Here's the short summary. 'Tithe' simply means 'tenth' and in the Old Testament God required his people to set aside a tenth of their income to pay for regular feasts and celebration from a communal fund so that no matter whether you were rich or poor, you could share equally in the life of the community and enjoy and benefit from it as much as anyone else.
The 'tithe' was always for the benefit of people, not the temple. Because they were not able to hold another full job and earn a living, a portion was kept aside for the priests but the vast majority was for the people. The tithe was literally eaten and drunk by the community in regular feasts. Add to that the Jewish Year of Jubliee (a seven year cycle when debts were forgiven) and you see God implementing some incredible strategies that put a limit on how far the gap between the rich and poor could ever grow - while still enabling those who work hard and had entrepreneurial gifts to profit from their work, but without it coming at the expense of the community. It's just brilliant. It's really worth reading through Leviticus and Deuteronomy for this stuff, but here's a couple of highlights.
Deuteronomy 26 adds more meaning to the tithe and the celebration it creates - it was intended as a clear reminder of the Israelites captivity in Egypt and the miraculous way God brought them into the promised land and freedom. They weren't giving to the church building or to the personal income of the celebrity CEO Pastor - they were limiting the potential for poverty among them and they were gathering to eat and drink in celebration and remembrance of what God had done to turn them into a free community. It's awesome. And this blessing was to overflow to everyone around them:
"And you and the Levites (the priests who served) and the aliens among you (foreigners, not extraterrestrials) shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord has given you" - Deuteronomy 26:11.
Our vision is that the community God placed is in ends up being better off and with more resources because we are here - rather than having us syphon resources out of the community into our buildings etc. The neighbourhood should benefit from our presence, not be drained by us.
Too often we use human power and persuasion and guilt and fear to manipulate money out of people and we can end up funding things in our human strength that God is not breathing life into. Working this way is a great way to see what he's blessing and what he isn't!
In short, in the Old Testament, the law required ten percent be set aside and it was always for the benefit of the people and to limit poverty. The money always belonged to people, not to a church organisation (which is why the true church is actually the people!).
In the New Testament, the law of the tithe is fulfilled in Christ and he has redeemed and purchased us all. So now, 100% of our money belongs to God (to whom we owe our very lives) not just 10%.
The question for us all is how does he want us to use whatever resources he gives us in a way that demonstrates the life of the kingdom and helps it multiply?
Providing for your family is part of that. Displaying generosity and freedom from fear is part of that. Living from the perspective of wealth as God's royal children, rather than a mindset of poverty and scarcity is another part of it. We sow into the kingdom by sowing into people - money's part of that, but there are infinite ways to invest in people. If you don't have money, cultivate a generous spirit in other ways (for example, time is an awesome thing to 'spend' on people).
Lots to consider and discuss here. Hopefully this helps as a starting point.
If you aren't in a position to give, then don't.
Practice learning to receive - that's a hard skill in itself but it's part of the kingdom.
In seasons when you have little, don't let fear or that poverty mindset take hold. You are royalty. You always have something to give - sometimes it just isn't money. Use what you have for his glory and he'll take care of the rest.
If you want to give to The Local financially, go for it. There's a link somewhere in one of the older blogs that has the details. But don't do it out of guilt or a law of tithing or anything like that. If you want to give other things in other ways - same goes.
We all should be giving as disciples - but what we are giving is not our things but ourselves. Ask how God wants you to do that and who he wants you to give yourself too.
We all should be giving as disciples - but what we are giving is not our things but ourselves.
Ask how God wants you to do that and who he wants you to give yourself too.
Hope that makes sense and brings freedom where it's needed. We'll chat about this more again soon - bless you team!
Really proud of what we're all forging The Local into together. It's becoming something quite beautiful. That reflects all of you and I think it's beginning to reflect our master too. Awesome!