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  Stewardship is not always about money; it's about how we live our lives, about how we live out the call that God has for our lives.


Tithing: A Step in Walking the Way of Christ

By The Rev. Dr. Walk Jones

In every generation, Christian preachers have tried to make the
distinction between talking the talk of Christianity and actually following
in the footsteps of Jesus.  It is much harder to behave as we should and not
just talk about our Christianity.
The place we can start behaving like followers of Jesus is in our
stewardship of the gifts God has entrusted to us: the relationships, things,
family, and money we have.
Several people have asked me, "Walk, is tithing supposed to be a gift of
10 percent of gross income or net income?."  I have thought about it, read
the Bible and decided that it probably is net income, but that may depend.
First, let's remember that a giving 10 percent (a tithe) is a floor in
the Bible, not a ceiling.  Malachi and others write about tithes and
offerings, and in our church we have regular giving and special offerings,
like the Christmas Joy Offering and One Great Hour of Sharing.  I have met
some joyful Christians who gave 15 percent of their income.  I knew
another couple who put their church in their will for percent, recognizing 
that Jesus should have an equal share of their estate along with their three
I say God expects gifts based on our net income because some money
withheld from our paychecks will come to us again.  Money that goes into a
pension or Social Security tax will eventually be paid back to us or our
families in retirement years.  A percentage of it should be given then.
But members who receive payments from the Social Security program may 
have a different response, and I would like to hear from them.
Bible times knew nothing of income taxes.  Jesus did tell his disciples
to pay their taxes to Caesar; rendering to him the coin that has his face on
it, but giving to God what is God's.  I guess that raises the question: what
part of your life belongs to God?  Have you given it all to God, or just
part of it?  Is Jesus the ruler of your life, or someone you follow on Sunday
from 10:30 to noon?
I want Jesus to be the center of my family's whole life and that is why
we try to give 10 percent of our income to Northminster Presbyterian Church
and why I encourage you to do it too. I've never known a joyful Christian
who was not a tither nor have I met a tither who wasn't excited about it and
about their relationship with God.
After all, Jesus said in Luke 12:34 that where our treasure is our heart
will be also.  He seemed to know that we need to act before we feel like it.
Is your giving to your church up to God's expectation?  Why don't you
try this year to increase you giving by 1 percent of your income and start aiming
for a perfect 10.
So let's follow in the footsteps of Jesus and walk in the way of Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Walk Jones is pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church, Pensacola, 
Fla. He wrote this for the parish newsletter. 
Copyright (c) 2003 by Walk Jones. Used by Permission.