Where many churches believe in giving a tenth of your income in tithing, we have seen through the old laws that it was more accurately a third each year’s increase. In some cases, this is a personal belief, even if the church asks only for offerings. In the Old Testament, this was done to support the Levites and the priesthood for their labors in caring for the Temple according to God’s very specific instructions. As we have moved away from Levitical priests and the cornucopia of requirements for sacrifices, firstborns, and the three individual tithes, we have to remember that tithing is as outdated a practice as saving the shoulder, internal organs, and heads of a sacrifice for our priests (Deut 18:3).
Instead, with God’s Grace, Jesus’ teachings, and Paul’s guidance, we are now encouraged to give, not out of duty to the laws but freely with a desire to help others and share our blessings. Paul even asked us to give weekly but stressed that this was only applicable if our circumstances would allow. He recognized that those who care for us spiritually, ministering us and giving us guidance, are providing us a service much like any other profession. Because of this, they deserve to be paid for their efforts so that they may make a living as the rest of us do with our day jobs. The balance to that we find in the instructions to the ministers: Paul was an example of doing as much as possible for the church while reducing his own burden to the church. He even refused their money at times and encouraged them instead to give to those in real need.
While we may decide that we want to give 10% or any percent of our money to the church, it is neither our duty to do so nor a tithe owed to God. Neither your salvation nor your standing with God is at risk when you decide to put your money to use elsewhere. It is instead a freely given gift, that needs no recognition if given compassionately, to show others how God has blessed us and the love that he first gave to us. The funds to support the pastor for his labor are due to him from the offerings, but the rest is to help the community and the church’s own members. This is to make sure he is not without while trying to bring the word of God to you. These gifts to the church of not only money but resources and volunteered efforts should make sure that no one in the church has to rely on the kindness of non-christians for help but can simply make their needs known to the church and be fed.
The widow’s mite tells us that we should give as much or as little with the same sincerity and willingness in our hearts. However, with grace, we know that the only thing that truly defines our salvation is our hearts. With Grace, we are free from the multitude of laws of the Old Testament, but far more importantly, we are under new commands. Jesus taught us about circumstances, about subjective decisions. He never said yes or no, he would give you a situation in a parable so that you knew the right answer, because it was clear when you made it a matter of the heart. In this, the offerings that you give to your church are your choice, so long as they come from a sincere desire to help others and are put to use to do so. God, as always, has balanced his church and takes care of our every need.