Growing up, money was a rarity. As soon as we were out of school (completed 8th grade) we were sent outside the home to work. It consisted of cleaning people's homes, or at least it did for me, which to this day I tend to not clean my own house till dirt can be seen and I definitely don't want to clean anyone else's house, unless it is out of kindness to help out someone who is struggling. I've cleaned some pretty filthy houses...
The money that was generated from cleaning and helping the neighbors all went to my parents. Not a penny was kept for us. I mentioned that to a former pastor's wife and she said it basically shocked her speechless. She had no idea people operated like that. I didn't see anything wrong with it until she told me that her mom (maybe 50 years ago by now) asked for only $20 for cooking her food and washing her clothes each week. She got to keep the rest. After she said that it changed my view quite a bit on how I viewed my parents' doings, which has caused quite a few family matters in the last years as they promised us each certain amount when we get on our own which is 20 or 21 (depending on the family). I don't know that any of us got our full amount promised but rather excuses are made and things taken off that were not figured in beforehand. (Some families might give a bedroom suite or some other thing to help their children get started off in life.) This is just my experience and I can't speak for anyone else.
When I got of age, I remember my dad taking me to the bank to start my own checking account. The lady asked if I want to do a savings account and dad said no, it is not necessary. When I asked later he said it isn't necessary to have one. I was still living at home and it was great that now I was able to keep the money I made.
It wasn't until a few years later that I had a counselor who told me it would be really wise to have a savings account and have at least 3-6 months wages in it for emergencies etc. It was new to me. One day a while later I came across Gary Miller's book Budgeting Made Simple.
I had no one that I trusted enough to help me and so I tried to figure it out by myself. It was very complicated and took me at least half a year to somewhat get the drift of how it works.
I also found his other books on the subject of finances very interesting and definitely they helped steer me to where I am now. This is the first in the series and I will share them in case someone else is interested in them so you know what to look for.
These are a few more I haven't read yet...
Here's a few I found at thrift stores. I'm not sure if I read them all or not...
I think it was in trying to figure out how the budget works that I was first introduced to the concept of tithing. I don't ever remember anything being taught at home or church about money and how to be a good steward of it.
I still have memories of being a very young child and several times a year a strange man with a horse and buggy stopped and my parents would write a check and give it to him and after chatting a bit depending who it was they would clip-clop up the road again. As I grew old enough I discovered these strange men(strange because I wasn't old enough to really know who they were unless it happened to be the neighbor). They were called money collectors, picked by the leaders to gather the money, each(3-4) having a separate route in order to cover the district of probably over a hundred households. It took place quarterly and in the later years I remember them saying they need over $1 million or $1 billion (I can't remember which it was). This was to cover church repairs and needs among the members which consisted of hospital bills, house or shop fires etc.
That amount may seem huge to you but let me try to give you an estimate as to perhaps how many people that are under this umbrella. There are at least 2 communities in Ny state. There are at least 3 if not more in PA, one of which is considered the "mother" community which has at least 10 church buildings and each service in one given house is probably over 200. There are also settlements that are located in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Some of those states have more than one settlements I think. I think most areas have more than one church and probably no less than a 100 people in each service, just to kinda give you an idea.
I'm not sure what I first did about the tithing concept but I love to give and there's times I'd have loved to give everything away to help others in some way. I did at one point sponsor several children. They were my "family" since I had no children of my own and I didn't have very many nieces and nephews to buy things for. I didn't have my own place at the time so I could afford it. I also felt that I was giving to the Lord by giving a second chance to a few children in other countries.
Then God took me down another road I really had no intention to go down. I had many questions about why we do what we do in the Mennonites. There were a lot of things that didn't make sense. Often I would get the answer " this is how we've always done ". By then I had access to the library and started researching. I also had some people in my life who helped me understand how to study the Bible and I began to realize that I had to make a choice: would I please my parents or would I choose to follow the direction God was showing me? What will I lay down for Christ's sake after what He did on the cross for me?
I then had to learn how to drive a car and with that I began visiting churches. And I would give. Because I wanted to. Then in the last year it was so hard when I couldn't give as much as I wanted to. It still hurts. Every. Single. Time. And I don't mean just at church. But to bless others as well. There's so much I want to do. But I can't...
On the other side, I don't regret the experience. It has caused many anxious moments but God has always made a way especially lately with sending certain people to step in help in more ways than just finances for which I'm very grateful. It makes me wonder how many other people would love to freely give, but can't...
