A Little Peace

Why do Christian leaders tell people that they should tithe?  I don’t have the definitive answer but I do believe that I know something true about tithing.  Tithing is not for the generous but for the stingy.  Generous people need only hear of the need and they will meet it.  They do not need a minimum compulsory amount.  Church leaders feel the need to teach on tithing because they are leading a group of selfish people.  Take the selfishness one step further and tell the “givers” that God will return even more to them if they do tithe.

There was a time for tithing.  God assumed selfishness in the unredeemed people of Israel and made provision for it.  For those who have been implanted with the love of God, tithing has become obsolete.  The saddest aspect of tithing teaching is when we presume selfishness from the redeemed,  they begin to be selfish.

Here’s what Paul said about a general legalistic approach, which would include tithing.

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.   Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers  of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.   We know that the law is good  if one uses it properly.  We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels,   the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious… (1 Timothy 1:5-9a)

Mismatch

So, I was walking around my office and praying for the church the other day when this box of matches caught my eye.  I felt God’s Spirit say, “This is the church.”

Jesus wants his people to light the world.  We won’t if we remain confined together.  To reach ignition, we have to make contact with the world and face a little friction.

Of course it’s safer for the match in the box, but the match wasn’t designed to remain in the box.  Nor was the box designed to preserve the matches.  The box is simply a convenient container with which to carry and deliver the light-bringing potential resident within each match.  So it is with the church.  We should gather, but our gatherings must never become an end in themselves.  Instead, every believer present at a gathering should feel tension to engage those in his or her sphere of influence with the expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Hebrew writer said it this way:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV

A disciple of Jesus Christ whose whole attention is on the rest of the church is out of sync with his purpose.  He’s not a match.  He’s a mismatch.