The Problem with Tithing

3 Problems with tithing and how to overcome them

No one wants to talk about their money. For some reason, we’ve bought into the lie that our money is personal and God only speaks to us personally about our wealth. It’s funny how the Bible doesn’t share that view.  There are over 2000 verses in the Bible that talk about our money, and Jesus either talked about money or used our wealth as an example in about 40% of His parables. Why? Because our wealth is a big part of our lives, and how we view our money will have a big impact on how we view the Kingdom.

The Problem With Tithing

We recently worked through a series with Bethel called “Money Matters.”  In the chaotic world we live in, we have to figure out how we can spend less, to give more, and to save more!  The Kingdom is too valuable to allow the power of money to overcome us.  Giving more and saving enough for the future will help us to be effective as possible for the Kingdom.

I understand the tension we face — I naturally enjoy having control over my finances.  This obviously causes problems when it comes to giving.  One thing I can honestly say though, is that God has graciously led me through the journey of letting go.

When I first starting to give to the local church, I had a separate “tithing account.”  Yes, that’s where I would put aside my giving each week and then, when I knew I didn’t “need” it at the end of the month, I gave it to the church.  The problem was — I always “needed” it.  Let me come back to that story later.

Tithing today…

There’s been much debate over whether or not tithing is something Christians have to do today. It was certainly practiced under Old Testament law (Malachi 3), and sacrificial giving was certainly promoted under New Testament grace.  It’s also certain that giving has nothing to do with attaining salvation, but yet an inseparable activity of someone who has experienced salvation.  Tithing becomes one of our responses to God’s grace — its one of the ways we show how much we love Jesus.

Perhaps, we can say: tithing is a voluntary act of discipline that’s driven by our value of grace and salvation. We don’t give 10% of our income to gain salvation, favor, or status; rather, tithing is a call to believers who value the expansion and funding of the Kingdom.#Tithing is a voluntary act of #discipline that’s driven by our value of grace and #salvation. Click To Tweet

But here’s the issue — even if we do practice tithing, it can be problematic if we don’t allow ourselves to be truly transformed first.  There are some pitfalls of tithing that can really hinder us.  Let me share three of them with you, and how we can overcome them.

1. Tithing avoids “sacrificial giving.”

Tithing can imply that 10% is enough and less than 10% isn’t good enough. The point of giving isn’t found in a percent, but in the sacrifice.  The early Church sold their possessions to give the poor (Acts 2:45).  They willingly and cheerfully gave something up to help the Kingdom.  That means, for some, 10% is only a start, and, for others, 8% could mean significant sacrifice.

2.Tithing makes us think “legalistically.”

Sometimes we have the tendency to think, “I pay my 10%, so I deserve… or I want…” You can fill in the blank. The problem, however, is that our giving doesn’t increase our “rights”. It’s our responsibility to selflessly give to the Kingdom and we can’t allow a number to increase or decrease our voice or impact.  The early Church collected and handed their money to the Church Leaders for disbursement.  Paul clearly stated that money collected was not a way to receive reward or power, rather an investment into the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

3. Tithing doesn’t help us “surrender” our money.

#Giving is..realizing that God owns everything..& He expects us to be good stewards.. Click To TweetThe story of giving is all about realizing that God owns everything we have and He expects us to be good stewards of those resources.  If we’re not careful, we can view “tithing,” as another expense in the budget and not a complete surrender of our money.  Just because we give 10%, doesn’t mean the other 90% is ours for the taking.  That mentality will easily give way to our world of consumerism — a world Jesus is not calling us to pursue (Luke 18:18f).

So how do we overcome these problems?  We need to view our generosity as an act of daily discipleship, and start thinking of tithing this way:

Think: How much more can I give?

Even though we’re living in grace and tithing is now a voluntary act, our underlying question can’t be: “How can I get away with giving less?”  If we ask that, we’ve missed the point all together.  We have to ask: “How much more can I give?”  The final answer to that question may not monetarily change much, but the mentality behind the question changes everything.  Our desire should be to give as much as we can!

Think: How can I support God’s activity?

#Giving is a selfless act out of our grateful response for what God has already done for us! #disciple Click To TweetWe give to enable God’s activity in God’s Kingdom.  Giving is a selfless act out of our grateful response for what God has already done for us (2 Corinthians 9:12f).  As a result, we have to think selflessly and not selfishly as we give.  Even though church politics and hidden agendas often exist, there’s no room for them in the Kingdom!  We must support God’s activity, not our own.

