Disclaimer: I bring this up because of a conversation I've just heard, but also because I am trying to coerce you, my dear readers, into commenting. Bwahahaha.
“As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ He said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-3 NIV.
There are many who believe that tithing is a mandatory part of a Christian's life, much like baptism or even salvation (in extreme cases) - in other words, "If you don't tithe, God will not bless you financially." Or, in some cases, (and roughly phrased) "If you don't tithe, you are a bad Christian." Understandable I suppose, and the "proofs" and verses found in Scripture that back up this view are plentiful and convincing. But what about the other side? There are just as many arguments (with just as many proofs) to say that tithing is not mandatory, but rather, that the 10% figure was pulled from the OT and is therefore irrelevant. This side is more likley to argue that giving should be done with joy and not because "we have to." I can't say I fully agree with either side yet - convincing as they both try to be.
The reason I can't agree with one side or the other is because neither side allows room for the human experience. For example - should someone who is excessively wealthy be excused from giving more because "I've given my 10%, I've met my quota. I'm a good Christian", when they clearly have more to give? Or, should someone in mass amounts of debt be expected to give 10%, even if it means bouncing/missing payments?
The second of those two questions is the one that weighs much more heavily on my mind. Reason being, I am that person. Until this past December, tithing was not a regular part of my life. Truth be told, I've made some financial errors that have landed me in a significant amount of debt. You can save me the lecture(s), because I've heard them all - but I will say that my reasons for not tithing before this period were, in my mind, completely legitimate. I had nothing to give. Not even two coins. Did I give of my time? Absolutely. Did I give when I had the chance? Of course. But I didn't set aside 10% every month - in fact, I still don't. I give what I am able, and prayerfully, and am looking each month to increase what I give, but I don't let myself further the debt load to tithe.
I quoted the passage above because it was mentioned to me earlier today, as it has often been quoted to me. The person mentioned that in this case, the woman who had nothing gave all she had, and was therefore blessed - in fact, praised, because she "gave more than the others". This concept I have no problem with, at all. In fact, I love this story. In my head, she looks a lot like Mother Theresa - who couldn't love that image?
The question I am asking (although I've likely brought up hundreds more, above), is whether or not a person should go into debt to tithe. The woman gave all she had, yes, but she did not give what she did not have. We are called to be good stewards of our money, to be frugal and wise - to be open handed and giving, yes - but wise. Is it wise to bounce payments? Is it wise to further a debt load?
Although I already have ideas for what I think, those of you who've been here before will remember that I like to stir the pot every now and then. This is kind of a taboo subject, which makes me want to bring it up all the more (what a brat).
I am by no means suggesting that we all need to agree with eachother, but simply calling for a discussion. Please remember to be tactful and respectful with your responses.
So, what do you think? Should a person give a tithe out of a debt load?