Tag Archives: Pharisees

Thoughts on tithing: Something to offend everyone!

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It is stewardship campaign season so I wanted to rerun this post from 2008, which had an interesting comment thread.  I’m also adding this link describing a plan for giving generously.  The four suggestions were simple and excellent.  One that has worked well for us is the Lifestyle Cap:

Lifestyle cap.  As we earn more, we should give more. If you are wealthier than you used to be, have you done more to increase your standard of living or your standard of giving? 

Living below your means — not just within them — is a great place to be.  As you cap your lifestyle in terms of cars, housing, clothes, vacations, etc. you’ll be amazed how much more you have to give and save.

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I have mixed views on the Biblical concept of tithing.  On the one hand, I think 10% is a nice, round number and a great amount for people to give.

But I don’t see New Testament support to make it a requirement for Christians, and I see many preachers take Old Testament verses that were just for the Israelites and project them onto the New Testament.  The only NT passage that I am aware of that mentions tithing is Matthew 23:23, and that was to point out the hypocrisy of the listeners (“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”).

Also, 10% was not the upper limit for the Israelites.  My guess is that many of the people reading this could give more than that.  We’re in the richest 2% of people who ever lived, and I think that as a country we’re wasting a huge opportunity to put our wealth towards advancing the Gospel and his kingdom around the world.

Some think they can’t afford to tithe, though God expected the poorest Israelite to give 10%.  If you really want to give 10%, you can find a way.  Think of it this way: If your boss cut your pay 10%, what would you do – die?

And the hypothetical wage cut figure really isn’t 10%, since your contributions are tax deductible.  Roughly speaking, going from 0% giving to 10% would reduce your spending by roughly 8% or less.  And if you are already giving, say, 5%, then it would only impact you by 4% of your income.

Most importantly, I really don’t like to over-emphasize anything that might turn giving into a legalistic enterprise, because that can take the fun out of it.  Giving should be joyful!

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Yet if we really believe what Jesus said and don’t consider this next passage just a sound bite, our giving habits will reach into eternity.  Right after we die I think we’ll have some serious regrets about how we handled our money much of the time, and some serious joy over the good decisions we made.

Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Is that enough of a contradiction for everyone?  How do you help turn people on to the joys of giving without making it legalistic and burdensome?

Don’t be slaves to the 10% target, but don’t assume you are limited by it, either.  You may be able to give much more.  Are you taking advantage of the opportunity you have in this life to help advance God’s kingdom?

And when you give, give intentionally and give to God first.  Don’t give him what is left over.

P.S. Here’s a good article on why the often-used example of Abraham is not a good justification for requiring tithing.

Interesting Facebook chat about Rob Bell

Rob Bell has gotten a lot of well justified criticism over the universalist heresies (that is, everyone goes to Heaven) in his Love Wins book.  Ironically, now Bell is saying he’s been misinterpreted and that he’s not a universalist — which means that Rob’s universalist supporters disagree with him.  What chaos!

The Sola Sisters have a good analysis of why Rob’s responses to his critics fall short.  Here’s an example they highlight:

…..Hell, as a period of “pruning” in which God is continuing to woo each person who is there until they end up in heaven (Bell’s version, p. 91 “Love Wins”) as compared to
……Hell as an eternal punishment for those who have broken God’s moral laws, and who are paying the penalty of their sins with their own lives (God’s version).

I ended up in this Facebook thread on a friend’s page.  The “Pastor Universalist,” as he ended up calling himself, eventually deleted all his comments, leaving mine all alone on the thread (it now reads like some weird soliloquy). Again, this guy is defending Bell and his universalism, even though Bell is now trying to deny his universalism.  There’s just the pesky problem of this book he wrote where he seems pretty clear about it.

FB friend: Has anyone wondered why Rob Bell has not been accused of being divisive with his apostate treatise on Hell “Love Wins”?

Me: Good point. It is only divisive to disagree with Rob.

FB friend: I can help but to see the parallels in the insanity budgeting/gov. shutdown blame circus.

Pastor Universalist (PU): Well then what is the alternative …..Either God so Loved the world that he gave his only Son to die for it….or he hates it and is going to kill everyone off….. What does your Bible read?

Me: It is about the definition you pour into the word. Does love win? Of course. But Rob Bell ignores countless scriptures to interpret that as universalism — as if what Jesus said about Hell is true then love lost. Was Jesus being loving when He told the Pharisees that they would die in their sins if they didn’t believe who He was? God wins. Love wins. Justice wins.

PU: BTW ….allow me to address your question as well….The reason that many have not accused Rob Bell of being an Apostate is because there are many who believe that his offerings are scripturally sound and follow the essense and Heart of the New Testament doctrine….

Me: Bell and his followers can’t even get John 3:16 right. John specifically mentions that those who believe in him won’t perish — meaning that those who don’t believe in him will. If that wasn’t clear enough, verse 18 will help

Me: Should you believe Rob Bell or Jesus? (Hint: Go with Jesus)  Rob Bell (Love Wins, p. 66): Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, “Sorry, too late”? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: “Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late.”

Compare that to Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13): Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” But the wise answered, saying, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But he answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

PU: And Yes Neil…..It really does depend on your study and Interpretation of Scripture…. Christiaity is a Universal Doctrine….In otherwords….availible to all who ask and recieve… However…To Judge someone as an Apostate is a strong acusation…. Remember that Jesus also spoke that by whatever measure you Mete out….you will also recieve……To build a case for Love winning is a great step of Faith… To Hate is carnal and God is Love… So to believe that God can save is also a great step of Faith….. It is easy to write other people off as lost and unreconciilable to God… But to hold a Vision of salvation is a great Gift….

Me: ‎”To Judge someone as an Apostate is a strong …acusation…. Remember that Jesus also spoke that by whatever measure you Mete out….you will also recieve”
Seems odd that a universalist would warn me about warning about false teachers.

Me: ‎”It is easy to write other people off as lost and unreconciilable to God… But to hold a Vision of salvation is a great Gift….”
The question isn’t whether it is easy or hard to do, but what scripture teaches.

PU: That’s Pastor Universalist to you brother…. And again…You are accusing….. I am going to exhort you to be careful here….”

Me: Why be careful? After all, on your view I go to Heaven even if I don’t trust in Jesus. How could trusting in Jesus and making (allegedly) false accusations be a bad combo? Or do you have a passage that says those who don’t trust in Jesus go to Heaven, but those who do trust in Jesus and make false accusations don’t?  What if you are making a false accusation against me? Howzabout we focus on the actual passages in question instead of lobbying threats?
I exhort you to heed the many passages about sound doctrine —http://tinyurl.com/4yja58j . And if you are a pastor then that is all the worse. I know of many, many false teachers. Titles mean little to me if their doctrine is false.

PU: OK Neil…..checking out…..believe whateewr you have faith for…Blessings to you…..May you find Christ….”

Me:  Ha! Oh, so now I haven’t found Christ? What a hypocrite. Please re-read your quotes about warnings.

Me: My new blog post is dedicated to you: False teaching universalists can’t even get John 3:16 right. Here’s what they think John meant: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Oh, and BTW, those who don’t believe in him also have eternal life. Which, now that I think about it, means that I should have left the whole perishing thing out of this passage. After all, everyone is going to Heaven no matter what they believe. But I don’t want to have to start over, so I’m going to leave it in. My, I do tend to ramble on sometimes. That’s just me, the Apostle John. Now on to verse 17 . . . V. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. D’oh! I did it again!