Tithing vs. Giving
Scripture teaches us obedience is better than sacrifice, 1Samuel 15:22. However, more than obedience, God desires to be in covenant with us. God takes covenant very seriously. In the Old Testament, if you broke covenant with God or man, you were put to death by God or man. The marriage covenant, in its purest sense, is a visible representation of spiritual covenant. In addition to covenant, yet no less important, is the teaching of seed time and harvest. Sowing seeds involves both sowing with words and sowing with deeds. Deeds include sowing financially into fertile soil. The word tithe means tenth, or 10%, and represents the original tithing covenant established by Abraham, Genesis 14:20. The tithe is given by men, to men, for the propagation of the Kingdom and as a testimony that Jesus lives, Hebrews 7:7-9. The Bible does not tell us who or where to tithe apart from supporting HIS work and HIS ministers. Tithing can be accomplished by sowing into a ministry, an individual minister, or a church, 1Timothy 5:16&17. Regardless of how the tithe is administered, the commitment constitutes divine covenant.
Whatever 10% of income is, this is the tithe, and then anything beyond 10% is a gift. In 2Corinthians, Paul’s authority was challenged by the church. The church had become divisive, proud in their achievements, insensitive to worship, arguing over who had the greater spiritual gifts, and rejected Paul’s leadership. Paul was deeply wounded and addresses these issues along with other issues like supporting the poor. Paul’s suffering, conflicts, and fears are similar to what we face today. We learn from 2Corinthians that the enemy is actively seeking to destroy God’s works by disrupting harmony among church folk. We also see God’s Grace clearly at work by orchestrating good out of evil, and by establishing Paul’s foundation of authority. Ultimately by faith, Paul triumphs over adversity. In chapter 9, Paul emphasizes how God loves cheerful givers whose hearts are genuinely blessed by giving, and administering such gifts. In 2Corinthians 9:6&7, he illustrates the law of the farm drawing the parallel to giving. Gifts can be monetary, given with our time, or a physical-literal gift like food, clothing, or shelter. Gifts are a sacrifice of praise, one of many acts of worship. Sharing with those less fortunate proves it truly is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 20:35.