To Tithe or Not to Tithe this New Year

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COLOURS OF LIFE WITH KOKO KALANGO

You may have heard the tale of the little boy who had been saving money through the year. It was now Christmas and time to spend the savings. The boy decided to show his appreciation to God for a good year by giving Him some of the money. The smart fellow came up with a plan. He said ‘Lord I will throw the money up to heaven. The amount that stays up is for you and whatever comes down is mine’. The law of gravity brought every penny down.

Money is important, period. Whether you are old, young, rich, poor, beautiful, not-so-beautiful, fat, thin, tall, short, man, woman – we all need money. Money is also important to God, which is why Jesus sat and looked over the treasury as people gave their offering (Mark12: 41- 44).

Money is so important that God asks us to choose between money and Him: ‘No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other, you cannot serve God and mammoth’ (Matthew 6:24). Jesus had previously talked on the relationship between our treasure and our hearts. He said what we focus our life on is an indication of where our treasure is!
Money is that important because it is what we give in exchange for what we need or what we want, beginning with the essentials; food, drink, clothing to other basics such as shelter, transport, health, education and the list goes on and on and on depending on our appetite. Money is so powerful that the love of it is the genesis to revelation of ALL evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

The New Year is a time we plan and take important decisions so if we wade into the discourse on tithes that has been trending on social media in the last few months, we are in sync with the season. For those who may not be aware, there has been a raging storm over tithes; how it should be paid, what it should be used for, etc. etc. etc.
After all has been said and done, I would like us to go to the heart of the matter because giving is really a matter of the heart.
My simple question in this discussion is this – ‘Who owns the 90% that is left after we have paid the almighty 10%?’

Jesus summed up all the commandments this way – ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and all your might and shall love your neighbour as yourself’. Jesus said ‘if you love me keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). In essence if we are to follow the Lord’s commandments and love Him with ALL then He should be Lord over the 100%. That means the Lord may ask us for 10%, 30%, 60 %, 100% and He may ask us for nothing. If He is Lord over our lives then we should be willing to obey him at all cost. That is the point Jesus drove home to the rich young ruler when he asked him to sell all he had and give the money to the poor. We understand that the man went home sad for he was very wealthy (Luke 18:18-23).

So how do we know what God requires of us? We are primarily and generally to be guided by scripture. But in being led by God’s word we should seek to understand the background of the subject and compare scripture with scripture so as to get a wholesome understanding. Again, because relating to the Lord is real and dynamic, we can seek specifics from Him regarding different situations. While His principles do not change, God deals with us as individuals and in context. From experience I can say that if we sincerely and earnestly seek His will, God will make it known to us.

But above all, God is more interested in the state of our heart than He is in our substance. If we are perfect in the paying of our tithes and we neglect the more important issues like ‘justice and mercy and faithfulness’ then our righteousness is fickle (Matthew 23:23). We cannot live a life that does not honour God then dance to the altar with our tithes or a fat offering and expect God to be happy. God does not actually need our money because He created everything and He owns everything. There is nothing we have that we did not receive from Him. Our giving is an act of obedience, worship and a sign that we honour Him.

I once heard a pastor say whereas he may accept the tithes a person brings to church, God, who is privy to the innermost secrets of everyone’s heart, may reject it. He said when you give to the work of God or to those God tells you to give to you are storing treasures in heaven. He asked ‘if you don’t plan to go to heaven why send your money there?’ I will add, If giving to God by giving to His servants or to others is such a challenge for us we might just want to imitate the clever little boy and throw the money we want to share with God up to heaven…. Happy New Year!

––Koko Kalango is the author of Colours of Life devotional