Monday, August 6, 2007

The Good Fruit of NOT Tithing

Here is something that I did not expect today.

I was grateful for my washer and dryer. Let me explain.

It has only been a few months since I researched tithing in the Bible and began to believe that it just wasn’t in the New Testament and even when it is in the Old Testament, did not represent anything like what I have always been taught. (Read this for an excellent study on the subject.)

I had been taught and taught myself many things about the tithe. (This could be actually included in the meme from last week about Things I Learned in Church that Didn’t Prove True and What I am Learning Lately.) We believed some of the following:

1. God loves cheerful givers. But those that don’t cheerfully tithe – he is not happy with.
2. If we don’t give God our 10% off the top of our income, he will actually take more than that. Things would break, unforeseen bills would pile up, health would be affected, etc.
3. If we gave more than 10% (offerings) we could expect GREAT blessings financially. We could expect God to bless our things from not breaking down, our health to be better and those extra financial burdens to disappear.
4. If you were having a hard time financially – you needed to look at your giving record to see what the problem was. God was true to his promise so it must be something you were doing wrong.
5. More giving actually obligated God to back his promise up. He owed you!
6. You could judge people’s giving by how their finances looked without ever knowing what was really going on. If they looked to be poor or struggling – they probably needed counseling on their giving.


Oh. My. God. How could I have swallowed all of that. Even writing it out makes me ill. (It is interesting, so much of these beliefs happened by direct teaching but others happened because of someone’s “testimony”. Doctrine and practice was shaped without ever backing up anything in Scripture.)

Anyway, yesterday I was standing in front of my washer and dryer. (I have a large family and so there is not one piece of equipment in my house that I probably need more except for running water and toilets that flush).

It was then that I realized that God was not obligated to me to give me anything. The fact that my washer and dryer work and were not broken was just a gift for the moment to me. I was not paying God off financially to give me a better life. He didn’t owe me anything. I had not brought my “tithes into the storehouse” this month and yet God still loved me. The washer and dryer working had NOTHING to do with how much I gave or didn’t give God. (Explains why all those Heathens have working washer and dryers. Always wondered about that.)

I never understood my attitude toward God was that of those who have to pay the police under the table to protect them. Here, I owe Father a huge debt for the love he gives me and what he did on the cross with Jesus, but he is not like an unrighteous loan shark that is coming after me to smash my car in with a baseball bat and break Husband’s knees if we don’t pay up. I realized that I could no longer have the attitude that I could pay God off to protect my stuff. God was not to be bought with my tithes and offerings!

Now you would think that this would produce fear in me as now God could not be controlled. But no, instead it produced gratefulness for what he has given me and a deep seated trust that if they did break down or things start going wrong or bills piling up, it would not be an indication of God’s love for me or my supposed lack of obedience to him. We could walk in relationship – responding to each other even as I may have to go to the laundry mat for my 11 loads a week. Conversely, if good things are experienced by me – like a working washer and dryer – I am just sooooo grateful for all he gives me.

Not tithing produced gratefulness.
Not tithing produced relationship.
Not tithing produced sanity.

This looks like good fruit to me.

9 comments:

malegra said...

I love this! It has been such a freeing, peaceful thing to step into... just living and loving Father as the days go by. Not having to assess my status with Father based on how my day is going. Just taking life as it comes, and enjoying His love. Wonderful!

Erin said...

You know, I don't know why, but the thing that came to mind when reading this post..you know those chain e-mails we all get from time to time...?

"Don't break the chain or something bad will happen..."

And sometimes we feel just a bit of guilt as we hit "delete", but still we know nothing bad really will happen just because we didn't forward an e-mail to 100 of our friends. That's ridiculous.

Well I was thinking so many of us have been led to believe that God is like that. When we finally begin to realize that's not God at all, that nothing bad is going to happen just because we don't jump through the proscribed hoops, there is a freedom that we never knew.

Monte said...

Beautiful! Sounds like Jesus, all right. Thanks for risking yourself on what you saw to be true.

Mary said...

Great analogy about paying God off so we can be protected. I hadn't thought of it like that before.

I, too, felt that God owed us because we tithed. Yikes! I guess we weren't too comfortable with the idea that God loves us - just because He does and not because we did anything to earn it or buy it. We're learning...

Jen said...

Thank you for putting this out there. I wish more people had the guts to really get down and discuss this subject and not just throw accusations at people when they don't know the answer to something. I have been researching this subject at the same site you linked to. I am amazed at how much bondage we are in about tithing. People at CLB can't believe that I am so blessed because I don't tithe and I don't go to church. They just don't understand it. Like what you said about the heathen and their working washer and dryers. If we go by what we have learned at church about tithing than all christians should be filthy rich and all heathens should be dirt poor.

Alan Knox said...

Isn't it amazing how these little pockets of "works" sneak in and rob the power of grace from God's people? I think you are exactly right here, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

-Alan

grace said...

Awesome post! You mean we can't earn God's love? Imagine that.

Does the fact that both my washer and vacuum cleaner broke last month mean that I am "out of God's will"? ;)

PJ said...

Thanks again for your great posts. The amazing thing is that a year after the CLB, there is still times that voice in the back of the head tells me that the "shoe is going to drop" and it will prove all that they said was right. But it hasn't and won't. God's grace and love is bigger than man's works, isn't that the point of the gospel??? And when it does look like a shoe is dropping, God is there to help me through the drop not say "told you so!!" Praise God, I'm still learning. Thanks!

rory said...

Tithing? heee heeeee. Me too. I found out, not a SINGLE verse in the NT instructing any church or Christian to tithe! Here's a cute little article I wrote at http://www.preparehisway.com/tithe
Enjoy!
It is amazing what you can learn when you ask the Lord to show you the truth