You don’t need to give, you get to give

You don’t need to give, you get to give

Or rather

You don’t need to tithe, you get to give

(see also posting in August 2013 – ‘The Teaching to Tithe or the Grace to Give’)

The Sunday message on 16th Nov 2014 was a rehash of the sermon delivered on the 4th August 2013.  Yet, it was indeed strange that the pastor mentioned a few times that the last time he spoke of “tithing” was 6 years ago.  Then, after an afternoon nap, I woke up with the vivid impression that it could be that the Aug 4th 2013 message has to be re-worked to make it acceptable for release in a permanent format, replacing the previous 6-year old “The Benefits of Tithing” message in CDs given to members who committed to “tithe” regularly, and also available for on-line listening.

However, there were slight differences in the latest sermon.  The main thrust was “You don’t need to give, you get to give”.  This phrase used often since September 2013, has noticeably replace references to “the tithe and tithing” used in services before this period.  This is indeed fitting, harmonizing with the teaching in Hebrews 7.  It would be precise if it was phrased “you don’t need to tithe, you get to give.” My pastor went on to dwell much to suggest that our sacrifice and worship through giving is ten percent, the tithe.

The word ‘tithe’ has somehow been universally used and understood to refer to the ten percent required and expected from believers, citing principally the passages from Malachi in the Old Testament while specific and explicit references in the New Testament to giving can be found in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9; and in Philippians 4.

Churches I attended previously which teach tithing of ten percent even advocated giving an additional month’s salary at the end of the year.  I am not sure whether any church or anyone should suggest the amount we should offer, not even ten percent; as the bible clearly teaches that “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart: (2 Cor 9:7).  It is contrary to scriptures when an amount is suggested.  And believers must be taught the delightful worship of honouring God with our substances, spontaneously, whole-heartedly and willingly.

Our “giving” is to be unilaterally personal, as in the cases of Abraham and Jacob, wholehearted and willing.  And according to 2 Cor 8:12 if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.  The Macedonians (2 Cor 8) were generous beyond their means, in response to the grace which they recognised, received and reveled in. Jesus spoke much about riches, and how we can be distracted and deceived by wrong convictions about money (See post on “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money” in September 2014).

I do believer that the tax system of secular governments where people contribute according to their economical situation; might be more in tune with giving “according to their means” (2 Cor 8:3) and “according to what a person has” (2 Cor 8:12). This NT principle could be a more equitable, wise and laudable practice, a step-up from the ten percent; to render to God what is rightfully His (Matt 22:17-21). James 1 reminds the needy to glory in our eternal position and legacy and the rich to glory wisely in the transience and temporal truth of possessions. But we can lay up our treasures for eternity. This is most relevant for believers in affluent countries who have been blessed with positions and possessions; while ten percent from poor believers would even be a challenge (Luke 21:1-4). Advocating a blanket ten-percent by citing various proof-text or passages about the ‘ten’ is a poor interpretation of Christian giving, when there are explicit passages on this matter.

Perhaps we need to move away from the giving of ten percent and focus more on the grace we received, the good works we are to work out, and the harvest the Sower will reap with the seeds we sowed.

The Cheerful Giver (2 Corinthians 9)

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

P/S

20th Nov 2014 :
Received a mailer about JP’s latest message delivered on the 16th Nov titled “Is There Tithing Under Grace?”

21st Nov 2014 :
Came across the comments on Joseph Prince message on “The Benefits of Tithing” –

http://www.828ministries.com/articles/Prince-ology-on-Tithing-N-by-Anthony-Wade-Tithing-141117-721.html

http://www.nairaland.com/1016038/tithing-rebuttal-joseph-princes-russell

It is interesting to note that our Pastor attracts so much attention to himself and his teachings. The two blogs from Christian workers are different from the favorable comments from church members / believers. For myself, it is expedient that I pray and search out for myself for all views – especially those that are fair and factual, submitting to the authority of the Scriptures rather than to the subjective meditations of men.

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