Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6 that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” The over-exaltation of money propels people onto a path where no amount of wealth is ever enough and contentment is never known. We find generosity, however, to be a fruit of a person whose heart has been filled and quieted by the grace of God, freed from justifying oneself by making, hoarding, or spending money. Freedom is not having wealth as to be happy, but to not need it as to be happy.
We do not make ourselves righteous by giving generously. We are righteous because God has declared it so through Jesus Christ. Giving is simply another way we can communicate and see the gospel work itself out in our lives rather than the burden and toil of demand. All of Jesus’ words on money, whether in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) or his words to the rich young ruler (Luke 18) and Zachaeus (Luke 19), center around the notion of finding your treasure in him, not in temporal things. The New Testament assumes that a portion of your income will be given away for the work of God’s Kingdom, while never specifying any given amount (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Jesus’ words on money do not confirm and continue the Old Testament law of tithing which was obligatory, but rather he speaks of generous sacrificial giving.
Our church’s conviction and best practice is one of “blind giving”, which allows for people to give free from the pastor knowing how much they have given, free from the pastor using the knowledge to either favor or condemn them. We believe the preservation of the act of giving as pure worship is at its best possibility when the giving is done in secrecy.
So, what if people give very little? What if they are disobedient and give nothing?
We entrust these things to the power of the gospel and also a proper understanding of the nature of demand and guilt verses grace and freedom (Galatians 3). The law of tithing, as with the entire law, is counterproductive to forming true, free, joyous living and giving. The gospel sets us free from having to tithe 10% to maintain our right standing with God. Rather, the scriptures teach the importance to listen and obey the Spirit of God in our giving (Acts 5:1-11). As Paul writes, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Redeemer believes giving 10% from your income is good to consider but the guide is joyful sacrificial giving. It is this freedom from the law and reliance on the Spirit, and love for a church that preaches it, that creates hearts that give joyfully without obligation or guilt or burden. Law obligates people. Grace compels them. This is, as the New Testament speaks of it, hilarious giving.
By Russ Masterson / Christ the Redeemer Church of Marietta