Should You Pay Yourself First?
Should You Pay Others First?
Why I Tithe
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
I Corinthians 16:1-2
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
II Corinthians 9:6-7
I have heard many financial counselors berate the idea of tithing. They theorize that if you are in debt and cannot afford to pay your bills, then you should stop giving money to a church and use that extra money to get out of debt. While I can understand their reasoning from a human point of view, I cannot agree based on personal experience. On a couple of occasions I have made the mistake of paying my bills before I paid my tithe. In each instance I have had difficulties financially. Whenever I pay my tithes first and regularly, I have never had any problems paying my bills. In addition, I have found I always feel better when I have given because I know what my church uses the tithe money for (helping out those in need, using it to pay the expenses of visiting those in hospitals and nursing homes, and giving to other churches who also pass it on to those who are in need). When I am feeling good about helping others, then all areas of my life tend to level out and run smoothly.
Not Everyone Goes to Church
What if it is a Scam?
In My Own Experience
Something else that I have noticed as I travel, is that regardless of the country I am in, all the homeless people seem to have a couple things in common. As they lay on the sidewalk on a piece of cardboard or old rags, cap or box laid out in front of them to collect money from the generous, they all have the same two things in possession: a smart phone in one hand (usually one more expensive than the one I carry), and a cigarette in the other. My first reaction, of course, is to think that if they can afford a smart phone and cigarettes, then they can afford food. They do not need my help.
Do to these and other experiences, I stopped giving money to people on the streets. I had come across so many who were obviously not in need, that I had become calloused to the sight of the poor. Why, I asked myself, should I give my hard-earned money to people who, as it can readily be seen, do not need it. I felt like it was my money, and I should be able to do what I want with it. Giving it to people who are simply too lazy to get a job is not what I desire to do with my money. Then I read something that changed my mind. Now I have started giving again. In the following paragraphs I will explain the reason for my change of heart.
A Change of Heart
He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
One of my biggest stumbling blocks in giving to those who were asking for money on the streets was my doubts as to whether or not they were really in need. I had heard stories of several “beggars” who were in fact neither homeless nor poor. They would sit on the street corner begging for money, then at the end of the day they would go to a public restroom, change into their regular clothes, and then get into an expensive car and drive home to a very nice house. Examples can be seen here. I had heard other stories where people who were perfectly capable of working, but were simply too lazy, would sit on a street corner duping good-willed people into funding their slothfulness. I soon became disallusioned to the idea of helping people. Why waste my money on people who were abusing my generosity? Then another bible verse came to mind.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
I realize that these verses have been used and abused over the years. People take them out of context, or use only one part in order to get it to say what they want it to say. Since this is not a discourse on the meaning of these verses, I’ll simply make two statements regarding them, and then move on to applying them to a particular area of my life. When someone does something wrong, and you state that what they are doing is wrong, that is not judging, that is simply stating a fact. Judging is when you determine someone’s guilt when you do not have all the facts. This is what I was doing when I stopped giving to the poor. By no longer giving to them, I was stating that they were not truly in need. They were people, who for whatever reason, were in the market of stealing from me and others by their deceptive lifestyle. The problem was, I usually had only seen them that one specific time. I knew nothing about them. I was making a conjecture based simply on the situation that I was focusing on at the time. I was judging them based on what I could readily see at the moment. In truth, I really knew nothing about them. I did not know their background, I knew nothing about the situation that put them where they are, and I certainly had no idea what they were doing themselves at the moment to get out of their current situation.
The verses in Matthew forced me to realize that what I needed to do was focus on myself and what I was doing, not on what others are doing. Are some of them lying and scamming themselves to riches? Maybe, but that is none of my business. My only business is to make sure I am doing what I should be doing, and not worrying about others.
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is thatto thee? follow thou me.
The way I should look at is this: if they are truly poor, and I give to them, then God will bless me, and help them; if they are not truly poor, but I give to them anyway, then God will bless me and judge them. Judging them is God’s prerogative; not mine. If they are really destitute and I refuse to help them, then God will judge me, and bless them. My responsibility is to make sure I am doing what I am required to do and not worry about others. And that is why I have had a change of heart. Other articles by this author can be read at CashCourse.