Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
50. I have been reading The ABC's of Financial Success by Barry Cameron and it says that churches should not make special offerings as shown through First Corinthians 16. Does our church do this?
Does we invite members to make special offerings? The answer is yes. There are usually special offerings collected at Christmas and Easter for various projects. The "This Is Your Time" campaign which paid for facility remodeling was in essence a special offering because the church asked members to pledge gifts above those which went to weekly support. The upcoming "Imagine" campaign scheduled for Fall 2002 will be similar in that regard.
Why does we do this? It is due to the fact that while many bring the tithe "into the storehouse" (Malachi 3:10), many do not. In many respects FCC's giving record is exemplary, but I've noted that churches giving according to the principle of the tithe have few financial problems. That's what Barry Cameron affirms in his book. If everyone brought the tithe into the storehouse (church) there would be little need for special offerings.
The offering, however, is a biblical principle as well. God's people in Scripture often took special offerings. First Corinthians 16, technically, is actually a plea for a special offering for benevolent purposes. Paul requested that the church in Corinth raise funds for the poor in Jerusalem. Paul received such offerings from nearly all the European and Asian churches he worked with or established on his first two missionary journeys. As described in Acts, Paul took those monies back to Jerusalem as a "love offering" from the largely Gentile churches. The passage does, however, illustrate the principle of proportionate giving. The application of that principle in the context of giving to the Lord's work is appropriate.
If we were to go back to the Old Testament practice of tithing, it follows that we should necessarily follow all the instructions there regarding such giving. If we were to do so, however, individuals would contribute more than 25 percent of their income in addition to offerings. The Hebrew people brought a tithe to the temple, they brought a tithe of the firstfruits (the first part of a harvest or herd), and much more. Offerings were generally benevolent giving. The poverty-stricken, physically impaired, and disease-laden received offerings. Such offerings were required! They took the place of a welfare program.
For the sake of other questioners, who have raised questions about the tithe, let me express why First Christian Church teaches tithing? Here are some reasons to consider:
1. Our promises as Christians are far superior to those of the Old Testament Hebrew, doesn't it make sense that we should express our gratitude to God with at least a tithe?
2. Learning how to give make the individual more like God (John 3:16) and Christian maturity is "becoming like Christ (God)."
3. Giving to God draws an individual closer to God (Matthew 6:21).
4. Giving is the antidote to materialism (1 Timothy 5:17-19).
5. Learning how to give strengthens faith (Proverbs 3:5, 9; Luke 6:37).
6. Giving is an investment for eternity (1 Timothy 6:18-19) since only two things last forever -- human beings (potentially) and the Word of God.
7. Giving provides a blessing (Psalm 112:5).
8. Giving makes the individual happy (Proverbs 11:25).
9. God commands the tithe (Leviticus 27:30).
10. Tithing demonstrates that God has first place (see Deuteronomy 14:23 in the Living Bible). Jesus said, "You can't serve God and money."
11. Tithing reminds us that God gave everything to us (Deuteronomy 8:18).
12. Tithing is an expression of gratitude (Psalm 116:12).
13. Tithing is the one way the individual can actually prove God (Malachi 3:10).
Let me close this lengthy answer with some general principles:
1. Giving back to God significant funds recognizes God's ownership of all that exists (Psalm 24:1).
2. You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving.
3. God wants us to give from a happy and generous heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).
4. Give out of love, not duty.
5. Learn to sacrifice (giving what costs you) not from plenty.
Giving is, at the root, a heart issue. God calls upon us to lift our eyes and see a world that is ready for harvest. When an unselfish heart sees the need, accepts the need, it will move to meet the need. God's purpose is that he might "be worshiped with white-hot affection by a redeemed company of countless numbers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation?" When a believer is committed to seeing that purpose fulfilled the willingness to give generously flows out of a loving and committed heart. God does not require that we give up everything, but should all believers commit to tithing they are all giving equally even when the amounts differ.
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