Sunday, July 1, 2012

On Giving to the Church

I posted a response to a thread on a Christian discussion forum of sorts started by someone who felt liberated by giving their tithe to other charities rather than their church, which they saw as spending lots of its money on unnecessary luxuries. As I've started my first "real" job at Seagate and acquired a good deal of money to put to use, God has been teaching me a lot through my personal study and a mini-series from my church about living generously (not just with your money, but your whole life--their phrasing is "Time, treasure, talents, ticker"), which has been really encouraging. I wrote a reply, the first paragraph of which turned out to be a decent summary of some of this teaching. I'm posting it in censored form here and not linking back to the conversation to avoid boasting about the amount.
In sermons on generosity, my church has described the tithe as being like training wheels. It's a good goal to strive for, but if you tithe to the church or to other organizations and think that you've paid some kind of debt you owed to God, you're missing the point. God made everything and He owns everything. The money you don't give isn't yours to do whatever you want with, it's His gift to you. I currently budget X% of my income for giving (that will probably only last until I get married) and the fact that I'm keeping (100 - X)% for myself bugs me sometimes, even though it mostly goes to taxes and basic needs. I'm not trying to boast, but simply to show the attitude God has given me towards giving.
To add to this, one other thing that bugs me is becoming proud about how much I give. (None of which, remember, belongs to me in the first place) Hear me clearly: you have no 10% debt to pay to God, giving any part of your life doesn't score you brownie points with God or magically make you a better person. Our acts of righteousness are "filthy rags" before God (Isaiah 64:6) and without love, any amount of giving is meaningless, amounting to nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3) We are declared righteous by faith, not by anything we do (Romans 9:30-31). I could spend all the money I give on exquisite headphones instead (which is incredibly tempting as I type it) and God wouldn't be thrown into a panic or have any losses to recoup. He doesn't need our money. He just wants us.

This is a very distilled summary of what God has been teaching me. Since I'm trying to make this blog all interactive and stuff now, I'll solicit opinions: would you like to hear and converse more on this subject? (Especially people from Hope who just got out of the mini-series)

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