Now Ted, and btw I forgive you for any slights that I may have perceived from you and if I am guilty of the same please extend to me the same courtesy. Anyway as I was typing, you, Ted, seemed to be presenting to me two things. First God owns everything, including all my goods, time, etc... I have no problem with that, in fact I quite agree everything I own is God's and must be used to glorify God for that is our main purpose. Now the second thing you seemed (correct me if I error) was that because of that ownership God requires me to tithe, but at the same time give everything. Now do you see the contradiction? Now if you meant to say that God as the owner is telling me to give it all away so that He can use it for His glory then just say that. But if you are saying that God has mandated (and I'm using that word because I know no better one) that I give a tenth of my good back to back for his use because it is required, just like attending church, takeing the sacraments, reading the word, hearing the word preached then please say that. But at the same time provide exegete evidence for the same. Which ever one you are choosing. Or if neither of these things are what you are saying please instruct me in a plainer manner what exactly you are saying. (Give me the Idiot's guide if you will)
Thanks for sharing, brother. I appreciate your post -- it warmed my heart, in fact.
I'll do my best to share with you where my wife and I are at and, perhaps, that will give you one fallen man's perspective of stewardship and giving.
We live, I believe, in a VERY materialistic culture. And, unlike cultures past, due to the high level of communication and transportation methods that we employ, we (in this society) can obtain for ourselves the types and varieties of goods and services that our forefathers could only DREAM of.
This, I believe, has increased or exasperated the level of consumerism/materialism that we have in this oh so fallen world.
All that being said, I don't believe that our NEEDS have changed one iota from those of our forefathers. We still need food, clothing, a place to live, work to do, people to love, and -- most importantly -- God to worship and glorify.
However, as fallen human beings, we complicate this simple picture with computers, high-speed internet access, multiple cars, vacations, swimming pools, club members, lessons for our kids, braces (teeth) for our kids, etc. Suddenly -- in my case, for example -- our "needs" have grown MUCH beyond what they were in the previous paragraph.
How does that look in our lives? An $18,000 a year salary (in 1983) has grown to over $75,000. Meanwhile, our giving to God (through His church and other sundry ministries) has only grown from $20/week (5.78%) to just a little over a "tithe" (10-12%).
Does that mean that our "needs" have grown from a little under $17,000/year to over $66,000?!? Or does it mean that we've allowed our spending to grow out of hand with a larger mortgage payment (on a larger house) and fancier cars and more/fancier vacations, etc.? (The answers to those questions are "no" and "yes," respectively.)
And then I ask myself, "what would God have us do?"
Yes, I am convinced (through my own sinful study of "the tithe" in Scripture to justify giving less than God was calling me to give) that tithing is NOT mandated or required by God. Little is, in fact . . . because I am also convinced, like the Apostle Paul teaches, that we are NOT under the Law, but instead, are under Grace. Thanks be to our gracious and glorious and forgiving God on high and to His one and only Son, Jesus, in Whose righteousness we are robed!
However, I cannot reconcile in my mind the sinful growth in the "needs" (not really!) of our family's budget.
As I quoted from Jesus earlier, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
What does that mean to me? It means, in my case, that my heart appears to be in my BIG house and my car and my kids braces (teeth) and my high-speed internet access and my cable television, etc. And, correspondingly, it is NOT in ministry or my church.
How does THAT glorify God, I wonder? (It does NOT, I would say.)
AND what does that say about the state of my heart? (Sinful, I would say.)
And . . . IF I read my Bible correctly, Jesus wants my heart. And, if I know anything about my sinful heart, that which my money is "invested" in is something that I tend to fight for. AND then I wonder if I had more money "invested" in ministry and my church then, perhaps, I would fight for these things and, therefore, do more for them (and spend more time in them). And spend less time in sinfully pursuing my own wants and desires.
Just one man's thoughts . . . .
With love for Christ and failure to worship, honor and glorify Him ALL around me,