To tithe or not to tithe?
Well folks, once again we are faced with an end of year shortfall in our income – this time to the tune of £22,000! There are several reasons for this – lower offerings, rising costs, and the rise in our contributions to the Church of Scotland in general. However, if we don’t meet the deficit this year, we will have to take a close look at those costs, especially the costs of our much valued paid staff.
How are we going to respond? At our last Kirk Session meeting, we agreed that the answer is actually very simple, and can be found in the pages of the Bible itself. We could all try to tithe. If we all did, then, given the size of our membership, Liberton Kirk’s financial problems would soon be a thing of the past.
What is a tithe? To tithe is to give the first tenth of your income to God. This is a concept that first appears in the book of Genesis (14.17-20), and then re-appears throughout the Old Testament. In Jesus day tithing was assumed to be a part of everyday life, so much so that the Pharisees are accused by Jesus of taking it to ridiculous extremes (Luke 11.42).
Tithing is not a rule to be followed religiously, rather it is a way of understanding life itself. When we tithe, here are some important things to bear in mind.
- Tithing is an act of faith rather than one of calculation. It’s our way of saying we trust that the God, who has looked after us so far, will continue so to do
- Tithing is not about giving to God, rather it is about giving back to God from all that he has already given us
- To tithe is to give the ‘first fruits’ (see http://www.openbible.info/topics/first_fruits). In other words, to tithe is to give your first tenth to God, and only then to sit down and work out what you are going to do with the rest
- Tithing is not limited to money, but includes the offering of our time and our talents
- The Bible promises us that tithing is a way of sharing in in God’s blessing (Proverbs 3.9-10; Malachi 3.10)
Here at Liberton, there is no doubt that if we all tried to tithe, it would mean an end not just to this deficit, but to all future ones as well. Tithing is a living demonstration of an authentic faith, and the sign of a healthy church – attractive to those looking for something real in a shallow and superficial world.
Let me finish with Jesus’ own words (Luke 6.37-8) –
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”