I’ve been reading more about the story of the rich man who wanted to follow Jesus. The story is incredible to me, if only because Jesus’ actions are in direct opposition to what most Christians think today.
What Would You Say?
If you were a pastor, what would you say? Upon hearing that a recent new visitor was a multi-millionaire, would you tell him to sell all he has and give it directly to the poor? I think most of us are more likely to have a conversation about financial investments than spiritual ones. Why turn away a potential source of serious tithes? And yet Jesus seemed to be unconcerned with getting any of the Rich Man’s money.
Why not? They had expenses, and imagine what the disciples could have done with the young rich man’s wealth? But instead, Jesus told him to sell all he had and then give the money to the poor. I find that inspiring.
You Must Tithe, It Is Written
One of the most preached sermons these days seems to be the exhortation to tithe. They say we must trust God with our money and the way that we show our trust is by giving our local church 10% of our wealth. This method of tithing is commonly accepted now, but I wonder if it’s the best way to go?
Many churches quote Micah and the verse about the storehouse, “Test me in this says the Lord.” I’ve heard many an eloquent sermon about how the storehouse is the local church, and how this is still true today, as much as in yesteryear.
What doesn’t make sense to me is why Jesus didn’t mention to the young rich man anything about giving his wealth to his local synagogue. Or why he doesn’t mention that anywhere in the gospels? Maybe it was so common place that people just assumed Jesus implied giving to the local synagogue, but what if he didn’t? What if, as Jesus commonly did, he was advocating a radically new way of dealing with your finances?
Jesus Liked to Make Waves
In fact, Jesus was very good at disrupting the local religious law by simplifying the law itself. He was born to save man from his sin, but he also sought to raise his people from childhood into adulthood.
The law was placed on our hearts but we needed external rules to guide us, as all children do. Eventually people made the rules more important than applying the law to whatever situation life throws at us. We didn’t need to figure out the answer, we already had the rule. Jesus came to abolish that kind of thinking (the mindset, not the law).
He came to help us grow up.
It’s Not Good Enough to Just Give 10%
Instead of just tithing or going to church or any number of other religious activities, which are not bad in and of themselves, we must think of the why behind the activity. Why do you tithe? To satisfy a rule?
If you’re just following a rule then it’s not really coming from your heart and God is not pleased. Tithing is meant to help us understand that our money is not our own, that our wealth is from God and a gift. But does that mean we have to give everything to our church? I don’t see Jesus mention that once in the Gospels. Though He did say we should give everything to the poor.
Cultivate a Heart For Giving
So, what if you set aside 10% of your income, but instead of giving it to your church you put it in a giving fund. Now, this would require real self discipline on your part, but if the Spirit is leading you will have the strength you need. What you do is save this money for helping the poor, the weak, the needy, the orphans, the widows, just as the Bible tells us to do.
What if you did that? What if instead of giving your money to your church, you gave it to the souls who need it, directly. I guarantee that if you do this, it will change you. You will be on the look out, more in tune with people and their needs, you will want to give more and more. You won’t have a choice, you’ll be compelled.
God Wants Our Hearts More Than Tithes
Instead of begrudgingly saving that 10%, you will find ways to increase the amount. And I doubt you will be motivated by the deep gratitude you see the other person’s eyes as they look at you in thanks, even though that will be incredible. You will be motivated by the connection, by showing God’s love in a real way. This love will lead to many more salivations than saving up tithes to build a new building or paying for a new sound system.
Which is better, giving to people or giving to an organization?