I never really meant to post on tithing, but it keeps coming up, and then in the comments people ask questions, so here we go on another post!
Now we're dealing with the question: Does the whole 10% need to go to my church?
Please keep in mind that what I am about to tell you is my understanding of Scripture. It is not Scripture itself, and many smart, godly people have views quite the opposite of mine.
But nevertheless, this is my blog and I get to tell you what I think!
In the Old Testament, when the tithe was instituted, everybody took their tithe to the tabernacle, and later the temple. These were the places where God literally dwelled, and where all the work of God was carried out in the entire world. It was the only organized vehicle for God's work on earth. The welfare system was run from the temple. Evangelism, such as it was, was run from the temple. Everything was located there.
I don't think you can compare the local church with the temple. God does not dwell in your local church; He dwells in you today. He once lived in the holiest of holies in the temple; now He lives in your heart. So there's nothing mystical about the building, except that it is the primary place for fellowship and accountability and growth that we have today.
As such, it needs much of our tithe. But I don't think it needs all of it. Today, God's work is not only done by the local church. It is also done by organizations all over the world, and even here at home. If we're to forward God's work on earth, I think we need to be considering those organizations, too.
Our church gives about 20% of its money to overseas missions, so it's easy to say that if we give to the local church alone, the local church then takes its tithes and distributes them as it sees fit, and you're done. But I guess I've never believed that, because 80% of the money still stays in North America. And quite frankly, the work of God needs more money on other sides of the world, in my opinion, where Christians are being thrown out of their homes, tortured, or simply starving.
So we try to give half our tithe to our church, and then we divide up the rest between local missions and overseas missions, with an emphasis on the overseas. We try to give to organizations that we personally have contact with, so we know the money is being used well. For instance, my family has visited an orphanage in Kenya, and a lot of our money goes directly there today. We gave money to build a water system, for instance, and the next time we go back we will be able to physically see it. We also gave money to start up some entrepreneurial ventures in Kenya, and when we go back we can visit those, too. So it's very tangible.
I know many disagree, and many preach that the entire 10% has to go to your local church, and the offerings above and beyond that go overseas. I feel that we should all be giving at least 10% (we give more than that), but I just don't think the church is the same as the temple, since God is working in many ways today.
So that's where I stand.
And in answer to another question, yes, I think we should also tithe our time, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to give money! (which I don't think the commenter was implying; I'm just making the point). I think we just simply need to have an attitude of generosity, where we hold everything we have--our money, our time, even our kids--in an open hand, realizing that they come from God, and they're not intrinsically ours. Let's not become so burdened by things on earth that we fail to rely on Him. Let's not hoard His blessings. Let's share them so they can multiply.
That's just my attitude towards life. And when you do share, you feel a whole lot better!
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Labels: church, saving, spending, tithing