Think: How does God want me to structure my budget?

Just because our culture wants us to think we own our money because we earn our money, it’s not a biblical way of understanding our financial blessings.  God owns everything and is responsible for enabling us to work in the first place.  We are simply his faithful stewards, who ask: “God, how should we use these resources effectively?”

Final thought…

Back to my story…Along my gracious journey with God, I slowly learned that my giving was my grateful response to what God has given me (the gift of grace), and not what I give to God. My journey went from struggling with tithing (why I had to give 10%) to wanting to give as much as I could!

Our giving shouldn’t be out of any compulsion, rather freely given out of a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).  But that doesn’t mean we avoid the discipline of tithing.  We have no reason to believe that Jesus didn’t practice tithing himself.  It does, however, mean we avoid the potential pitfalls.

Your turn…

How have you viewed tithing/giving?  Has it helped or hindered your view of generosity?


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Faith and Doubt [Guest Post]

Kathy Stock Shares Her Journey of Faith

I’d like to thank Andrew for inviting me to participate on his blog. Andrew is a great writer and a passionate leader. I’ve read his interesting thoughts and teachings and have personally benefited from the discussions I’ve seen afterward between people on different sides of many different issues.

Faith and Doubt - Kathy Stock

I am a lover of conversation. As a flaming extrovert, I thrive off of the company of others. Drop me in a room full of strangers and I’ll leave with a long list of new friends.

This temperament of mine has served me well, especially as a musician and public speaker but it has its downside. I share a bit too easily, I care a bit too recklessly and I am dramatically affected by the thoughts and feelings of others.

Wearing my hungry heart on the outside of my sleeve has served me both well and negatively in ministry. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I am told I came to know Jesus at the ripe ol’ age of two when I knelt beside my mother and wanted to do what my five-year-old sister did at church that day. So, at five and two, we surrendered our sin-laden lives to the Lord, knowing full well the gravity of that decision and went forth, sinning no more.

Just kidding.

We had no idea what we were doing!

Yet, I remained ingrained in Christ, and He in me, from then until now…sometimes fervently on fire for the gospel, sometimes gripping tightly with white knuckles while doubt all but swallows me whole.

Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. Click To TweetWhat I have learned is that faith isn’t a black and white issue. Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. It’s complicated and beautiful and terrifying and filled with unknowns.

I’ve done a lot of living for a thirty-three year old woman. I was married at twenty, a mother at twenty-two and again at twenty-six. I’m a published author. I have lived in two countries, three states, two provinces, and have changed addresses thirteen times in the last thirteen years.

I’m a musician who performs (unapologetically) secular music during the week and joyfully leads worship in a congregation I love on Sunday mornings (Spruce Hills).

I had cancer while my children were two and six years old and have been in remission for three and a half years.

I recently went back to school, where I sit in classrooms surrounded by other students who are closer to my son’s age than my own.

What has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus. Click To TweetLife has been more interesting than I can properly articulate in one blog post and I have had some high highs and some low lows along the way but what has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus.

Ironically, (and perhaps I’m over sharing here, in true Kathy form) I am writing this during an intense season of doubt.

Some do not believe that faith and doubt can co-exist but I am living, breathing evidence that they indeed can. I embody both. The disciples embodied both. John the Baptist embodied both, and he saw the sky open up and watched a dove appear out of nowhere, landing on Jesus and then heard God audibly say, “This is MY SON” and he STILL questioned who Jesus was from the darkness of his prison cell. If John the Baptist can doubt, and still be labeled by Jesus as one of the greatest human beings ever, certainly we can too (Luke 3:21-22; 7:18f).

This truth has brought an enormous amount of comfort to me as I navigate life, especially in my thirties. For the majority of my twenties, I lived in the Southern USA or the ‘Bible belt’ as it is sometimes referred.

I was so entrenched in church and church culture that I didn’t have one friend that wasn’t a Christian. I worked at church, sang at church, socialized at church…and the energy that I should have spent going out into the world and being Jesus to people was instead spent arguing about theology with other Christians.

My faith was very, very strong during that season but I wasn’t fulfilling the great commission. I wasn’t being Jesus.

