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My first brush with tithing came early on in my walk and involved the pastor asking me not to ask for money from other believers to support a soup kitchen I had set up in the city of Leicester. Basically the pastor didn't want me to take the tithe but to clearly explain that any giving had to be separate. I agreed because I was tithing myself and felt that this was an acceptable thing to do. I understood that the tithe was used to pay for full time ministry as well as some missionary work.
Yet somewhere in my heart I had a conflict. One day a brother came to me and explained that he wanted to support the work financially but could only afford to give his tithe. I explained that the pastor had forbidden me to take the tithe and then added that if he wanted to give it I would take it anyway. A few weeks later I was held up in the church and had to explain myself. I was honest but quickly realised that my honesty was not going to help me very much. In the end I recognised that I had given Satan an opportunity and he took it with enthusiasm. The brother who wanted to help had in effect trapped me due to my own heart of believing that my work was more important than the pastors wages.
To this day I still don't have a problem with tithing per se, but do agree with TMK in that the alternative is to hold everything unto God and to be a good steward. I genuinely don't see anything wrong with the principle of tithing, but can see everything wrong with giving nothing. I suppose reality falls down where our hearts intents are and so if we do not hear from God regarding giving to the poor as well as supporting those in full time ministry, then this is because we have no desire to give at all. What that means in the end I don't really know. I am sure that it is not an issue of life and therefore whatever it means it will be revealed in the coming kingdom.
No one should wrestle over money. The Lord is a debtor to no man. He will pay our wages if we really set our hearts on serving Him. If in that we go hungry or cold or our children cling to us, then it is because of the disobedience of men who are able to give and will not do so. Yet in that comes a greater reward than even faith to be fed, keep warm and see our children run around warm and comforted. Perhaps we would all be better served of those who serve us if we ourselves freely and without condition supported them recognising the calling of God in their lives.
| 2014/4/9 18:14|
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Brethren I will argue for a New Covenant walk with Christ any day. I have consistently said in my posts that New Covenant believers are governed by the Holy Spirit and not Moses. I will take it one step further and say a believer need only the New Testament and and the Holy Spirit to guide them. They need not an Old Testament. Also I am not speaking from a religious paradigm as I am.not a member of a 501c church.
The above being said I do see that New Covenant believers are encouraged, inspired, required, promoted, fill in the blank to give. Simply for the fact New Covenant believers are governed by the royal law of Christ to love. His love will compell us to give. John mentions in his first letter that if we see our brother in need and have the means to give to that need and do nit do so. Then the love of God is not in them.
Paul taught New Covenant giving by exhortation command and example. If God did not spare His Son but gave Him up for our salvation. His love for us really obligates us to give, money, time, resources to advance His kingdom.
I would think instead of justifying our not giving to the kingdom we should be praying and looking for ways to put more into His kingdom work.
| 2014/4/9 18:36|
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But Jesus commanded that we go and "teach everything I have commanded you." The question we must then ask is, "Did Jesus teach us to give?"
It is interesting to note that in the four gospels you don't see any didactic demonstration of Jesus actually "giving" things (money, food, clothes) to the poor and needy - much less teaching his disciples how much and how often to give. It was always Him asking things from other people: "Give me a drink", he asked the woman at well. He sat and watched how much money people put into the treasury, but scripture is silent about how much He actually put in Himself. This is because mere money in the face of divinity is absurd in itself. Jesus gave the world far more than money. All the money in the universe couldn't bring the widow's son back from the dead, but Jesus did it for free. All the cold water in all the wells of Israel couldn't give Bartemaeus his eyesight, but Jesus gave it to him freely. Surely, we too should give. But how, where, when and how much must never be legislated. Jesus never legislated, Paul never legislated, John and James and Peter never legislated. They commended the believer into the hands of God to be led and taught by the Holy Spirit.
