I don’t like the way the church spends my money?” What a church does with God’s money isn’t our responsibility – its theirs. He holds the giver and the spender accountable.