Tithing. It’s one of those core Christian tenets that, purposefully or not, often gets forgotten by followers of Christ.
Maybe it’s because, as humans born with naturally sinful inclinations, we would rather keep our money to ourselves. It’s just easier to be selfish and take care of your own needs and your family, right? Why give money to the church?
You might be surprised to find out that John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, actually kind of agrees with that sentiment (to a certain extent)! In Sermon 50, titled “The Use of Money,” Wesley lays out the foundation of teaching regarding money in the United Methodist Church. According to Wesley, Methodists should strive to “Gain all you can…save all you can…give all you can.”
Many times, Christians are great at gaining all they can and saving all they can; it’s that third part of Wesley’s sermon that seems to be the most difficult to put into practice.
There are countless verses in the Bible about wisely using the riches that you possess. One of the first instances of giving back to God that which we have received comes from Genesis 28:10-22, in which Jacob falls asleep and dreams that God visits him at the top of a stairway to Heaven. God promises to give Jacob and his descendants “the land on which you are lying” and that his descendants will “be like the dust of the earth.”
After waking, Jacob promises always to give back to God a tenth of the blessings he’s received from the Lord. This verse is, of course, where we get the idea of giving one-tenth of our Earthly earnings back to God.
However, tithing isn’t a fixed rate. It doesn’t mean that you are always required to give back one-tenth of your earnings; no more, no less.
The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church emphasizes that church leaders should “find creative ways to turn their congregations into tithing congregations with an attitude of generosity.” (¶258.4)
It also states that tithing is defined as “the minimum goal of giving,” and never outright says a specific number or amount is considered an official tithe to the church. (¶630.5)
One of the most beautiful instances in the Bible of giving as much as you can give is the widow’s offering, from Mark 12:41-44. You probably already know this verse by heart, but I’ll recount it just to make sure.
In these verses, Jesus is sitting and observing people bringing offerings into the temple treasury. He sees lots of wealthy individuals bringing in large sums of money and tossing them into the collection receptacles.
But then, Jesus observes a poor widow giving all that she has; just two small coins.
Je sus turns to his disciples and says “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”
Jesus’ purpose in pointing this out to his disciples is to show them that what’s important is not how much you give, but that you give sacrificially with a heart that is full of generosity.
Tithing isn’t just a way for the church to collect money from members; it’s an essential part of the Christian faith. It teaches believers how to be generous with the blessings they have received and to give those gifts back to God.
T his month provides some fantastic opportunities to give back to both your church and community. Whether it’s special Advent or Christmas tithe collections or charitable donations to causes that your church supports, make sure to approach your giving with a joyful heart.
Tithing is an act of sacrificial worship. It’s not always easy to give, but by giving, it provides others with more opportunities which will further the Kingdom of God on Earth.