Tithes and offerings shouldn’t be seen as options, but how do you and your spouse agree about charitable giving?
Shortly after Julie and I were married, we were working on our budget. We figured out our living expenses, and our taxes were set by the government. And by God’s grace, we had no debt, but it was giving that needed the most discussion.
Giving tithes and offerings was not modeled for me growing up. Now I was married, and my bride was sending monthly checks to missionaries all around the world! Not only did I not agree with the amount she was sending but I had a hard time understanding why she was doing it. I thought that surely God did not expect me to give and take care of my family.
Julie had grown up in a strong Christian family; she already realized the importance of charitable giving. As I grew in my understanding of God’s perspective on giving, I came to realize it was not only nondiscretionary. To the contrary, there were a lot of powerful reasons to give.
To get to the heart of this issue, we can turn to Scripture. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, we are instructed (many translations use the word “commanded”) to be generous and rich in good works: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
In contrast, in Luke 12, we read about the farmer who built bigger barns to store his earnings. He was not generous. As a result, he was not rich toward God; he was called a fool.
You may be thinking, The verse is written to those who are rich. I’m not rich.
I get it. Everyone thinks they aren’t rich and that someone else has more. But let’s define rich.
Rich is having more than enough to meet your needs, even if you don’t have enough to meet all your wants. That definition fits most people.
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Giving tithes and offerings is a tangible way to acknowledge God’s ownership of all we have
The cattle on a thousand hills are God’s, along with everything that moves in the field (Psalm 50:10-11). The earth and all it contains is His (Psalm 24:1). Deuteronomy 8:16-18 says that it is not the power and strength of our own hands that produce wealth, but rather, God has given us the ability to produce it. Giving acknowledges the ultimate ownership of our wealth and the provision of a sovereign God in our lives.
Charitable giving is a tangible way to worship and show gratitude
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” for us (John 3:16). God modeled giving for us, and we are called to do the same. Giving allows us to show our gratitude and appreciation for all God has done for us and is a barometer of our hearts. Giving is one area of the Christian life that cannot be faked; a person’s checkbook or bank account shows what they value.
Giving is a way to show obedience to God’s command to give
This reason alone should show why giving tithes and offerings is not a discretionary use of money. The command is clear in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 as well as Luke 6:38 and Proverbs 3:9-10. When Julie and I were first discussing giving, I had no idea this was something God commanded. Because I desired to please God, giving became a required part of our financial plan.
Giving tithes and offerings meets the needs of others
According to 2 Corinthians 9:12-14, if we are overflowing (or have more than we need), we should liberally meet the needs of the saints (others around us). But the Bible also talks about the reciprocal of that. If I had a need, someone else would have a surplus to meet my need: “Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need.” (2 Corinthians 8:14).
Charitable giving results in rewards in heaven
How do we invest in heaven? We invest in people and encourage them to believe in Jesus Christ and grow in their knowledge and obedience to the Word of God. We can give to our local church or missionaries, send youth on summer mission trips, help build structures, provide food for the homeless, pay rent for a needy family, send workers to help those in difficult situations or fund Bible translations.
There are countless organizations and opportunities to give of your time and money. I encourage you to find one that is meaningful to you.
Giving breaks the power of money
Luke 16:13 says that we cannot serve two masters, for either we will hate one and love the other or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. We cannot serve God and wealth. Giving allows us to hold our wealth with an open hand, puts God on the throne of our lives and reminds us that we are simply stewards of all God has entrusted to us.
Jesus could have listed many subjects in contrast to serving God. But He said money because money is the one thing in our lives that we feel can give us all the things we want (and that God wants to give us) — security, provision, power, contentment, self-worth and identity.
So how do we make sure God is on the throne of our lives and not money? We give. A disciplined pattern of regular giving breaks the power of money because giving becomes a natural and vital part of our lives.