Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Bucks Stop Here - Pt. II

Part One dealt with the basic principles of Tithes & Offering and perspective on the many games and gimmicks prevalent in the Church today. But, there several misconceptions concerning tithing and in Part Two, I'll take a look at a few of those while reserving commentary on the collection and use of offerings for Part Three.

The Command to Give
Make no mistake, giving is not just a recommendation for righteousness, it is commanded by God. In Malachi Chapter 1, God demands we honor him as we would any earthly authority. He rebukes the priests for offering sacrifices of sick and blind animals upon the altar by noting that they would not dare do the same in offering tribute and paying taxes to their secular governments. Chapter 3 takes us even further, by describing those who do not tithe as robbers who are "cursed with a curse" and assures those who are obedient in giving as being protected from those people and things that would destroy the fruits of their labor. This clearly indicates that God considers it sin when those who profess faith in Him do not to give as He commands.

The Perceived Privacy of Giving
While the Bible clearly states that each man should give as he is compelled in his heart, it is unreasonable to assume that no accountability in giving can be expected because you sealed your gift in an envelope. Practicality demands that someone has to count the funds that are given and keep track of all dollars given and those who give them. The highly trusted men and women who accept this humble duty are not blind, and should not be expected to pretend so. In fact, a sudden change in one's giving pattern may indicate the giver is encountering a crisis of severe hardship and may allow the leadership of the Church to inquire about and offer assistance to that person while operating in wisdom and the utmost concern for their dignity.

Also, it can and should be utilized as one of several standards by which those who serve as leaders in the Church are held accountable. Remember, the warnings in Malachi were directed primarily at the priesthood. So it is without question that any member of leadership should be faithful in their tithing with the expectation that continued failure to commit in this area may deem one unfit for ministry. This can be expressed in two vital principles concerning leadership and giving:
  • - It is the assumption of the lay members that those who are exhorting them to full submission to God are striving to be faithful in all areas of their Christian walk as they are, even looking to them as examples. This includes the area of giving. So even though what one gives is not made public, it is our duty first to God and then to the Body that we are not misleading in this assumption.
  • - Leaders are decision makers and those decisions will often include the stewardship of Church finances. In this context, it is unethical to contribute opinions or express one's vision on purchases, projects, and ministries while not contributing to the funding that makes them possible.
The Lack of Accountability
Since tithing is a command, there must be some mechanism by which failure to obey God is handled with the same loving grace that would accompany the addressing of any other fault. While this may seem like a foreign concept, think of all the other highly personal sins that we have no problem bringing up in personal (and unwisely, in sometimes very public) moments of counsel and ministry: sexual sin & lust, shacking up, addiction, relationship issues, etc. All such sins are dealt with and spoken of openly. And there are many who would claim that failure to do so would result in sin running rampant in the Church. Is disobedience in giving any different? The Bible doesn't indicate it is, therefore we must be careful not avoid an important aspect of our Christian duty simply because of modern sensitivities. As in dealing with any other sin, whatever method of accountability is adopted should be consistent and entered into with wisdom according to the Word. We should not resort to knee jerk reactions based on a momentary lapse in giving, but we are responsible for seeking to restore one who continues in disobedience.

elder todd

The Bucks Stop Here - Pt. I

I can't think of a more uncomfortable subject to approach in the Church than that of giving. Throughout scripture, God's commands to his people concerning giving are unequivocally clear, yet by many abuses, misunderstandings, and false assumptions we've turned a glorious form of worship into an affair that is tedious at best and scandalous at worst. So Part I will deal with the biblical perspective on giving.

is the English word translated from the original Hebrew and Greek words that both mean “a tenth”. The Tithe is a God-commanded 10% “return” of our increase (income) which is used to support the ministry of the Church and those in His service. Tithing and the purpose of those funds given was formalized in the Law given to Moses. (Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:20-21, Numbers 18:25-29). God designed the Tithe to be affordable for everyone by placing it in proportion to each person’s income. Jesus Christ paid both the tithe and civil taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 17:24-27). He also commanded it by saying, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Luke 20:25)

An Offering is a voluntary gift given beyond one’s Tithe to the work of the ministry. Offerings may be requested and distributed according to specific purposes or needs of the Church.God has given us right to be able to make our own decisions concerning the resources He has provided. We can bless God or curse God (and ourselves) with our obedience concerning money. Obedience blesses God, while disobedience is a reproach unto God. (Isaiah 1:19-20) Whether concerning Tithes or Offering, giving is a matter of Obedience to God and Love for God. The two attributes are intimately related by Christ Himself: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) This clearly indicates that are claims to love God and are spoken desires to support the Church are questionable at best if we are not obedient in our giving.

Finally, let's deal with the abuses. It's important to realize that the money grubbing gimmicks we are so familiar with are not a new concept. Since the time of the ancient Hebrews, there has been no shortage of charlatans and tricksters who seem to possess no fear of God and are all too willing to take advantage of the faithful and gullible to satisfy their own greed. Whether it's hundred dollar prayer lines, "covenant" partnerships that promise special access and "point of contact" items (cloths, oil, pendants/jewelry) for a monthly or annual gift, or just the old fashioned pulpit begging, it all reeks with the stench of corruption. We would do well to avoid all such dubious practices, and instead remain faithful to the teaching of giving our tithes and offerings faithfully unto the Lord.

elder todd