Why I Talk about Tithing

Whenever I begin to talk about tithing, I’m immediately hit with two major objections. First, tithing is never mentioned or commanded in the New Testament. Second, a ten percent gift is a shallow understanding of tithing and giving as taught in the Old Testament. If you total all of the various sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament, you’ll end up giving somewhere between 25% and 30%.

As to the first objection, yes, it’s true tithing isn’t mentioned in the New Testament. The standard of giving in the New Testament is the cross. You don’t bow in front of the cross and debate percentages. Jesus gave everything for us and we dare not give less back to Him.

As to the second objection, yes, I know all about the various sacrifices outlined in the Old Testament. Several of the books, such as Leviticus and Deuteronomy go into exhaustive details about when the sacrifice is to be made and how it’s to be presented. And yes, it seems there is some kind of special offering or sacrifice every month. It can be and even to the early Israelites, it was overwhelming.

But here’s the difference for me. I’m a pastor. I’m not a biblical scholar or theologian. Yes, I love studying Scripture. I love digging deep into the text and pondering the various facets of Biblical truth, but my role as a pastor doesn’t afford me the luxury of ivory tower scholarship. I get a few hours a week…at best…

I often tell people I don’t have the luxury of studying combat theory at the academy. I’m the platoon sergeant in charge of getting his soldiers up the next hill.

Most of the time, the subject of tithing comes up at one of two places. Either a person is a new believer and wanting to know what’s next, or a person is wanting to get serious about their faith and they want to know what they should do next.

The key phrase in both of those situations is “next.”

  • How does someone who’s just beginning their faith walk learn to trust Jesus with their finances? Tithing is a great next step.
  • How does someone who’s determined to go deeper in their faith show Jesus they’re serious? Tithing is a great place to start.

And it’s just a start. When you start to tithe, one of the things that happens is that you begin to confront the idols that have begun to control your life – sometimes without you’re even knowing it. For most of us, when we start to tithe, it’s the first time we’ve told our money and our money hasn’t told us! In tithing, God will show us how faithful He is in the little things of our lives, and we’re encouraged to trust Him with even bigger and bigger things in our lives. Before we know it, we’ve moved on to giving more than a tithe. Jesus is faithful and we find joy in following Him – even in our finances.

Tithing isn’t the complete message of the gospel. It’s just one part. One piece. If we had to understand the whole thing at once, none of us would be believers.

I talk about tithing because I spend my time with people who are broken, but healing; floundering, but regaining their balance; a long way from the finish line but know they have to start somewhere.

So, we’ll start with a tithe. It’s easy. If you make a dollar, give a dime. It’s just a start, but it is a start. A start to a lifetime of joy in discovering how graciously faithful Jesus really is. But you’ll never know until you start.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

In Ephesians 6, Paul tells fathers not to frustrate their children.

I’ve always been frustrated by this teaching. It’s as if Paul couldn’t think of anything positive to say to fathers, so he ends up writing, “Hey, dads…just don’t mess your kids up…”

As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to a different understanding of this passage – working at Kairos has brought me to see an interesting interpretation of this verse.

A lot of young adults have a problem believing in God because their dads were such poor fathers. When I teach, “God loves you like a father,” many young adults shut down. Their experiences with their fathers were so bad, they just can’t go there.

So, here’s how I’ve come to interpret that verse, “Fathers, don’t make it hard for your children to believe in God.”

And I’m grateful every day that my dad didn’t make it hard for me to believe in God. In fact, he made it very easy.

JohnGlenn

I learned to love Scripture watching my dad study to teach his Sunday School class.

I learned to tithe watching him handle his money.

I learned about marriage from watching from my dad love my mom.

I learned to love Jesus watching him love Jesus.

No, my dad wasn’t perfect, but he loved me the best way he knew how…and you know, that’s all right.

Today would have been my dad’s birthday. He would have been 80.

He passed away in April of 2012. I’ve missed him every day.

But he left me a life time of memories.

He left me a legacy of what a good dad looks like …  a legacy that I am, as a dad myself, trying now to pass on to my sons.

Out With the Old

Over the holidays, I finally got around to putting up my summer stuff and getting out my winter stuff. (OK, I ‘m a little behind this year.) As I was pulling out my summer stuff I noticed some things. For one thing, some of the stuff is ugly. Other stuff may be out of style, but some of it is just ugly. It had to go. No need to keep it only to throw it out later. Other things were just worn out.. Even favorite shirts sooner or later wear out. Again, no need to keep stuff just to throw it out later.

When I sat down at my desk and studied my new 2011 calendar, I began to think: perhaps there are things in 2010 that I just don’t need to bring into the new year. Just like my clothes, there are some things that are just ugly and worn out and don’t need to be kept in my new year.

There were some hard feelings in 2010; I don’t want them to be part of 2011. Grudges? No need to keep them either. Failures? Learn from them, but let them go. I could keep adding to my list, but you get my point. A lot of things in our old year don’t need to be part of our new year.

So what about you? What from your old year needs to be thrown out so you can make the most of the new year? Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

-Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG