Here is another aspect of tithing that people love to get riled up about! On one side we have the tithers: “If you don’t give, you are robbing God!” “Jesus died for you, and you don’t want to write him a cheque!?” “If you aren’t willing to return a portion of God’s gifts to you, don’t expect him to continue to bless you.” *angry scowls and fist shaking*

On the other side, the non-tithers protest: “We receive God’s blessings by his grace, not by buying them!” “Jesus was homeless, and he was tortured to death, how do you get the prosperity gospel from that?!” “You Pharisees!” *outraged head shaking*

And here I sit in my apartment with a fresh haircut and think how funny it is going to be when we all have to spend eternity together in Heaven.

Or will we?

Joking aside, (because I WAS joking – that is NOT what I want to get into for this post!), the results of tithing are almost as hotly debated as whether or not it is required. Quickly, I would like to clarify that by “tithing” I mean the sacrificial giving of money, not the legalistic 10% to the penny first fruits that some denominations berate their congregations to give. Although I do think 10% is a great starting point in YOUR conversation with God about YOUR giving 😛

Does God bless those who share their resources with those who need it and to further the work of the gospel? I would say yes. But I don’t mean that your wallet will always be full (mine isn’t!).

Growing up, my parents taught me that it is always better obey God than to disobey God. In fact, God’s commands often have blessings built right into them! Sometimes it is hard to see the “benefit” in obeying God over our own priorities, but we trust that there are inherent blessings to honouring our parents, being faithful in marriage, refraining from envy and gossip. Certainly using tithe-money to pay off debt makes a lot of worldly sense (since tithing makes no worldly sense anyways) – get out of debt quicker, pay less interest, be free to give God money after attaining financial stability. What possible benefit could there be to giving money to the church when things are already tight, when other needs are growing at home, when the church’s programs are lame anyways? (hypothetically speaking of course!)

For me the answer is in Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He says “Woe to you… You give a tenth of your spices, but you have neglected justice, mercy and faithfulness… You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

The blessing that comes from tithing, one of the very reasons that God commanded his people to apportion a tenth of their fruits to him, is that it strangles greed and self-indulgence. I think this is at the heart of the conflict I parodied at the start of this post, whether a heart for God results in greater givings, or whether sacrificial giving results in a heart for God. Maybe it is both.

I hold the position that what a believer gives to God is extremely personal and cannot be dictated (except maybe in the case of a trusted spiritual adviser who you ask for guidance and who has all the facts. That might actually be very helpful, but it is probably also quite rare). However, I think it is something very much worth discussing as family in Christ so that we may hopefully sharpen one another!

God’s goal is to form our characters to be like Christ, and this is the project we have submitted ourselves to by becoming Christians. There is no room for greed or self-indulgence in a heart where Jesus is King.

So the “blessing” that comes from tithing is freedom to give generously (according to our means) and joyfully! And peace with the poverty that may result.

As for other blessings, “[God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45) No, we can never “earn” God’s blessings; every good thing we have is by his grace, and every good thing our neighbour has is by his grace. It is not our business whether they have earned it or not, but it is our business how we respond to God’s goodness and generosity in our lives.

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