Round Up From Around the Web and Some Personal Disclosures on Finances and Tithing
I don’t like money. I don’t like talking about it. I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t like managing it. I don’t like needing it. But, when your faced with a job loss especially at a time when you recently spent a good deal of your savings to go on a long trip to the states to visit friends and family…well, you find yourself in a place where you do need money, and you do have to manage it, and you do have to think about it, and talk about it.
So, the last day or two Bryan and I have been talking and thinking a lot about finances. When we got married we made a few commitments and decisions as to how to view our finances. And now we are finding ourselves in a place where those commitments and views are being, well, maybe tested (for lack of a better word).
When Bryan and I first got married we made a number of decisions in regards to tithing and giving. We had been raised with all the normal lectures on stewardship and the idea of tithing had been drilled into us, but more than all that we felt like we had been incredibly blessed and that to “whom much has been given much is required”. We decided from the get go to look at ALL of our finances as a gift from God and as something that was truly His and not ours. As an extension of that thought we decided early on that 20% of our income wouldn’t go to us. Where that 20% goes has changed a bit over the past 3 years of marriage, and has been a matter of prayer and listening to God’s leading. Even with this job loss we feel that this is still what God is calling us to. We believe that we are still incredibly blessed and still have more than many others around the world and we believe that if others can get by with so much less then we have then we should be able to get by with 20% less of our income. But, when you are faced with bills and a lack of finances it is always a struggle to actually live that belief out.
Yesterday, I read this post on Andrew Jones blog and was felt newly convinced that even with this job loss God still wanted us to continue to live as generous and open people with our finances and with our lives. The blog wasn’t really specifically about finances – it was more about just being generous and open people in general, but God really spoke to me about our finances through it.
Then today I was read these to blogs about tithing, which I found interesting…
This first blog talks about the idea that the tithe was part of the old law and we are no longer under the old law. It talks about how often church leaders guilt people into giving to the church by talking about the command to tithe and then try to motivate people to tithe by saying that if you tithe then God will reward you and if you don’t tithe then he will punish you. I could really relate to this – I have felt that guilt and even when our job loss came I must admit that one of the first things I thought was “oh, no, we still have some money in the giving account that we haven’t given away yet, we are behind on our tithe…” I know it’s sort of silly. I know that God is not like that, He is loving and wants good things for his children, and he doesn’t punish us for falling a little behind on our tithing. But, the thought still popped into my head. In reading this ladies blog and hearing her talk about this I was reminded a lot of sacrifices and the old sacrificial system… Has tithing become the sacrificial system of the church, the new Pharisees? Anyway, I really liked her view of giving as something you do not because you are “suppose” to or have to give to the church, but something you do as a result of listening to the prompting of God in your lives.
This second blog was also really interesting. I found it to be a really insightful and different way of looking at tithing. Jeromy’s blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs to read and this entry shows yet again why that’s true. This post asks the question “Why Are People Giving Less to Churches?” but really it is addressing church budgets and wondering if people would give more if they saw their money being used to do God’s redemptive work in the world. Here’s a quote from this blog post that really hit me and I thought I would share here…
“Imagine if a church even went as far as to trust you with your “tithes” for kingdom-type investments in people’s lives all around you? Imagine if 70% of all the church’s donated income went out into the world and community, instead of back into the church? What if, instead of teaching and strongly encouraging people to give 10% to the church, people were empowered and freed to use that money as God personally leads them towards his kingdom? As you dream these things, what is happening in your heart? Are you sensing joy? Fear? What is happening to your apprehension to give? Is it lessoning? Increasing?...I don’t think we need yet another message on stewardship to get us to give more. I think we need to see our money in Kingdom action. I think we need to be released into the natural joy of seeing our money used to transform and restore – in real and substantial ways – the lives of those in need, both afar and right next door.”
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman