The Bible says God has given to us all that we have; this includes not only our money and possessions, but all our abilities, talents, opportunities, time, education, career, family, and health. We are not to be proud and take credit for these things (1Cor. 4:7) but humbly acknowledge to whom much has been given much will be required. The Scriptures teach that we are all stewards of these blessings and we must manage them for His glory according to His will. The parable of the talents teaches that we are expected to invest and not waste our blessings.
In the Old Testament, when God called Abraham to be the leader and forerunner of a distinct people for His glory, He taught him stewardship through tithing. The tithe is ten percent of your income. Israel was commanded to tithe and give offerings above the tithe. These tithes were often given in the form of livestock and produce because it was an agrarian culture. The tithes supported the work of the temple and many of the offerings were sacrifices to the Lord and some were distributed to the priests.
In the Old Testament book of Malachi, chapter 3, God chastised His people for failing to tithe. He said that they were guilty of robbery against Him. But God also said to test Him in this and see if He wouldn’t pour out abundant blessings upon them.
When Jesus came to earth the concept of stewardship had been corrupted by the man-made laws of the Pharisees. It had become a form of self-righteousness and legalism. Jesus condemned the religious leaders for focusing their energy on what they gave to the exclusion of justice, caring for the needy, and devotion to God.
Did Jesus abolish the tithe? I don’t think so. Jesus did not abolish God’s laws but emphasized their original purpose and meaning. In fact, Jesus said to the Pharisees at one point, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” (Luke 11:42) In other words, Jesus said tithing should not be left undone, but the focus should also be on justice and love for God. When there is love for God and gratitude for His grace, giving will be done with the right motive and with cheerfulness.
The Apostle Paul supported the idea of giving as a response, not only to God’s commands, but to His grace. In 2 Cor.9:7 he says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The believer’s heart, which is being transformed by God’s grace, will prompt him to give generously according to how God has blessed him. So, the tithe is the minimum and the starting point for grace motivated giving. As Christians grow in their understanding of God’s grace, and as they are blessed with more, God will cause them to give beyond the tithe.
Cindy and I began tithing soon after we were married. I was attending seminary and we were pretty poor. She was working full-time and I was taking a full load of classes with a part-time job on the side. We had a school loan, a car that seemed to always be in the shop, and we lived in a cheap basement apartment. We didn’t know how we were going to give God ten percent but we decided to trust Him. To our amazement we saw God bless us in many ways and provide for our needs. Over the years as we have continued to tithe, and God has enabled us to give additional offerings through faith-promises to missions, and pledges to our capital campaigns. I say this not to boast (we have no righteousness apart from Christ), but as a testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness in our lives. It has been a joy to see how He continues to fulfill His promise of Malachi 3:10. Giving God’s way has increased our family’s blessings and faith, and has made us better stewards of the resources we have received.
Let me assure you of a few things about the way tithes and offerings are handled at Carriage Lane:
- We are committed to sound bookkeeping and accounting principles with appropriate checks and balances.
- We will never pressure or badger people about giving.
- I purposely do not know what people give at our church, and there are only a few who need to know for accounting purposes.
Carriage Lane promotes the concept of stewardship through tithes and offerings motivated by God’s grace. God wants us to give sacrificially, generously, and in faith. I believe He wants us to make the church and her ministries our first priority in giving. It is each person’s responsibility to determine how much God wants him or her to give in keeping with the biblical principles of stewardship. It is my prayer that everyone at Carriage Lane will be obedient to God and enjoy the blessings of Christian giving.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about Christian giving and stewardship.
Pastor Doug Griffith