There are certain things one simply does not discuss in church circles, and I really don’t mean sex, alcohol, the f-word, or thong underwear.
As in most marriages, money is a topic that causes a lot of angst and disagreement, and within esoteric church community, tithing — loosely defined as giving 10 percent of one’s income (gross or net?) to the church building one attends on a weekly basis — is not up for discussion.
You just do it, friend.
For those who have doubts on the matter, the annual and semi-annual sermon on tithing, which emphasizes strongly that one is obligated to support the place where one receives the primary spiritual instruction, is a reminder to quiet any potential dissent.
Increasingly, however, there are believers who receive their primary spiritual instruction outside of a conventional weekly church establishment, and they are looking quite seriously at the apostle Paul’s encouragement to give as much as they are able, for the privilege of sharing in “this service to the saints.” (2 Corinthians 8:3, 4) What does this mean, they ask?
And this brings us to the issue of giving: why do we do it?
Those of us trained in church attendance answer that it is our obligation to support God’s ministry by funding our local congregation, which then takes the money and does the “work of God,” but in reading 2 Corinthians 8, does it come across that the Macedonian Christians gave “even beyond their ability” so that other churches, elsewhere, could pay the utilities, buy Sunday School materials, and operate church ministries?
Or was this “service to the saints” just that — money given to the hurting, oppressed, and persecuted brothers and sisters in other areas who, because of their belief in Christ, weren’t doing so well?
God has given us resources — money and time — and plenty of neighbors whom to love, and if we look to the early church for inspiration on how to live, and give, then Acts 4:32, 34-35 are great verses to ponder:
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had . . . There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them brought the moneys from the sales, and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”
It’s time for individual Christians to assess the resources they have been given and ask God just where He wants those resources used.