When I was twenty-eight, my little family of four immigrated back to Newfoundland with nothing but the clothes on our backs and six suitcases in our hands. We settled swiftly and I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the ‘Bible belt’ anymore…and I was quite honestly relieved… so I set out to meet as many different people in as many different places as I could.

I began playing music at events and restaurants, eventually landing a permanent gig at a piano bar in downtown St. John’s (The Fifth Ticket).

After I finished chemotherapy and began my remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I set out to meet as many young adult cancer survivors as I could, and pour into their lives in a way I so desperately needed when I was sick. No hidden agenda, no bait and switch to evangelize…just living out love in the way that Jesus has asked us to and seeing what happens. Faith, usually, naturally comes up in conversation.

Through all of this, I have met so many different kinds of friends. People from varying spiritual, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, same sex couples, single parents, transgendered men and women…I’ve met ex-cons and CEOS, reconnected with people I knew from high school and been blown away by how we have all developed and evolved throughout the years.

There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story. Click To TweetAnd through all of these encounters I have learned one very valuable lesson: There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story.

Breaking through the Christian bubble that I had created for myself has opened my heart and mind up to a world of doubt and questions that challenge me on a daily basis.

They challenge how I raise my children and the words I speak behind the microphone on Sunday mornings…but it has also allowed me the powerful opportunity to be Christ to people who haven’t experienced Him in a real way. Not by preaching at or fighting with or segregating myself from them, but by doing life shoulder to shoulder with them and seeing what God does through relationship.

I’m finding the older I get, the less I can claim to know for sure but the more O.K. I am with not knowing.  As exhausting as it is, doubt is worth wrestling with.

There are many days when I wonder whether any of this is legitimate at all, but I rest in the words of John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he was going to leave and Peter responded, “Lord, to what person could we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

When doubt creeps in...I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. Click To TweetWhen doubt creeps in, or bursts the door down, I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. When I am challenged by the non-sense that is grace, the arrogance that is self-sufficiency, the ridiculousness that is child-like faith, I cling with both hands to Jesus!

I recently heard someone say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt.  The opposite of faith is certainty…because what do the certain need with faith? The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” and my hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 11:1).

There is no one else for me. None but Jesus.

My New View on Alcohol

Understanding the Tension of Modern Biblical Decision Making

The consumption of alcohol continues to be a controversial topic. I shared my personal thought process a while back (3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol). After a discussion with my wife about the topic and potential interpretations, I’ve come to realize it sounded more narrow-minded than I ever intended. I was hoping it would help readers come to their own conclusion.

My New View on Alcohol

So, since this blog is about our spiritual journey, let me apologize for my lack of clarity and let me share with you my new view on drinking alcohol.

Lessons learned…

No matter what your view may be, this topic is personal enough that not all will agree. Sometimes we can argue facts, but the reality is, much of this conversation is based on personal experience.

For example, a family impacted by an alcoholic family member, will almost certainly view this subject differently than a family who has created a culture of responsible consumption. And, if we were honest, there’s about thousand different situations in-between.  We have to respect each and every one of these situations.

I also wanted to give Christians (especially believers who abstain from alcohol) the ability to see an example of “thinking it through.” Growing up, I really wasn’t given the opportunity or space to ask questions to define my own answer to whether or not I would consume alcohol. Did my original post successfully help people think? Probably not the way I would have liked.

My 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol were never meant to be prescriptive to every Christian, nor do I judge any Christian who responsibly consumes alcohol. I have many Christian family members and friends who choose to consume – and do so in front of me. I certainly have no problem with that.

In fact, the reasons I give for not drinking, can easily become the reasons why a Christian could drink responsibly.  It’s a healthy tension that each believer must weigh out as they make their decision.

So in light of that new understanding, I’ll give you three tensions a Christian must weigh out. Remember these are personal tensions – one that each believer must work through.

1. “No alcohol” versus “conservative alcohol.”

We don’t know for sure, but it’s safe to say that Jesus and his disciples consumed wine.  It was part of their culture and it was never mentioned as being an issue.

Like I mention in my previous post, the only time the Greek word for “new wine” (gleukos, meaning “sweet unfermented wine”) is used, is in Acts 2.  When the disciples were filled with the spirit, several witnesses were making fun of them as if they could get drunk off of weak wine.1  Why? Because they weren’t known to be drunk.  Their view of alcohol was clearly on the conservative side.

