Giving. It is a spiritual topic. It is also one that is difficult for Pastor's and Preachers to address due to some of the incorrect and excessive teachings that abound. Pastors are forced into crisis fund-raising or hiring well known stewardship letter writers to assist them because they fear addressing the subject from the pulpit. They rightfully struggle because "giving" teachings are not well-received by some because of the "heart" condition. Others have been burned by false teachings and arm-twisting tactics, or prosperity only teachings. Pray for your Pastor. They have a difficult task. Yet the truth must be spoken and must be heard. It is not pleasant to teach sin, judgment, hell, trials, or sacrifice either, but they are all part of the same Bible we believe in. The best thing I can recommend to Pastors is to have someone from the congregation do a series or teach on the subject if they just cannot do it. I also offer my services to churches and congregations on a no-fee basis, but also emphasize giving strongly in my seminars. Giving needs to be taught correctly, and in love. The truth will set us free!
- What exactly is Biblical giving? How can I teach others?
- Should I give voluntarily or "tithe"?
I struggled with the "Tithe" teaching for years due to some guilt-laden "thou-shalt" teaching that threatened to send me to hell if I didn't comply with God's COMMAND to tithe. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, but it also challenged me to study for myself. I include a thorough study on biblical giving and the tithe in Ease the Squeeze. I know now that God is most interested in the heart condition than anything else. I could give 90% with an impure heart, wrong motives and God would not be pleased. I could give 10% with a passion to do more, and do so cheerfully and God would receive my offering. Cain versus Abel. What about the widow that gave her all. Or Zaccheus--50%. Ron Blue gives 50%. R.G. LeTourneau gave 90%! We cannot judge another's heart. Paul never mentioned tithing. He talked more of generosity, liberally. Jesus never said "thou shalt" tithe, but he did mention it. He tied it to a heart condition and said you should have practiced the former while not ignoring the latter. Most of the time Pastor's are forced into making the Tithe more law than grace, just because of the heart condition of the sheep, as well as a lack of study and education that has led to weak giving.
In the late 1990's Americans were over 400% richer after taxes and inflation, than in the Great Depression, yet giving ranged from 1.9% to 2.6%. In 1933, the depth of the Great Depression, giving was 3.2%. Some research shows that only 12% of American Christians actually give more than 10%. The main problem with today's tithe teachings, as I see it, is that it actually limits people from doing more. Many think once they achieve the magical 10% they are done. The State of Church giving according to Empty Tomb (emptytomb.org) shows us to be lukewarm at best. The statistics speak for themselves. I knew I could not afford 10% when the Lord was speaking to me about my giving. I had given him my life, my heart, and my future, just not my money. I started off giving 1%, then progressively increased this by 1% every month. Before long, I was far above 10% and God had shown himself faithful. The Lord says in Malachi to "test Him". It is the only place He says this. I tested Him and He showed me that if I just trusted Him, he would not leave me to fend for myself and my family finances. As we continue to give generously God has blessed us generously.
"First of all I think 10% is too small. I fight the concept that God owns 10% and I own 90%. God owns it all."
- Ron Blue