Tithing before men

Yesterday, I posted on the myth of 10%. Today is on how to educate one another on giving.

We do have a dilemma with educating the church body in how to give. Two verses seem to contradict themselves despite the fact that they rest near one another in Scripture. People either choose one or the other and that is what they emphasize.

(Mat 5:16 NASB) ""Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

(Mat 6:1-4 NASB) ""Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. {2} "When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. {3} "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing {4} that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

We need to acknowledge that money does play a large role in the church carrying out its mission. Our good works are oftentimes done with money. I work at my job, and in turn, have money to give away to help people in need. My work might not be directly on their need, but it was for their need. When we give our money to help people, it needs to not be done in secret because our light needs to shine before men so that God gets glory.

However, we need to make sure that we don’t cross the line and start to do loving things with money for our glory. It needs to always be about God’s. The verse doesn’t just say, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men.” It adds, “To be noticed by them.” If we practice our righteousness in front of men to be noticed by them, we are in the wrong. It does not say that we are in the wrong if we practice our righteousness before men so that God will be noticed by them.

Too often people who refuse to practice their righteousness in public so God will get the glory never do anything that would give God any glory anyway. Their refusal to practice their righteousness in a tangible way is just an excuse to be a lazy Christian, if a Christian can be such a thing. We need to practice our righteousness so that God will be noticed by all who see us practicing it.

If we struggle with selfish reasons in giving, then we should give in secret. But at some point our money needs to be used publicly in order for God to receive the glory. Only we know if our motive in giving was for the acclaim of others. Did we really want our name engraved on the plaque on the offering plate that reads “In memory of Nathaniel Young?” The sad, but almost funny, thing is Lindsay has been at a church that had plaques like this on the offering plates.

It is also possible to give in secret and give glory to God. Our emphasis needs to be giving God the glory in all things, whether it has to be done in secret or in public is not the issue. It is whether we are bringing glory to God or to ourselves. We need to have positive examples around us on godly giving, but we have to be careful not to force people to give - something we will discuss tomorrow.

Watch out for the potholes.