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).
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.
This looks like good fruit to me.