“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.”
~2 Corinthians 8:13-14 (NIV).
Church pastors must eat and they, like us, deserve to be paid so they can honour their debts. But tithing is about much more than that.
There is a spiritual principle at stake here; one of equality. Besides the issue of the uniqueness of abundance and blessing—each to their own blessed of the Lord in their own special way—there is a spiritual mandate upon all of us which speaks fundamentally about everyone living free having paid their dues, with accord to right conscience.
What this means is simply this. Some cannot afford at this present time to give/tithe five percent or ten percent or twenty percent of what they earn—the figures don’t add up and so they live on the grace of God and of the church, serving however they can. This is for a time; a defined season.
And no guilt is afforded, simply because we believe in faith that when plenty comes it will then be given—a portion, and generously at that.
The Jesus-believer has no part in guilt for not meeting a ‘quota’—for the Lord is their quota.
There is nothing more to be said—no guilt; no shame—regarding meeting a tithe quota.
This said then, the Corinthians were reminded that because some of them were relatively wealthy they should in all conscience give to the needy in the church, including its ministers, so that an equality might be known. (This is premised on Exodus 16:18, which Paul quotes in verse 15, following the above mentioned passage.)
Perhaps the greatest challenge the church and the broader world has as far as generosity (or ‘tithing’) is concerned is how to spread wealth—and not just material wealth, but all forms of wealth, so there might be all sorts of blessing manifested in harmony with God’s will.
We can well understand the church pastor making his or her annual message to reinforce the need and benefits of tithing—it’s a well worn yet necessary message, for the running of the church and for God’s missions. It’s just as relevant personally for everyone listening; it’s a reminder for godly generosity—the spiritual imperative.
But it’s beyond the notional ‘ten percent’ figure. As we’re able we should always give generously—of our money, time, resources, effort and commitment—to furthering not just the church but the world too.
If we’re truly ‘hot’ for God and we have his Spirit swelling deep within us we will always spend on others as we receive, growing in faith as we go.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.