Money Matters: Why Tithe?
Is tithing still relevant? In this issue of Cross Connection, we sit down with the Rev. Melvin Amerson, Texas Methodist Foundation Senior Area Representative and Resource Specialist, to hear why tithing still matters to God…and his church.
Q. Some Christians argue that tithing is an outdated concept since we are no longer under Mosaic Law. What is your response to this assertion?
A: Since tithing is not frequently mentioned in the New Testament, some people believe it is no longer necessary to tithe. This is far from the truth. In fact, by the time of the New Testament the practice tithing was so common among people of faith that it was not necessary to constantly refer to the subject and offer encouragement in obedience.
Jesus acknowledges the practice of tithing in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. The Apostle Paul does not mention or directly refer to tithing, but encourages generosity that likely exceeds a tithe, as referenced in I Corinthians 16:2 and II Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.
Q: Should Christians give their tithes to the local church or is it okay to designate those gifts to another ministry?
A: A tithe of our income should go to our place of worship because giving is an act of worship and honors God. Deuteronomy 16:16c-17, says “They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; all shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.” Passing of the offering plate is still an important part of Christian worship. Today, we also have electronic giving options that allow one to worship through giving when unable to be present in an actual worship service. Still, this type of giving is also an act of worship.
Furthermore, our tithes provide the necessary resources to do ministry. In Malachi 3, God showed great disappointment when the people failed to honor God with their tithes and offerings, while giving those resources elsewhere. Verse 10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house,” which refers to the church. It is wonderful for believers to give generously above and beyond their tithes to support ministries and organizations beyond the local church.
Q: Why does God want his children to give generously?
A: According to studies, United Methodist give approximately 2 percent of their income to their church. Part of the reason for the decline tithing and faithful giving is due in part to our culture of consumerism, changing values, lowered expectations for giving, and a lack of intentional teaching on tithing and biblical giving.
God wants his children to practice generosity so that money will not control them or become an idol in their lives. In fact, generosity is a matter of the heart. Jesus reminds us, “For where your treasure is so will your heart be also” Matthew 6:21.
Giving helps prevent us from becoming too attached to our financial resources, assets and other indulgences. Jesus also said, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Moreover, it is through generosity that people are able share and connect with others who are in need. It promotes an outward focus and helps us become God’s hands and feet to do the work of God’s kingdom.
Q: How does giving bless the giver?
A: Through giving, we have the opportunity to touch and transform lives and communities. It is a way of connecting with others and saying, “We care.” It is incredibly rewarding. Some studies even indicate that people who give are happier!
Q: How does the practice of regular tithing encourage Christians to grow in their trust of God’s provision for them?
A: Giving is about faith and trust in God our creator and sustainer. As we honor the Lord with our tithes, offering and gifts, we will discover God is always faithful!!!