“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)
The Bible commands us to use our liberty. If you read further in Galatians and other passages in the Bible, we also find out that we cannot use it as an opportunity for the flesh, but instead, maintain it by serving others. If liberty is a command, would a personal standard be considered a biblical principle? Standards are not laws, but instead, they are used to guide our personal liberty. Let’s examine what we give for an example. If a minimum amount of giving is a Christian requirement, then Christian liberty cannot be involved in our giving. On the flip side, if there was no minimum requirement to give, then our liberty is governed by our personal standards. Law and liberty do not mix like water and oil.
This brings us to our next question. Is tithing (the requirement to give 10% of our increase) a law or is it liberty? Possibly another question can help answer this. In schoolrooms today, is the one teacher equally effective for every pupil of any age? No. There may be more qualified and relevant teachers to help a varying degree of students. Because of liberty, we can use 7% or 11% as a teacher to help train our giving.
So without the command to tithe what principles can we use to disciple our flesh to fight against greed? Look at Galatians 5:16. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The Spirit is used to battle the flesh, not the law. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what teacher you need to help train and guide your liberty. He’s not going to put a pee-wee league player in the majors, nor will he put a major league player in the minors.
We know what the Holy Spirit is capable of, so the real question is are we capable of listening? Whether you believe in tithing or spirit-led giving, both positions have to listen to what God has said. Yes, spirit-led giving makes our giving unknown and unpredictable, and it makes our flesh nervous because the ambiguous nature seems out of our control. The desire to control is why tithing has such a hold on teaching today. We can’t completely let go and let the people of God be controlled by an invisible source because we’re physical people that want to rely on tangible things, written on stone tablets.