Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” -Mark10:21 (NIV)
I quickly realized that this morning’s devotions that were emailed to me had largely to do with the topic of giving. I was quite sure that God was sending me a message– since I received so many messages in my inbox reminding me to give generously. Then I opened one from Greg Laurie, who talked about the fact that it is “Giving Tuesday” and asking that people send some of the money they saved from “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday” and whatever sale they encountered to support his ministry. He got me thinking more and more about the topic of giving, especially since I haven’t yet made any financial contributions to anything this week and it has been put on my heart to do so.
Like so many things, how much we give [and to where] is a topic of debate among Christians. Many believe that the Old Testament command to tithe is still in effect for believers today and a lot of folks think that, if you do so, you will reap big financial and material benefits to go along with the spiritual blessings.
Some thoughts on the topic of tithing: it is part of the Old Testament law and we are not under the law, we are under GRACE. Not only was it under law, it was actually a tax much as we pay taxes today to support those who are supposed to be working for the benefit of our society. However, that being established, under grace do we not feel compelled to give as much or more than we would if we were obligated to do so? There are many Bible teachers/preachers [whom I have a great deal of respect for] that really push the idea of tithing as a command for modern believers and will tell you that you’re ‘disobedient’ if you don’t. Frankly, I disagree vehemently with that assertion. Paul answers this issue quite well in the New Testament: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -2 Corinthians 9;6-7 (NIV)
As I’m sure a lot of believers are aware, there are a great many preachers on television who want to send you blessings in the form of anointed prayer cloths and assorted miraculous fluids that promise health and material blessings (with the right amount of $$$). I won’t mention names– God knows who they are. It is a fact that God blesses us when we give, but how and when He does so is entirely within His purview. It is far too easy to form an attitude of expectancy when you listen to some of these preachers and I think that is wrong. We aren’t supposed to give to get— we are supposed to give because we have received love. What we love matters a great deal to God. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. -1 John 2:15-16 (NIV)