Monday, April 30, 2012

Not what I expected, tithing and the poor family

   This weeks sermon was on greed, from Andy Stanley's book Enemies of the Heart.  From talking to my wife and other church members I think it didn't come across right, however.  I hate to say it but church left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth this week, and I wasn't alone.  The message to give is important and a strong one but when it is virtually demanded that you tithe before you pay your power bill, I have trouble getting behind that.  Times have changed, I'm afraid, and this is something that is struggling to adapt.
   I write this blog, which is my version of ministry.  I love it and the responses I get from people.  I will admit that I get excited when I see that people read it and even more so when they comment.  I feel that this is how God is telling me to make an impact on the world.  However, I don't ask for money.  I have thought about monetizing but I haven't.  It just doesn't feel right to try and live on God's word.  I have a job, it pays my bills and a little more now and then but I am hardly much above the poverty line.  A full 10% would cripple my family and what I am trying to do for couples outside of this blog. 

   Contextually tithing came as a way for the Levite clan to have an inheritance, which they were not given by God.  In exchange for taking care of the Tabernacle they were to receive 1/10 of the crops and animals raised by the other Jews.  I am over simplifying that a bit, but you get the idea.  Today, there are so many ways to raise money that I have to wonder if a traditional tithe is even necessary anymore.  I firmly believe in serving the church and making sure they can pay their bills and such, but I can't do it by sacrificing my families security in the process.  The church is supposed to be generous as well.  I don't see them paying our bills, I don't see them supporting the widow when her husband dies.  I found that more than a bit irritating. 

  Do I think you shouldn't give?  No, absolutely not.  I think you should give with all your heart, but when is it time to receive?  I was told to trust in God and he will take care of me and I suppose that is true.  However, I am trusting in God when He tells me that I can't sacrifice my room and board to satisfy an ancient tradition.  I spent well over ten percent of my salary this last check on biblical things.  I bought a new book to help with our "couples" outreach to help young and old relationships find God together.  I bought Kat a new audio version of the NIV Bible.  I bought Alex a new book of Bible stories.  All of this things I have acquired to help spread the Word of God in the ways he tells me.  The fact that I still managed to find twenty bucks for the offering plate I think is commendable.  It could actually mean me not eating breakfast or lunch this week, but now I feel like I am being asked for more.  I hope this is a trend that isn't going to continue as I don't feel like this is God's work. 


  1. If you are a "Christian", you are a follower of Christ. So the ultimate right-or-wrong concerning tithing should come from Jesus' teachings. What did he have to say about it?

    1. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

      I will quote that as it sums it up quite well.

  2. Ancient tradition? ;-) Well Christs' teachings are over 2000 years old. Perhaps we should just throw it all out?

    When Christ told us about his body and blood in the form of bread and wine and how to take them in remembrance of him... Should we just forget that because it is a tradition?

    If you would like to give 20 dollars of your income and put it in as an offering then that is what you should do. Remember however...

    "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7).

    If you are not giving enough and you are truly trying to serve God then he will show you how much you should give. But I'll give you a hint. It's going to be a lot more than 20 dollars.

    Did you think that following him would cost you nothing? Do you believe that Christianity is just a theological exercise to be used to keep your mind in shape?

    If you truly intend to follow Christ is will cost you everything. Tithing will be the least of your worries. You will be shattered on the rock that is Christ before God puts you back together.

    I see where you are coming from in your argument. It makes a lot of sense but, and this is the reason I'm being a bit harsh here, you are using theology and your intelligence to hide from the truth. It is hard to hear what Joe and John said. Believe me, I bristled at a few things. But at the end of the day you need to look at yourself and make sure you aren't doing this with a hard heart.

    I cannot tell you how much you remind me of me. lol I've got 13 years of driving myself crazy and beating my head against a wall or bible. Trust me and the lesson I've learned. Don't let your intelligence get between you and God.

    You are entering a trap Brother. Be warned.

