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Question for Joel: Tithing

Question:

What are you thoughts on tithing…..I was reading in 2 Cor where Paul is exhorting the church to put together a gift and it dawned on me that “tithing” is not mentioned after the crucification other than in Hebrews while referencing the melchizedec story and states that tithing was part of the law. I think that explains why it isn’t mentioned under the new covenant. However Paul is clear that we reap what we sow and I have felt a new conviction to start giving on a regular basis,but so many preachers still preach the tithe so I was curious on your thoughts.

Answer from Joel:

Good question. I do not personally preach a “tithe” (10%) per se — even though I know many pastors would disagree with me. That said, I do believe in & preach sacrificial, faithful, & cheerful giving. It is true that we are not under the law any more (since Christ has fulfilled it), instead, we are under grace.

Yet, interestingly enough, I do not think that living “in grace” exempts us from our responsibility to contribute to God’s kingdom work. (BTW, yea, I know that you would agree.) There are many, many NT Scriptures that address giving (including 2 Cor. 9) — but it’s from one’s heart & desire rather than out of duty & obligation.

One interesting thought is that Jesus actually calls us to a higher standard than the law. For instance, the law says, “Do not murder”. Jesus, who fulfilled the law, says, “Do not be angry (inappropriately) with your brother.” The law says, “Do not commit adultery.” Jesus says, “Do not look at a woman with lust in your eye.”

I do not give people a hard and fast “rule”. We no longer live under the law. But practically speaking, sometimes it is helpful to give some specific instruction or advice. For instance, if I were to ask a fitness instructor how much I should exercise each day, they might say something like 30 minutes/day. That doesn’t mean that it would be bad or wrong for me to exercise 15 minutes/day…or 2 hours/day. But if they said, “Just exercise whenever you feel like”, that’s just not going to help me much. I don’t often “feel like” exercising. :) The point is, at the very least I’m asking for a place to start.

So, when people ask me how much they should give I let them know that everything we have belongs to Him & that it’s between them & God…but that they should give faithfully (consistently), cheerfully (with joy), & sacrificially (rather than only out of their abundance). That said, if it’s helpful to them, like the illustration with the fitness instructor, I tell them that 10% is a good goal to have. Depending on their circumstances, 10% may be too little…I don’t know, there are just a lot of things to consider.

Anyway, there’s much more to be said, but the important thing is a person’s heart…that’s what our God is always after. I really appreciate your question & it’s always a blessing to hear about the work that our loving & awesome God is doing in your life. By the way, I’ll be teaching on “giving” this weekend! Doesn’t God have perfect timing?! :)

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