Many of us give for the wrong reasons. Let’s understand more about what it is about fear, greed, duty, and peer pressure that motivates us to give and why we do it for these reasons.
Fear Motivates People to Tithe
Many fear the retribution that God will bring upon their lives if they do not meet their benchmarks. If they fall .00001% of their mark, God will rein down fire and brimstone and put a curse upon their family for the next ten\ years. To those of us with this motivation, we imagine entering the throne of God with knobbly knees and losing our continents because our fear has overcome us.
Many also use tithing as flagellant penance. They think that if they cause pain in their finances and they whip their budget then God will have pity on them for the extent they’ve gone for their devotion to him. I recall reading the book The Scarlett Letter in highschool. In the book, the clergy who had committed adultery had punished himself so badly that it changed his countenance and physical appearance.
Some of us feel that we deserve punishment and wrath. It’s a strange phenomenon because of how lowly we feel about ourselves. It’s almost as if to feel hurt is to feel loved, so we hone in on the character traits of God that could drive fear as a motivation.
Fearing God does not mean what we think it means. Our viewpoint of fear comes from our earthly experiences. This type of fear is similar to when a snake or wild, deadly animal crosses our paths. If you were to come across a bear while walking down a trail, our fear tells us to lie down and play dead to avoid confrontation or a reaction from the deadly beast.
Many respond to tithing in this way. We tithe because the reaction that God is going to have scares us, so we ignorantly start doing things to help God go away and ignore us. I remember countless times when after I tithed fearing that I missed a penny or two, so I would give 11% just to make sure that I pacified the deadly spiritual beast within God.
Greed Motivates People to Tithe
Some treat tithing as if it were some slot machine. If I give God “X” amount, then he will bless me tenfold. Most of these folks embed themselves deeply in the prosperity gospel. The televangelists on TV running around in their fancy cars and mansions, showing off their french cuffs. Which I never understood by the way. Our arms are round shaped. They aren’t tear-drop sized, so why do people pinch their cuffs together like that’s the way it’s supposed to be? It’s a status thing. It’s an appearance thing. That’s all. Hey, I did it at one point, then I realized, “This is stupid.”
The irony of it is many folks that tithe and agree to the preacher’s message about tithing is that they are lower-class income. If they are driving around in a fancy car, their bank is probably empty and that car is on a 7-year payment plan to stretch it out so they can afford the monthly payments.
God doesn’t want you to give so you can get rich. The scripture says, “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” Many of us seek first the benefits (or cons, depending on how you look at it) of riches. We seek to enrich our kingdom on earth and hope God will reward us also in heaven.
Duty Motivates People to Tithe
Most of these folks give mechanically. Every week they write a check at the same time and place. They drop it in the plate and don’t think twice about it. They know what they are supposed to do and do it. Maybe nowadays it’s not a check but it’s an automatic withdrawal from their online banking.
I commend this type of loyalty. They don’t even blink when they give over 10% of their earnings every week religiously into the offering plate.
There’s something missing with these folks though. They demonstrate no spontaneity or spark in their giving. They have lost the passion they once had for God. The emotional connection of giving to God is now on par with giving to the government. The automatic withdrawal of taxes from our paycheck becomes unnoticed. To deviate from their routine and allow the Spirit of God to point them in a new direction would equate to reversing the rotation of the earth.
These types of givers tend not to ask questions about their giving. God said it and that settles it for them, so quickly quench any thoughts that overwhelm their emotions by their analytical mind.
Giving to God is not a business plan. God made us children in his family and not business partner. This is not the military where communication must go through the chain of command. You can go directly to the general and make your request. As a matter of fact, God wants you to.
Peer Pressure Motivates People to Tithe
If everybody around you is doing it but you don’t want to get caught not doing it. You would feel awkward, wouldn’t you? Sometimes Christians herd themselves like cattle. Everyone is all going in the same direction, so we just go along with the crowd. We would feel embarrassed to be the odd one out.
Maybe you are worried that the pastor or the person doing the church balance sheets sees your name and knows you aren’t tithing like you should. You might slip into the pew each Sunday hoping the pastor doesn’t notice the guilt on your face. Even worse, what if you were confronted about the matter? I’ve heard many stories of pastors confronting individuals for not tithing as they should.
I am all for a little accountability, but this isn’t accountability this is governance. I knew of someone that was fairly wealthy and went to a large church. The leaders quickly befriended him. One day they talked to him about tithing and asked him why he wasn’t tithing like he should. This was the last Sunday this person attended this church.
Accountability is healthy when we do it right. Giving out of motivation from the pressure we feel from our peers is not healthy. Peer pressure should come from intimate connections that personally vest in you. Meet with your small group or talk to a friend about it to help you stay accountable to God.
Love Motivates People to Tithe
Our love for God and others should motivate us to tithe. I don’t have to go deeply into it because this entire website dedicates itself to spreading the truth about tithing. But even though tithing is not required for Christians and it is incorrect to enforce it, giving a tithe out of love can be a good thing. God sees inside our hearts. Whether it’s a tithe or some other amount, God doesn’t want 10% of our physical currency, he wants 100% of our spiritual currency.
I’ve said before that God can bless both a spirit-led giver and a tither because he’s interested in our heart. He wants our whole heart, mind, body, and soul. Our physical currency is wood, hay, and stubble which means nothing from a spiritual perspective. Love comes from a pure heart. Love cannot come from fear, guilt, peer pressure, or greed, which comes from impure thoughts. This is why it’s important that giving be of freewill. Freewill is the first step to acting upon love.
If I am forced to give, how can the world look at us and know that we love God and others? No matter how generous the gift, if it is given out of obligation and begrudgingly, it is not out of love. We must continue to act upon our love and show the world that God loves them through our freewill generosity.