Last time on “Why Your Teaching on Tithing Probably Sucks“, we talked about continuing to create the foundation for teaching giving and asking basic questions like: What is a gift? When is a gift really a gift or when is it something we have been coerced or cajoled into handing over? We know people will give in the expectation or hope they get something out of it. People will also give in the expectation or hope that the gift does something for someone else. Furthermore, some people will give just because someone asks. We also need to define some terms like the concept of a “gift” and how it affects people and the related concept of altruism, which can be considered as the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
Take, for example, the author and financial advisor named David Bach, who specializes in realistic systems and timeless financial principles, and is admittedly not a Christian. In his book, The Automatic Millionaire, he has an entire chapter on why tithing is an essential part of the pursuit of wealth. As he describes how there is more to life than money (which is ironic when compared to the title and intent of the rest of the book) he states:
In fact, even though you probably will not become a millionaire for years, it is entirely possible you could start experiencing that feeling in the next few weeks. Would you like to know how?
He then has a curious, if not dubious subtitle for his audience: Having It All… Through Tithing, and continues by saying:
What I am about to share with you is a system that has been around nearly as long as civilization. It is called tithing. What exactly is tithing? Tithing is the proactive practice of giving back. It is a spiritual principle common to many traditions that says you should give back a portion of what you receive, that those blessed with abundance have a duty to help others through gifts of kindness, time, ideas, and money. What is amazing about tithing is that when you tithe you get a feeling we often associate with acquiring material things. You simply feel great… With tithing, the more you give, the better you feel… Tithing is not about following tradition or trying to rid yourself of guilt or hoping for some future reward. What it is really about is giving for the sheer joy of giving.
But here is something amazing. Although you should give simply for the sake of giving, the reality is abundance tends to flow back to those who give. The more you give, the more comes back to you. It is the flow of abundance that brings us more joy, more love, more wealth, and more meaning in our lives. Generally speaking, the more you give, the wealthier you feel. And it is not just a feeling. As strange as it may seem, the truth is that money often flows faster to those who give. Why? Because givers attract abundance into their lives rather than scarcity.
Is that not fascinating? A non-Christian financial guru discovered how giving creates meaning in money and, furthermore, in all of life. While I do not agree with some of his causation and conclusions, there is fascinating, God-given psychology to generosity. In fact, just committing yourself to a practice can be helpful. It is known as intentionality and when you decide on a percentage for giving, it does a lot of things for you, like take some of the decision-making out of it. We see this in texts like Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money, by sociologist Christian Smith, which explores the psychological and sociological factors. That said, while Bach focuses on feelings and the increase of abundance which “flows faster” to the generous, I would argue what Bach, Smith, and others describe actually flows from Godly, biblical principles and promises.
This conversation on percentage giving and generosity from the sole perspective of worldly wisdom can assist in our understanding of the look into tithing and shape an approach as it gives not just a biblical foundation to the work, but also a perspective of how this truth is seen in all aspects of life, not just the Church. This greater conversation informs and fills out some of the blind spots in the topic and contributes to the conversation by giving a practical way for congregations and pastors to teach percentage-giving concepts which are arguable and functional from not just a Christian, Lutheran perspective, but also from the viewpoint of the world as it works and is beneficial both inside of and outside the Church. In other words, it actually works in your normal, daily life.
Next week we will take a brief look at what the Scriptures have to say.
Check out more of this discussion on RINGSIDE PREACHERS PODCAST with Tim Barkett “Sex and Money”: https://radiopublic.com/ringside-preachers-G7q39E/s1!4ce8c