By Allen White
Not too long ago, I received a handwritten Thank You note from the campus pastor at my church. He was thanking me for giving to the church. The note was nice, but honestly, I don’t give to my church. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love God, and I also love my church. But, when it comes to giving I give to God, not my church.
I have given a tithe of my income to God for most of my adult life. Well, with the exception of when I was part of a denomination that required me to tithe to them. I know tithing is controversial to some, but I see it this way, just as the Ten Commandments are a minimum standard for morality, the tithe is a minimum standard for giving. I don’t have a spiritual gift of generosity, so I need a minimum standard.
People argue that tithing is in the Old Covenant. Aren’t we freed from the Law? Actually the tithe was established before the Mosaic Law when Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20). Jesus validated the tithe in the Gospels when he said to the Pharisees, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (Matthew 23:23, NLT).
Now that you’re confused, here’s the deal: I tithe to God, but I don’t give to my church.
My parents set a great example for me. My father took a job with Hallmark Cards when he was 18 years old and retired 37 years later when he was 55 years old. You don’t find many jobs like that anymore. My mother also had various jobs over the years at an insurance company and then a Christian bookstore. Our family had what we needed, but we weren’t wealthy by any stretch.
Every month my dad had three checks laid out on the top of his dresser: a tithe check, a building fund check, and a missions check. My jaw dropped when I saw the amount of money he was laying out each month. But, we never went without. God provided what we needed.
I didn’t inherit all of my parents’ generosity, but I give a monthly tithe out of obedience to God, and God has provided for my family’s needs. I will admit there were a few episodes in my adult life when I fudged. And, wouldn’t you know, those were the months when my car would break down or some other emergency would happen. Not so coincidentally, the repairs usually amounted to the same as my tithe. Lesson learned.
Ok, now I’m going to split a hair — I give to God through my church. The Bible says in Malachi 3:10 to bring the tithe into the storehouse, which by interpretation means the church. (Debate me in the comments). Nothing new there.
So, here’s the reason for my rant — a while back my church sent me a letter announcing that I was in the Top 20 Percent of givers in the church. It depressed me. I am not a generous person. In fact, when I am generous, I tell everyone about it. There goes my blessing…
The bottom line here is I have tithed to God through churches I loved and churches I tolerated (and to a denomination once upon a time). The storehouse has changed over the years, but the tithe is to God, and I’m going to give it regardless of whether I am thanked or despised. It’s between me and God. The church is only a vehicle. Oh, and for those who never see me put anything in the offering basket, I give online.
So, Dear Church, please save the time and expense of writing me Thank You notes, and use my tithe to win the lost. If I didn’t believe in what you were doing, I would find another church. And, if the church turns into something I dislike and I choose to stay, my tithe will be there.
By Allen White