Jan 6th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 7 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by the Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to talk about tithing.
Full disclosure, I don’t like teaching about giving money, I’m not that kind of pastor. I don’t ask you to send in money on this podcast, we don’t even take up an offering at The Ekklesian House fellowship meetings. We are a non-profit whose finances come one hundred percent from donations, but our focus here and in our fellowship meetings is ministry, not fundraising. If you would like to help support this ministry, that would be great, you can do that online at EkklesianHouse.com or in person at one of our fellowship meetings.
So tithing. We talked about tithing before in season 1 episode 67. A quick recap: the first tithe was given by Abraham before tithing was included in the law. Tithing was then included in the law in order to support the priests, upkeep religious property, and to support religious ministry. There is no commandment given in the New Testament for Christians to tithe, but Paul references weekly giving to the church based off of success in business as a regular thing that all Christians are expected to be doing. And in the book of Malachi God says that He will bless the tither and rebuke the devourer for their sake. If you haven’t been listening to the podcast since episode sixty-seven then you might want to go back and listen to it and then come back and finish this episode.
I’ve got two points.
1. You are not required by God to tithe.
2. You should be tithing.
Under point number one, “You are not required by God to tithe” we turn to Matthew 17:24-26, “When they came to Capernaum those who collected the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes,” he said. When he went into the house Jesus spoke to him first. “What do you think, Simon? From whom do Earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes? From their sons or from strangers?” “From strangers,” he said. “Then the sons are free,” Jesus told him.”
There isn’t a perfect one to one relationship between this bit of scripture and tithing. The temple tax was a set amount of half a sanctuary shekel paid every year by all males over twenty years of age. It wasn’t strictly a tithe as in ten percent, but it did fall under the umbrella of what had become known as the required tithe that actually ended up being about twenty-three percent of the average person's income.
So Jesus asks if sons or strangers are charged tariffs and taxes. Then goes on to agree with Simon Peter that children aren’t required to pay. Yet this is the reputation that tithing has, and it has that reputation because that’s the way it’s been taught. That it’s this thing that you’re required to pay or you’re in trouble with God. It creates this false paradigm where you have to choose between being good little citizens paying a ten percent tax to God or you're in rebellion. We don’t frame tithing as an offering to a father, given out of love, but a minimum obligation and then tell people to be cheerful about having to pay it and encourage a secondary gift that we call an offering. If you’re still not convinced you should definitely go back and listen to season one episode sixty-seven.
Now, while you are not required by God to tithe, you should be tithing. This is for two major reasons. The first being found in Malachi 3:10-11 it says, ““Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way, see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” I don’t know about you, but giving the creator of the universe permission and avenue to open the floodgates of heaven, pour out blessing beyond measure, and rebuke the devourer for us sounds like a good idea.
The second reason why you should be tithing is one hundred percent pragmatic. If you want your church to stay open and continue operating then you should be financially supporting it. As of 2018 only ten to twenty-five percent of churchgoers tithe. That doesn’t mean that the other seventy-five to ninety percent of churchgoers aren’t giving to their church, they’re just not giving ten percent of their income. The statistics show that the average churchgoer gives two and a half percent of their income to their church. To put that into some perspective, during the Great Depression the average churchgoer was giving three point three percent of their income to their church.
Imagine a world where one hundred percent of all churchgoers gave ten percent of their income to their church. I’d wager that if seventy-five percent of churchgoers were giving ten percent of their income, even five percent of their income would be enough. Enough that churches would not only stay open, but the staggering number of churches leasing space or making outrageous monthly payments on mortgages would be a thing of the past. We would be able to launch programs to feed the hungry, to open shelters for the homeless, to minister with almost no limit to orphans and widows. Welfare would once again be the work of the church instead of the government. Imagine a day where Food Stamps, Medicare, and Medicaid programs are no longer needed because the Church is taking care of these needs.
If you’re concerned that your church would misuse the funds you’d donate, which let’s not lie to ourselves has happened in the past. Then you have two choices. Support your church with at least ten percent of your income and then get so deeply involved, so deeply ingrained, in your church that you know where your funds are being used and at that point you'll most likely even have a say in how they're being used. Or, you aren’t at the right church and need to find a new church home. If you’ve been listening for a while then you know that I don’t list that as an option lightly. There are very few times when changing churches is a valid option and not trusting your church with your tithe is a good indicator that it’s time for you to move to a new church family.
So, you aren’t required by God to tithe, but if you want to have an avenue to bless you, if you want to give God that avenue, or you simply want your church to stay open, then you should be tithing.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”