by Randy Schroeder
We always have been faithful tithers in our worship life at church. During the past year, however, we’ve had so many unexpected bills, we have had to cut back on how much we can give to the church. I feel very guilty about this. What does the Bible say about our offerings?
I appreciate your Christ-centered heart as well as your desire to give back to the Lord your first fruits. Tithing is, as you say, an offering, and not a contribution to a charitable organization. By reducing the amount of your offering, you have not done anything sinful. The grace in which we live is unaffected by how much we give on Sunday. Feeling financial stress due to unexpected expenses is completely understandable. Your struggle to come to terms in a godly way with your changing circumstances is admirable; it is an example of the challenges of faith that confront each of us.
The concept of tithing (giving 10 percent) was demanded in the Old Testament. This dictum, however, is no longer binding. Giving our offering out of a sense of duty, or as “proof” of faithfulness, will only result in feeling burdened and guilty, if we “fail” to give.
St. Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to “decide in their heart what to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). It is the love God first showed us in our crucified and risen Savior that frees us to make our offering cheerfully. Our giving is a response to such love, a privilege to help proclaim the news of forgiveness and salvation found in Christ.
Although tithing is a healthy guideline, the percentage of our income we offer is not really the issue. Rather, the issue is what is found in the heart of the giver. Jesus made this point as he observed the widow putting in her offering, which, in comparison with others, was meager, yet elicited His highest praise because of the sheer trust and thanks with which she gave (Luke 21:1-4).
Because all that we own and all that we earn belong to God, we, by our offering, merely give back a portion of that with which He has blessed us. It is faith that grasps this reality, in spite of the temptation to find security in material possessions, as the Scriptures promise: “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf (Prov. 11:28).