Last Sunday I asked if going to church is a spiritual discipline. I surprised myself. As I wrote to discover the answer, my opinion shifted from “no” to “it could be.”
Today I ask the same question about tithing. Remember that a spiritual discipline is something we willingly do to draw us closer to God or to honor him.
While stewardship is a spiritual discipline, as is service and sacrifice, none directly relate to the Old Testament command to tithe. Though some may claim that the spiritual discipline of stewardship is merely a codename for tithing, they miss the point.
A tithe is an Old Testament legal requirement to give ten percent; the New Testament does not mandate tithing. Stewardship is a biblical principle found in both the Old and New Testaments where we use our blessings to bless others.
This may be through giving money, but it also refers to sharing our material possessions as well as our time.
Too many people write a check to appease their guilt and do nothing else. I was that way once. I thought that as long as I gave money to the church, I met my obligation. I didn’t need to concern myself any further with true stewardship or actual human need. The church would do that in my stead.
That is legalism. That is the Law of the Old Testament. That is tithing.
Yes, people can make a willing decision to give money to God in order to draw closer to him and worship him. That would qualify as a spiritual discipline.
But if they tithe because the Old Testament Law says to or, even worse, because the preacher insists upon it, then their tithe ceases to be a spiritual discipline and becomes a spiritual snare.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.
2 replies on “Is Tithing a Spiritual Discipline?”
Always enjoy your posts, Peter. Yes, I see giving as a spiritual discipline, just as I see attending church ( another blog of yours) as a spiritual discipline. I mean this in the very highest sense of discipline. We are called to a standard as a Christian to set an example and these a pretty basic ones as are helping those in need, and the other fruits of the spirit:love, joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Do we do these thing for reward? No, perish the thought. We do them because we love the Lord and want to be more like Him. You could use the words: habit, desire, love, earnestness and it would be the same result. We do these because it gives us pleasure to serve the One who makes it all possible.
Thanks for commenting. I love that you said, “we do them because we love the Lord.” So true!