Giving under grace
A frequent subject on personal finance blogs is the discussion relating to tithing. If you conduct an internet search on that topic, you will find a colorful variety of opinions scattered throughout cyberspace.
What is a tithe?
Some of the controversy centers around the word “tithe” itself. The Old Testament Jews had a strict definition of what tithing meant. The first tenth of all their “increase” belonged to God. In fact, one passage made it clear that neglecting to pay the tithe was considered robbery by God. Tithing was not an option and the most faithful Jews tithed everything – livestock, money, garden goods, spice, and more.
This was the time period where God’s people were expected to live in subjection to the Law. Ironically, the Law ended up demonstrated to man his complete inability to earn favor with God. No man could keep any part of the Law to perfection and if you do some reading in any of the books of the Law – Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy – you will quickly see why it was impossible for any person to follow the Law in every point.
Liberty and Grace
Christ’s atonement for the sins of man on the cross began a whole new system. A system where man no longer relied on his own works, but salvation could only be obtained through a belief in Christ.As we read the New Testament, it becomes clear that Christians have not been given a set of rules to follow like the Old Testament Hebrews, but rather we have been given a “law” of liberty and grace.
But it is an unnatural state for mankind. We desire to assuage our conscience and find ways to please God through our own efforts, but He continuously reminds us that the penalty has already been paid, our efforts are just flailing at the wind – worthless. Our only hope is in Him.
A “tithe” might be just a start
The reality is that all we have and all we are belongs to God, He created us, He redeemed those that belong to Him and anything good in our life is a result of his grace.
When it comes to money, God has given us the liberty to choose how best to serve Him with our finances. We are under grace. There is no defined percentage or minimum amount that meets the requirement. The reality is that we can never repay God for his gift to us. All we can do is seek to conform ourselves to the image of Christ and serve him with all of our substance.
So then, practically speaking, how do we serve God with all that we have? Do you simply endorse your paycheck and drop it in the offering on Sunday morning?The answer will take some time and will vary somewhat from person to person, but I believe there are some biblical principles that can be a guide for how best to keep God at the center of our finances. I will be sharing my thoughts in answer to that question in my post next Tuesday.
If you don’t believe in God, I hope you will stick around anyway.