776) Tithing?

     The 10% tithe for the Lord’s work is a Biblical concept that is worth emphasizing and striving toward.  It is also a word at which many folks quit paying attention.  I don’t want to lose you, but neither do I want to ignore this important Biblical guideline.  So I would like to encourage you to consider what is called growth giving.  It is a simple concept, and here’s how it works.  You begin by calculating the percentage of income that you are now giving to the Lord’s work.  The next question is always, ‘before or after taxes,’ and my response is always, ‘whatever you want– you decide.’   You then commit to increasing your giving next year by one percent of your income.  Take note, this is not one percent of your current giving, but one percent of your total income.  If this year you gave 3% of your income, then next year give 4% of your income for the year.  Most people are not giving so sacrificially as to make that a hardship.  The suggestion, therefore, is not for ten percent right now, but for one percent more.  The tithe is not forgotten, rather, it is something you grow toward.  Next year, the challenge will be to add another percent.  But don’t think about that now, just think about the one percent, and then see where you are at next year.  Granted, some folks may not be able to do even this.  But most will be able to, especially if you take an honest look at how you spend your money.

     When I am paying my bills, and the checkbook is running low, I look at each bill, even my church offering or my contributions to the charities I support, as an irritation; “Oh no, another check to write.”  Do you ever have that feeling?  However, a few months later when I am doing my income taxes, I have a much different perspective on those charitable contributions.  There I sit, still well fed and clothed, and still in my warm house.  My contributions have not yet left me destitute.  So then, when I am doing my taxes, those contributions are no longer an irritation, but they are a pleasant surprise.  “Oh good, another deduction; this will help!”  The distance of a few months changes my entire perspective.  I am then well pleased with myself about my previous generosity, even wishing I had written out a few more checks so I could have a few more deductions.  I am pleased about not only the deductions that I am now able to make, but also for the good feeling that is still there; that good feeling that comes with being a part of supporting a good and worthy cause.

     I’m not saying this so you can having more fun when you do your taxes next year; but I want to illustrate the importance of taking the long view of this.  Think now about the perspective that the end of your life will give you on your generosity, or lack of it.  Will you be more pleased then with a lifetime of generosity, supporting those things that you believed in, and helping some people who needed help; or, will you be more pleased about all that stuff cluttering up your garage, basement, and closets.

     What do you suppose God will be more pleased with?

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Leviticus 27:32  —  Every tithe of the herd and flock— every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod— will be holy to the Lord.

II Corinthians 9:6-8  —  Remember this:  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  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.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Matthew 25:21  —  (Jesus said), “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

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Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us– our selves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love.  Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Offering Prayer, Lutheran Book of Worship, (239)

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