Tag Archives: tithing

May 17; March Offerings

I Chronicles 27:1-29:22; I Kings 1:1-27

King David had arranged to purchase everything needed to build the temple – from the sturdy foundation to the eating utensils – including hiring skilled workers in every area. Then he did something that spoke to me today:

He reached into his own pockets, took out his personal checkbook, and gave treasures of gold and silver; 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver to be used for the finishing touches of the temple. Not from the nation’s treasury. From his own pocket.

Then he challenged the nation’s leaders to give, too. The result was that the leaders, the commanders, officers and officials, reached into their own pockets and followed David’s example. They gave over 5,000 talents of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze, 100,000 talents of iron from their private funds. Then, on top of that, they threw in the precious stones they had lying around their houses.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord… (I Chronicles 29:9)

Now I know that we are very private givers these days. We quote the account of the widow’s mite and, with Jesus, condemn the showy, public giving of the rich. But it occurred to me today, the widow’s offering was every bit as public. In fact, Jesus drew attention to the dollar amount she gave.

I remember the occasional March Offering when I was a kid. The congregation, usually singing a familiar hymn, would get out of our pews, and form a line, following one another to an offering plate at the front of the sanctuary, where one at a time, we’d all put in whatever God laid on our hearts. No one announced individual dollar amounts like Jesus did. But the act of public giving was celebrated. The total dollar amount received, usually for a special project or mission, was announced at the end of the service, followed by praise and thanksgiving.

I recently heard someone reject that idea for their congregation because “that only tempts prideful giving and jealousy.” This person has a general negative view of people anyway, but I wonder if that congregation missed out on something here.

The people we read about in I Chronicles 29 got excited about giving when they saw David giving. I know for myself, as a young girl in my church, those march offerings spoke to me. I watched an example of giving by my elders. And I remember the first time I marched around the sanctuary and put in my own  offering, a dollar I’d earned babysitting. I didn’t feel bad about the small amount. I wasn’t jealous that someone else was able to give more. I was excited to be a part of the giving.

I’m wondering if we’ve become too private in our giving. If no one knows that I give, they don’t know that I don’t. And yes, what I give it is between me and God. But are we missing the opportunity to be an example of giving to others?

Are you a church leader? Do people in your fellowship know you tithe? Do they see you denying yourself certain things in order to give a bit extra? Are you a parent? Do your kids know you give, how much you give, and why? I think they should know.

Let’s be an example of joyful, sacrificial giving to our families and our church fellowships. Let’s not make giving such a taboo subject. It’s a responsibility to give. But it is also a privilege, and a blessing. Maybe others, if they see our example, will want to give, too.

April 9; Palms Up

I Samuel 2:1-21; Psalm 113; Judges 14:1-16:22

I think I’ve told this story before, but I thought of it again as I read I Samuel today. When I was in high school, our youth group wanted to go to a national convention in Colorado. We had bake sales, car washes, and our church hired us to clean the church once a week to earn money to go.

One Saturday I was sweeping the foyer when a lady I didn’t recognize barged in and asked, “Is the treasurer here?”

“He is downstairs,” I replied. “Do you want me to go get him for you?”

“No.” Then she shoved an offering envelope at me. “Give this to him,” she commanded. “And tell him I don’t want a dime of this going to that preacher.”

With that, she turned on her heels and walked away. I stood there, dumbfounded, for a second. Then I leaned the broom against the wall, and headed downstairs to find the treasurer. I handed him the envelope, and I remember feeling embarrassed as I relayed the woman’s message.

“Don’t worry about it,” he reassured me. “She does this all the time.”

The account in I Samuel is actually about the people receiving the offering. They had the mistaken idea they had the right to decide where that offering went. And they were bold enough to demand the best for themselves and the priests.

Today God is speaking to me about giving, about my role in the financial support of my church. We recently started a new capital campaign to raise money to build a new facility on the north end of the island. Right now we are meeting in what used to be the parking garage for the stores located on the first and second floors. Its nice, but it would be great to have our own place.

I gave to the first capital campaign, and when it was time to pledge another three year commitment I had to do some figuring. I’m retired. My income never changes. Do I continue to give what I’d been giving, or do I take a step of faith and up it? What about my general giving?

I was reminded that there are places in Scripture that talk about a 10%, and there are places that speak about giving it all. Moses told the people to give as God prompted them, and they gave so much he ended up asking them to quit giving.

The Bible also tells me God loves a cheerful giver.

Today I feel God would have me be less concerned about the number of zeros on my check, and more about my obedience to Him when He puts that number on my heart. He knows if I’m being honest or not. I want to be obedient.

I also feel God wants me to give that offering with palms up, willingly, joyfully, not trying to control where “my” money goes and doesn’t go.

Then, and maybe this is the most important thing about what God is saying to me today, I need to be in earnest prayer for those who are given the job of deciding how the money will be used for God’s glory. There is a huge responsibility attached to that. In speaking about the servants of the priest who took the choicest offering for themselves, Scripture tells us:

This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt. (I Samuel 2:17)

It’s the Lord’s offering, His money, not mine. I want to be faithful to give as He prompts me, and to give with palms up. Then I’ll pray that every dime is used in ways that furthers His Church, honors Him, and blesses people in Jesus’ name.

 

I Kings 3-4; Church Finance According To Solomon

A thought came to mind as I read about the wisdom of Solomon this morning. He divided his country into twelve districts. Each district was assigned a month of the year to provide the supplies Solomon would need to run his empire for that month. This was no small responsibility. Look at what Solomon required:

thirty cors of fine flour, sixty cors of meal, ten stall-fed cows, twenty pasture fed cows, one hundred sheep and goats, plus deer, gazelle, roebuck, and birds… A DAY!

