I have no desire to be heretical, take things out of context, or yada, yada, yada. But something caught my eye today while I was reading.
I was reading Deuteronomy 14
22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.
28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
I always had a difficult time when churches insisted on preaching about tithing. An even harder time when they had ‘special offerings’. And an especially hard time when they had a ‘thermometer’ at the front of the church showing how much more money they needed to get out of debt.
What was usually said in the sermons went something like this: you need to tithe. Tithe means 10%. BUT in OT times people really gave 20-25% of their income. All tithes should be given to the church. If you want to give to other places it shouldn’t be part of your tithe, it should be part of your gifts and offerings.
At that point I was usually thoroughly annoyed. Now I know why. Scroll back up and read Deuteronomy 14:22-29 again. It doesn’t say you have to give your tithe to the church. It says to give it to God AND then eat it. What, wait a minute? It doesn’t say give 10-25%. It doesn’t say to the church. It doesn’t say give more and more and more (in fact take a look at Exodus 36:4-6 – it’s not often you hear a church say – stop giving, we have too much).
The passage (Deuteronomy 14:22-29) says give year by year, where He chooses, eat it, learn to fear the LORD, and rejoice. He goes on to say don’t forget to take care of the Levite (Pastor in our time?), the sojourner (guests in our house?), the fatherless (orphans in our country and other countries), and the widow (my next door neighbor?). It’s not the government’s job to take care of everyone. It’s not the church’s job to take care of everyone. It’s my job, and it’s your job.
If everyone followed this way of living how much better off would we (and everyone else) be?