Why We Talk About Tithing (November 2014; Volume 3, Issue 11)
In the Old Testament, there are a number of places where it is mentioned that people should give a tithe (one tenth) in order to honor God (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18; Deuteronomy 12:17, 14:22-23; 2 Chronicles 31:5-6; Nehemiah 10:38, 13:12; Malachi 3:10). That tithe was used to support those in need (aliens, widows, and orphans) and God’s servants – the Levites – who were not given a portion of the promised land of their own. However, even the Levites were instructed to tithe of what they were given – a tithe of a tithe (Numbers 18:26).
However, the New Testament does not talk about a specific percentage, but Paul does reference proportional giving – that is each person giving what they can (1 Corinthians 16). Similarly, Jesus tells different people a variety of instructions about giving. There is the young man who had many possessions who Jesus told to sell everything and give it to the poor (Matthew 19:21). However in another story, Jesus is not impressed by rich people giving large sums, but instead lauds the widow who gives just two pennies. From these stories, we can conclude that Jesus is not so interested in the amount of giving, but more with the attitude with which it is done.
Additionally, all this advice is not just about money, but also our time and talents. At some points in our life our giving will be 10% of time, talents, and treasures, but at others, we might balance more time and talents with less treasures or vice versa.
As modern day Christians, we do not talk about tithing as a hard and fast rule, and this is why tithing is not something we achieve and that is it. It is simply a benchmark that we can use to grow in our giving and therefore as disciples. We can grow towards, to, and beyond a tithe as individuals and as a community gathered together – hence our giving a tithe of your tithe to the New England Synod, who passes about half on to the church-wide level of ELCA. Even more reason to give – your contributions to LCF do not just fund the ministry and keep the lights on in Framingham, but helps to feed people throughout the region, clothe people across the country, and spread God’s good news around the world.
That is a lot to keep in mind as your fill out your pledge card for 2015 and as you place each contribution into the offering place isn’t it?