    Bryon McCoy

    1. First and foremost I wanted to thank you for stepping up and commenting. I am quite glad someone did. Tithing has been debated heavily lately in the Evangelical community and it only barely was upheld. This isn't really a great endorsement my friend. Read Deuteronomy, would you give your sister to a rapist? Maybe a daughter instead? Does your wife sacrifice two doves every time she menstruates? Yet tithing is a good commandment. Maybe we should listen to Paul and our wives should wear veils and not speak in church. Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they follow and even though we don't know each other well I doubt you can't say the same. Why tithing? Because it is self serving. How many televangelists do you think there are "healing" people for donations that are helping to shape the position on the Tithe. Perhaps you missed the part where the money I gave will literally be starving me this week. I didn't make that up, that wasn't an exaggeration. I am currently $40,000 in debt trying to get my wife through school working as a single income family of four. Oh wait, that is a sin too. She is supposed to be home, ignorant and foolish and be my servant. When God called me it was to embrace the fact that the world changes. I can't tell you how hard the urge is to speak to the world is and tell them that God isn't happy with things now. We are alienating kids, the public is afraid of us. It isn't good stuff my friend.

      As for Joe and John, why not attack the women wearing designer clothes and hair does that total more than my wardrobe? Why should the poor suffer more? I have had my family ripped apart. My children live in another state. I have felt pain that is immeasurable. I have already paid more that you can possibly imagine. Take that into account before you judge me, and judging me, you are.

      I would have been gentler but you chose to be harsh to me so I didn't hold back. Sometimes that is the only way to work issues out. I am not trying to offend but I think it best to know where I am coming from.

    2. Also, and I wont mention his name unless he posts on here, but a member of the church who donates an enormous amount of time and has been a Christian all his life to this church told me that if he was asked to tithe before his bills and family he was going to quit the church. I am not as new to this as you might think, either.

    3. I agree with you. We do pick and choose. I've struggled and still do struggle with that.

      You are, however, missing one essential point. Why do you assume the amount we should be giving to the church is less than %10? Why is it not more?

      I didn't say anything in my post about %10. You put those words into my mouth.

      Also I don't think you are harsh. Frankly I've heard this all before. I'm not tired of hearing the same rantings per say... More like exacerbated.

      That brings me to another thing I've learned I cannot do and that is to argue someone into the kingdom of God. I know you are struggling with the things you mentioned in your previous post and I am sorry for what has happened and is happening to you.

      But what I heard in your post was the resounding, deafening gong of pride. You are proud of what you are going through. You wear it as a badge of honor and you are going to use it to keep people from telling you what to do.

      I do not pronounce sentence on you. That is the bad kind of judgment. I do however judge your words and, in fact, see through them. I think I know you or at least know where you are coming from. You are a lot like me. You are afraid. Afraid that if you really trust in God He may not be there. Well crap man, if you are going to live your life by his example doesn't it make sense to at least put Him to the test? Trust him completely and see what happens. Otherwise why even try? You are wasting your efforts following something you have no intention of committing to. It's not fair for you or for God.

      I know you see the hypocrisy in the church (not necessary ours but it's there to), so do I. But here is another thing I've learned, everyone is a hypocrite... You've got to accept this, accept people for who they are. Christians aren't perfect and we never said we were. All we did was choose Christ and in doing so found forgiveness for our sins including endless hypocrisy. That is where grace comes in, not judgment and sentencing but judgment and grace.

      We've all got bills, we've all got problems and sir don't even get me started about my childhood. lol Someone always has a better sob story than you, and me. Don't hang your hat on your problems. Hang it on God. Move forward, don't look back. You're a new man now, and though God knows it's hard, try not to be defined by your past.

      You're doing good, these are the right questions to be asking. But if I might make a suggestion. State them as questions not statements of fact and take some of the vehemence out of your words otherwise in the extremely unlikely event that you realize you are wrong the landing from that horse your sitting on may be a bit of a hard one. *wink*

      Sorry, couldn't help myself.

      Bryon McCoy

    4. You have found your gift brother. You are at home with God, there is nothing more beautiful. Your insight has given me wisdom, even if we don't agree. I greatly respect the knowledge around me but I still can't shake the feeling. I wish I were better at putting things into words than I am, God has been making me practice for years without me realizing it, but I still struggle. My language was too harsh, I apologize for that as I am trying to help and not push people away. None the less, I still feel that what I wrote wasn't my will but God's. Who am I to deny Him that? I'm not trying to follow my heart, or some ideal, I am following what I hear in my prayers. Thank you for taking the time to speak to me about this. It hasn't softened my stance but it will make me more cognizant of my words in the future. With all that being said, as long as God continues to speak to me, I will subvert to His will. He is my Lord, and I am his servant. God Bless you my friend, and the Spirit be with you.

    5. Much better tone. At least people will not put their guard up when they hear what you have to say.

      I like you Kurt! You and I are going to have some interesting conversations.

      I'll see you at group tomorrow.

