14 August, 2017

What is tithing?

Ask the Question, Part 5 

We ran out of time for a number of questions asked in worship on May 14th. Here is the final installment on responses to those questions. 

 What is tithing? 

Tithing is giving a set portion of your possessions away before any of it is spent, and living on what is left. 

Raising $2 Million   According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income for the community of La Grange is $102,500. Biblically, a tithe is 10% of your assets given away each year. Assuming that our congregation is a mirror image of the community, if every household in the congregation tithed 10% of their income to FCCLG, the member giving would be $1,927,000 (188 X $10,250). Can you imagine the ministry we could do with nearly $2 million each year?  Tithing is a practical means by which to fund the ministry of the body of Christ! 

Why Tithe?  Biblically, nothing on earth belongs to those who occupy the earth; it all belongs to God and humanity has been place here as a caretaker and steward of this resource (Genesis 1-2). So, tithing a practice that is required by the Old Testament Law in which the people are commanded to give a portion of the crops they grow and the livestock they raise back to God through the temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). 

There are several different tithes in the bible: a 10% tithe given to the temple to support the priests and the work of the temple (Lev 27:30); a 10% “festival tithe” for the celebration of the required feasts (Deut. 12:17–19); and a 10% “charity tithe,” given every third year to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow (Deut. 14:28–29). The total of these required tithes would be 23.3 % of your income each year! Those who didn’t tithe were threatened with a curse, while those who did tithe were promised blessing (Mal. 3:8–10). 

Why Tithe?   For me, tithing is a discipline: It is a practice that helps us to live within our means by living with less than we have rather than living on credit. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34) While there is no New Testament command to tithe, it is clear that our gifts to charity should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). 

The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It depends on the ability of the individual to live on what they have and on the needs of the community around us. “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).

03 August, 2017

Ask The Question, Part 4

We ran out of time for a number of questions asked in worship on May 14th. Here is the fourth installment on responses to those questions. 

Why is the Number 40 found so often in the Bible?

The number “forty” is used over 100 times in the Old and New Testaments.  It is the traditional Hebrew number used to represent or stylize the completion of a time of difficulty and trial, during which faith is tested. 

  • There were 40 days and nights of rain that led to the flood and Noah use of the Ark (Genesis 6 – 8)
  • Joseph spent 40 days in mourning over the death of Jacob, his father (Genesis 50:1-2)
  • The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. (Exodus 16)
  • Moses was on the mountain at Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights after the golden calf incident and before returning with the “Law 2.0”. (Exodus 24)
  • Later in the narrative, Elijah spends 40 days and nights on the same mountain.
  • Jonah announces that Nineveh will be destroyed in 40 days unless they clean up their act  (Jonah 3). 
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness before being tempted (the Synoptic Gospels)
  • There were 40 days between the Easter event and the Ascension (Acts 1:3).

  • In each of these examples, the period of 40 days or years was a time portrayed in the narrative as difficult and filled with challenge, pain, or trial.