"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if l will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it ...”
Sermons on giving, on tithes and offertory, are usually avoided by preachers. This is because the subject of money touches a raw nerve on some church-goers. I use the term church-goers in contrast to worshippers as these are the group that make the most noise when it comes to money, and the management thereof. Some feel that they should have control over what they give to the church, and dictate to the church elders on the use of the funds. Some others feel that they would rather give their money to more deserving institutions, and as a result the “tithe” goes to anywhere except the church in which they attend. On the other end of the scale, we have the fad of the so-called “prosperity theology”, which in reality is televangelism trying to gain some respectibility by calling it a theology. Those who follow this trend of thought try to give as much as they can in the expectation of financial returns - i.e. it is the prospect of higher monetary rewards that prompts the giving in the first place.
With all these divergent issues, what then, is the Biblical model of tithing and offering? The following is an excellent article written by Pastor Ng Koon Sheng of St James’ Church, in response to the confusion arising from the issue of tithes and offertory. It sets forth a good guideline by which we may understand what the Bible says about giving, and a perspective of God’s economics.
Tithing is the giving of our first fruits. A tenth of income is the rule of thumb which is used to decide on how much should be given for the support of the Church. It should, however not be rigid. What is more important is the Principle of Proportionate Giving.
To elaborate, in tithing, one tenth of all of one's income is pledged. Since we are usually paid on a monthly basis, it explains why our pledges should also be on a monthly basis. It is best to fulfill the pledge each month by giving it as soon as we receive our pay, as the longer we wait the more difficult it becomes and who knows - it might even slip our minds and we may perhaps spend what we have already committed to the Lord!
Some have asked, "What constitutes one's income and should it be applied before or after CPF contributions and income taxes? Any income is what we declare in our income tax returns. To answer the problem of tithing before or after tax, we should answer the question, "Does God give His blessings before or after tax?"
In short, the 10% guide is based on the Principle of Proportionate Giving - the more we are blessed with, the higher the percentage we need to give. In such situations, 10% is the minimum. After all, all that we have has been given to us to start with in the first place.
Another question which is often asked about tithing is, "if my givings to the Church, groups, charities, etc. make up 10% am I not tithing?" The answer is an emphatic NO! If we feel that we are better able to decide who our money should be given to and we do not wish to practice proportionate giving to the Church, then 10% should be given to the Church first before we can say that we are indeed tithing. Over and above the 10% we are free to decide.
In other words, pledges to other funds should be over and above existing pledges/tithes and not divisions from the latter.
Pledges are commitments made to give regularly to the Church a fixed sum over a period, usually every month for a year and renewed each year. The pledge constitutes the tithes of Church members and is used by the Church to support its regular expenses, e.g. staff salaries, maintenance expenses and so on.
In addition, the pledges are also used by the Church to support mission work, both locally and in other countries, as well as to support candidates undergoing training for ministry.
These are cash contributions which we put into the offertory bag over and above our pledges and also include contributions from visitors or others who have yet to make a pledge.
There are times when we feel that the Lord has given us reasons to be very thankful for His blessings and would like to show our thankfulness in return in the form of a contribution.
4. Designated Offerings
These are cash contributions specially designated towards meeting specific needs or situations, e.g. for the purchase of equipment, Church renovations or to support a needy person in Church.
The Church from time to time may publicise its need when some equipment, furniture or other forms of assets have to be purchased. Members will then sometimes give the needed asset if they have a used one in good condition which they do not need, or more often they might buy a new one for the Church.
THE BIBLICAL BASIS OF GIVING
"...God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..........." - John 3:16.
"...God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.." - Eph. 1:3.
"As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace" - 1 Pet. 4:1 1.
WHY DO I NEED TO GIVE?
The vision and strategy of St. James' Church is to raise up a movement of Bible-centred spirit-filled men and women committed to fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ in this generation. We are determined to affirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to glorify God by evangelising the lost, equipping the saints for ministry and presenting every person mature in Christ.
HOW SHOULD I GIVE?
The Bible encourages cheerful (hilarious) giving.
"The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he makes up his mind, not reluctantly, or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." - 2 Cor. 9:6-8.
The Bible also encourages systematic and proportional giving.
"Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as 1 directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of each week each of you is to put aside and store it up, as he may prosper." - 1 Cor. 16:1-2.
WHAT SHOULD I GIVE?
Give yourself to God
"...but first they gave themselves to the Lord." - 2 Cor.8:5.
"...present your bodies as a living sacrifice...." - Rom. 12:1.
WHAT PROPORTION DO I GIVE?
Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back." - Luke 6:38.