There is much debate in today’s church on the subject of tithing. Does the bible command us to give 10%? What happens if we don’t?
On the second question, the answer should be clear. On the day of judgement, if and when the Lord extends to us His salvation, it will be because we’re cloaked with the Righteousness of Christ, which has been imputed to us, rather than by our sin, which has been imputed to Him and put to death on the cross. Your salvation does not depend on whether you’ve dropped a pre-prescribed percentage of your income into your church’s collection plate.
He is, however, intimately concerned with the condition of your heart – the perfection of which is His perpetual preoccupation. All Christians are called to repentance of sin. As I’ve noted elsewhere, however, such sin will not be washed away by the keeping up of externals. That is to say, if the condition of your heart is not where it should be on the subject of giving generously to your church community and to the less fortunate, upping your giving percentage is not going to correct that. In fact, it may do more harm, as the illusion of outward cleanliness often masks the problem in inward filthiness.
God is pleased with our giving but, as David notes here, He is far more pleased with a giving heart. What’s required is not a change of behavior but a change in attitude. What can I possibly give back to God? It’s already His to begin with! If we truly believe this, deep down in our heart of hearts, the behavioral changes will inevitably follow: generosity will become easier, and the covetousness that leads to greed and the accumulation of stuff we don’t need will gradually slip away.
Am I saying that I’ve arrived, that I’ve achieved this state of spiritual dislocation from the material blessings that God provides? No, of course not. I’m the last person who should lecture others on their giving habits or on the perils of greedy hearts. But the Bible is clear that real change starts by cleaning the inside of the cup; and knowing this, I can’t help but believe discussions on percentages are, at best, an unhelpful distraction.
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.