Response the Gospel
Tithing is a scriptural principle for us to follow from the heart. Our attitude toward money shows how deeply the gospel has taken root in our hearts. As a gospel-centered church we do not give out of a sense of religious duty (legalism) which feeds our self-righteousness, but we give out of a sense of gratitude for all that God has given us (grace). We give generously and cheerfully as an overflow of our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). Understanding grace, we see that God provides for all our needs - spiritually and materially - so we freely and cheerfully return the first of everything to Him. Motivated by gratitude and submission, we declare our dependence upon God for life, breath and everything else. Grace enables us to thank and trust God.
Act of worship
Jesus knows the stronghold money can have on our hearts – that we treasure it far more than we should. He knows it is impossible for us to worship (devote our time and attention to) both God and money simultaneously (Matt. 6:21-24). Money is a rival god that we choose to worship. Tithing is one way we can consciously put God first in our lives in an area where we are easily tempted toward idolatry. Putting money first, as with other idols, robs us of true joy and satisfaction in God. It tries to substitute that which can be found in Christ alone. Giving continually teaches us to hold our finances with open hands, acknowledging that everything we have is given to us by God (1 Cor. 4:7; James 1:17) to be used for his glory.
TYPES OF GIVING
Tithing is the principle of giving back to God a portion of what He has given to us. The Old Testament prescribed giving the first fruits of the harvest and the firstborn of all livestock. The New Testament continues the principle of tithing but not the law of it. Jesus endorses giving but shifts the emphasis from the ‘law’ to the ‘heart’. In Luke 11:42 Jesus criticizes the legalistic hearts of Pharisees who fail to understand God’s love and compassion. Jesus instructs them that tithing without love and compassion is hypocrisy.
We use 10% as a guideline that helps us aim at radical and disciplined giving. If the law dictated 10% as a minimum, how much more should we who live by the grace of God be free to give? Since we are stewards of God’s resources we should commit to being self-controlled and intentional with our finances so we are able to tithe freely and also give generously to anyone who is in need (Gal. 2:10; Matt. 6:3-4; James 2:1-17). For some people giving 10% will be a stretch and a goal to work toward. For others tithing will be easier, and they will be stretching themselves to excel in generosity (2 Cor. 8:7). Watch an in depth 2-part teaching on tithing and the New Testament here.
We are also called to give beyond our first fruit. Unlike the tithe, this free will offering can be given to a specific area of ministry. However, it could also be left to the discretion of church leaders to decide its use.