A serious discussion was on among the currencies and coins inside the cash box. The Rs.1000 and Rs. 500 notes said with pride that they would leave in the first week of the month to the jewellery and cloth shops and to pay the rents or house loans. The Rs. 100 notes were glad that they would go to the hotels, grocery and vegetable shops. The 50s, 20s and 10s were jumping and saying that they would go to the autos and buses. Waiting patiently, the 1 and 2 Rupee coins finally asserted with pride that they would go on each Sunday to the churches as offerings!"
"A young man John was struggling in his business. The Pastor advised him to give a tithe from his income to God. One month he brought Rs. 50 to the Pastor and said he got Rs. 500 as profit. After a few months, he came with a bright face and gave Rs. 500 saying the Lord blessed his business and he earned Rs. 5000 that month. After a few months John came to the Pastor with a sad face. When the Pastor enquired, John said, 'Pastor, there is a problem. This month I got a profit of Rs. 50000.' The Pastor asked, 'What is the problem?' John replied, 'How can I give Rs.5000 as tithe?' The Pastor said, 'Come. We will pray.' John asked, 'Pray for what?' The Pastor replied calmly, 'Let us pray that your income should come down. When you earned a little, it was easy for you to give a tithe. Now you find it difficult.' John realised his mistake and offered his tithe with gladness."
In many churches, along with the offering song you hear nice (?) music of the coins getting dropped into the offering boxes. Christians will justify it saying that the Lord Jesus appreciated the poor widow who gave only two coins. But they forget the fact that the widow gave all that she had (Lk.21:1-4)! We live in the days when we hesitate to give coins even to the beggars (some of them will not accept the coins)! But we do not hesitate to give our children coins for church offerings.
Giving tithes is a command of the Old Testament. Jesus said we had to do more than the scribes and Pharisees who were observing the commandments, "I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:20). This also includes the area of giving. That means, a tithe is the bare minimum for a Christian. When calculating the tithe let us also give from the whole of the family income (without the IT deductions, PF loans etc.)! "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2Cor.9:6).
Giving to the church where we worship is very important. In the Old Testament, we are told to bring the tithes and offerings to the Temple. In our times some decide to give the whole tithe to the church where they worship. Others divide the tithe between the church and other missions. A friend of mine was thrown out of his house for his faith by his non-Christian family. He trusted God and God has raised him to be the CEO of a Christian organisation. He gives the 'first tithe' to his church, 'second tithe' to other ministries and another 5% of his income to Christian ministers. Each one has to decide how we give to our church and other ministries. It is important to support the ministries involved in evangelism, disciple making, missions, literature production, etc. Each one of us has to pray and decide before God about the way we give. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (1Cor.9:7). Yes, we give to God with gladness out of our love and gratitude to the Almighty God for what He is and what He has done for us.
When I was a college student in the 1970s, our Evangelical Union (EU) Senior Advisor used to say, "As students, from your pocket money of Rs. 5, if you do not learn to give 50 paisa for God's ministry, you will never give Rs. 50 when you earn Rs. 500." We have to teach our children also to give to the church and ministries.
"God's ministry done in God's way will never lack God's support." If so, why are there debts and deficits to individuals and Christian ministries? Deficit can occur in our ministries because of three reasons. 1. People who are supposed to give liberally have not given. 2. The money given by God's people sacrificially is not spent carefully. 3. We do not trust God enough to meet all our needs.
Paul has devoted several chapters on Christian giving (1Cor.9:6-18; 2Cor.8,9; 11:8,9; Phil.4:10-19). Paul says very much in the context of money matters, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:19)! Let us learn to enjoy giving to God out of our gratitude to God, for His love for us poured out by Christ at the cross. We will see the way the Lord meets all our needs in wonderful ways. Glory be to God.