Modernity and the Spiritual Disciplines: Tithing

The other day I was listening to NPRs “Science Friday” when a man called in and said, “I was driving around and I saw all these churches and thought, what a colossal waste of resources!” The caller was down right angry at what he believed was a bunch of wasted money being spent on foolish superstitions.

Indeed, giving money to the church is ludicrous from the perspective of secular modernity. The caller suggested a more noble use – cancer research – but you don’t need to care about a specific cause to find lots of “better” uses for that tithe money.

Even if you are religiously inclined and believe that the spread of the gospel through the local church is important, you still might be frustrated (though I hope you are not) with the allocation of those funds.

Usefulness, however, has never been the only reason for giving gifts and offerings. It has always been a way for God’s people to give back to God a portion of what He has given to them. It is a way we acknowledge that we are not self-sufficient but have received everything as a gift from Him.

What you do with your money is a direct result of where you think it came from. I’m far more likely to spend $20 of birthday money recreationally (aka, a book) than I would if I had gotten that same $20 for putting in a little extra time at work. That extra money would just end up going to the new-for-me-used-car fund. If we truly believe our money comes solely through our own intelligence, labor, and skill, that is, if we believe we are truly self-sufficient, we will hold onto it or use it for ourselves. If, however, we believe that the money came because of God’s blessing, we will gladly give back to Him a portion of what He gave us in the first place. The joy of tithing, is that even if you only kind of believe it when you start doing it, the regular practice of saying, “God, I’m giving back to you,” reinforces the truth in your life.