The Modern Rules of Tithing According to Tim Sinclair

Author Tim Sinclair claims we are too content with the ordinary, that our habits and rituals leave little room to think outside the context in which we are familiar. In his book, Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture, Mr. Sinclair brings up an almost heretical, yet thought-provoking question to today’s generation of Christians.

What if we didn’t write our tithe checks this week?

What if we instead gave the money to a single mom in our neighborhood or to the co-worker who just lost his job?

What if we paid for a friend’s child to go to basketball camp or to visit a parent who lives in another state?

~ Branded, pg 112

Hmmmm. Yes, we could do a lot of monetary good if we saved our tithe for other charitable opportunities, but I believe the author may have misinterpreted his Good Book.

The Purpose of Tithing

To understand why we tithe in the first place, we have to go back to those super boring books in the Old Testament.

OT law required the Levites to give 1/10 of their income to the Lord as a payroll of sorts for the tabernacle priests. {Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26}

The law then carried on to the New Testament, where we read of a widow placing a significant amount into the treasury – 2 small coins. It was all she had to live on, and proportionately speaking, she had sacrificed more than the scribes who were watching. {Luke 21:1-4}

According to Scripture, we can plainly see tithe as means of church support, and sacrificial giving to the Lord. Both being pretty much non-negotiable.

Giving Outside the Church

While we are commanded to set aside our 10%, we are also encouraged to support those who are in need outside of the local church context, i.e. family and friends going through a hard financial time, and as a form of community outreach.

But wait, isn’t that why we have a church Benevolence Committee?

Although benevolence does go to families in the church who cannot afford to pay upcoming bills or may be struggling to put food on the table, but can I let you in on a little secret? You don’t need a committee to step up and volunteer your time or your money. In fact, you could probably do a whole lot more on your own.

Practically speaking,

  • You can go back to the percentage rule and decide how much you are going to set aside to support local charities, or save for a friend in need.
  • You can support a missionary on your own for a monthly amount.
  • You can help a high school student meet their financial requirements for a summer missions trip.
  • You can help a college student make ends meet while they pursue their degree by sending care packages or Walmart gift cards.
  • You can donate to a food pantry or homeless shelter.
  • You can sponsor a child.

And yes, you are encouraged to do so, not in place of tithing to the church, but on top of it. All we have to do is look at the examples from Jesus’ earthly ministry to understand our responsibility to the local church, and then our responsibility outside the local church. It seems like a lot, but then it wouldn’t be called sacrificial giving.

Thank you, Mr. Sinclair, for your generous contribution to blog fodder and stimulation for my overactive mind.

Further Reading:

And on Every Street Corner You Hear…..{Guest Post} – How to choose and give to an honorable charity.

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