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Tithing – How Much Should a Christian Give? Part 2

by Jason on April 20, 2010

Yesterday we set the stage for the topic of tithing and Christian giving.

Today we want to delve a little further into giving and try to answer this question, “How much should I give?”.

We are going to take a bit of a journey to get there, but that’s where we’ll end up.

This post might be a little controversial for some, and downright uncomfortable for others – but that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

Ready?  Let’s go!

Why Tithing is Such a Polarizing Topic

A reader yesterday commented that he never realized tithing was such a polarizing topic – and you know, he’s right.

Why is it that Christians get so worked up about the concept of giving and tithing.

I think the answer lies in the reason why Jesus spoke so much about money and possessions – because money has a way of subtly blinding us to what’s really important!

The topic of giving is controversial because in our heart of hearts we want to clutch our possessions with tight grips and we don’t want anyone telling us we need to give things up!

C’mon, be honest – what’s in the very depths of your heart, the place that you don’t anyone to go?   I know what’s in mine – selfishness.

We want things for ourselves – don’t leave me hangin’ here…

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Why We Want to Know Exactly How Much to Give

Alright, so we are selfish by nature.  We naturally want things for ourselves and our hearts are little idol factories – and money is one of our greatest idols we treasure!

So if we ask the reason why we want to know how much to give, what do you think our answers would be – so we can make a budget, it’s good planning, God tells us to purpose in our heart what to give might be a few answers?

Those are all good things and very accurate – but here’s my theory of why we want to know exactly how much to give:

Because you and I want to know the minimum requirement we can give to God and still make Him happy!

Too many of us are working on a To-Do List with God; so we give our 10% (although we know that it’s really much less than that on average), check it off our list and feel good about ourselves that we gave God his money.

We view tithing as some sort of tax that God is exacting from us and we think if I give Him this money then He’ll bless me because I did what I was supposed to do.

Why the New Testament is Eerily Silent About Percentages

Have you ever wondered why percentages are not mentioned in the New Testament?  I have.

I mean, if it’s so important why didn’t Jesus say, “Give x%!” or the Apostle Paul when he was writing half the NT didn’t just once say, “Well you know Ephesians – you are to give x% so let’s keep it up!”

I believe that it’s silent because if it gave a percentage we would give exactly that percentage and no more.  We would satisfy the minimum requirement.

In Order to Excel at Giving You Must Do This First

There’s a great passage about giving in 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 that I will highlight later in this series, but I want to take a look at verses 3-5:

For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

Ok, so here’s what’s going on – Paul is writing to the Corinthians urging to excel at giving (v.7) and he gives the Macedonian church as an example of excelling in giving.

But notice what he says about those Macedonian believers – they gave themselves first to the Lord.

What we need to do before we give anything is we need to surrender!

We need to surrender our hearts, our lives and our idols to God!  We surrender our finances to Him, we give up our conrol over our lives and we let go of all the stuff we want to clutch so tightly to.

That means, if you are a believer – you get down on your knees, repent of anything that you’ve placed above Him in your heart.

And it means if you are not a follower of Jesus, you carefully consider what He said and surrender your heart for the very first time to Him!

God wants our surrender because He loves us and He knows what’s best for us – we’ve been created in His image to worship Him and He knows that He is the only thing that can truly bring peace and lasting joy to our lives!

Understanding This Truth Will Help Excel Us in Giving

I like what Tim Keller says about giving:

The solution to stinginess is a reorientation to the generosity of Christ in the gospel, how he poured out his wealth for you!

Here’s what will help us answer the question of how much:  The Gospel!

2 Corinthians 8:9 says:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Look to Jesus – by His sheer act of grace He gave up all the riches of heaven to come to earth, live the life that you never could and died the death that you should have.

He gave up everything for your sake, so that you might experience those same riches of heaven – not wealth, but true riches!

One of the reasons we don’t give more is because we don’t see the great grace by which God has saved us and we don’t trust that God is good and He’ll provide for our needs.

Thankfully Jesus didn’t “tithe” His blood or we’d all be in big trouble!

So how much should we give?  As much as we possibly can – it’s the least we can do.

Questions to consider

Readers, do you think we should always be looking to give more and more by increasing the percentages that we give?

Do you think we should set a percentage and as long as we give cheerfully then that’s good enough?

Will you change your giving habits, if so how?

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