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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What does it mean to Love Jesus?

10 Ways we Show How Much We Love Jesus

It’s pretty simple: Jesus loves you.  The question is: do you love Him?  We might answer “yes” to that question fairly quickly, but do we stop and think about what it really means to show and express love for Jesus?

What Does It Mean To Love Jesus

My wife and I had a long discussion one day about “dirty dishes and clothes on the floor.” Yes, you read that correctly.  Long story short – even if I don’t mind a few dirty dishes in the sink and some clothes on the floor, I’m able to show her how much I love her by cleaning those dishes and picking up the clothes.  I never stopped loving her, but these actions help express that love in a tangible way and keep me focused on serving my wife, rather than myself.

Don’t get sidetracked by my example… The point is, we may love Jesus, but do our everyday lives speak that same language?

I’m sure we could list a ton of different ways of showing Jesus how much we love Him, but I’ll offer ten.  If you have another, take a moment and include it in a comment at the bottom of the post. I’d love to hear from you!

1. We communicate daily with Him.

Praying and reading His Word (the Bible) is a daily activity that helps us communicate with Him.  But it’s more than asking for a wish-list.  The Spirit uses prayer and scripture, to help us better understand God’s voice.  If we do that daily, we show how much we love Jesus (Rom 12:12).

2. We follow His commands and lead.

It’s not popular to say we follow a “set of rules,” however, because we are saved by grace, we should want to express our gratitude by serving Him and following His lead in our lives.  We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation (2 Cor 5:14f).We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation. Click To Tweet

3. We worship God every day.

Our “worship experience” includes Sunday, can’t be limited to Sunday.  True worship is a life-long journey of expressing our love for Jesus every day.  It may not be in the form of singing, but our attitude towards life should echo our love for Jesus (John 4:21-24).

4. We live selflessly, not selfishly.

Our culture tells us WE are most important.  Scripture tells us, JESUS is most important.  The main idea – if we love Jesus, we will live selfless lives that focus on loving God and loving others, long before serving ourselves.  (Related post: Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?)

5. We love and serve when others don’t deserve.

Even when others may wrong us, or take action that “deserves” punishment, the way we react to them is critical.  Because Jesus loves everyone, our reaction of extending that love (the same love that He gives us) makes a big statement on how much we, in fact, love Jesus (Mat 5:44; Luke 6:27).

6. We share in the joy and pain of others.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26, ESV).  Unity in both joy and suffering is vital in the journey of discipleship.  If we do this authentically, we really show how much we love Jesus.

7. We hold true to our integrity.

Being deceitful is a sure way to devalue your love for Jesus.  Being honest and having integrity, on the other hand, proves to God, and others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for (Prov 11:3; 28:6; 2 Cor 8:21; 1 Peter 3:16). Having integrity.. proves to God, & others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for. Click To Tweet

8. We belong to a local Church.

Saying we love Jesus, but hate the Church is like saying we love God, but hate His body. No matter how messed up we think the Church may be, we’re all just as messed up without Jesus.  Belonging to a local Church (ie. The hands and feet of Jesus) is vital if we are serious about loving Jesus.  (Related Post: We Don’t Have To Go To Church)

9. We support the local Church financially.

Tithing is a biblical principle, but not an absolute law under grace.  What does that mean?  It means tithing is not requirement of salvation and we are no longer restricted to give only ten percent.  In fact, Jesus reminds us that everything we have belongs to Him and we are to follow His lead as we make financial decisions (Luke 18:22).  Want to show that you love Jesus? Financially support His hands and feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community.  Without financial support, local ministry and leadership fall apart (Phil 4:10-20).Love Jesus? Financially support His hands & feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community. Click To Tweet

10. We generously give to those in need.

Over and above supporting the local Church and leadership, the early Church made sure all the needs around them were met. So much so, that some even sold their possessions to help others in need (Acts 2:45).  Talk about generously showing how much you love Jesus!

Your turn…

How do you show Jesus how much you love Him?  Comment below with ways to share your love for Jesus and feel free to elaborate and ask questions about the above ten!


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Taxes: Step Up and Help Those In Need

Not sure where you may be reading this, but in my home province of Newfoundland, Canada, we are experiencing an unprecedented provincial budget full of new taxes.

taxes

The provincial debt has ballooned.

