Ask Your Preacher
Why do we still struggle when we give tithes and offerings?
Dear Giving Up,
The teaching that we will never struggle if we give enough money to God is called ‘The Prosperity Gospel’ and it is a false teaching. The prosperity gospel doctrine teaches that the more faith you have, the more money, health, power, etc. you will receive. They teach that all sicknesses, poverty, and suffering are caused by a lack of faith. This is simply wrong.
Jesus suffered more than anyone – and yet He was perfectly faithful and never sinned (Heb 4:15). When Jesus was asked why a certain man was blind, His answer was, “That God’s works could be revealed in Him” (Jhn 9:1-3). That blind man wasn’t blind because He had sinned, He was blind because it gave God an opportunity to use him. The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (some sort of sickness) that God gave him… even though Paul was exceptionally faithful (2 Cor 12:7). Job suffered at the hands of Satan BECAUSE he was so faithful (Job 1:8). And last, but not least, God clearly states that we must suffer in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22).
The idea that serving Christ will provide you with every physical blessing you could ever want is a perversion of the Scriptures. It is a preaching that is based upon selfishness and the love of money – both of which God abhors (2 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 6:10). Christians should condemn and flee from this kind of false teaching. Don't let anyone rob you of your hope by feeding you a teaching that says you only suffer because you aren't giving enough money.
(This question is a follow-up to “Tax Deductible Pt. 2”)
So... if this line of reason is followed, it is NOT acceptable for me to give financially on say, Friday or Tuesday? Was it not just out of convenience that they were told to collect when they met together on the first day of the week?
Dear Cheerful Giver,
1 Cor 16:1-2 is a commandment for how a congregation is supposed to collect funds. An individual has the freedom to give to any cause and any need whenever they please (Gal 6:10), but a congregation should never solicit funds except on Sunday and only from its members. There are commands for individual christians, and there are commands for congregations. 1 Cor 16:1-2 specifically says that it is a command to local churches. The Scriptures never say that the timing was only a matter of convenience; instead, they specifically state that it was an apostolic command. We are warned to not go beyond what is written in the Scriptures (1 Cor 4:6). If we begin to say that certain Bible commands are only issues of convenience – we are stating something that can’t be found in the Scriptures.
(This is a follow-up to “Tax Deductible”)
In addition to the article referenced above, are we as His church today "commanded" to give as a part of our worship? The Corinthian church was given charge to give for a specific reason. Should we give not only money but time and everything else God has given us with a good and cheerful heart (not just when we assemble)?
Dear Cheerful Giver,
Individual christians are called to give to God every part of their life – not just their money. Paul said it best when he explained a christian’s life should be a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). However, the question we dealt with in the post “Tax Deductible” dealt only with financial giving to the church. The verse we cited, 1 Cor 16:1-2, is the only example we are given of how a local congregation should gather money. If a congregation wants to make sure it is following God’s wishes, it must use Bible patterns for its behavior. It is true that a congregation doesn’t have to take up a collection on Sunday if there isn’t a financial need… but as long as there are needy christians, expenses for worship, local and international evangelists to support, and the truth to teach… the church is going to have financial needs. If a congregation needs to collect money, it is given a Bible pattern for how and when to do that – collect on the first day of the week as each member purposes in their heart to offer.
Are christians supposed to tithe? If so, can you prove it in the Old and New Testament… prove it with more than one Scripture in the New Testament? Please!!!
Ten Percent Off
Dear Ten Percent Off,
The New Testament and Old Testament teachings on giving are similar… but not the same. The Old Testament was very specific that giving should be a minimum of ten percent (Deu 14:22). The word ‘tithe’ means ‘one-tenth’.
However, the New Testament teaching is more generic. Though ten percent is a good rule of thumb (after all, the Old Testament is given to us as an example – 1 Cor 10:11), christians are simply told to “give as they have prospered” (1 Cor 16:1-2). God tells us to be cheerful givers (2 Cor 9:7), but He never specifically says how much christians should give. That is an issue of wisdom and is left for each individual heart to work out for itself (Php 2:12).
My question is about tithing. I was faithful to tithe 10% of my income since I was a teenager with my first job. Through utter foolishness and some things that happened out of our control, my family is in such debt that our payments and fees for all our bills and debts leave us overdrawn multiple times throughout the month (pitiful, we have a very good income and both work full-time). We have over-extended ourselves, sometimes to take care of necessities, sometimes out of buying things that we don't really need, but we also aren't really in the lap of luxury either. We've had no vacations, etc. but definitely have overspent, too. I'm so sorry, and I repent, but now we are drowning in debt. We have three wonderful girls, and they are going to be affected in many ways, and I feel terrible. The worst is that we haven't been tithing because of the money issues and because there is not the 10% available, so I have been doing nothing as opposed to giving a pitiful offering when we make such a good income. At the same time, we haven't been curbing our spending much except for when the money runs out. I recently read something about how this kind of thing is "trading freedom for luxury", and we are guilty of that. There is some kind of disconnect for me between my thinking and reality. We have had a lot of monetary disasters, too, like engines going out in cars, etc.
I have two questions: are we still supposed to tithe 10% like the Old Testament mentions (believe me, I would give Him more if I wasn't in this position), or are we under "give as you are able, and give cheerfully"? There are so many varying viewpoints out there on what the Bible says we should be doing now under the New Covenant. I WANT to tithe; I'm not looking for an excuse not to, but the guilt of not giving 10% combined with the stress of running out of money throughout the month (plus interest, plus late fees, plus overdrawn fees) is killing me. Unless God does a miracle, we have no way out of this mess because the minimum payment pays nothing down, and we have NO extra money to make extra payments on anything.
So, my second question is: will you please PRAY for my family that God will provide some kind of ability for us to repay this debt? We have always paid our bills, and I don't even want to think of bankruptcy because to me, that is like stealing. I know we got ourselves here, and there are consequences for our sin, but I also know that God has compassion on us and doesn't want us to be in bondage.
Thank you so very much! This is a great forum; I appreciate you offering this! We are local folks, so knowing that someone from here is willing to address these kinds of questions is a huge blessing.
Let’s answer the second question first: yes, we most definitely will pray for you. Financial burdens are a huge weight to bear, and having counseled many couples over the years through financial hardships, we know what a toll it takes on a marriage, self-esteem, spiritual growth, families, and thousands of other aspects of life. We appreciate your attitude and desire to do what is right – an honest approach to one’s shortcomings is refreshing in today’s society.
Now back to the first question… tithing is an Old Testament commandment (Num 18:24), not a New Testament one. Jews tithe; christians “lay by in store as we have prospered” (1 Cor 16:1-3). God doesn’t give a specific percentage that christians should give back. We must prepare beforehand what we will give (that’s the “lay by in store” part – 1 Cor 16:2). He also commands that we be “cheerful givers” and that we give as we have “purposed in our hearts” (2 Cor 9:7). Though tithing, which means ‘one tenth’, is a good rule of thumb for giving… it isn’t a command.
Any church that tells you that you have to give 10% is warping the Scriptures to increase your contribution. Giving should be a sacrifice – but a voluntary one based off of thoughtful contemplation. Your family needs to begin to budget appropriately and make some difficult financial decisions. In that process, you can take an introspective look at your finances and decide what you can cheerfully give without endangering your family (1 Tim. 5:8) while still feeling comfortable that you aren’t neglecting the Lord’s work.