Pilgrim said
But I fear you have missed the fundamental issue which he faced.
Well, I did say it reminded me of his dilemma. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> He was stuck in the middle as we appear to be on this issue. Moving right along.

So its either a legal requirement or not. Your entire estate as well as your being, or 10%. A mandated, legally demanded tithe or a gift from the heart. Does that include your time? 10% of a day is 2.4 hours…you see, we could go on and on (and have). More and more I am of the opinion that its the latter, or, a gift from the heart. I think the reason this is such a confusing issue—and yes its confusing otherwise so many brothers wouldn’t have such different opinions—is because of this: 2 Corinthians 9 (A whole chapter!)

2 Corinthians 9 RSV
1Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the offering for the saints, 2for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3But I am sending the brethren so that our boasting about you may not prove vain in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; 4lest if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren to go on to you before me, and arrange in advance for this gift you have promised, so that it may be ready not as an exaction but as a willing gift.

6The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 9As it is written,

“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;

his righteousness endures for ever.”

10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; 12for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. 13Under the test of this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others; 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

I think the whole thing is summed up here. Its not really necessary for Paul to write about it, because they are giving anyway. The Spirit has shown them the needs and they are responding. That’s what believers do. He even sends some of the brothers ahead to tell encourage them so it will truly be a gift and not an exaction. Paul lists a bunch of good things associated with giving, but v. 7 is the pivot point and it bears repeating:
7Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Its not a matter of the law. I’m not even the first one to bring that up here. It’s a matter of what you have made up your mind to do. Just like everything else you do as a Christian you take in the Word of God and pray over it and you hear about the needs or see them yourself and you decide what you are going to give and then do it. If it’s a command from the pulpit I can hardly see how its going to fit in under “not reluctantly or under compulsion”. So its not a command from the church.

These verses—this CHAPTER of the NEW TESTAMENT don’t even lay out a mandate except, perhaps, to say that there isn’t one. You make a decision—yes or no—or you don’t which is still a decision. And still, just like everything else you do as a Christian you take in the Word of God and pray over it and you hear about the needs or see them yourself and you decide what you are going to give and then do it. And so on…so its not a biblical mandate. It’s the law of love:

Matt 22:35-40 (RSV)
35And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

Do you love your neighbor? Do you love the Lord? Do what is right.

Right in around the following passage in Micah (which is no doubt familiar) the writer is talking about what will please God. He talks about all the offerings and all the things that folks were doing back then to please him. But in the end he says this:

Micah 6:8 (RSV)
8 He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

And I think this contrast is vital. They were giving oil, and lambs, and Rams—all the things of value of that time (albeit for different reasons). He even suggested their firstborn child as an offering—none of it was good enough. Then he says simply do what is right and just. (Its right there, read it.) You know what is right. You know what is good. Giving is good. The bible says so. As I said at the beginning (before I got carried away with the spirit of the diatribe, er, argument, uh, whatever) do what you feel you must. It’s not a compulsion it’s a conviction: “This thing must be done.”

I knew a rich man in Tulsa once who funded a fabulous set of stained glass windows to replace ones he had seen blown of his church during a tornado. And they were beautiful. Our pastor preached around the room that year hitting a window about every other week or so: Redemption, Atonement, the Cross, The empty tomb, loaves and fishes…it was the best set of sermons I’d ever heard…and the folks that got saved, decisions to live for Christ--WOW! All because some guy decided to do what he felt needed to be done. May sound silly to you, but he saw it done and then some and the Lord blessed it.

Happens all the time. It’s not a revelation. It’s nothing new. It’s the leading of the Holy Spirit. Look into your heart, your inmost being and think about what the Word says and you’ll find your mandate. And again I ask, Why does it have to be so hard? Its not, we just have other things we want to do with our money and time.

I say that when this changes we’ll have revival—REVIVAL!--and not until.

I think I’m done with this too.

"...the word of God is not bound."--2 Timothy 2:9