In the church that I used to go to it was preached much on giving God 10% of your income and that if you don't there will be consequences. Though it was a conservative Pentecostal church there were times it almost seemed like they were trying to indirectly manipulate people to give, making it appear that you need to give in order to please God. I've always tried to faithfully give 10% even those times when I didn't have the money to get gas for the trip home. (It was a church 3 hrs from my house) Somehow I always made it home...
The other day I somehow came across a video that was related to tithing and giving and the question was posted "Are Christians today still required to tithe?" I know there's some people who faithfully hold to that and so had I till I came across that video? Isn't it just like God to put things in our path to challenge our beliefs and cause us to reevaluate? Looking at it now, I remember looking at my parents and thinking that if they would've just tithed then perhaps they wouldn't be in financial straits. Now I'm looking at my heart behind the matter and I don't like what I see. Pride. Considering myself better than others. All the ugly stuff that tends to reside in the human heart.
God knows it's there. We just often don't see it. I feel like God's been taking me on a journey, perhaps termed as conforming me into the image of His Son, but I find it keeps going ever deeper into the heart which is good because our hearts are wicked and He's the only One who can truly change it to last...
Anyway, so here's the verses in the new Testament:
Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
There is no specific command to tithe but rather that when we give we need to do it cheerfully and willingly.
In my personal understanding of Scripture, Jesus put an end to the Old Covenant which was originally intended for God's chosen people Israel. When Jesus died on the cross the veil was torn in the temple which separated the holy place from the common people. The way was made for Jew and Gentile to freely come to the foot of the throne for whatever help is needed. There are so many things people say you shouldn't do because you will go to hell for it such as have a TV, women wearing pants, cutting their hair, wearing makeup, going to theaters, eating certain foods. Some claim that some of the Old Testament laws have to be kept such as not working on Sunday and yet they don't keep any of the other verses in the rest of that same chapter. It can get so mind boggling to think of all the traditions, regulations and guidelines man sets in place to keep people in a box rather than allow them to follow the path God has for them. As far as I can tell I have no Jew in my blood therefore I am considered a Gentile. Therefore I will admit that I find an immense amount of comfort in the letter that the Jews wrote to the Gentiles after the uproar about circumcision which you will find as follows:
Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Who wouldn't be relieved after such a letter?
Why is it that humanity tries to make the road so much more narrow that it was intended to be? Jesus already said the road is narrow but we add so much more to it. In the middle of the road is letting the Word of God be our guide and letting God direct our steps as we grow in our relationship with Him. In the ditches on either side can be found false teachers, legalism, religiousness, ambiguity, and "progressiveness". With our focus on Christ and His Word we will be able to stay on the narrow path.
Perhaps you are wondering whether I'm going to keep tithing or not...I don't know yet. I believe from my studying of Scripture that it is not required but for right now I'm praying about it. It's just one more thing that I know what Scripture says but I want to make sure I get the answer from God before I make any changes for I would rather keep tithing than displease God by stopping. Even if I stop tithing it definitely doesn't mean that I'm going to horde all the money that comes in. I think it would be like a "fire shut up in my bones", just think of something you love to do then imagine refraining from doing that...whether it be golfing or going to church...it would kill something inside of me, I'm afraid...to refrain from giving...but the Lord will show me the way to take and whatever way that is, I will have perfect peace to follow it, just like so many other things I've changed in the past 4 years since leaving the Mennonites...
God is good...and faithful...I may not always understand the reason but I trust Him to show me the way, in line with Scripture, the only way to have perfect peace and rest in my soul...
Thanks for reading this lengthy article. I definitely wasn't planning to write all I did but it will perhaps helps someone along the way. What are you going to lay down in order to follow Christ? It may not be easy but its definitely worth it! Below are a few links I found in my research on this subject and perhaps you will find them helpful as well, if perhaps you would like to delve a little deeper yourself...I hope you enjoyed this! Feel free to comment/ask questions etc. Have a great week!
https://drmsh.com/the-biblical-theology-of-tithing/ (this link is on a blog and there's a part one and a part two. Good stuff!)
http://en.believethesign.com/index.php?title=Tithing (this is on a website that explains a false teacher's teachings and refutes it with the Bible. I thought it was well written out.)
I'm sure there's more out there, but this is enough to get you started. I will let you do your own research from there😉