When Tithing Requires Real Faith

I really enjoy J.D.’s blog, “Get Rich Slowly” (GRS). I used to visit there every day, but things have been a little crazy lately. GRS is a top-notch blog, and I recommend it to anyone trying to get a handle on their finances. Whenever I think of “professional blog”, I think of GRS.

I hadn’t left a comment on there in months, so imagine my surprise when I got an email today from a thread that was posted last September! The thread was “Could Tithing Lead Some Americans to Lose Their Homes?

I instantly knew what I would next write about. Prior to getting this email, the last day in which I had posted in this particular thread was 3 October 2008, the day I got laid off. How ironic is that? Little did I know in those days I was posting that I would eventually be facing a similar choice myself.

Some pointed out that Jesus said to give everything away to the poor, not just 10%. Some questioned how you can become “rich” by giving away money. Then, some say there is no Biblical support for tithing. One even compared it to “spiritual blackmail”. Then, the discussion about love and obligations. And, those were just the points interesting to me!

However, that was then, and this is now. Do I feel the same way? I re-read everything I wrote. I have not changed my mind.

I do want to clarify that unemployment insurance, IMO, is just that – insurance. If my home is destroyed, and I receive a check from the insurance company to rebuild, I’m not going to tithe on that. That was what I paid the insurance for. Unemployment insurance is a benefit provided to those who fall on hard times. I do not expect people to tithe on welfare or funds received from their church (including 3rd tithe assistance), either. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. It would not make me saintly to do so, and I’m sure some would question my sanity.

I also want to remind everyone that we each are responsible for “those of his own house” (1Ti 5:8). Those who do not have “denied the faith”. On the one hand, there is implied in this a leniency towards those who would be unable to do so. I sincerely doubt God wants us to tithe when it means not feeding our kids. However, that is a situation most of us in the US do not have to face. On the other hand, even when you are out of work legitimately, this verse can sting a bit at unexpected times. Being out of work creates a host of emotions that sometimes swing from one extreme to another, and we need to take these matters before God’s Throne.

My wife does work. She still has her regular job. In spite of the difficulty, it seems obvious to me that it is still tithe-able income. Yes, we have had to decide if we were going to pay the mortgage or not. God has blessed us with a small reprieve via a bank forbearance, though, and I hope that is a sign of encouragement that we are doing the right thing in being faithful.

I’ve been studying the Book of Daniel lately. Do you remember Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego)? First, they and Daniel refused to eat the king’s meat. Most likely it was offered to idols, but it could have simply been against the dietary laws of Leviticus 11. We aren’t given the real reason, but it obviously bothered Daniel, so he decided to put his trust in God, and his 3 friends did as well. Well, things turn out quite well for them, and God rewards them. Think about this, now. Daniel was only a teenager at the time, so presumably his friends were as well. He could have just reasoned that he wasn’t old enough to make such decisions or that he needed to obey his captors. However, he took a different attitude and did what he knew in his heart was right. They were in captivity, but God rewarded them regardless.

Later, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah refused to bow down to the idol that Nebuchadnezzar had made. We aren’t told where Daniel was at the time, but these 3 remember the Commandments and obeyed. Well, King Nebuchadnezzar was furious! He ranted! He raved! For all we know, he foamed at the mouth as well! Their reply was very interesting:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will [STILL] not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

~ Da 3:16-18

Forget losing the house! These guys lives were on the line! A house can be rebuilt, but only God can bring someone back to life. And, that is exactly the point, isn’t it? Yet even if God does not protect them, they will still obey!

Thinking about this section of Scripture has helped immensely. I want to put my own spin on this: If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the [trial] … But [even] if [He does] not, be it known unto thee … that we will not [disobey God by not tithing].

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