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Research

The Erudition of What It Means to Give Cheerfully.

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Stewardship Research Part XI

Stewardship Research Part XI

This discussion section centers on a deductive analyses of the answers from the interviews as compared to the exegetical research and statistical research.

The question was asked to the 62 American subjects, how do you feel when churches, ministries, or even missionaries seek you, asking for funds?

Question

Felt Favorable

 

Felt Negative

 

Generally how do you feel when people or organizations ask for money?

7

55

How do you feel when ministries seek you, asking for funds?

23

39

How do you feel when your church seeks you, asking for funds?

34

28

Those who respond do you actually give?

22 (of 34 responders)

12

What about those organizations that you have prayed and supported personally prior?

36

26

How do you respond to requests as opportunities to serve with your time?

13

49

How do you respond to requests as opportunities to serve with your spiritual gifts?

19

43

Do you believe that it is good to separate money and finances from our spiritual life?

24

38

Do you believe how you give is a reflection of our spiritual condition?

30

32

Do you give more than 5% of your income?

16 (of 30 responders)

14

Do you give cheerfully?

48

14

Denominational and Sexual Demographics of the Participants

Of the 62, 43 are evangelicals, 12 are mainline denominational, 5 are Pentecostal, and 2 Catholic. 38 are women and 24 are men. They arrange in age from 28 to 49, and live in southern California.

The Responses

The responses ranged from total discontent to somewhat favorable, none of the respondents was "overjoyed" that organizations ask for monies, even though they realize they must do so to continue. 89% of respondents did not like to hear pleas or receive letters of solicitation from Christian organizations, even ones they have prayed and supported personally prior. Thus an inconsistency to the perceived need and the belief that the need is valid and it is appropriate to solicit such a need. But the respondents felt a cringe and an urge to avoid or even take the quickest possible exit in a church when they ask for monies, no matter how well the need or how it is solicited.

The Question was asked, do you see those requests as opportunities to serve? A lot of the respondents 78% run away from stewardship because they do not see it as God does. This is a reflection of our spiritual condition! Even when they responded to the spiritual condition question ½ agreed that it is but only ½ of those practiced it! We should never separate money and finances from our spiritual life. Yet, so many Christians do, seeking to be cheerful with what they can keep, not with how they can be used. Have you ever thought that the way we give is a prime picture of what is in our hearts and our level of commitment to our Lord? And, when we refuse to give or are very stingy, we are missing key opportunities to serve and be used of God?

If we really want to be mature and growing Christians, we must take the Bible seriously! That means discovering God's character, holiness, fear, and awe, and learning how we can grow further in the depths of the faith. Then, perhaps in realizing what Christ did for us, we can start to take to heart the seriousness of being a wise steward. Stewardship is an act of worship and gratitude by the Believer, in response to His grace. In so doing, we acknowledge God's power and authority over our lives. Then, we respond to others around us with these godly precepts.

Stewardship and tithing are hot subjects today and Christians seem to love to debate them. Unfortunately, from the data I collected, and compared it to what was on Christian chat rooms, most Christians seem to have a skewed idea of what these subjects entail, and only impart their assumptions, not the facts from God's Word. I just read through some Christian message boards about this topic, and what amazed me was how people were arguing back and forth out of total ignorance, from both sides. Some people, saying they were pastors, were getting Greek words totally wrong and passages out of their context. People claiming to be mature Christians were using inappropriate language and tone, putting the other person down and even verbally attacking those who did not share their skewed opinion. Neither group was willing to dig into the text of the Bible to see what it really says; they just wanted to spout off with their preconceived ideas.

As a former academic debater, I know that it is essential to form an argument on facts and logic, and not emotionalism and presumptions. With Scripture, this is fundamental and essential! Nevertheless, these message boards were all filled with assumptions and emotions, no real facts, no word studies, no thought-through doctrinal arguments. It was just, "what I believe" or "what my church does." Oh, how sad this is! The Bible was being used just like a buffet, to pick and choose what would fit their experiences and mindsets, ignoring the rest, and unconcerned to what God's Word really said in its simple, clear, and concise form. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. The key is context--not reading into it what is not there, or taking out what is there.

One clear theme emerged from these message board "discussions." People did not want to take responsibility for what God's Word said, or what stewardship really means in applying it to their wallets. Emotions and personal Will blocked reason and Scripture. Instead of carefully crafted arguments, people mussed the Word to force their views so they did not have to give to the church. I was dumfounded, and thought these must be high school or young college students who never read a Bible, but some of them said they were pastors! I do not know if that is true, due to the immaturity of their language and arguments, but it would seem that the checking of facts and conviction of the truth were definitely absent.

