Probably the most criticism i receive about this site is not the fact that i am against tithing. This may seem surprising considering that the tithing (so-called) doctrine is so near-and-dear to many. Actually the number one criticism i receive about this site comes from both sides of the aisle. Both tithe-liberators and tithe-advocates actually come down hard on me about this. Quite frankly, it’s a bit cumbersome to constantly justify myself, so I’ve decided to write a post that defends my case once and for all. Some of you may be reading this that have already confronted me about this – i don’t mean to offend, it’s just that i am a plain speaking person. So, i’m not holding back my feelings.
The issue that i am criticized the most about is that i do not talk about generosity more often. More or less, it seems that my message is “Don’t do” rather than “Do this”. Basically, the criticism is that i should be spending my time thinking about what we should be doing instead of what we should NOT be doing. I can understand why people would feel this way.
Turning on the Light Bulb
When i was first studying tithing years ago, i came across a slew of resources that taught against it. The balance on the scale was tipped pretty heavy towards the “anti-tithing” message more than it was for “pro-giving”. The reason i read so many resources about “anti-tithing” was because i was searching for answers solely about the doctrine of tithing. Quite frankly, when you look for studies on tithing you find so little that support it’s view; and the little you do find, it is shallow and minute. With the amount of time that is spent talking about tithing in sermons, you wouldn’t believe that the research done in support of it is extremely anemic.
Nonetheless, as i was studying about tithing, I knew sacrificial generosity was required. How could anyone be talked out of this if they themselves have been redeemed by the shed blood of our savior? By all accounts and measures, i had been a generous person. This truth to me was common knowledge. I knew that God wanted me to give and wanted me to give sacrificially because i knew how God gave to me. I completely understood that Jesus and his Father sacrificed everything to give to me, so out of love i felt an obligation to do the same in return. What i didn’t know was that my method for giving was a complete error. What i also didn’t know was that learning the truth about tithing taught me more about generosity than anything else i had read before and anything i have read since.
Learning the truth about tithing turned on a light-bulb for me. I viewed my friends, family, and complete strangers differently simply because the bondage of tithing had been broken. Unexpectedly freeing a person does something in their hearts and minds that cannot be duplicated any other way. A response to grace is a power that cannot be broken. Motivation by fear, legalism, and incentives can all be broken because there is always something that can scare, threaten, or bribe you more.
My message is not about teaching generosity. To be honest, i feel that comes naturally when someone feels love, or when someone receives grace. When i broke the chains of tithing off my life, i didn’t sit there, stare into space and wonder what i should do. The freedom was the most energetic, powerful, and influential factor for my giving. The exhilaration and excitement that God wants me to give from my heart and not from my calculator was enlightening to my life.
I don’t need sermons from my wife and reminders from her about giving. When i see her grace and her freedom and her willingness to give to me, it is only natural for my heart to give to her.
Must I prode, poke, and push you to give in every single blog post? Even if i am successful in my endeavor, does it mean you are giving for the right reasons? Are you that childish that you cannot understand the obligation and responsibility to others to care, love, and provide for them? Maybe you have not experienced enough grace to realize what God has done for you? In that case, i don’t think a message on generosity is what you need.
What About Balance?
Some people ask, well why don’t you have some balance and teach about tithing and also about how to give at the same time. As a matter of fact i do. Many times i reference scriptures in both the old and new Testaments that point to examples of giving that were freely sacrificial. In the tithing e-book i have written, the last 1/4 of the book is dedicated solely to how our giving should be. Many times i reference principles of giving. Over and over again, i reference Jesus’ example of giving in the bible. Other times i relate our ‘giving’ relationship with God should be identical with how we give to our spouse. There are many resources in the bookmarks link on this site that provide links to sites that mostly discuss generous giving. There are also dozens of blog posts that focus primarily on generous giving instead of tithing. It’s there but the truth is that my primary message about tithing is not exactly kosher in most circles.
Nobody likes the guys that rock the boat. We want those guys that come out and say Jesus loves you, and avoid conflict at all costs. I want to let you know. I LOVE conflict. i can’t say it enough. I LOVE CONFLICT! I found out that conflict is the number one motivating factor in my life. When there was NO conflict in my life i found there i drew further from God. There’s something about controversy and conflict that drives me. Ok, it doesn’t drive you. Well. Sorry it does for me. If you sat at my dinner table growing up in my family you would think that a battle is enraging, but that’s just my family communicating. I can’t sit around like some and sing La La La papa smurf or sing koom-bi-yah!
I have very little patience to sit here and hold hands with you and encourage you to make sure you are being a good little christian and doing what you’re suppose to. Do it! Get over it! Quit talking about it. Be a man . . or woman. i don’t want to petty talk with you about that stuff. Bores me to death.
Generosity vs. Truth
What’s the value of generosity when you practice generosity outside the truth? Imagine (hypothetically) if you met someone who believed that if he didn’t give away 10% of his income, then a green monster would come out of the ground and eat his house and car? Are you going to be more concerned about sharing the truth about the green monster, or are you more worried about preserving his generosity? hmmm. . . Maybe there’s some pastors that wouldn’t mind letting that go if that means the offering is going to be fuller.
Maybe in this instance it would be more advantageous to share the truth because he actually believes in a monster that’s going to eat his house and car. I don’t know. Let’s think about this. . . Let’s suppose he doesn’t believe in a green monster. . . Suppose he believes that a tithe is required, and that if you don’t give 10%, then a devourer is going to come and eat his increase and consume his profit (Malachi 3:11)? At this point is truth less important because it sounds biblical? I guess a fictitious devourer doesn’t sound as bad a green monster. . . or does it?
Why would preserving outward actions trump the truth, which is an inward reflection? Doesn’t the bible teach that what’s inside is important? Is it really that critical to focus on improving someone’s outward actions? Do you think it’s less important to know the truth? Since when is doing something right but for the wrong reasons make what you are doing right?
I don’t want to make the topic of generous giving irrelevant or lower on the priority list. Because it’s not. To be honest, i wish people knew about the truth already and we could skip to the next level. i look at giving the way i look at the nature of birds. I can’t talk about the big blue sky and the pretty view if the bird is stuck in a cage. Once i free them from the cage, then they are birds, they know how to fly. I don’t need to teach a bird that they exist for the sky any more than you need to teach a redeemed person their purpose. People forget about their purpose, but you know what, sometimes all you need to show them is the cage once in a while, not a big green monster.