PRAY daily. WORSHIP weekly. READ your Bible regularly. SERVE at, through, and beyond your congregation.
RELATE with others in inviting and faith-growing, ways. GIVE a 10% tithe of your income.
(These “Faith Practices” are God-shaped activities that help us grow into spiritually-healthy followers of Jesus. As the Danish philosopher/theologian Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Christianity cannot simply be a doctrine to be taught, but a life to be lived.” These “Marks of Discipleship” are found all throughout Scripture. Lived out with intentionality, these particular behaviors enable us to grow much more fully in the experience of being modern-day disciples.)
As people of faith, we believe (or at least we say we believe) that God lovingly and abundantly provides us with everything have, with who we are, and with what we are able to accomplish and acquire. And as a people of faith, we are asked to give a tithe, one-tenth of our income, in return to God. The tithe is not for God’s sake. God owns it all, anyway. The command to tithe is for our own benefit and for the benefit of others, many of whom have less.
Practicing the tithe reminds of us our total dependence upon God. It helps us cultivate generosity and makes us co-givers with God as our gifts are offered and used to bring blessing to others.
Tithing also helps us put the things of this world in proper perspective. There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth or possessions. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, it is not money, but “the love of money” that is “a root of all kinds of evil” (1st Timothy 6:10).
Tithing is also an ongoing reminder of where our loyalties belong. Jesus teaches that “no one can serve both God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24) and “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Our ongoing practice of tithing, or, continually growing in our giving toward a tithe, helps keep those truths in good focus. A disciple’s heart belongs to God. And tithing as a spiritual discipline helps keep it there.
Why do you think many church people are reluctant to give proportionately or even sacrificially? What obstacles get in their way?
How do you think thankfulness and generosity are often connected? (And how do you cultivate such wonderful gifts?)
Please respond to this statement: “Giving is another opportunity to live what I say I believe.”
Giving is an essential part of our lives as followers of Jesus. It is both good exercise and protection for our souls… because when we turn miserly, when we simply watch out for our own needs, when we hoard God’s good gifts for ourselves… we deny the destiny God has planted deep within us. We become much less than what God created us in his image to be.
In his book, “Real Faith for Real Life: Living the Six Marks of Discipleship”, Pastor Mike Foss writes: “I believe one of the reasons that the witness of Christianity is not stronger is because most Christians do not tithe. This is as much a spiritual deficiency as it is a financial deficiency. Tithing has nothing to do with the church as an institution. It has everything to do with the heart of the disciple of Jesus”.
How to Grow in Giving…
Our intentional practice of generous giving arises from hearts that reflect the abundant heart of God. We have been created in the image of God. That means, in part, that every one of us have within ourselves a need to give. But sin, which separates us from God and clings to the self, can turn our giving spirit into a spirit of “gimme”, instead. We may have lives that are filled with lots of things on the outside, but we may be spiritually empty on the inside.
How do you begin the spirit-filling practice of tithing? Simply look at your take-home income and figure 10% of that. That is your tithe to God. The other 90% is for everything else. (Of course, God wants you to use that 90% responsibly, as well.) If that 10% seems like too much of a leap from your current level of giving, commit to God just 1% more of your income above your present giving. And simply commit to grow another 1% each year from there.
But be certain that you make this new commitment with prayer. Surround your giving with your own willingness to let go and trust that God will take it and multiply its impact beyond your greatest imagination. And continually thank God for inviting you into a lifestyle marked by both gratitude and generosity.