The mature Christian may realize his or her responsibility in stewardship and then struggle in prayer and with family about what to give. He/she will seek God's Word for how he/she can serve Him and the church. A mature Christian should never rationalize that it is good not to follow his/her call, use his/her gifts, refrain from sharing his/her faith, or not to give. As persons saved by grace, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude for what Christ has done for us so we naturally desire to serve Him with all of our heart and means. Yes, you are not forced to do anything, because as His elect, you are saved by your faith alone in what Christ has done alone-period! But, as James tells us, what good is it? What good would you be (James 1:22-25; 2:14-19)?

From the evidence collected it is clear that my hypothesis is supported! Once a Christian forms a more mature faith, and develop a strong sense of gratitude for the grace flowing in them (John 3:30; Rom. 12; Gal, 2:20-21; Phil 3:10-14), the mature believer is concerned about stewardship and acts faithfully on it. However, the sad news is finding mature Christians those who prayer more than ½ hour a day, read Scripture regularly, and exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit, is becoming increasingly rare!

The question now becomes, how can we best respond with the goods given to our care? How much do we keep for ourselves, how much do we give away; how much is for us to play with, and how much goes to the work of the church? There are no concrete answers here; it is a call and a response of our heart and faith. We are given the general parameters from Scripture; it is up to us to figure out how to apply them. Yet, this is hard for most, even me, and the source for most debates. The message board debates are nothing new. This subject is now, and has been very controversial. It has been a bitter debate since the formation of the early church, perhaps because most people like to do things their own way and do not like relinquishing control, especially with their pocketbook. So, we can see all kinds of crazy teachings from every conceivable perspective.

Abstracts of postmodern reasoning obtained from various Christian BBS forums: The question that was posed, "Do you think as a Christian you are obligated to support your church in either of time, talent or treasure?"

· Tithing first of all is old covenant teaching, though quite convenient for churches to keep their members in bondage. If you go through the Pauline New Covenant teaching no where do you see him drag tithing into the money equation even when he is exhorting the churches to help support the Jerusalem congregation.

· It's free will giving, free to give what you can or a whole lot, the Lord owns the sheep on a thousand hills.. he does not want your money nearly as much as he wants you.

· I could give New Covenant arguments to those who want to drag tithing into the new, why not drag in circumcision as well, it to was practiced prior to the Law. As new covenant children of God we are to give freely but not out of compulsion, believe me, under the Law tithing was not a choice if you wanted a place in the synagogue.

· Lectures on tithing are simply coming from the heart of a legalist, or one who won't admit it. They still think they have the power to alter their relationship to God by how much they give, or you don't give.

· Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. "But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! "For if I rebuild what I have crucified?

· This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

· All, it's not just a law, it's a means to share in God's blessings (Malachi 4).
Ask yourself this: if God under the Old Covenant thought 10% percent was something everyone could miss, why would it be any less under the New Covenant even if it's not a "law". It sure is a healthy indication since our first thoughts are usually to give less.

· In Hebrews 7 Abraham is described as an example for everyone in the faith today. Wherein was Abraham an example? In sacrificing his son? No, in paying the tithe (Hebrews 7:1-7).

· I think paying the tithe is our way to get involved in God's stream of giving and generosity that flows through the whole of the body of Christ. It's also a means of becoming detached to our money and to start trusting Him more for our provision.

· Since all time is God's time, and for a follower of Jesus according to Col. 3:17 everything we do we are to do in the Name of Jesus - so regardless of what I doing or where I'm at (as opposed to God's work only being done in church) I'm to be doing God's work.

· Here's my view, tithing is giving freely and gladly of your time, treasures or talent. Tithings need not take food off the table of the Christian that believes if 10% of the money does not hit the collection plate then they are STEALING from God. A true and loving Christian does all she or he can do each and every day to glorify God. If money is controlling you, God may want it all, but if it is just feeding and clothing you, God will tell you what he wants, it may be singing in the choir, or helping in the nursery, or delivering food to others. I believe we must make sacrifices to receive the prosperous and abundant life that is promised, but I also believe our sacrifices come in many forms, and money is only one way to tithe. A church that has to beg for or scare its members into supporting its ministry is a church that is not feeding the Word to its members so that they will listen in prayer to Gods plans for them, and understand his voice when he speaks to each one of them.

