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Archive for Saturday, November 5, 2005

Faith forum

November 5, 2005

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Can a charitable donation be considered part of a tithe?

Understanding just how much we owe God

The Rev. David Livingston, associate pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.:

The best place to start in answering this question is to understand that giving to the church is a charitable contribution.

Part of the mission of the church is to help others. The members of the church I serve gave more than $20,000 to tsunami and hurricane relief this year through the church.

We support local agencies in multiple ways. Twenty percent of our budget is targeted at outreach and missions for others. I can only speak for the church I serve, but I would guess that we are typical of other churches in Lawrence. When you give to a local church, you can be confident that your gift will be used for a good purpose.

The Bible talks about giving a tithe back to God in the Old Testament. The understanding was that, as a minimum, God expects us to return 10 percent of what we have to God. Jesus teaches in the New Testament that God really wants us to give our whole selves back to God.

The key to understanding this is to believe that all we have comes from God. If this is true, then all that we have (even our lives) really belongs more to God than it does to us.

If we understand just how much we owe to God, then it becomes easy to give just 10 percent of our money back to God through the church. Then we can start to give to worthwhile organizations beyond the first 10 percent.

The 10 percent tithe is not a hard and fast rule. It is a guide to help us learn to give as freely as God gives to us. Giving back through the church starts us down that road.

- Send e-mail to David Livingston at david@fumclawrence.org.

Don't mistake charity, compassion for tithe

The Rev. Marshall Lackrone, pastor, Calvary Temple Assembly of God, 606 W. 29th St. Terrace:

First, we must consider exactly what the tithe is.

We can follow two simple and easy-to-understand aids: the Bible and the dictionary. The Bible says in Malachi 3:10, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Webster's Dictionary says: "The tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income."

God asks the question in Malachi 3:8: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."

In this verse, the writer makes a difference between tithes and offerings. Christians are traditionally compassionate toward those in need, and in the recent tragedies, help by Christians should not be mistaken for tithes.

If the church decides to give part of its tithe to a charity, there is no problem, but for individuals to give to any charity and consider it to be tithe or part of their tithe would be in contrast to Scripture.

Charity and compassion is a must for believers. The Bible states in Hebrews 4:13: "Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done (New Living Translation)."

In light of this, we are known to God in what we do also in what we don't do.

- Send e-mail to Marshall Lackrone at calvarytemple@sunflower.com.

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