I don’t think I’ll tithe this year…"

Did I get your attention with that Connection article title?!!  "Provocative enough for you? As we pass through the new Fall season, this is the time of the year that we think about our current stewardship and our plans to give back in 2016.  I for one, have been thinking a great deal about giving back to God what he has given me, and I know many of you have as well.

To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve almost always given a regular tithe to my church, but I never gave 10% regularly and annually until I started at Hope Church.  I gave ten percent and thought I was doing perfectly fine.  I thought to myself – I made the number!  But I was wrong.  “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21).  God’s Word teaches that we should not plan to ”tithe”, because God wants us to give generously, and tithing is the bare minimum.  I find it fascinating that the apostle Paul writes about sharing material possessions to care for the needs of the poor ... and to sustain the Christian ministry.... He urges and commends generosity ... but never once does he demand, as a command from God that any specific amount be given. 

Our God is a generous, giving God who so loved the world that He gave that most precious gift, His only begotten Son. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).  I don’t think the majority of us can really appreciate what that must be like, giving not only your worldly possessions, but also your ONLY son?  I still have trouble with that concept even today, because I love my children so much.  Just think how powerful that love must have been – and is today -- for God and His children! As God’s children we are to be generous givers if we aspire to be like Jesus and to follow His teachings.

Tithing emphasizes our obligation to God; but more importantly, New Testament giving emphasizes our willing, loving response to God’s grace. Tithing can limit giving by making us feel that we have paid our dues (so to speak) and thus nothing more is required, when, in fact, much more could be done. Tithing per se has a tendency to put a person on a legal basis with God, rather than a love relationship. It’s the wrong emphasis.

I don’t know about you, but fell into the following trap – tithing led me to the belief that 10 percent is God’s money and 90 percent is my money.  

Memo from God:  Dear Ted: 100 percent is MY (God’s!) money, and I gave it to you!!  Think about it.  Love, God.  

Are we not all glad that God did not just give a tenth!  He gave ALL.  If you have enough to live comfortably, then invest the rest where God pays guaranteed, eternal dividends.

In His Name,

Ted Lithgow

Elder, HOPE Church Raleigh

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