· I don't work and obviously give more than 10% of my earnings since I earn nothing. Too many Christians take the legalistic approach to this issue. A little biblical info within context of historical biblical background will help back your feelings. I think that some Christians walks may even be negatively affected by "holier than thou" judging Christians that frown upon those that don't take the legalistic route but give free will offerings instead.

· If Christians insist on following the Levitical Law they would have to find Levite Priests that serve in the Temple Sanctuary to give their tithes of animals, fruit and grain (mint, dill, and cumin). When was the last time you dropped this in the offering plate?

· I've heard many cases for and against tithing. I still don't see enough evidence to call it a command, but 10% is so little to ask (I would hope most do more) and I doubt any church could survive with absolutely no money to maintain the building and send missionaries.

· This sure comes up a bunch to folk in my church. Even if they muster the conviction/courage/faith to tithe they still wonder how much...really. Net or gross? Before or after my other financial obligations? How long? What do I get in return? Blah..blah...blah.

· It seems to me God wanted a tithe...a tenth...of our first resources. We should start there. What about the NT and Jesus? True tithing isn't mentioned directly but Jesus was always challenging people to a higher standard. ("You have hear it said....but I say.." in the Sermon on the Mount.

· There is nothing wrong with giving offerings to "keep the church running" - in fact IMO John the Baptist, when describing what the Jesus movement is like, indicates that Biblical giving of a follower of Jesus is more along the lines of 50% rather than "just" 10%.

· I don't think its the tithe necessarily. Its got more to do with a heart condition. If you can't bring yourself to give 10% how can you bring yourself to give all of what God wants you to give. So I see it as a lesson not only in being faithful (yes, I know there is no scriptural basis in the new testament for it), but also as a tool to break your love of money. Think about it if you have nothing to give your money to you start hording it instead. I have met quite a few people who do not tithe, they tell me they don't have too, I agree with them, they tell me that instead of tithing they give to other causes like charities or mission work. When i ask them what charities and what missions, so I can give there also, they suddenly remember they haven't given in a few months and can't remember which ones they did give to. So i believe that we aren't commanded in the NT to tithe, but it is a good spiritual discipline to learn.

· Whereas, I believe that the modern-day tithe doctrine has no contextual Scriptural support whatsoever.

· Is it a good spiritual discipline to learn? I can't say that I necessarily agree with that either. I am not a big advocate of the "ends-justify-the-means". Since I consider the modern-day tithe doctrine bankrupt; I don't think that anything that emulates it is beneficial either. I guess I do throw the baby out with the bath water on this one.

· Is this a question or an accusation? If you do not mind, would you provide for us any verse that reveals that our giving to man-made organizations that most choose to call "church" is synonymous with giving to the Lord? How do those buildings glorify the Lord? How does their absorbing the vast majority of people's giving exemplify obedience to the Word and Will of God? What can we therefore say about the heart condition of those who claim to know the word of God, and yet still teach that which is demonstratably (not a word) false?

· So, what you are saying is that choosing not to give to man-made organizations is synonymous with loving money? How much more faithful is that man who gives to the family down the street whose husband and father lost his job, rather than giving to the local neighborhood "church" organization that does little to nothing for those living next door? Sorry, but this rings very hollow when one considers the track record organized religion has earned with such devotion to its building projects and operational expenditures.

· One will search in vain in that section of scripture where Abraham tithed on the basis of any known requirement, nor is there any indication of a continued practice by even Abraham himself, for we have reason to believe that he ever saw Melchizideck again in his earthly life. Additionally, Abraham gave a tithe of property that he knew was not his, although it was under his control. I have been amazed at the number of people who, when it is convenient, assume that Abraham's character was such that he was like the Vikings (who did not exist at that time), in that the loot belonged to the victor. The text gives no indication whatsoever that Abraham had any intention to keep the loot. In fact, we see just the opposite in his actions and words, and yet allegedly knowledgeable people continue to assume just the opposite of what is clearly portrayed within the text.

· This falls within the fallacies of False Analogy, and Non-Sequitur (it does not follow). The context had to do with Christ being our High Priest, utilizing the tithe as the measure, not at all stated as an ongoing requirement in and of itself. It is utterly fallacious to assume a particular to be applied in general without any direct, supporting statement to that effect, which in this case, is completely absent from the text.

· I work hard to establish NON-tithing churches around the world. To locate a NON-tithing church near you or to become a church that does not collect tithes click here. Submit your information to become a non tithing or no more tithes bible study group.  

