Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Widow's Mite: Jesus Did NOT Condemn Tithing

I have heard people say that Jesus condemned the payment of tithing and use the story of the widow's mite as justification for that claim.  On the other hand, I believe it's interesting to look at the story of the widow's mite, since it says something most people completely overlook - and speaks directly, I believe, to the concept of it being the condition of the heart not the amount that matters.

Jesus did NOT condemn the system that accepted the widow's mite, nor did he dismiss or chastise in any way the widow who paid it. He also didn't say she shouldn't have paid it. In fact, he praised her for paying it and condemned the rich man for not paying more. In a very real way, Jesus praised the widow for being willing to live the Law of Consecration, and he chastised the rich man for not being willing to pay tithing (comparing his percent to hers). Jesus didn't condemn tithing or any other payment of a lesser percentage than consecration would require; he framed it as the lesser commitment than the widow's willing contribution. From strictly a conceptual standpoint, that's important to recognize and consider.

I don't care personally how someone else interprets tithing or how they choose to calculate their own tithing. That is between them and God, and I refuse to try to sit in a judgment seat. Ain't happening. However, I also will not condemn or criticize any church for teaching tithing - and for having other areas where contributions can be made.

The principle, in my opinion, is to give as much as possible (money, time, talents, and everything with which God has blessed me) to God - however I define and calculate that gift. To me, buying a house that is much bigger than needed, buying an expensive car when a less expensive one will do just fine, buying high end clothing, etc. is "grinding the faces of the poor" - because the extra money spent on something that is nowhere close to a need keeps me from donating that money, in some way, to help the poor and/or build a community infrastructure that will help all alike.  Such expenditures literally keep me from full participation in the establishment of Zion, even if I pay a full and honest tithing. 

So, while I am completely open to people calculating amounts and arriving at definitions differently, I am opposed to the idea of doing it just to keep more money for themselves - over and above real need, which I also leave up to them to determine. I love the concept and principle of the law of consecration and its modern component parts (tithing, fast offerings, charitable and humanitarian giving, service, etc.), so, even though I won't try to dictate how someone participates in and implements that concept and principle, I believe strongly that everyone should look seriously at how they can try - and be willing to give up wants to provide others' needs.

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