Out from the burden of the tithe

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Tithing does not carry over into the new covenant. It is a precept included amongst the laws meant to be abolished under the new covenant, which is characterized rather by love than duty. Paul talks about his desire for us to sacrifice in light of his sacrifice for spread of the good news and certainly real-world concerns such as cost apply to the use of church resources, but nonetheless a 10% floor of giving to the church is not supported by the new testament and advocation of such a viewpoint purposefully misrepresents scripture (if it does not incidentally misinterpret it first) and perpetuates an expectation and requirement that is not required of God’s children.

In my case, my children attend children’s church while I attend the main service. Each physical space requires rent or lease payments as well as insurance payments and incidental expenditures for things like snacks and crayons and coloring books. The lights need to stay on and the air needs to be conditioned or heated and things like pens and coffee and sermon notes are required. The labor of those non-volunteers involved with editing the presentation slides, printed materials, and collateral must be compensated in some cases (and rightly so as their choice to commission their gifts to God requires and signals great faith).

It is only proper that I pay out of what I “earn” (by the grace of God) toward covering these costs but beyond that, beyond propriety, I should pay what I am able to assist in covering the cost of those who cannot either by a disparity in their means or by their faith, to do likewise. I am paying for the service and resources I use at the church out of dedication to the body I am unified with by my faith and love for God. Beyond mere payment, I gift beyond the total I would otherwise because I love the people I attend church with, and all people, because God loves me and I see God in them and loving comes easily when you are loved.

This sometimes means I exceed a prescribed or recommended percentage (10%), other times it means I give even when we are not able to attend; sometimes this means I do not give a full 10% to the church directly and instead redirect those funds. For the past few years my wife and I have felt called to give both to our local church and to those far away committed to helping those subject to great suffering.

The “storehouse” philosophy and doctrine of giving (Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse and see if I do not in turnĀ open up the heavens) first improperly leverages the words of God (as delivered through the prophet Micah) by generalizing it from an audience of clergy to a general audience of givers, and next makes promises on God’s behalf that border on blasphemy. It does so in the apparent aim of subjugating people under the burden of required giving in a manner not required since the Levitical priesthood which Christ replaced and violates the tenants of relationship by conforming it to an arrangement of quid pro quo.

 

True – God demanded the priesthood bring the tithe into the storehouse, because they faithlessly and selfishly sought to ferret away pieces of it for their own agendas, but in asking all be brought to the storehouse He did not ask more of the people, who had already faithfully done their part, He instead sought to model a new orientation – one of open handed and faithful trust in God. I perhaps here replace the word obedience with trust, but trust is easier to understand in the context of the true reality of God’s orientation to us: a loving Father’s plea, pursuit, and embrace of His children. When we know God as Father, see Him as knowing us more intimately than we know ourselves and loving us more deeply than we can conceive of loving ourselves, our trust grows from the seed of belief into a vibrant bloom and we no longer close our fists tightly onto even the 90% we believe to be our own.

Advocating that we give 10% “at least, if not more!” robs us of the joy we can find in releasing 100% to the will of God.

Asking us to see God’s provision as conditional to our level of sacrifice makes us gods, and God a servant to our will.

Why is it dangerous to use storehouse doctrine to advocate a floor to our giving to the church?

It binds men to duty by presenting scripture devoid of full context to enslave them in the law and dead religion Christ highlighted when He said “observe these religious people, showing care to tithe properly and publicly, but they do not know me.”

Jesus looks on the old woman who gives fully out of her poverty with approval – He looks at her heart. He, in all things, demonstrates that he knows us intimately and approves not of our quantitative sacrifice or impact but instead of our qualitative heart and intention.

God does not place a requirement on His favor. He invites without prerequisite. He loves without reciprocation. He gives without even acknowledgment let alone any giving of thanks; He pursues our hearts, woos us into relationship through demonstration of His grace.

He will not love you more if you give 10% to a church. He will not love you less if you do not.

 

 

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