Fear... Guilt... Shame... These are words that shouldn't be in use to describe Christians, yet are often the hidden feelings of multitudes of believers today. What dark and secret sin is the source of these feelings? The answer is not what you may think... Giving.
Over the years, we have met hundreds of people that are fearful that they are under God's judgment for their shameful giving practices. Their perceived guilt of not living up to the Biblical standard consumes them to the point of discouragement or drives them to a works based system of trying to please God.
What critical Biblical standard have they fallen short of and who is continually reminding them of their inadequacy? A veritable army of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and even Sunday school teachers comprise the "who", and the "what" is mostly centered on the topic of tithing. Subtly, or belligerently, people are berated for not "doing their duty" from the pulpit, in the church bulletin, and in hosts of recommended books, booklets and websites. Some assure the people that to have fallen short is to guarantee that they are under God's judgment, while others more mildly forewarn of loss of blessing -- especially financially. Every budget shortfall of the church seems to be blamed on the disobedience of the people in not keeping the tithe, or for giving elsewhere instead of to the "church first."
For the few who manage to meet or miraculously exceed the tithe, an air of superiority often accompanies this accomplishment. Even if the giver doesn't have this, church leadership regularly places them on a spiritual pedestal far above the crowd. The spiritual and material blessing of these people is guaranteed, we are often assured.
Those multitudes who are struggling with getting by, trying to climb out of debt, and raise families, are castigated as lacking faith. All they have to do is "put God first" and give before meeting any other obligation and God will guarantee to meet their needs. One large church trumpeted a special "Prove the Tithe Sunday," weeks in advance. How could anyone resist laying out that spiritual fleece and reaping the temporal blessings guaranteed?
For hosts of believers, the idea that we have been set free in Christ is a foreign idea. Even when they can reach to apply this concept to other areas of their life, the issue of giving enslaves them on a daily basis. So is this the life most believers are destined to live or does the Bible provide an answer, a way to break this cycle of bondage? Clearly, the answer to that question is "yes!" It's our desire that in your study of this topic throughout the pages of Scriptures you will find the truth and be set free to give!
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
1 Peter 2:16