Multiply that by thirty and you’ll come up with what each district paid during their month every year.

Now here’s my thought: What if our churches quit passing the offering plate every Sunday. What if we divided our membership into twelve families, and each group was responsible to pay the church’s bills one month out of the year. This would take care of the deficit most churches operate under.

There could be a provision for those not responsible for a given month, or for those who want to give more. The money they give could go to a rainy day fund, a mission trip, or a building fund.

Do you know what it costs to operate your church each month? Utilities, salary, insurance, mortgage…? I bet it’s not a fraction of what the Israelites under Solomon paid.

Like I said, it’s just a thought. I know Solomon was running a country, and not a church with this plan. But the wisest man who ever lived established this manner of giving, and the Holy Spirit inspired men to include it in His Word.

Makes me wonder.

Leviticus 26-27; Tithing?

Have you ever been tempted to buy back your tithe? God gave Moses directions for how the Old Testament Jews could do just that, with interest of course. That whole idea is confusing to me.

Malachi will tell us to just bring the whole tithe to the storehouse and leave it there. Give it away and go.

The Old Testament tithe was not usually monetary. They tithed their crops, their animals. But, like one commentator pointed out, you don’t read about carpenters giving 10% of their profit.

Now, before you go cancelling that check you wrote last Sunday, let me remind you what Jesus’ take on Old Testament Law was and is. Don’t murder becomes don’t hate. Don’t commit adultry becomes don’t lust. An eye for an eye becomes turn the other cheek, love your neighbor and do good to those who harm you. And, although Jesus didn’t specifically name all the Laws God gave Moses, I believe we can apply the same principle.

Don’t tithe. Or should I say don’t just tithe. Don’t limit yourself to 10% of the gross or the net of your income. Give as God has given. Where your treasure is there your heart is also. God loves a cheerful giver.

And if we give generously from the heart, it won’t matter if the Old Testament provisions for buying back a tithe is confusing. We wouldn’t consider the possibility.

It’s all God’s anyway. I want to old nothing back from Him. He didn’t hold anything back from me.

December 5 – A “No Tithe” Zone

2 Corinthians 5-9

What are your views on tithing? Is church-giving a subject talked about in your fellowship? What is your reaction when you read the sermon title in Sunday’s bulletin, and realize the subject is money… again? Do you hold to the opinion that what goes into that plate is between you and God (and maybe your accountant at tax time)?

The church in Macedonia was known for their generosity. 8:1-3 tells us this body of believers “… in a great ordeal of affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.”

Yes you heard it. Affliction, joy, poverty, and wealth all in the same sentence.

It seems they didn’t worry about what 10% looked like. They saw a need, and they gave beyond their ability.

My view on tithing? I think we should throw that mandate out the window. What if we really gave as God laid it on our hearts to give? What if we didn’t stop at 10% when God nudges us to give more?

Do you know what it costs to keep your church building and ministries running? You should. Then, with that number in front of you, maybe you should ask God what part of that He wants you to cover with the resources He’s given you. (I’m talking to myself as well)

But, you say, my kids need new shoes, my mortgage is due, I’m going to need a better car soon. I can’t give more than 10%. Sometimes that’s even more than I can give.

What if God used the same formula to bless us? What if we are receiving only 10% of what He is able to bless us? I’m not sure I want only 10% of His blessings. I’m not sure He wants only 10% of mine, either.

Feb 11 – Stop Giving

Exodus 36-38

I know of a fellowship of believers who took on an extensive building project. Lead by the Lord, they didn’t do a fund raiser. They didn’t take pledges. They didn’t hire a consultant. The pastor simply shared the plans with the congregation, and the money started rolling in.

People gave generously as their hearts were moved to give. In fact, the congregation was so generous with their gifts, that after a time with the building project’s expenses more than met, that pastor had to ask his church to stop giving.

True story.

Sometimes I think we strategize God right out of the picture. Sure the money is pledged and the buildings get built with the help of consultants and fund drives these days. But I’m not sure why we don’t trust God a bit more to move in the hearts of His people to fill a need instead.

The example I gave above can be found in the chapters we read today in Exodus. The children of Israel gave generously toward the building of the tabernacle. And God never once told anyone they had to. He simply laid the need on their hearts and they responded above and beyond.

And God is the same today as He was back then. Maybe its us who have changed.

 

 

Feb 7 – 10% Blessing

Exodus 25-27

A while back I posted something concerning tithing. You know, the 10% of our earnings we’re supposed to give God. A blogger friend of mine , a man whose posts I might sometimes disagree with, but whose opinions I always respect, appreciate, and seek out, pointed out that the concept of tithing is not a New Testament Church thing. That church, he reminded me, gave everything they had, they took care of needs as needs arose without doing the math.

(nightlightblogdotcom.wordpress.com. I encourage you to check out his blog, especially today’s from Hebrews 10. It’s so good!)

Maybe that’s why Exodus 25:1-8 got my attention today. God told Moses to put together a tabernacle made of gold, silver, bronze, leather, oil, gemstones, and more. But God didn’t require anyone to give anything toward the construction. His instruction to Moses was to collect those things from “every man whose heart moves him.”

My church is starting a very needed building project, and we’ll need to raise some big bucks. How would God have me contribute? I want to be one whose heart has been moved, and I want to be obedient.

Let me ask you this: If church giving wasn’t tax deductible, would you still give what you give right now? Our government is talking a lot about a flat tax. Would your church survive?

Here’s what I hope. I hope our churches, my church’s building project, will all flourish because we Christians put down the calculator and give as God moves our hearts to give. Maybe He’s giving us 10% of His blessing because that’s what we’re giving Him.

Wonder what it would be like if we really did give Him everything.