Sunday, September 05, 2010

Guest Post: Rethink Tithing

Brad Jones recently moved to North Africa with his wife and two children. He has agreed to share his thoughts on a discussion we had this summer about giving to the church. Oh and he's my brother-in-law.

If you go to church, you’ve probably heard that you’re supposed to give 10% of your money to them. That’s what a “good Christian” does, right? Well as I’ve studied this issue, the Bible never tells us to tithe to our churches, and Jesus actually criticizes some guys who were religiously giving a tenth of everything they owned.

The believers in the Old Testament were told to give a tenth of their crops and their cattle to the temple, but it’s a significant omission that Jesus doesn’t reinforce this command nor do any of the writers of the New Testament. My big reason for pointing this out is not because I believe that we’re off the hook in giving our money away, but instead to point out that the basis for why we should give has changed in a critical way.

Because of Jesus, lots of stuff has changed for us. The Bible says so. For instance, we don’t have to sacrifice animals to gain atonement for our sins like the people in the Old Testament – Jesus is the final sacrifice. And the Sabbath has been changed from Saturday to the first day of the week to celebrate the day of his resurrection. Many Old Testament laws are changed or fulfilled because Jesus was the climax of their purpose. The command to tithe was a command for us to be like God, who is the ultimate giver. And now that Jesus has come, we see the ultimate picture of sacrificial giving. Jesus gave 100% of himself. The Apostle Paul writes, “He became poor, so that we might become rich”. He died so that we might live. Jesus is modeling God’s desire for us to be generous givers. To think that still giving 10% of our income away is being obedient to God’s desire for us to be givers is like continuing to sacrifice animals and expecting them to atone for our sins. Jesus is a new standard for our lives – and a new standard for giving.

This is so much better, and more satisfying! The old tithing law is like paying rent; you just give a set amount to an exacting landlord. But Jesus is showing us a new way of giving. Jesus has said that we are his ambassadors who should invest our lives (money included) in ways that can change the world! We owe Jesus everything we have, so we have to spend every dollar wisely. Only give away your money to causes that are awesome! And we shouldn’t limit our giving to 10% of our money. The New Testament says we are to “bear one another’s burdens” and we shouldn’t expect to be able to do that unless we ourselves are burdened! If you’re not giving sacrificially, then you’re not giving like God does. Let Jesus be your model.

Tithing is a bad goal because it is an old law that we do out of duty. Good giving will come when we are focused on Jesus and not on a law. And the giving that flows out of our personal relationship with Jesus will be painfully sacrificial and shockingly joyful. Let him be your leader and use your head when giving your money away. The world is at stake and he has chosen you to represent him as his ambassador to the world.

Please contact me if you are interested in a guest post.

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