Recently, I read an adaptation of an article from Rev. Ken Sloane on tithing. This piece also discussed what we teach about tithing in the UMC. Scripturally, we preach to give one-tenth of our income to God. These lessons come from the Old Testament book of Genesis. Part of what we teach comes from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. This is from Rev. Sloane: “Here is Wesley’s own brief summary which is the foundation of our teaching: ‘Gain all you can.... save all you can... give all you can.’ As he develops each of these points in his sermon, his message is plain. We are to seek to earn all we can in ways that are helpful to ourselves and others, never harmful. We are to “save all we can” by being frugal in our expenses. And then having earned all we can and spent only what we must to care for our own basic needs and those of our family (which we are never to neglect!), we are to give everything else away.”
We went through a series called "The Good Life" and used the Sermon on the Mount to guide us to live a simple life in Christ during January. Many people want to enjoy the fruits of their labor, but giving with a heart for God will provide us with something more significant in return. Along these same lines, another Methodist teaching from Rev. Sloane’s article, “United Methodists value the tithe as a benchmark for giving, one we encourage our members to move toward and, once achieved, move beyond. We believe our giving should be both more challenging and more gracious to the whole world than simply trying to give a tithe of our income. We also believe that there is joy in giving, and the greater the generosity, the deeper the joy.”
I ask everyone to pray on what they give and then consider what God might be asking you to give now. Whether a person is a tither or a regular giver, think about increasing your giving this year by 1%. Sometimes we have to start somewhere instead of solving a more significant issue all at once. Remember, we are to build treasures in heaven, not on earth. Look at giving and tithing as an investment in the future of our church and ourselves. Don't consider giving as just another financial obligation to help pay the bills. Something else to think about is sharing our time and talents as a way of giving back for God's many blessings. A positive take on giving becomes yet another way we can love our neighbors and the neighborhood.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I pray that what I have written will provide everyone with some food for thought and help us re-think how we give in 2022.
Peace be with you.
Pastor Matt West