· I believe that the tithe has their roots in Pagan Catholicism was NEVER practiced in all of church history until it was instituted by a group of Catholic Bishops at an assembly in Tours France in 567AD. After that the people still refused to tithe or tithed reluctantly. So later in 585AD, at the Council of Macon they issued several "new laws." Several laws for violating the Sunday rest and then they nailed the people with a demand insisting on the obligation of the people to pay tithes. If someone did not pay their tithes, they were considered as someone who was "Robbing God." Sound familiar!

The above is a sampling of over one hundred respondents. Out of 100, 79 of Christians who say they are committed to the faith and understand the Bible gave completely unsatisfactory answers. They reasoned that giving and stewardship from personal feelings and experiences and not from Biblical precepts. 8 of them had a skewed understating of what the Bible teaches or were misinformed by their church. The remainder gave satisfactory answers based on Scriptural principles. Thinking tends to be focused on "read in" assumptions, careful analyses to ones own thought was paramount while a careless attitude to investigate facts and preconceived truth to an established knowledgeable source such as the Bible directly a Bible resource, a Bible commentary or asking a person who has more experience, knowledgeable and educated. In face to many such an investigation was an assault to their will and mindset. An attitude of "do not confuse me with the facts, I have my own view" premeditates these forums.

Then this question was posed: "What do you say to this person, who has obeyed God and tithed faithfully even sacrificed, yet has not been blessed as so many preachers are saying would and should happen."

· I would ask what is your motive for tithing? Is it so that you can GET something, or is it for the sheer enjoyment and pleasure of being obedient to the Lord? If you are doing it EXPECTING something, your motive is wrong. Our attitude in doing ANYTHING we do should NEVER be about what we can get or what God can do for us. it should be "Am I being obedient to my Father?"

· Now please, do NOT get me wrong. I am NOT against God blessing you when you tithe. He will, and NOT always monetarily. "ABOVE ALL, I wish that you would prosper, EVEN AS your soul prospers." He wants us to prosper in ALL areas, but FIRST THINGS FIRST. It isn't just about prospering monetarily. It's also about prospering in spirit, becoming mature, growing up in Christ. That should be our FIRST focus, growing spiritually, not materially. I know we need money to live on day to day, but I would rather have NO MONEY and be mature in Christ than be a millionaire and be a babe in Christ.

· The scripture says "Having done ALL to stand, STAND". Just because nothing is changing in the natural doesn't mean nothing is happening. Examine your heart, examine your motives for tithing, repent, and watch the situation change!

· Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.

· I don't think it's the tithe necessarily. It's got more to do with a heart condition. If you can't bring yourself to give 10% how can you bring yourself to give all of what God wants you to give. So I see it as a lesson not only in being faithful (yes, I know there is no scriptural basis in the new testament for it), but also as a tool to break your love of money. Think about it if you have nothing to give your money to you start hording it instead. I have met quite a few people who do not tithe, they tell me they don't have too, I agree with them, they tell me that instead of tithing they give to other causes like charities or mission work. When I ask them what charities and what missions, so I can give there also, they suddenly remember they haven't given in a few months and can't remember which ones they did give to. So i believe that we aren't commanded in the NT to tithe, but it is a good spiritual discipline to learn.

· The funny thing is, we got a letter from our pastor that I read this morning, essentially "asking" for money to help pay off our building project - one of the phrases (there were so many, this was the one that stuck out to me) was "you're never more like God than when you give"...........right, no pressure there..................I guess someone forgot to read what Paul says about giving and being pressured to give.

· For the sake of clarification, I think that if people join a denominational or so-called non-denominational "church" fraternity, and reap benefit from it, then they should help support it monetarily, but trying to built giving to them upon the scriptures is dishonesty at its worst coming from men and women who should know better if they claim to know the scriptures.

· Actually, you unwittingly pulled the rug out from under organized religion when admitting that "money" is needed for the support of what you call the "church". NOTE your use of the small "c" as opposed to a capital "C". This only proves that anything that stands or falls on account of money is clearly man-made. The local Church, which is not dependent upon money for its survival and continuance, exists in spite of money, not because of it.

(Data collected in the summer months of 2003, from www.Christianity.com www.christianforums.com and http://forums.christianity.com)

© Research from 2001- 2004, revised 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

© 2007 - 2018 Institute of Church Leadership Development - All Rights Reserved.
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