Jun 06, 2020 (Saturday) - Tithing - A Reflection on Mark 12:38-44

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Ok, guess what I am going to talk about today? Yep, tithing. I know that most people would agree that giving money, especially in the form of tithes, is a worthwhile practice, it is rarely a priority, much less an urgent matter for most Christians. This attitude needs to change because by not being a source of blessing to the Church and its people, we often deny ourselves blessings as well.

This is what the prophet Malachi said: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.  I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.  Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-12). You will many other references in the Description Box below.

There are some who say that tithing is an Old Testament practice not prescribed by the church but that is simply not true. We find Jesus himself telling us to tithe. “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone” (Luke 11:42). Note how he says they should have practiced justice and the love of God without stopping the practice of tithing.

We find Paul also telling people of the necessity to tithe. “Don’t you know,” he asks, “that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14). Paul uses the word “commanded”; this is not optional. Now, this is not an invitation to send me money — in seventeen years of ministry I have never solicited funds, and never will — but to tell you to tithe to your church. Otherwise, we may not have a church to return to once this crisis is over.

And when we tithe — note I say when, not if — when we tithe, let us ensure that we have the right attitude. In our little passage today, both the Pharisee and the widow tithed, but Jesus wasn’t very happy with the Pharisees’ offering. Why? Because like almost everything the Pharisees did, they did it for the wrong reasons. They did it to draw attention to themselves and their “holiness” so that they would be praised and honored by people. Jesus is not impressed by public displays of piety. He says, “You wanna do that, fine, but know you have already received your reward on earth; don’t expect an additional reward in heaven” (see Matthew 6).

A reward in heaven is better than a reward on earth, don’t you think? Happy tithing.

Additional verses:

                                    - Deuteronomy 15:10

                                    - Proverbs 3:9-10

                                    - Proverbs 11:24-28

                                    - Proverbs 22:8,9

                                    - Hosea 10:12

                                    - Malachi 3:10

                                    - Matthew 6:3-4

                                    - Luke 6:38

                                    - Luke 11:42

                                    - 2 Corinthians 9:6-7