Taxes and fees have increased.

Services are continually being cut.

All economic classes are affected.

Tax-payers are backed into the corner of repayment.

Those seem to be the facts.  After that, everyone seems to bring their particular set of circumstances to the forefront.  No matter how difficult it may be, however, I’m constantly asking the question: as a follower of Jesus, how do I respond responsibly and effectively?

Christians have a responsibly to act humbly and selflessly, while respectfully making a difference.

Paying tax isn’t a new issue; neither are the problems and potential economic pain that can follow.  Yes, we see it in modern history.  But there are biblical examples as well.

The Jewish temple tax…

Long before Jesus’ ministry, the Jews were paying taxes to pay for their way of life, buildings, walls, and other projects.  Gifts were often used, but the regular form of income was the “annual half-shekel tax” paid by all adult Jews.1 This “temple tax” was a long-time observance and continued into Jesus’ ministry (Nehemiah 10:32-33; Matthew 17:24-27).

Paying taxes to Rome…

In Jesus’ day, the Romans had economic control over the Jews.  In terms of tax rates, there was very little difference between today and that of the first century Palestine.  The problem was that what Rome instated and what was collected was dramatically different.

Publicans (“tax collectors”) paid Rome the instated amount and in turn collected the tax from the taxpayer and pocketed the extra.  Ultimately the weight of the expenses fell on the poor.2

Jesus’ response to paying taxes…

One of the Roman taxes was known as a “Roman tribute,” which was one denarius (about a day’s wage).3  4

In order to trap Jesus they asked him whether or not it was lawful to pay tribute.  As many have noted, Jesus was between a rock and hard place.  If he said, “yes,” then the tax-payers would hear his support of the Romans.  If he said, “no,” then the Romans would charge him.  This was his response:

24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. (Luke 20:24-26, ESV)

Knowing the two “tax systems” (Temple and Roman), this starts to make sense. Jesus wasn’t about to deny the system the Romans had put in place and he certainly wasn’t about to deny what God asks of his followers.  However, there was a problem with their focus.

The people were more concerned over the secular than that of the sacred.  Jesus’ main point, as he already stated in the gospel, “you can’t serve two masters…you can’t serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13)5  While they were trying to trap Jesus, Jesus was trying to show them their true responsibility.

Christians paying taxes today…

For the most part, when I’m in the middle of “Christian conversations” regarding taxes, I hear comments of how “it affects me.” I believe we, and I’m including myself, need to re-evaluate how we view our position on the economic scale.  We very seldom think we’re in a position of wealth – there’s always someone richer. Christianity is all about selflessness and helping the poor.  It’s the message of the gospel and one of the main purposes of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:18).

Jesus simply stated, “Give back to Caesar what is already Caesar’s.”  The political system was created by them, so give it back to them.  After all, we are called to support and submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). But Jesus didn’t stop there.  He also simply stated, “Give to God the things that are God’s.”  We are also called to support and submit ourselves to the ministry of those around us (Acts 4:32-37).

The question isn’t if we pay tax or become upset with the amount we have to pay. That’s a given. The question is are we focused on the message of the gospel or worried about the state of our chequing account?

That’s where our re-evaluation needs to come into play.

What’s the real impact and how do we respond?

When taxes increase and services decrease, everyone is impacted in some way.  Everyone will have less money in their pockets and fewer services at their disposal.  But we need to ask: Am I in economic trouble or do I simply have to cut back spending?

There’s a difference, and a different response for both.

For some, the increased taxes will mean further economic trouble.  Just as the poor took the weight in the New Testament, the same is very possible today.  If I find myself needing financial help, I should have the confidence that God will work through fellow believers to provide the help that I need.

For others, that means finding ways to cut spending in other areas in order to fulfill our responsibility as believers.  Perhaps it means helping someone with an expense, offering a free service (ie. childcare), or sending respectful correspondence to your leaders in an effort to help the marginalized.  If we limit our help to things like complaining on social media, then we have already lost our impact.

In either case, we need to be honest, remain faithful with the resources we have, stand up for those who are truly impacted, and bring relief to those who need it.

Economic despair is no match for the hope of the gospel!

Economic despair is no match for the hope of the #gospel! #nlbudget2016 #taxes Click To Tweet

Let’s be the Church – pay our taxes and help those in need!

