I was originally going to write this on a blog in response to a poster calling the “tithe” a princple. Instead, i figured i’d write it here, simply because i know that they will read all that i wrote and find one word that has nothing to do with my argument and rip it to shreds.
What is your definition of a principle? Is it the fact that the word “tithe” is repeated so much in the bible? Is it the fact that Abraham tithed before Moses came along? Is it the fact that God gives this way? A tithe is a standard, not a principle.
Taking my wife out once a week is a standard, not a principle. Reading my bible and praying for 30 minutes every day is a standard, not a principle. Donating 1 hour of time a week to my church is a standard, not a principle. Giving God 10% of my increase is a standard, not a principle.
Loving my wife, communicating with God, serving, and giving are all principles. These are all minimum requirements and principles that you find in scripture. All these minimum requirements are all orchestrated to us by the Holy Spirit. I don’t have the bible to tell me what romantic things that i should do this weekend for my wife. Sure, I am at liberty to follow Esther and Boaz. I don’t have the bible to show me how much i need to pray and read today, but sure, I could follow David’s example. I don’t have the scripture to tell me how often and where i serve, but sure, i could follow Timothy’s example. I don’t have the bible to tell me how much i should give this week, but sure, i could follow Abraham’s example.
The truth is, Church leaders are not afraid to let the Holy Spirit orchestrate people’s lives when it comes to serving, praying, reading, and loving; but when it comes to giving, our leaders’s faith in the Holy Spirit fades. We can trust him to move mountains, or to heal, or to turn a drug addicted- murderous pedophile into a servant of God; but to trust him to orchestrate people to give. That’s where we draw the line.
If i want control over my kids, i’ll just set boundaries for them. The Church’s control is no different. We do not trust the Holy Spirit to orchestrate other’s giving. So tithing is a great control mechanism to predict and balance our budgets. The Church’s that actually practice financial faith only through Spirit-led giving, are few and far between. A church budget that enforces tithing hardly exercises the faith of a church budget that allows people to freely give where God leads.
Our church leaders enforce the OT tithe, and bring financial security to their pockets and the church budgets. In turn, the congregation are the only ones practicing trust in God’s provision for them. Yes, In the OT, the Levities received the tithes also, but exercised faith because they had no part in a land inheritance. The Israelite nation exercised their faith in giving, and trusted God to bring the rains to grow their crops and feed their animals.
Spirit led giving and receiving is a way that we can trust God to provide for us when we give, and a way for us to trust God to provide for us when we receive. A tithe minimum no longer predicts what will pour in. We just have to trust the Holy Spirit to prompt others to give to our needs.
I know this was a rant that stemmed from the definition of “principle”, but what we need to apply today is the principle of faith. Faith starts with our Church leaders, and our church budgets enforcing and accepting Spirit-led giving.