EDIT: (11/1/07) These were my initial thoughts on the subject of tithing in the New Testament and I have written a new post clarifying these thoughts. Please read it as well. It really does clarify my jumbled thoughts!

Last night, I had quite an interesting conversation with my mom about tithes and how much our district officials get paid. Then I read this post by Travis Seitler. He has done research on tithing. His post shook me. I’ve grown up with the focus always being, “give your ten percent.” I knew, of course, that more is better, but still the focus is on that tithe. In his post, Travis tells that what he has found is that the tithe was Old Testament law and therefore not applicable to us today. Now before anyone cries, “heresy,” he is NOT saying that you should not give. He says we should give more and sometimes less than 10%. His post is very well thought out and backed by scripture. I tend to believe that he is correct. He also wrote that the tithe was in food, not money. Therefore, we should be giving food if we are going to follow the Old Testament law; we should be creating food banks to help feed the poor.

The last important point I found that he made, was that tithe, since it was always given as food, was not created to support the priests’ pockets (ministers in our day) or church buildings and bills. If this is so, I wondered how would these be supported? Well, basically he believes that we should cut down on these expenses and focus on the poor. The remaining should be paid for by offerings. That makes some sense to me. That post has shaken me in changing the beliefs that I have held for so long, but after talking it out with my hubby, it makes sense to me never to preach on tithing the same again. It makes sense to me to never use that word again. The New Testament requires much more of us than the Old Testament. Jesus tells the rich man to sell everything and follow me.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV

That isn’t 10%, it is 100%. It is a much more radical way of living. My husband and I give away as much as we can. We are sad that we make so little and therefore cannot give away more. We are below poverty level, but still give away a larger percentage than many people. It’s not really about the money anyway. It’s about our commitment to God; our willingness to surrender all; our willingness to say, “you are Lord, I am yours, my possessions are yours.”

The conversation with my mom was preparation for reading Travis’ post. We were talking about the District Council Banquets that so frustrate me. Each year we are expected to shell out a minimum of $50 a couple for a (bad) meal, at least that’s what I have heard, to open District Council. We have never gone. We will probably never go. We can’t afford that and even if we could, would it be good stewardship to waste $50 on a meal just so that we can enjoy the service? It makes me sick, sad and angry inside sad that the district officials don’t think about those of us who are not making living wages (there are many of us in the Assemblies of God).* I have told as many district officials as I can that I feel this way, in case you wonder. My mom was taking it even farther, saying that when she last heard (many years ago) what the District Superintendent made, that it made her upset. The number she told me was not that high and I had to disagree with her there. We are not to seek riches and glory, but I don’t believe God wants us to continually suffer with poor wages, either. Travis’ post touched on this too. He seems to think every pastor should be a tentmaker in order to afford being a pastor. And that does seem to be what Paul did most of the time. And it is a fine ideal, but it makes it very hard to pastor a church. I have no idea how Paul managed it! I suppose with God’s help. If that is what Chris was being told by God to do, I have no doubt that he would be doing it. I do work one day a week, but it is rather useless for me to work more, which I believe Travis would agree with. I f I worked more, we would need daycare. So I would be working to pay for daycare and most likely not breaking even.

So, in all, I found his article very stimulating and thought provoking. I enjoyed it. If you read it, please take the time to read the comments as well. I do not agree with everything in Travis’ blog, but I found this post most excellent.

*After some conversation and thought, I realize that this statement was much too harsh for my real feelings. My apologies if I offended anyone. I love our district officials, but I am frustrated at my inability to attend an important function due to money constraints. And maybe they do think about us and are just as frustrated as I am. I don’t honestly know because the people I have talked to about it didn’t really seem to have anything to do with planning it. I will continue to tell those district officials that I talk with, how frustrating this is to me and I will also begin to pray now that God will miraculously provide the money for me to attend this event. When He provides, then this frustration will just disappear. Won’t that be great?!