The Dirtiest Word You Will Hear At Church
The thing that makes us most uncomfortable, the thing we get most defensive about, the thing that many people find hardest to do: tithe. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of tithing, the Bible teaches us that in response to God’s blessings and provision to us, we are to give 10% back to Him. The Old Testament is loaded with examples of tithing (check those out here!), specifically for the Israelites to give back 10% of their crops, livestock, oils, wheat, and other assets given to them by the Lord. But we know that Jesus came to fulfill the law and the demands once placed on believers in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Him. So, this begs the question:
Is tithing still relevant in today’s society?
In the New Testament, when Jesus returned to Jerusalem before being crucified, He spoke out in boldness to the crowds in the city that gathered to hear his teachings. These teachings are the “parables of Jesus” we may have heard of, and they were certainly challenging for all who heard them! Jesus held nothing back, used no filter, no passive aggressive vague FB statuses here. He warned his disciples and the crowds of the pharisees, or the Jewish religious teachers of the time, about their hypocrisy, their unacceptable conduct, and urged His true followers to live justly, fairly, and with love.
You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. - Matthew 23:23
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus addresses tithing and “calls out” the Pharisees by saying that while they DID tithe their material possessions (spices, in this case), they forgot to uphold the most important commandment from God: love. This is a great lesson to us all, reminding us that we can’t just check off a “religious box” and call ourselves a good Christian while treating others UNChrist-like.
But the part we really want to draw your attention to is in the last few words of this scripture. Jesus himself says that the pharisees should have practiced justice, mercy, and faithfulness WITHOUT neglecting giving a tenth of their wealth/assets. Jesus spent his last days teaching His disciples everything they would need to be able to carry out His mission in bringing the Gospel to the entire world, for generations to come. By emphasizing that tithing is still important, even in Jesus’s lifetime as recorded in the New Testament, we can be assured that it is still relevant to us today.
What if I’m too poor to tithe?
God is always working out ways to bless us, even when we don’t do anything to deserve it, even when we aren’t expecting it. When we tithe by sacrificing money that is so obvious that we need (and we mean money - your pastor can’t pay for his groceries with your time and good intentions), God blesses that in ways we sometimes don’t even see, or that we see years later. A member of our Revelry Community had this to say about tithing:
“In 2010 I started a business as a way to use my talents to serve and bless others, never intending it to be more than a “side hustle.” A year later I moved out of my parents house on a dream that the side hustle would become more of a “part-time” job, but realistically, I found myself working from home with two coats on because I couldn’t afford to turn on the heat, eating peanut butter sandwiches from a box of food that friends dropped off at my door.
The following year I was married, and while that’s usually a financial relief, my husband left his job two weeks prior, and we struggled on one income for a while. My husband and I were both laid off each year of our marriage, sometimes both at the same time. We got food stamps, helps from our parents, and while we often felt we were clawing our way desperately out of a hole, we were faithful that God was slowly building us a life of financial freedom.
We didn’t really begin to tithe until attending our current church in 2014, and with God’s gentle hand, overwhelming peace, and undeserved provision, we were able to pay off credit card debts, school fines, and open up a way for my husband to pursue his dream and go back to school, all while giving away that 10% that honestly, sometimes we really needed. While some major expenses like paying for a parent’s funeral wiped out our savings just as we thought we were getting ahead, God provided business opportunities and help from friends to get us right back to where we started, and then some.
Last year, that side hustle business accounted for almost 70% of our income. This year, we committed to tithe 11% and God blessed us with a $10,000 increase in income, a new and less stressful job for my husband, and the assuring reminder, over and over, that God really does intend good for His children. We had a lot of lessons to learn, and a lot of wants and jealousies to keep in check. By learning to live with a generous heart toward each other (we seriously needed help with that!) and towards others, my husband and I are finally flourishing, and it’s all because of His faithfulness. “