Summary: An appeal for tithing as a legitimate starting point for financial giving.
After we finish this series we’re going to have a series about what coffee should be served in a church building, the direction your feet should be pointing when you’re buried, and whether or not you should drive an SUV on Sunday.
Just kidding! Those are things that really just have no bearing on our relationship with God, and we’re not going to waste your time on them. They’re called “Adiaphora,” which means “indifferent.” When people speak of “majoring in the minors,” they’re talking about adiaphora. They just don’t matter.
Wherever you’re at in your spiritual walk, I’m guessing you’re here this morning because you think that maybe what you do with your life before God is something that does matter. You could have slept in, or done something else, but you chose to make the effort to be here this morning. Why is that? Because you believe, somehow in the big picture of time/space history, what you do with your life matters.
You’re right! Whoever you are, God has already extended His love to you by sending His Son Jesus to pay the price for your sin. God has already invited you to have a relationship with Him starting now and lasting forever! That relationship begins when you decide to accept His free gift, and not until then. That’s something you need to do!
So, here you are, trying to do something that matters with your life, hearing about Jesus Christ and what He has done for you, and how He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Good for you! You’re here doing something that matters! What you do with your time, your energy, your creativity, and your material resources really matters!
This series we’re going through is about what you do with your life, and what you do with money is just one facet of that. And since that does matter, that’s what we’re talking about this morning.
So, we’re talking about tithing. That simply means giving 10% of your increase to the Lord’s work. Just talking about that is a new concept for some people – but it really shouldn’t be. Right now, many of us are working on income taxes. The government has a chart that shows the rate of money you’re supposed to give them. The same thing is true about sales taxes and about tips too. Somewhere is an etiquette guide that says what amount is appropriate.
So, turning to the Bible as a guide for figuring out how much to give to the Lord’s work isn’t some crazy idea. It’s simply taking a look at what God has said to help us be good caretakers of what’s His.
But we have to be careful too. There are some hazards when we discuss the amount we give, and the idea of tithing. Hazards? Yep…
1. We’ll make tithing another law and misunderstand the whole idea of living under God’s grace
Tithing can be a place where we can really learn about God’s grace. Remember, grace is God’s undeserved favor in our lives. It’s by grace that we’re saved! We can’t earn that. It’s a free gift.
But our natural tendency is to take the things we do because of God’s grace and turn them into some new kind of law that we keep so that we’ll be good enough for Heaven.
That’s what legalism is - grasping after some set of standards as the way I expect be saved. I attend church services every week so I’ll be saved. I’m in a small group, so I’m sure I’ll be saved! I spend 30 minutes a day in prayer so I’ll be saved. I read the Bible 30 minutes a day so I’ll be saved. I tithe faithfully every week so I’ll be saved. You see the problem with that attitude.
We have to be careful that we don’t take good standards for living and construct them into our own false requirement for true maturity in Jesus. Tithing can become one of those “things.”
But I think you’ll see, that tithing can actually be a part of life in Jesus that can help us learn better how grace really works.
2. We’ll make it a substitute for stewardship.
Tithing is giving 10% of our income. Stewardship is a life pattern of using all our resources as though they all belong to God and not ourselves. It means I’m a caretaker of God’s stuff.
Misuse it, and tithing can become a substitute for being a caretaker. It would go something like this: I gave 10% of my income. Boom. I’m done! Suddenly, tithing is a limit that guards the other 90% of my income against anything but how I want it used. Instead of asking, “How much can I grow in Jesus?” it’s asking, “What’s the least I can do and just get by? What’s the least I can do and feel OK about myself?”