Brethren, we must appeal to the Holy Spirit alone when it comes to our giving, otherwise we just relegate ourselves to the auspices of benevolent humanism in the name of Christ. If we are mature Christians, we must be led by the Holy Spirit in all of our giving, and we must be discerning. Just because a missions organization exists, it doesn't mean we are to automatically pour money into it. Just because we see a panhandler on the street, it doesn't mean we automatically give him a twenty. Giving the prodigal son money when he was down and out would have been a horrible thing to do, and would have gone against God's plan to bring him back to his senses. Just because there are Koreans without Bibles, it doesn't automatically mean we are to buy one thousand dollars worth of Bibles and ship them off to Korea. As good and noble as these actions may be, we must wait to hear a personal directive from God. We must understand this principle.
Once God gives the directive, the giving will be cheerful, borne out of an obedient spirit. I have given to causes in the past without first discerning the heart of God, and the giving was never truly cheerful (though I tried to create an aura of cheerfulness in my spirit). I instead did it out of a sense of obligation, believing God would be pleased - I really wanted to please God. It was selfish at the core, for as long as I knew God was pleased with me, I could then be pleased with myself. Can you see it?
Giving specifically after God directs, however, is different. Spiritual joy floods your being. The focus is taken from self and instantly goes to God. The joy we experience now comes from the knowledge of our own unworth in being allowed the privilege to give, rather than the act of giving itself merited to the kindness of our own hearts (and in what we believe is our godly obligation). It's a very subtle shift, but one that makes all the difference. The difference between soulful giving and spiritual giving.
Paul Frederick West
| 2014/4/9 18:49||Profile|
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Amazing observation Paul. Thanks for the confirmation. The thought ran through my mind today as well: Although we know The Lord would've given as the Law required, there isn't one instance of him ever giving any money to anybody for anything as recorded in the gospels.
| 2014/4/9 19:41||Profile|
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Another great post, Paul. Really enjoying the word you are bringing.
Whatever we do in our walk with Christ, it must be God-authored, Holy Spirit inspired. All that we do is to be a manifestation of Christ's activity within us and not man's activity upon us.
Our life is an expression of His work in our heart.
How can you regulate or legislate the dynamic functioning of God?
It is spiritual fascism to legislate and regulate a new creation, since their life is a life of liberty to choose what God Himself leads them to do.
We are no longer under a condemning dictator.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
| 2014/4/9 19:54|
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I'll try to remember next time I come across a homeless and hungry man to reflect on whether he needs to be taught a lesson or fed.
| 2014/4/9 20:17|
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I dont want to sound legalistically challenging, but wouldn't it
be correct to say that you first buy him some food and then
you expand on it with soft words regarding why you did it?
cheers brother, now i get it. It's a love vs doctrine issue.
| 2014/4/9 21:06||Profile|
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There are many homeless men where I live. They get foodstamps, and shelter and other government help and then stand on street corners to raise money for alcohol and drugs. There are many documentaries locally that have interviewed these men and women and the homeless unabashedly say they are trying to get money for their habit. I was driving home one day, and a guy had a sign that said, "Ahh, why lie, I need a beer".
Jesus said many things about the poor, but again, we cannot regulate or legislate Christian behavior.
We don't respond to the need, we respond to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will bring needs to us. He knows about everyone and we know about no one. We are not led by guilt from other men or spirits or even our own emotions. We need the wisdom and discernment from the Lord so that we are not dragged all over the place by our emotions, the desire to please man or to make ourselves feel better.
| 2014/4/9 21:39|
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What I find so interesting from those who seem to support tithing as a "must" is the assumptions that those who do not tithe do not give. Just because someone does not tithe does not mean they don't give. I won't go into detail about how much I give because the BIBLE tells me in Matthew 6:3 "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,"
Why would any pastor or church leader demand to know what I am giving when the BIBLE clearly does not want me to go around talking about it? I have known many who speak about their tithe almost to the point of bragging...
| 2014/4/9 21:55||Profile|
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And MaryJane, there are churches that will ask to see your income tax returns to know how much to tax you...Go figure. BTW, the preacher lives in a fancy house, drives expensive vehicles...lives higher then many of his parishioners.
A man was onetime totally befuddled when he learned that we are members of a church and are not taxed.
Operating like a social, business club, don't you think?
A side note. One pastor told us he does not think it is proper for him to drive a nicer car then the [poorer] people in his church even though he could afford it.
I know this is not based on scripture - it is just an observation from life.
| 2014/4/9 22:03||Profile|