One of the most controversial subjects in the church is the “Tithe”. Is it a New Testament directive or not? Is it merely an easy way to talk about money for the church by pastors? Since so few Tithe 10%, is the message just not resonating with Christians or do they not see God’s purpose and rewards? Or is the discussion of “Tithe” the wrong message?
Every time I hear a sermon on Tithe, I cringe. It is my belief that every sermon should be about the gospel no matter what the message. Most messages on Tithe leave out the gospel. Maybe I am a purist or extreme or simply believe that the gospel is the only message worth talking about. I admit Jesus had so much to say about a lot of subjects and we must hear those messages with a humble heart. He came to bring the Kingdom of God to earth and to take on the burden of our sins. He came to redirect our focus and take away guilt, fear, and restlessness.
I have to admit I am merely a layman speaking from revelation and many years of study. I don’t have all the answers and I have lots of questions to ask when I get to heaven, but this message about money has been my life work. I have not been the best steward of my money at times and have fallen prey to so many temptations. But I have always been open to the message Jesus was sharing with me and I am now committed to denying all my possessions and wealth to live a life that is without distraction.
E.Stanley Jones tackles this difficult subject with finesse but even he relates tithe to the giving to the church. Allow me to carve his many messages down to what I believe is the most important point he makes without falling prey to a discussion about tithe or 10%.
“Jesus mentioned two things that choked the growing wheat and made it unfruitful, ‘worry of the world and delight of being rich choke the word; so it proves unfruitful’ (Matt. 13:22 Moffatt). Here ‘worry’ and ‘the delight of being rich’ are classed as the two outstanding enemies of growth.”
Delight in money! How we all delight in having money and probably angst so much when we don’t have enough, whatever that means. Delighting in money takes away the obvious message of the gospel, which is that all things that we have are to serve our God in some way. So money is not the end but the resource we are gifted with to serve. An old legendary Muslim quotation from Jesus from the book The Life of Christ by Frederic William Farrar says, “He who longs to be rich is like a man who drinks sea-water; the more he drinks the more thirsty he become, and never leave off drinking till he perishes.”
Are you productive with what God has gifted you? “An oil man said to a missionary, as both evacuated Malaya with the coming of the Japanese, ‘my life work has gone into oil wells, which I had to blow up; your life has gone into people, into their character and development. My life work has gone; yours will remain. I’ve failed; you’ve succeeded.’ The only permanent investment that is productive is the investment into people.” Does your life count for something? It might be time to take what you have accumulated and turn it into creative love. Turn it over to the only one who has the answers to life’s most challenging questions, Jesus. Ask for His guidance and direction. Say with me, “It is no longer mine; it is your Jesus. Work with me to be productive”.
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Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.