The tithe is one of those concepts that gets people all hot under the collar. Common rebuttals against the tithe include:
1. "Tithing is a part of Old Testament Law, and I'm under the New Testament covenant, so I don't need to tithe."
2. "God isn't concerned about percentages as long as I give something."
3. "The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. I cannot give cheerfully, so it's best that I don't give."
Well, let me address these one at at time.
1. It is true that tithing has its foundations in the Old Testament, but that's doesn't necessarily mean that it is no longer relevant. Jesus admonished the Pharisees to attend to matters of justice and mercy, while NOT neglecting the tithe. The Macedonian believers gave even beyond what their means would allow, in the face of extreme poverty. And yet, we are squabbling about giving our ten percent? Do we really want to look Jesus in the face on Judgment Day, the One who gave up everything for you, and tell Him that His purposes and His Will were not worth ten percent of our income?
2. I believe it is true that God isn't some cosmic accountant, making sure that everyone gives their 10.000% when it comes time to write the tithe check. But once again, I point to the New Testament. Like I said before, the Macedonian believers were giving more than Paul thought they should, and they had to plead with him to take their money to help support the saints in Jerusalem. In addition, the early church members in Acts Chapter 2 were selling all they had to distribute to those who had need in their fellowship. Do these passages give an indication of percentages given? No, but "all they had" would be 100% in my opinion. And if the Macedonian church was giving more than Paul believed was rational, it would certainly lead me to believe they were giving more than ten percent of what they had.
3. God is absolutely interested in those who give cheerfully, without regret and without grumbling. But if you are grumbling about the tithe, the best question to ask is: Why? And this leads me to the key point for this post.
If you are looking at your monthly budget, and at the bottom is a big fat ZERO, and you don't have room for a ten percent tithe, that means your tithe is going somewhere else, doesn't it? Where is your tithe going? Is it going to pay for the car you can barely afford to make payments on? Is it going to your local cable company so you can maintain your 750 channels of mostly unwatchable programming? Is it going to Starbucks (no offense, I do still love you Starbucks, but you aren't more important than God). Is it going to your twice weekly McDonald's habit?
My proposition is this. Can't afford to tithe? If you earnestly desire to starting giving to God as a faithful steward, figure out where your tithe is going, reign it back in and start giving as soon as possible.
Learning to Give in a Getting World, by Marc Farnell and Jesse Greever, is available as both a paperback and eBook at the following locations:
CreateSpace (paperback, $13.99)
Amazon.com (paperback, $13.99; eBook, $8.99)
You can also become a fan of the book at www.facebook.com/LearningToGive.