This is the third of a three week series on tithing. I could have made it longer and I do suggest that if you want to chase things up further from a well written, well thought through book I would recommend a book by Stuart Murray called ‘Beyond Tithing’. This book is worthwhile because it is easily readable, it covers all of the scriptures mentioned as well as the history of tithing in the early church and in other cultures.
Today I wanted to very briefly explore two things that I feel the NT calls on us to do with our finances. We will be taking this further next year in a series on the topic.
It is clear from biblical and extra biblical sources that Jesus did not encourage his followers to adopt the tithe but Jesus had a lot to say about how we see and use our wealth and finances.
One of the most radical things Jesus urges us to do with our wealth is to be generous. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the followers of Jesus were known for their financial generosity to each other and to those outside the church community? Wouldn’t it be incredible if gospel communities could help poor communities or poor people? The people that they help would not even have to be from the same community, although it would be good if at least some were. Wouldn’t it be great if a Christian community had a slush fund of money to help people in need with surprising acts of generosity in our local community or abroad?
Now this might be a dream but I wonder if we as Christians think this way. I wonder if we, because we have seen the excess of church financial greed, only give to keep the bank account from zeroing out. Whilst this of course keeps us wise and frugal as a church the impact of this is that is it very hard for our local church leaders to be generous and prudent with money we do not yet have.
Another thing we see from Acts 2:42 is that the church was committed to fellowship with each other and this had strong relational and financial implications for each other. It seems that the gospel fellowship sparked an ongoing voluntary redistribution of wealth within the church. And note this clearly … there was no compulsion to give things away but the gospel seemed to transform them so they desired to.
There is the striking example of a church in 1 Cor 8 that gave more than they could afford to help another church in famine, in fact they pleaded for the privilege of doing so (read 2 cor 8).
Space has got me again but I wonder what we could do with our collective generous financial gifts?