I have been thinking about the blog I wrote about tithing on June 21, 2021. I left out an important consideration: To whom should you tithe?
The matter of tithing is intensely personal. Perhaps you are giving less than 10%, but you are giving. Your faith just isn’t quite there, yet. Or you have some “things” you think you need, and you think you need that 10% to buy them. Then after buying those “things,” there is the likelihood that there will be something else you want to use that money for. Somehow that 10% is never reached and soon goes to the back of your mind – then disappears.
On the other hand, perhaps you are easily giving 10% of your income – and you are proud of it. You may be in danger of thinking more highly of yourself than others as you give at least 10%. Regarding pride in giving, I knew of a gentleman in church who would write a check for the offering, and he’d make a big production of loudly ripping the check from the checkbook so everyone could hear. It turns out his giving, for all his flourish, was only a pittance.
Giving is an act between you and God – and no one else. Make it a practice to ask God what you should give – with the minimum goal 10%, even as you open yourself up to the needed faith toward that amount. Perhaps consider “Grace Giving” in which you give according to the good things that God has provided for you. Tip: It will be more than 10%.
Now, to whom should you tithe? Do you currently give to a preacher on the television or the radio? While there are exceptions, many of them express the need for your contributions broadcast the Good News of Jesus Christ to all those within their broadcast area. Or they seek money to spread their electronic ministry to additional locations than they currently serve. Or they ask for funding just to stay on the air. You can certainly continue giving to these ministries, but I would like you to consider the following.
If you are sick, or if there is a death in the family, do you think a television or radio preacher is going to be there to visit you in your illness or bereavement? Nope. Who will? Your local church’s pastor or a deacon from that church are much more likely to visit you in your time of need (if you aren’t contagious, of course).
Therefore, I strongly suggest that you donate to your local church if you belong to one. If you don’t belong to a church, find a church that is in your community and serving the community. The latter may not be apparent, but you can ask a representative of the church – such as a pastor or a deacon – any questions you may have about the service-oriented and educational ministries of their church. [ALERT: Strong opinion coming!] If the local church doesn’t seem to be reaching out beyond their church, then perhaps you could seek out another that may make better use of your donations of money and your own time of volunteering. Whatever you decide, I encourage you to make a church your home church in the community in which you actually live (and not the church you grew up in a thousand miles away or the church of your parents). This applies to synagogues, temples or mosques as well. You will be enriched by making a local place of worship your home of faith.
Now to share with you a puzzlement that I have yet to resolve satisfactorily. Throughout almost our entire married life, my wife and I have tithed on the gross. That is, we give at least 10% from the entire income for the month – before anything is taken out for taxes or deductibles. So far, so good. However, now we’re retired. We receive an income from Social Security (in the United States) and some pension from about thirteen years of working and contributing to Social Security and a pension fund. Now in our retirement, do we continue to give at least 10% of our income that we already paid into?
Do you see the dilemma? We want to avoid the legalism of “having to” continue to pay a tithe to the local church and other causes. From a legalistic viewpoint, we have “paid our dues” during our working years. We shouldn’t have to pay a tithe any longer. However, almost all churches have a sizeable number of seniors and retired persons in their congregation. What if none of the retired persons contributed any longer to the church? The church would struggle in fulfilling its ministries in the community and within the church.
Our solution at this time is to step over to thinking beyond the tithe. We contribute as we feel led in both time and resources. I think this is where we will leave it at this time.
In summary, then, I encourage you to reach in faith toward contributing a tithe (10%) of your income to a local church where you live that is reaching out with their community service and their educational outreach. However, don’t stop there. Think again about “Grace Giving.” The tithe is merely the basic privilege of giving. Ask God where you should go from there with not only your funds but also your time. As we ponder this privilege of giving, let us look for opportunities of justice, mercy and faithfulness as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 23: 23.
And Micah says it this way in Micah 6: 8 –
“[God] has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”