THINK: How conservative do I need to be to gain the kind of reputation the disciples had?

2. “Sin” versus “Boundary.”

The only sin we see in scripture is drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-25).  Unfortunately, drinking too much alcohol leads to drunkenness.  So the natural tension becomes one of sin versus boundary.  Because of his stomach and sickness, Paul told Timothy to have a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23).  Obviously, the journey wasn’t towards sin but towards a healthy boundary.

THINK: What boundaries do I have to put in place in order to stay away from drunkenness?

3. “Culture” versus “Witness.”

There’s a vast discussion here alone.  The tensions of particular situations, local cultures, and ethnic traditions, all impact how we understand alcohol.  That, paired with our potential witness to others, could dramatically impact our view.

Paul said, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful” (1 Corinthians 10:23).  Likewise, “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).  No matter the situation, we need to be willing to put our own desires aside for the sake of the Kingdom and live in that tension.

THINK: How does my culture and witness impact my view of alcohol?

Your turn…

How do you reflect on these tensions regarding alcohol consumption?


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Why Christians Shouldn’t Fear the Immigration of Refugees

7 Thoughts To Consider Regarding Immigration and Refugees

World-wide hate crimes and acts of terror are increasing the need to relocate people to safer locations.  Along the way, one word seems to guide the conversation – fear.  While uncertainty is no doubt a major cause of fear, Christians should have nothing to fear.

Why Christians Shouldn’t Fear the Immigration of Refugees

In fact, Christians should be embracing immigration and welcoming refugees. Here are seven thoughts to consider:

1.     Refugees are seeking help.

Just like Joseph’s family fled to Egypt for famine relief (Genesis 46-47), and Jesus’ family searched for refuge in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), many are looking for help in our world today.  Their beliefs and values don’t always line up with ours, but their need for safety is more than real.

2.     God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear.

We’re called to spread the truth and grace of the gospel without fear. We should be unashamed of God’s grace, and pursue love and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7). If we have the opportunity to love others, we should do so.

3.     It’s not about us – we’re called to selflessness.

Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary. Click To TweetWe can quickly play the “national security” card, but if we were honest with ourselves, we would know we need to put the needs of others before ourselves.

“In humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to [your] own interests, but also to the interest of others…Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God…but made himself nothing…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8, ESV)

Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary.

4.     We need to love others, even when it hurts.

It doesn’t matter who it is or what background they may come from, a person in need is a person in need.  Jesus said the two greatest commandments include “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He used a parable to describe a man who loved and helped another man in need despite his differences. (Luke 10:25-37)

5.     We’re called to welcome “strangers”.

From the Old Testament to the New, the call to love “strangers” and “sojourners” has never ceased.  God reminded the Israelites to love strangers because they were once strangers in Egypt themselves (Deuteronomy 10:19).

Paul describes a true #Christian as someone who seeks to show #hospitality -- #refugees #immigration Click To TweetPaul describes a true Christian as someone who seeks to show hospitality, lives in harmony, and even loves their enemies to the extent of meeting their needs (Romans 12:9-21). The reach of hospitality should be fully extended.

The Hebrew writer even reminds us that, in our hospitality of strangers, some have actually entertained angels (Hebrews 13:2).  In our fear, have we ever pushed away God’s messengers?

6.     We were all once “aliens”.

From a theological perspective, all Christians were once “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12).

Through Christ, however, we are one body.  It really doesn’t matter what the religious intentions of refugees may be – God loved us before we loved Him.  God provided a way for us to become united when we were all strangers to the Kingdom.  Why should we fear those seeking peace?

7.     We’re called to show God’s accepting love.

James wrote, “Faith by itself, if it does not have [good] works, is dead” (James 2:17).  We can believe in God, belong to the Kingdom, and be a “Christian,” but if we do not physically meet the needs of those around us, “what good is that” (2:16)?

I know we have to be responsible and ensure we are actually meeting legitimate needs in the world, but any true follower of Christ should fearlessly pursue the act of welcoming and helping refugees as the need arises.

This is not to say that the less fortunate in our own hometowns should be ignored.  Jesus is calling us to “make friends” with our “worldly wealth” (Luke 16).  That means to consistently help those with less to the point of unity – bringing people out of poverty, helping those in the community, and pointing people to the truth of eternity.