Your turn…

  1. Are you in a place of economic trouble or in a place of cutting back spending?
  2. Are you TRUSTING in God’s provision; how is God calling you to HELP?

References   [ + ]

Operation Christmas Child: 6 Reasons Why You Should Participate

Most of us would agree that helping Children in need is a high priority.  Sometimes, however, we downplay our role in this process.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t think we can make much of difference or that our budget isn’t big enough to make any real change.  I want you to know that there is a great opportunity for you to help in a meaningful way!  You can pack a shoebox. Operation Christmas Child has been operating around the world since 1970.  Since inception, they have distributed almost 10 million shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries.  I want to offer you six reasons why you should participate in Operation Christmas Child this year.

Operation Christmas Child

1. You are helping children around the world.

Let’s start off with an obvious one.  Operation Christmas Child was created to help children.  Even more specifically, to give less fortunate children a taste of the giving spirit of Christmas.  Many of the children who will receive a shoebox this year have no concept of the commercialized Christmas we experience in North America.  These children will simply open a small box of loved-packed toys, hygiene items, school supplies and other small blessings.  These items not only bless children physically, but also bless them emotionally and socially as they quickly realize that there are people in this world that care about them.

2. You will partner with an organization who cares.

Samaritan’s Purse, the organization behind Operation Christmas Child, is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that has been meeting needs around the world since 1973.1  In 2014 alone, their efforts included providing over 76,000 households with Ebola infection prevention kits in Liberia and sending 60,000 shoebox gifts to ISIS-fleeing refugees in Iraq.  They also responded to disasters all over the world – helping 50,000 families in Nepal, 4,000 families in the Congo, and even relief for 800 flood victims in High River, Canada.2  While this is a Christian organization, and they care about the spiritual health of those they help, their primary concern has been meeting the needs around them.  Their finances prove this even further – 91% of their expenditures are directly related to their ministries.3  By participating in Operation Christmas Child, you’ll get to partner with this great organization.

3. You will bring unity within your family, group or work place.

Nothing else brings people together like helping others.  Whether you pack a shoebox as a family, group or work place, this project is guaranteed to bring you all closer together.  Families can include their children in the process of picking out items, groups can create a team project, and work places can pool resources to see how many shoeboxes they can pack.  The possibilities are endless.

Consider taking a photo of everyone who helped pack the box and place it inside the shoebox.  I’ve been told, by someone who handed out boxes to children overseas, that the children who receive photos are so grateful and overwhelmed to see the people who care about them.

4. You will teach your children how to give.

In a consumeristic world of want, want, want, get, get, get, Operation Christmas Child has the potential of teaching our children what it actually means to give.  Not only will children experience giving a gift to a child in need, they also get to experience giving, without expecting something in return.  It’s truly a selfless act that our society doesn’t usually promote.

Operation Christmas Child also teaches children the blessings they have.  No matter our economic situation in North America, we are beyond blessed when compared with many of the children who will receive a shoebox.  This project helps children have a deep appreciation for what they have and hopefully heightens their responsibility to help others.

5. You will be challenged to give.

Every year I’m challenged to do more.   Whether it’s to pack one more shoebox, volunteer my time with a local collection centre, or give an extra monetary donation to help the organization go further, this project challenges me every year.  Don’t think for a minute that learning how to give is only for children!

My wife had a great idea one year.  Instead of giving a regular gift to our family members, we packed everyone a shoebox full of smaller items (some needs, some wants).  For one thing, it was refreshing to scale things down for a change, but, more importantly, it helped us to focus on family and the real meaning of Christmas – Jesus, who is God’s selfless gift to us.

6. You will provide avenues of real transformation and hope.

Now that Operation Christmas Child has been in existence for a while, we are seeing real proof of transformation.  That transformation results in hope for many others.  Khin Khin shares a testimony of how she received a shoebox while living in a New Delhi refugee camp.  Years later, she’s living in Winnipeg, Canada where she helps pack shoeboxes to help bring hope to many more!

