Monday, February 11, 2013

Tithing and the New Covenant

I have heard plenty of people who are confused about tithing. They believe that when Christ came, he abolished tithing. This is not at all true. As Jesus himself said, He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it - to help people live out its full meaning.

The law of tithing was not set to be a burden to the people of God. It was set to help free them from the two big enemies of righteousness - fear and attachment to worldly goods. Considering that God gives us 100% of the things we receive in our lives, that He asks us to give Him back only 10% of it is nothing short of astonishing. It is as if we were to borrow money from a bank to purchase a house, and when we go to the bank to make the payment arrangements, they tell us we only have to pay them 10% of what we borrowed!

Tithing liberates men from the fear of not having enough. I have known this fear for most of my life, and it has caused me to become petrified of letting go of anything for fear that I won't have enough. I have made a lot of really stupid money mistakes because of this fear. What I have found is that when I tithe, it requires me to take a leap of faith, to face up to my fears, and to let go. Furthermore, the more that I give the easier it becomes to give. I stop worrying about the future and start living the present moment.

Tithing also detaches me from worldly goods by changing how I view them. I have an easier time remembering that these things don't really belong to me, that they are God's and I'm merely the steward when I am tithing. It becomes easier to let go of them, to surrender them, and to accept whatever God sends back my way.

Going back to Christ, though, He didn't tell us we didn't need to tithe anymore. What he told us, actually,
was that we needed to do better than tithe.

"Jesus answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same" - Luke 3:11.  

Looking at that passage, we can understand this to mean that we shouldn't be content with giving just 10%.  In each of these passages Jesus is asking that person to give whatever he doesn't strictly need. Nobody truly needs two coats. Give away the other to someone who has nothing. If you have food enough for yourself and someone else, don't let that food go to waste - give it to someone who does need it.  How many times have left overs sat in your refrigerator going to waste because they didn't get eaten? Think of the people in your town who could have been fed with that food.

This is actually a very timely reflection, because tomorrow is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It's a last celebration before the start of the Lenten season of penance.  It's a perfect time to think about cleaning out closets of things we don't need and giving to those who have less than we do.  It's a perfect time to take a close look at where we spend our money and how.  It's a perfect time to think about tithing.

Popular Posts