Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 7, 2014

Thought For The Week January 12, 2014

Shivering Blessings,

Well, not really shivering. Though it is 22 degrees with a wind chill of 9 degrees right outside my window, I am comfortably standing in front of my computer workstation in my 69 degree office. Central air and heat are a real blessing from God!

I have been reviewing Jeff Anderson’s book, Plastic Donuts. So far I’ve shared Jeff’s thoughts about gifts that delight God and are acceptable to Him and how the amount of the gift makes a difference since Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21). Last week I discussed the concept found throughout the Bible of “freewill offerings” and Anderson’s thought that the giver is the one who determines the amount of the gift and that is part of what makes giving special.

The book takes a sort of side route in presenting principles for acceptable giving to show where tithing fits in his study which I will briefly outline. Whenever we discuss giving we almost invariably talk about tithing. Did you know that statistics tell us that the average percentage people give to charitable or religious causes is two percent? Now this includes all giving, Christian and non, but obviously falls sort of our idea of ten percent as being a biblical minimum.

Even more enlightening is another two percent statistic that Anderson shares, “of nearly 2,000 mentions of giving in the Bible, just over 40 pertain to tithing.” That’s only 2 percent. So Anderson contends that if we focus all our discussion about giving on tithing we miss 98 percent of God’s teaching on the subject.

Christians today are split about whether the Bible requires tithing. Some believe it to be like a commandment, others, like me, hold that it is a biblical principle worth following, while still others don’t think it applies at all in any case.

Anderson notes that when Jesus had a chance to set us straight, He didn’t. He only made two statements about the tithe which you can read in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 18:11-14. This recorded his rebuke of a tithing Pharisee whose heart was not right in other areas. When Jesus spoke to the disciples about giving He said things like, Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38); to the crowds He said, Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, (Matthew 6:20); and to the Pharisees, Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s (Matthew 22:21). Paul also spoke about giving but never made a direct connection to tithing.

Anderson says that maybe Jesus and Paul meant to NOT give clear guidance on tithing so that when we ask, “What measure should I use?” or “How much is God’s?” we revert to the timeless principles that the amount matters (to us and God) and we determine the amount (that’s why it matters).

Though the New Testament does not leave a solid case for tithing it does fully support giving to the church. Jesus told the first preachers not to take provisions with them for their journey but to find worthy persons who would support their efforts. (Matthew 10:9-10), and Paul made direct comments that tell us we must support those who take care of our spiritual needs (I Corinthians 9:9-14 and I Timothy 5:17-18).

So does this leave us with mixed signals? Anderson asks do we rather “sense a new freedom about determining the matter of the tithe for yourself.” Then he says, “That’s good. But remember, there is responsibility too. The amount matters.” The next portion will help us to decide our own personal giving levels or standards.

I have really enjoyed the insights Jeff Anderson has on giving. Though I use the tithe as my minimum standard, I have never felt tied to a commandment or law that bears over me and makes me give. In fact, for years, Lilia and I have set a standard that matters to us and we thoroughly enjoy giving freely. I think this guy has hit on something. What about you? You can find more of Jeff’s thoughts at http://www.AcceptableGift.org.

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