By Glen Guyton
“You give your tithe as a spiritual duty, the same way you breathe. When you give without looking for results, you are giving openly. That giving is rewarded secretly. That secret rewarding may come as a flash of insight into the heart of God.”
— John-Roger, DSS
I must confess that views on tithing and church stewardship have changed. For years when people asked me, “Why should I tithe?” My reply was, “Because God said so.” If you are reading this blog I am sure you have very strong opinions about tithing and stewardship.
The lead-off quote has probably made you furiously sort through the file cabinet of your theological knowledge to come up with arguments against mandatory tithing. Is tithing really a spiritual duty? Does paying 10% of income to a church guarantee that God lets me behind the velvet rope to His secret blessing room? Does the church teach tithing to scam us into overpaying staff and constructing lofty cathedrals?
While writing this blog I came across two tithing websites that approach the issue from two very different angles. Tithing.org approaches tithing from the viewpoint that God’s is our partner and we need to “cash-in” on that relationship. The tithe, or 10% of your income, is the magical key into unlocking those benefits.
Tithing.com says that their goal is to “help inform and encourage Christian believers about following biblical giving that is not bound by tithing, but is sacrificial and cheerful… [breaking] from the bondage to legalism and encourage[ing] everyone to embrace sacrificial giving led by the Spirit of God.” Who knew tithing was so controversial?
In Mennonite Church USA we don’t use the “T-Word” much. We talk more about stewardship and as an Anabaptist I like how that feels. Stewardship is about the 100% of who we are. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
“Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.”
We don’t owe God 10% we owe God 100%. As good stewards we are called to manage all resources responsibly, not just our money, but our health, time, and talents as well. We unlock the power of God by giving Him our best, not a tenth of it.
My old football coach used to ask for 110%, but I don’t think that was even possible. In some sense stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service.
If you want to learn more about stewardship check out the resources provided by Everence, the stewardship agency of Mennonite Church USA. Your congregation might be interested in hosting a Stewardship University facilitated by Everence.