EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Tithing is the spiritual practice of honoring God by giving the first tenth of your entire income to your local church. Tithing is not taboo, meaning it is not banned, prohibited or forbidden. Your church may not emphasize the importance of tithing from your entire income, but it is a very important part of the Christian life.
Generosity is a lifestyle that gives freely and lives openhandedly. Generosity is the amount beyond the first tenth you give to your church. I can assure you that generosity is better than greed.
Greed is an insatiable desire for more. Greed is about grasping, craving, acquiring and hoarding, while generosity is about giving, charity, blessing and handing.
Greed is Not Godly
Christians ignore and mock God’s Word when they do not honor God with giving at least the first tenth of their entire income to their local church. They try to rationalize or even justify it, and some even attempt to explain it away biblically. I have never discovered anyone who practices tithing and generosity try to explain why tithing and generosity are not biblical.
Somehow, we must grow in our faith enough to understand that when we do not give biblically by both tithing and practicing generosity, we are not walking in godliness. Greed is not godly.
No one is exempt from tithing and generosity
Pastors, staff members, elders, deacons, lay leaders and all Christians are not exempt from tithing and generosity. In fact, when we do not practice giving the first tenth of our income and enter into the sphere of generosity, we are practicing and choosing greed.
Greed is like a rattlesnake that many of us want to snuggle up with in our hearts. While on a run last week, I ran upon a Copperhead snake lying right beside the curb. I did not cuddle with it; in fact, I ran with a chill up my spine for the rest of the week.
Greed is not about how much a person has or does not have. Greed is a matter of the heart. I have seen greed exist in the lives of those who have little and I have seen it exist in the lives of those who are overwhelmed with wealth. Nice things are not wrong until you violate God’s principles of giving in order to attain them.
Only one way to avoid greed
There is only one way those with much or those with little avoid greed: Giving the first 10 percent of their entire income to their local church and moving into the sphere of practicing generosity. They completely embrace a lifestyle of giving freely and living openhandedly.
Pastor James MacDonald is correct when he says that giving the first tenth of all God has given to you is the on ramp to the highway called generosity. Wherever you are in your life educationally, vocationally, or financially, ALL BLESSINGS flood the person and family that get on this on-ramp that leads to the highway called generosity.
Living on 90 percent
When you obey God’s Word about giving and generosity, you are getting God involved in your life supernaturally. You are never more like Jesus than when you give.
Living on 90 percent with God involved will go further than living on 100 percent without God involved. I have never met any person who practiced giving the first 10 percent of their income through their local church that ever regretted it or did not have their needs met in life.
Three important things to remember
1. Pastors need to preach unashamedly and uncompromisingly what the Bible says about tithing and generosity.
When you speak on tithing and generosity, there will always be some who will complain or crank up the rumor mill. But just remember pastor: Many who do so do not give as they should biblically. Many who cause this stir are carnal and do not want to face the reality of their greed. Pastor, you and your family should model giving at least the first 10 percent of all God gives you through your local church and practice generosity beyond that.
2. Laypeople, encourage your pastor to preach on tithing and generosity.
Lead the way laypeople, encouraging your pastor to preach on tithing and generosity. Encourage and defend him both privately and publicly. Rebuke people who want to criticize him for doing it. People who do not want to hear and be challenged in giving are people who are not practicing giving God’s way.
3. Give freely and live openhandedly.
Be a giver, not a grabber. Live generously, not greedily. Give freely because God gave all He has given to you freely. Live openhandedly, sharing it with your church and other people because none of it is yours anyway. You own nothing; God owns everything. Give it away freely and live your entire life openhandedly.
By the way, even when you die, leave at least the first 10 percent of all God had given you in your life and legacy to your local church. Additionally, practice generosity by giving to your church even beyond the first 10 percent and then to other Christian ministries that are advancing the gospel globally.
Allow God to be part of your life in a supernatural way by giving biblically.