“Receiving the shoebox made me realize how a Christian should give for others,” she says. “Some children might not have people who care for them, so for them, it’s encouragement to know they still have other people who care for them and that God is always there for them when they don’t have anybody else.”4

Check out her story here:

In 2014, Canadians packed over 660,000 shoeboxes!  35,000 of those came from here, in Newfoundland, alone!  Let’s partner together and reach new heights in 2015!  Samaritans Purse is challenging Canada to collect 710,000 this year!  That’s only a 7.5% increase.  If we do our part in Newfoundland, we’ll need to collect 37,625 this year!  We can do it together!

By packing a shoebox we can join together to help kids around world, remind ourselves about giving, and help provide avenues of real transformation and hope!


Find a collection center near you…

http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/rss/operation-christmas-child/get-involved/find-an-operation-christmas-child-collection-center.aspx#.VgxetvlVhBc


If you liked this post, please take a moment to share on your social networks so others have a chance to read it as well!

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

When Should I Teach My Child About Giving and Tithing?

#MoneyMatters is a Q&A category based on questions I have received on the topic of Christians and wealth, money & possessions.  If you have a question, email andrew@andrewholm.com , and I do my best in writing a response!

money matters

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the Bible would just have a book about parenting in it?  It would answer all our questions about when, how, why, what to say, rules about age, and everything else, so we would all know what to do.  This, however, is somewhat wishful thinking.  In reality, we have a Bible that deals with us personally.  As much as I would love to have a book in scripture about parenting, knowing the Bible is about helping me through life is more empowering to me in the long run.

As we look into teaching kids about tithing, for example, the Bible teaches us how to be stewards of our own wealth and expects us to train our children accordingly (Proverbs 22:6).  What most of us miss, is that in the first part of Proverbs 22, the theme of wealth is mentioned several times surrounding this “parenting” verse.  Clearly, the fundamentals of giving and tithing are important to the development of a child and have a lasting impact.

Teaching your child about giving and tithing is very important.  Here are a few thoughts in responding to this question:

1. You teach best by doing your best.
If you believe in tithing, and you want your child to learn from it, make sure your child witnesses you tithing.  For whatever reason, we try and keep the financial matters of our lives private.  While there is no need for our kids to know or feel the pressures of money, the only way they’ll learn is if they see good financial stewardship in action.

2. Children are natural givers; don’t wait until culture reverses it.
I love seeing a child give without expecting anything in return.  My wife and I recently had a baby girl (Rae) and we were amazed by all the gifts she received by so many family and friends!  One of the gifts that stands out the most came from a little girl from our congregation, who, out of her own allowance, bought Rae a gift on their family vacation.  She insisted that she needed to give our little baby a gift.  Somewhere along the line, however, culture will try to strip that sweet giving nature away and replace it with a desire for personal gain, unless her parents counteract it with positive parenting.  It’s important to encourage our kids to care for others before themselves, otherwise culture will teach them differently.

3. Don’t try to walk before you can support your head.
Nearly five months has passed since Rae was born.  In the initial few weeks, it was really important to support her head because she couldn’t do it on her own.  Now that she can, we have to put our attention towards the next steps – sitting up,  rolling, crawling, standing, and eventually walking.  It would be crazy to expect Rae to walk before any of these previous steps.  Giving and tithing is a lot like this process, especially if this is a new concept for the family.  No one can expect someone to jump right into it!  We have to grow, step by step, mastering each step along the way.  Set goals, take “baby steps”, and before know it, giving and tithing will be a part of the family’s DNA.

4. Giving doesn’t grow with age, your heart does.
I’ve heard too many parents say, “they’ll figure that out when they’re older…”  Truth be told, with that attitude, the Christian faith won’t even be on their radar when they’re older, let alone giving and tithing.  There is always a way to relate difficult and complex concepts to children in ways they understand.  If you don’t know where to start, ask your child what they think of money and what it’s used for?  You’ll be amazed at their answers!  More than likely, they will describe how you use money.  If we all do our best in learning how to communicate giving and tithing with our kids during their childhood, their heart for giving will continue to grow with age.

So, to answer the question: the best time to teach your child about giving and tithing is right now.  Don’t hide your giving and tithing habits from your children.  Include them in family projects of generosity (ie. helping a neighbour, or sponsoring a child oversees).  Encourage those moments when your kids are looking to give (even if it’s small)!  Set small goals as a family, achieve them, and make giving and tithing a part of the regular family conversation.  Before you know it, the heart of giving and tithing will become stronger than the heart of owning and buying things for yourself!