Two years ago, when I graduated college and got a “real” job, I decided I needed to start tithing. It was never something I had done on a consistent basis before but I knew how important it was. I knew that tithing was not necessary for salvation, despite was some Christians told me, but that it was an act of obedience and a way for me to show God how much I love him (John 14:15). Besides, it wasn’t even my money to begin with: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it “(Psalm 24:1). Everything I have belongs to God and all he asks is that I give a portion back to him (a tithe or tenth). To trust him with that small percentage so that he can bless the other 90%.
I give to the local church and to a Christian ministry organization that preaches the gospel and feeds, clothes, and shelters the poor. Some Christians believe we need to tithe at least 10% (because doesn’t tithe mean tenth?) and that this tithe needs to go to the local church (the place of worship). However, I don’t think God is so much concerned with receiving a pre-set amount as he is with the spirit of the giver (cheerful and generous or grudging and stingy). But I still choose to give at least 10% because if God’s people were able to give that much while still bound by the Law, how can I not be just as generous (if not more so) when Christ has set me free? I read somewhere that “supporting a child through a faith-based sponsorship organization” is not considered a tithe and the giver is being disobedient to God’s word if he/she considers it a tithe because the money is not going to the local church, though giving to a faith-based sponsorship organization “is an incredibly wonderful thing to do.”
I give to “a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults… providing orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.” How can anyone tell me that giving to this ministry is disobedient and unscriptural if I include it as part of my tithe? Why does all giving outside of the local church have to be “above and beyond” my tithe, even if I am giving to ministries that preach the gospel? I don’t think it has to be, not if the ministries I give to reflect Jesus’ heart, and I don’t think that I am “living in sin” by continuing to tithe this way.
Maybe I am wrong and seek to justify my actions. Maybe I am disillusioned with much of the church today and want to see my money go towards feeding the hungry rather than towards bigger buildings that hold fewer congregants, to clothing the naked rather than paying for church functions that excludes the lost. I believe in tithing to the local church, but “the church” is so much bigger than the congregation you meet with on Sunday morning, and I don’t believe we should restrict our tithing to the local church but instead should give as we feel led to, and leave the when, where, and how up to God.