      Bryon McCoy

    6. Bryon, I love you, man! I know that a lot of people would look at our conversation and think we were close to blows but I am not like that and I can see that neither are you. You have given me a lot to think about and that is why I am writing, so I can learn and maybe even spread a little teaching. This has been good for me. I look forward to our future conversations, even if it might scare the people around us. I can't thank you enough for your words and for your wisdom!

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  4. It has been interesting to quietly observe this conversation. I'm impressed that you both honored each other in the end, despite your disagreements. None of us have all the answers as we all view the world through a fog. We need the Holy Spirit and one another to grow, learn and hopefully become more Christ-like. This relationship could be a great gift to you both if you can speak with respect and be open to learning from one another. It is in connection with a community of believers that we discover God and find His life. This is where "iron sharpens iron" and in humility and love, we can challenge each other to grow in our walk with Jesus.
    We need each other.
    Have a blessed day, guys.
    Shannon Love

    1. Thank you for reading, Shannon. My argument with Bryon is hardly something that would make he and I hate each other. When he said he sees himself in me, I don't doubt that. He and I seem to think similarly and deal with things the same way. The heat in our discussion comes from our passion for our beliefs. I agree with him that he and I are going to have some very interesting conversations and I would not be surprised that a few of them might get heated! God bless you, sister. Thank you again for reading.

    2. Since apparently a great deal of the church is watching this exchange with interest, let me say that I am not, in any way angry or even annoyed.

      For Kurt and I this is fun. This is how we learn. It even borders on playful banter. I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to brow beat him. I know he's a young christian and am stepping lightly.

      Yes yes I know. Some of you are wonding, "if this is stepping lightly I'd hate to see what hard is." My answer to that is, "so would I."

      No hard feelings and I think we are as far as one could get from "blows". lol

      Fun fun!

      Bryon McCoy

  5. NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE pays the Biblical tithe today.

    Leviticus 27:30-33 defines this tithe as a tenth of crops and animals in herds and flocks.
    Numbers 18 gives the ordinances, or instructions, for this tithe, and commands this tithe be taken to the Levites.
    Purpose of this tithe: to support the Levitical Priesthood.

    Deuteronomy 14:22-27: aka The Festival Tithe - a tenth of crops, plus add to that the firstborn animals, and take for the yearly feast.
    Purpose of this tithe: “that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always”

    Deuteronomy 14:28-29: aka The Three-Year Tithe aka The Poor Tithe - a tenth of crops, kept at home, and invite the Levites, widows, orphans, stranger to eat.
    Purpose of this tithe: to feed the poor.

    Now, tell me. Which of the above three tithes commanded by God does anyone follow today?

    The ONLY people in the Old Testament that were commanded to tithe were those who INHERITED THE PROMISED LAND WITH EVERYTHING ON IT. They got the land, house, animals, crops, etc. ALL FREE AND CLEAR. No mortgage payment or rent to pay. And THEY were commanded to tithe on the crops and animals and take it to the Levites who INHERITED the tithe INSTEAD OF the promised land with everything on it. No one else tithed. Wage earners did not tithe. Jesus did not tithe as a carpenter. Paul did not tithe as a tent maker. Peter did not tithe as a fisherman.

    1 - The Biblical tithe was NEVER money (even though the Temple Tax had to be paid with money).
    2 - The Biblical tithe NEVER came from anyone's income.
    3 - The Biblical tithe was ALWAYS food and ALWAYS eaten by the tither, his family, the Levites, priests, widows, orphans, and the stranger. See Deut. 14:22-29.

    How the church teaches tithing today in no way resembles what is taught in the scriptures.

    1. Brilliant reply and I totally agree. Don't forget that all first born belonged to God in Exodus 13 as well. Perhaps not technically a tithe but it is very similar. Since it is broken up across the chapter I wont report it here.

    2. I also popped in on your website and it looks like an interesting read. Everyone can find it at if they like. I haven't read through it all yet but since I appreciate any and all discussion here I am happy to pass it along. Once I read through the book you have I will likely post about that as well. Thank you for stopping by, my friend. Be blessed!

    3. Numbers 3:12 (NIV)
      12“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine,

      Before the law: every first born belonged to God.
      During the law: the Levites belonged to God INSTEAD OF the first born.

    4. The firstborn would be similar to firstfruits, not the tithe. We don't want to confuse firstfruits with the tithe.

      In Nehemiah 10:37 we learn that the firstfruits were taken to the temple for the priests, while the tithes were taken to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities.