Minor Thoughts from me to you

Why Should Christians Tithe?

I was all set to write a blogpost about the need for Christians to tithe 10% of their income. First, let me tell you why I was going to write that. Then I'll tell you why I'm not going to write that.

I was thinking about American Christians, our wealth, and whether or not we share our money as God commanded. I looked up the U.S. population. According to the CIA World Factbook, the U.S. population is around 296 million people. Of those 296 million, a little over ¾ claim to be Christians. The median income in the U.S. is $44,473 dollars a year. That would mean the median tithe in the U.S. should be $4,473 a year.

Let's assume that half of the people that claim to be Christian are lying. Let's assume that the other half of the people that claim to be Christian actually are dedicated church-goers. That would mean we should see 114,596,977 people tithing an average of $4,473 a year. Total tithe in the U.S. would then be somewhere above $500 billion a year. Unfortunately, total 2004 charitable giving in the U.S. only amounted to $250 billion.

Why do I bring that up? Yesterday, I read an article about Joan McCarville, a woman that had had one transplant too many. She needed a lung transplant, but couldn't get one unless she and her husband ponied up over $330,000. That sounds like a lot of money. Until you consider the fact that either a lot of people are lying about being Christians or else the church is being woefully underfunded. Just imagine what the church could do with an extra $250 billion a year! Area churches would certainly be able to help out a lot more people like this unfortunate woman.

As I say, that's what I originally planned to post. Then I went searching for information on tithing. I found an interesting dialog from Dean VanDruff about tithing. It is entitled "The Tithe, A Biblical Perspective". It really gave me a lot to think about. You really, really, really should go read the entire thing, but I'll excerpt some of it to give you a taste:

"The tithe" as part of the Law is no more applicable to us than making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year is. It is mentioned in the New Testament only a couple of times, generally in the context of rebuke to the Pharisees concerning fastidious observance of the ceremonial Law.

Christians in general reject the idea that we are "under the law", yet tithing somehow gets exempted. But it is all or nothing, when it comes to the law, is it not?

For the Jews the tithe was a "party" (or feast, if you like) and was to be "consumed in the sight of the Lord". God's command to tithe includes consuming "whatever your heart desires", including "strong drink"! Imagine using up a tenth of your agricultural increase every year in a single party! Wasteful, extravagant, and flesh mortifying; yet God's clear command. With this Jewish (and historic) perspective, no wonder the prophet Malachi (3:8-11) asks: "How have we robbed from You, Lord, by not tithing?" If you understand the Jewish idea of party-tithing, you will appreciate his question. God commands His people to enjoy themselves by bringing the bounty together so that "There may be food in my house" and then feasting and enjoying themselves in His sight.

A different perspective, no? It certainly gave me something to think about. So I'll refrain my haranguing the church about there being a clear need to tithe more. On the other hand, there's certainly nothing wrong with giving more of your income to the local body of believers. After all, there are a lot of big, legitimate needs all around us. Our individual contributions might be small, but together they could accomplish quite a lot. I'd rather give my share of the $500 billion to the church than to the government.

And Joan McCarville? Well, it turns out she'll have most of the cost of her transplant covered. There is a medical relief fund setup, if you would like to help out with the rest of the cost. Contributions can be sent to the Joan McCarville Lung Transplant Fund, Farmers State Bank, P.O. Box 145, Hollandale, WI 53544.

UPDATE: The VanDruff's have something else up that I found interesting: Bible Study: Money in Scripture. I only skimmed it earlier, but I think it's worth reading through more carefully later.

This entry was tagged. Charity