Frequent Problems with Tithing #2

Profiles of Christians Who Rob God

Used with permission.[Alcorn, Randy (2003-02-01). Money, Possessions, and Eternity (Kindle Locations 4142-4233). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition].

The Situation:

Don and Sue believe that they aren’t under law but grace, and that tithing lends itself to a pharisaical “letter of the law” approach. They believe that God’s law is written in our hearts and we should give freely without compulsion. They are proud of their mature and liberating belief in “grace giving.”

The Problem:

Last year Don and Sue’s “grace giving” amounted to $30 per month—about one-half of one percent of their income. While they laud grace and deplore the law, their actions suggest that grace is one-twentieth as effective as the law. If grace is as ineffective in motivating their sexual purity as it is their giving, they won’t be married much longer. (The problem isn’t grace, of course, but their belief that grace means God has lowered his standards and doesn’t care how we live.)

The Situation:

Ralph was laid off three months ago and collects $1500 a month in unemployment. Others in the church give him an average of $500 per month to supplement his income. Ralph says “amen” to the financial sermons and wishes he were in a position to give too. Ralph assumes that even though God says the tithe belongs to him, it surely doesn’t apply to things like unemployment, social security, benefits, gifts, inheritances, or other “nonsalary” forms of income.

The Problem:

Scripture makes no such distinction between sources of revenue. If it comes in, it’s income. God doesn’t tag monies “tithe exempt.” The source of material blessing is not the point. If I receive $500 to help get me through the month, the first $50 belongs to God. Why should it matter where it comes from? If it’s provision, it comes from the Provider.

The Situation:

“There’s a lot more to stewardship than money,” says Gina. “We can’t all give—but we can teach Sunday school, clean the building, and open our homes to guests. I consider that to be my giving.”

The Problem:

Gina rightly believes that stewardship involves more than money—but she wrongly believes that stewardship ever fails to include money. Her argument is just as faulty as saying, “I can’t give the church any of my time or my gifts and talents, so I’ll just give my money instead.” God expects all of these, not just some of them. We all can and should give, just as we all can and should pray. Gina is attempting to justify robbing God by “making up for it” with things she should be doing anyway.

The Situation:

“I’m so far in debt that I can’t give a dime to the church,” says Tony. “What am I supposed to do, stop my car payments? What kind of testimony would that be? And it would be bad stewardship to sell my car—I’d have to take a $3,000 loss. God doesn’t want me to be stupid, does he?”

The Problem:

Tony has already been stupid. In buying his new car, he put himself in a position to disobey God’s command to give. He violated Scripture by spending money he didn’t have. His greedy and foolish misuse of credit is what put him in this fix. Tony apparently believes that God, his church, and needy people should pay for his foolish choices. Why not take a $3,000 loss in order to get into a position to obey God? Is there any stewardship more terrible than robbing your Creator and Savior? Tony is another person who acts as if the tithe is his, not God’s. Scripture doesn’t say “firstfruits” are to be given to those to whom they will be the best testimony, but to God. If Tony ends up having a bad testimony, it’s because of his foolish choices, which are only complicated by further disobedience. He needs to ask forgiveness and learn from the situation so he doesn’t do it again. But it makes no sense to rob God in order to have a “better testimony” to men.
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