The following material will be published in the Western Recorder beggining on Feb 15th (a five part series, my first real publication).
My reasons for practicing stewardship are unusual and demand a bit of explanation, though I believe they are all thoroughly biblical: 1) because it’s easy, 2) because I feel like it, 3) because it gives me pleasure, 4) because I’m greedy, and 5) because God doesn’t need my money anyway. Please bear with me; it will take me five weeks just to explain what I mean. This week will only allow us a look at the first of these five reasons: because it’s easy.
Writing a check to the church is easier for me than being broken over my sin, spending quality time with the lonely, listening for long hours while someone entrusts me with their life “issues,” giving my life to serve the poor, spending hours pouring out sincere prayers to God on behalf of others, expending energy in the church’s behind-the-scenes manual labor, being satisfied in my singleness, keeping my mind and intentions pure, joyfully suffering ridicule and social persecution for being bold with my faith around unbelievers, or just being honest with myself and others whenever I am experiencing a time of spiritual drought or struggling with embarrassing sins.
When I compare material surrender to other types of internal surrender, I find financial stewardship to be easier than those more important parts of the Christian life. It would be easy for me to deceive myself by thinking that as long as I am in the pew on Sundays and regularly giving a mere ten percent that I have been a faithful Christian. In reality, tithing and church attendance are more peripheral components of the greater commandments of loving God and loving others.
The Pharisees faithfully attended worship at the temple and gave their tithe, yet instead of patting them on the back Jesus rebuked them by saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Mt 23:23).
Stewardship is just as applicable to time, energy and talent, as it is to money. My tithing alone should never be the basis for judging whether or not I have been a good steward of all God has given me. Our paradigm for stewardship should encompass everything—not just a meager ten percent of our finances.
*sniff* Our dear brother Bradley – we knew you when you were still a mere unpublished mortal like the rest of us… We’re so proud!!
Will be looking for your articles in the Western Recorder, bro – praise the Lord for the opportunity
Great post…very thought provoking…
Good post Brad!
Well, I got to reading some John MacArthur who cast doubt on tithing’s validity today, and then I get back to Scriptures.
Should we settle for 7-8% if we find the tithe is not valid? The Bible says, God loves a cheerful giver. I imagine some people want to find out the tithe is invalid just to justify being stingy. Even in doubt, it is probably still prudent to tithe off the increase. I confront the reality that the Scriptures say to “excel in giving,” and if anything we should learn to give to others in abundance and above and beyond the tithe of our increase. Everything we have anyway is God’s and on loan from God, who is the author of all blessing.
You’re exactly right about it being beyond money. The spirit of charity isn’t about monetizing what we give in dollars and cents, but having a spirit of charity… That spirit gives because God has given so much to us. And it gives NOT for selfish gain, but to manifest the riches that God has bestowed upon us.
We give by embracing discipleship. We give by helping others. We give my supporting the Lord’s work and the mission fields.
Amen. Great post. I think I’ll add you to my blog list. God bless.
mThanks T&Z, I’m honored.
Ryan…yeah…I didn’t really even deal with the theological debates about whether or not we are still “required” by OT law to give ten percent of our finances, etc. I think asking the question that way is wrong-headed, since the New Testament gives a more comprehensive paradigm for giving. It’s like asking if we are still “required” to love our neighbors when Jesus has told us to love even our enemies. In many cases, the mindset behind such questions is minimilistic (see my post about “permissible Christianity”).
I say in “most” cases because people like you and I who like to sit around and think hard about theological principles and biblical hermeneutics sometimes ask the question in order to be consistent in our understanding of the relationship between OT law and NT commands (the whole Law / Gospel tension). But when the average Christian makes the argument that tithing is no longer required for the NT believer, I smell grinch.