by Buster Whitlock, Minister of Finance & Administration
Last week we tackled a tough subject – how to start tithing if you aren’t currently doing so. Even as I write this, I am praying for members of our Shandon family who are prioritizing this in their lives, looking at their personal budgets, and making the changes needed to honor the Lord with their finances. I look forward to hearing wonderful testimonies of God’s faithfulness as our people manage their money in accordance with God’s will.
In the final installment of this stewardship series, I’d like to introduce a concept that's far beyond the reality of the average believer. It is rarely even taught in our churches, but I believe it is God’s will for the mature follower of Jesus.
I’m speaking of going beyond the tithe in our financial giving.
Your first reaction may be, “Whoa there! I’m having a tough time with the idea of a tithe, and you’re talking about giving even MORE?”
Yes I am - not because I’m trying to make your life miserable, but because I believe this is at the center of the Father’s heart, and because I have personally experienced the joy that can only be experienced when you go beyond the “requirements”.
I have personally experienced the joy that can only be experienced when you go beyond the “requirements”.
You may have heard the term “tithes and offerings”. This phrase actually originated in the Old Testament, when the people of Israel had required giving (the tithe) and freewill giving (the offering). Note the distinction. There was financial giving that God REQUIRED and that was part of the Jewish law. Beyond that, we see people giving out of joy, ABOVE AND BEYOND what was required.
We see this same spirit in Jesus’ teachings in Matthew Chapter 5, the Sermon on the Mount. Time and again, Jesus states the Old Testament law, then expands it. The law against murder is expanded to include unrighteous anger. The law against adultery is expanded to include lust of the eyes. Jesus was not creating more laws, but rather demonstrating that obedience is a HEART issue, not a list of items to be checked off.
How does this apply in the area of tithing?
Most of the scriptural references to tithing occur in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus affirms the tithe in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42, with a focus on the “weightier matters” – the heart and attitude of the giver. Other NT examples are much more extravagant. Whether it is the response of the early church in Acts 2:44-45 or the unexpectedly generous gift of the Macedonian believers in 2 Corinthians 8, the consistent pattern is that of generosity beyond what was requested or required – generosity that sprang from grateful hearts that were excited to participate in what God was doing.
the consistent pattern is that of generosity...that sprang from grateful hearts that were excited to participate in what God was doing.
How does this relate to believers today?
The same Holy Spirit that moved in the early church moves in our church! Our God is that God, and he inspires us to give joyfully and expectantly, not out of rote obedience, but out of love and freedom. As we progressively move from the safe and familiar into a more mature faith walk with God, he challenges us to be more generous in all areas of our lives.
If God is calling you to move beyond the tithe, how do you proceed?
Ultimately, this is a conversation between you and God, but one strategy is to increase your giving each year by a specific amount or percentage. However, if you are asking this question, it is not about a particular dollar value.
- Pray and ask God how you can be more a more generous partner with him.
- Listen and watch as God answers your prayer and shows you opportunities to give and serve.
- Begin building and expanding your legacy of faithfulness to the Lord’s work, both here and around the world.
As you consider your pledge for 2016, I encourage you to pray about going above and beyond the tithe. Bring your pledge card this Sunday (November 15), and together as a church, let's commit to living a life of faithfulness and experience the joy of giving!
Can't be at Shandon this Sunday? Click the image below to submit your pledge online.