The Giving Grid, Part 1: Duty Giving
Growing up, every Sunday, my dad would faithfully take out his pre-printed envelope from the church, put in his exact tithe (in cash), lick it, put it in his coat pocket and place it in the offering plate.
When my dad gave, as best I know, it was from duty . . . as the Geico commercial says, “It’s what you do.” So to me, as a Christian, you were supposed to tithe. Period. Some people talked about it . . . bragged even, especially as their wages went up and the amount got bigger. But I never heard my dad express pride about his tithe and I never heard him say he expected anything back from God in return. But I also never saw any joy or fulfillment either. He simply did his duty.
Merely doing your duty often leads to pride . . . and self-righteousness: “I’m doing my part . . . I’m doing right by God . . . so should everyone else!”
God’s plan for giving starts with humility, not duty . . . as we recognize everything we have comes from Him. From what He’s given us, we give back a portion . . . out of gratitude, not duty.
But when it comes to giving out of gratitude, I struggle with the idea that a tithe is ‘it’ . . . that giving a tithe is enough. Yes, there are a couple of Old Testament references to the tithe and “bringing the tithe into the storehouse.” But the two verses I can’t get out of my head are James 1:17 and Luke 6:38 . . .
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38)
A tithe feels like a scarcity thing . . . like “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” It feels like duty. “If I give God His part, I can do whatever I want with my part.” But realizing it’s all from God raises the bar. How can any of us be prideful about how much we have (and give) when it comes from God, not just from our sweat or brilliance? It’s a humbling thought. But giving from a humble, grateful heart is what God is after.
In your quiet moments over the next few days, ask God to show you your motive for every person, ministry and organization you give to. Is it duty? Loyalty? A personal relationship? A habit? Obedience?
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