Ask Your Preacher
The recent questions on tithing have got me thinking. If someone gives out of their personal funds to things related to their specific congregation... say, they buy class materials or pitch in for building upkeep. Could that be considered as part of their giving for the week? We are on a strict budget and sometimes have to buy things for the church but feel bad if when the collection plate rolls around on Sunday morning, we've already spent that money earlier in the week.
On A Shoestring
Dear On A Shoestring,
There is nothing wrong with factoring other spending you do on behalf of the church into your giving, but the biggest thing you need to do is to factor these things in at the beginning and not when Sunday rolls around. 2 Cor 9:7 says that we should “purpose in our hearts” what we should give, and 1 Cor 16:1-3 talks about giving in a purposeful, planned way. If we are reading your question right, what is happening is that you have a budget, and whatever is left at the end of that budget is what you give. That is the opposite of how giving should be done. When you first get money, you should plan ahead what you will give (factor in extra church giving expenditures you may need to prepare for), set that money aside, and then the decision is made well before the plate comes by. That way, you can feel confident that what you are giving is purposeful and cheerfully planned.
What does tithing really mean?
Money In The Bank
Dear Money In The Bank,
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). The specific rule of giving one-tenth of our income no longer applies; instead, we are told to examine our hearts and give thankfully.
I give offerings every time I have money during worship, and I set aside funds for it beforehand. But there are some who become disappointed in me and crucify me for not putting in the amount they often believe to be sufficient. How can I deal with those of the brethren who bring this kind of condemnation?
Condemned For Finance
Dear Condemned For Finances,
When people question the amount of money you put into the offering, show them 2 Cor 9:7 which says that each should give as “he has purposed in his heart”. You must stand before God and answer to Him for what you gave and what you didn’t. You are responsible for what your heart purposes, and they are responsible for theirs. Show them 2 Cor 9:7 and then kindly walk away.
I’m trying to learn to communicate with God. I know we speak to Him through prayer... so does He speak back to us through the Bible? When I ask for God’s perfect will on a subject, and I ask Him for confirmation in the Bible, and I open it and read on what He says, is the word that I read a promise? Thank you for explaining, and God bless!
Looking For Direction
Dear Looking For Direction,
God speaks to us through His Word. If we want to know God’s desire for our life, we must use the Bible to get our instructions. Faith comes from the Word (Rom 10:17), and the Bible contains all the information we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If we want to understand what God wants for us, we can find the truth in the sum of His Word (Ps 119:160). It isn’t as simple as just opening the Bible and putting your finger on a page and looking for a sign; the Bible takes study and effort.
God doesn’t answer our prayers by directly speaking to us, but His Word says that we should pray without doubting (1 Tim 2:8) and that we should ask in faith (Jas 1:6). God says there are very few things that will cause Him to ignore our prayers. Read “Whose Prayers Count?” for the list of things that will make God turn His back on your prayers. God never gets tired of hearing from His children. Christians are to constantly seek Him in prayer. The most direct example of this is Christ’s parable of the unjust judge in Lk 18:1-5. Christ taught that parable, so “men ought always to pray and not to grow weary”. God wants to hear from His people. So don’t stop asking for help; He is listening.
Can I pray for the devil’s death?
We should pray for things until God gives us a clear and definitive answer. Before we stop to pray for something, we must always stop to read what God has to say first (Eccl 5:1). After all, no matter what we want, God’s will should come first (Matt 6:10).
In the case of the devil, God says that He has already reserved a place for him and his angels (2 Pet 2:4). God has already decided that the devil will be cast forever into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). However, God has also decided that He will be patient and wait for just the right time to judge the devil, his angels, and all mankind (2 Pet 3:9-10).