Viewing the #immigration of #refugees selflessly...is part of the very essence of the #Kingdom! Click To TweetViewing the immigration of refugees selflessly, and not selfishly, is part of the very essence of the Kingdom!  I pray we can release our selfish conservative nature and engage in true ministry.

Your turn…

How do you view the immigration of refugees?  Is there a difference between government policy and Christian responsibility?


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A Poorly Written Government Motion?

A Christian Response to M-103

Canadians are stirred up over the recent private member’s motion (M-103) that was tabled back in December 2016.  You can read the motion here: Systemic racism and religious discrimination. As of this posting, the House of Commons has begun their debate (February 15, 2017).

M-103 A Poorly Written Government Motion

Despite the numerous concerns being voiced, it’s expected that government will pass the motion.  This really shouldn’t be difficult to understand since we are still living in the aftermath of events like January’s attack at a Quebec Mosque.

What’s of more concern, however, is the riled “Christian” response.  Many are upset that Government is protecting another religion over their own.  Many believe this is step one, to losing their freedom of speech.  Others still believe that this is the back door to a “hidden agenda”.

Whatever the debate at hand, this is a poorly written motion that will pass and Christians will have to come to understand how to navigate the Christian faith in a shifting Canadian landscape.

Christendom is over…

Canada is not a Christian country.  It hasn’t been one for quite some time.  We are a nation that encourages and celebrates diversity.  That doesn’t mean Christianity doesn’t belong in Canada, it just simply means policy is not influenced by Christianity.

Pluralism is in…

Some argue we are in a post-Christendom era, however, with motions like this one on the table, I would argue that we are even further from that.  Perhaps it’s more accurate to say Canada is in a “Plural-dom” era – where policy affects religion, and yet religion doesn’t affect policy.

A Poorly Written Motion

If, in fact, we are living in a pluralistic culture, ALL religions should be protected within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  That doesn’t mean everyone will agree, rather, everyone has the right to believe what they believe.  Any further motion and potential bill, should aid in protecting against ALL religious hate crimes and should speak to ALL religions, and not just one.  Currently, Islam is the only religion specifically mentioned.

The implications of naming only one religion only further damages the very idea government is trying to encourage. If all faiths are equally protected, then all faiths should be mentioned or no faiths at all (keep it general). With only one faith mentioned in this motion, it will unequivocally end in further hate towards the faiths not mentioned and protect Islam before the rest.  Blacks and Jews, for example, both experience the highest rates of hate crimes in Canada.1

Further, the lack of clarity in the motion doesn’t help.  Will you be able to challenge or debate anything? The very act of healthy criticism and discussion is what helps us to shape and understand the belief systems we all believe in.  Healthy criticism and debate is far from hate, but a lack of clarity leads people to uncertainty.

If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion.If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion. Click To Tweet

With that said, I pray that any resulting bill that may, or may not, be placed before the House will be written with clarity and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in mind.

So how should a Christian respond?

I understand these are uncertain days and that people can feel threatened.  In a pluralistic society, however, we have to be very careful in how we respond.  If we want to make a positive impact for Jesus, here are some guidelines:

1. Celebrate in the fact that our government would like to stop hate crimes.

This should be a win for any believer.  Hate is not a good thing and Jesus calls us to love one another – even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  What’s even more exciting, is that the Canadian government wants to take action without instilling fear.

2. Pray for our leaders.

Our leaders will make decisions you may or may not agree with, but the tensions they are trying to navigate are vast.  They need our prayerful support, not our unleashed anger (1 Timothy 2).

3. Ensure to give others the rights they deserve.

In Canada, everyone has the right to choose a religion and state their opinion and beliefs.  We should remember that this is a biblical concept – it’s called freewill (2 Peter 3:9).

4. Voice concerns in a respectful way.

Be intelligent, act responsibility, and be above reproach.  Everyone has the right to speak, but speaking out of anger or fear is not having “the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2).

While the problems with M-103 have the potential to be great, we need to learn to respond with the same Christian values we long to protect.

Christendom is over and pluralism is our new reality.  The best voice Christians can have is one of respect and concern for those with different beliefs.  God loves everyone and wishes all of them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but that message is lost when we selfishly try to restore Christendom in a nation that has already moved on.

Your turn…

What are your thoughts on this private members’ motion (M-103)?  How can Christians responsibly navigate the days ahead?


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References   [ + ]